Timeline of Earth Science

The Chinese record the earliest comet sighting. Chinese discover magnetic attraction. Greek philosophers develop a geocentric cosmology that places a perfectly spherical Earth at the center of a spherical universe in which the other planets, the Moon, and the Sun all orbit Earth. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) produces his Meteorologica, the first work on the atmospheric sciences. It includes his studies on comets, shooting stars, and rainbows. Most of the meteorology is incorrect, but it remains...

Potential Fossil Fuels

Another form of fossil fuel that has not been exploited is called shale oil. Shale oil forms when organic material accumulates at the bottom of lakes, is mixed with mud, and then sits for hundreds of millions of years.The Green River Formation, in the U.S. Rocky Mountains, contains between 0.6 and 2 trillion barrels of oil. That is a lot of oil. However, removing oil from oil shale is a very expensive process. Unless the cost of recovering the oil comes down below the cost of other fuels, shale...

Does Enough Fossil Fuel Exist to Meet Future Needs

Fossil fuels oil, natural gas, coal exist in finite amounts. Some 200 to 500 million years ago, fossil fuels started as remains of plants and animals that were covered by layer after layer of sand and sediment. Under intense pressure and high temperatures, the remains were crushed, and converted into oil, gas, and coal. Once these fuels are pumped or dug out of the ground, they will be gone forever. Fossil fuels are a nonrenewable source of energy. Since they can't be renewed, scientists,...

Should People Be Allowed to Build in High Risk Areas

Low-lying Atlantic and gulf coast areas are at risk from flooding during the six-month-long Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. Although the risk for any given town is small, some towns are at greater risk than others. For example, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, high walls of water called the storm surge can come ashore with hurricane-force winds of 75 miles 120 kilometers per hour or more. When high water from the ocean is combined with several...