Initial Publication Date: September 16, 2019


Joel S. Aquino, PhD
Hall County Schools *, Univ of North Georgia**, Brenau Univ** and Piedmont College**

I have been on both sides of the equation - mineral resource extraction and environmental impact studies. I have done this when I was still active in the mineral industry as the exploration project I worked with transitioned into an active mine. Now as an educator, I hope to share this experience to my fellow educators and students. In particular, the very challenging task of having a sustainable world where the increase of consumer consumption leads to an increase of energy/mineral resources that has a minimal impact on the environment.

The exponential increase in both demand and supply stresses the environment such that the term "Sustainable Earth " is a highly improbable vision. Why? From a physics point of view, the answer is ENTROPY and energy degradation where most of the by-product is heat transferred to the environment! Humanity needs 3 Earths if 10 billion people tries to live in the comforts of a developed nation. Lest we become extinct, a more realistic goal is to SLOW DOWN the destruction of our planet until such time humans can achieve interplanetary and/or interstellar travel and migration. Near-term solutions include but not limited to combined recycling, reusing, minimal wants and asteroid mining.

As we transition to a Type 1 Planetary Scale civilization (Kardashev) while sustaining economic growth with minimal environmental impact, we need to integrate the use Big Data Analytics, GIS and 5G technologies as a start. These can lead to a real-time pattern observation locally and expandable globally where we can see the bigger interaction of the Earth's spheres (geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere). This big picture integration can lead to better analysis and evaluation leading to multi-sectoral solutions.

Future work to address issues of sustainability should include a tripartite group of mineral/energy industry-based experts, policy makers and educators. To better appreciate the extraction industry, next workshop can be conducted in active mineral and energy states like Nevada (gold), Utah (copper), West Virginia (coal), Texas (petroleum). The overall aim is to simplify and differentiate complex issues to an operational K-16 educational framework

I believe, I can positively contribute to the workshop as I have a real world mineral-industry (extraction and environmental impact study) experience. As an educator, I have a very large and diverse group of students from HS to graduate level. I could leverage my association with the Institute of Environmental and Spatial Analysis and College of Education of UNG (Univ of North Georgia) to do a collaborative GIS-based research work and K-16 curriculum design on "sustainability".

It is also high time for SERC to expand its resources and expertise in geoscience education to global academic institutions particularly those in developing countries. It can begin by tapping the talent and experience of its immigrant educators who can conduct collaborative work on disaster resiliency and sustainability with its original country of heritage.

The long-term scenario is for us, humans, to think about our evolution. Can we sustain the needs of humanity at our current state of biological being? Perhaps, we need to redefine the concept of Sustainable Earth to Sustainable Humans. The Earth has survived for billions of years without humans but not the other way around. We are now at the technological threshold of directing our own evolution through CRISPR, Cyborg and Artificial Intelligence; Homo Sapiens to Homo Deus (Yuval Noah Harari and Jaime Metzl). Through these emerging bio and information technologies, perhaps we will be able to sustain humanity to adapt to a modified Earth and later interplanetary travel.

* Full-time, ** Part-time/Adjunct

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