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像地质学家一样思考环境问题可以帮助我们应对气候变化

How thinking like a geologist could help us fight climate change
像地质学家一样思考环境问题可以帮助我们应对气候变化
1144字
2019-02-08 20:22
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火星译客

Bjornerud is a geologist at Lawrence University in Wisconsin and the author of Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World. If people understood the history of the Earth, she argues, “we would perceive our world very differently.” The Verge spoke to Bjornerud about geology’s PR problem, the big questions in the field, and what it means to be “timeful.”

Bjornerud不仅是威斯康星州劳伦斯大学的地质学家,而且还是《时间:像地质学家一样思考环境问题可以帮助拯救世界》一书的作者 。她表明“如果人们了解地球的历史”,“我们将会重新认识这个世界。” Verge向Bjornerud讲述了关于地质学该领域的重大公关问题,以及“及时”所含的意义

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

为了表达地更清晰明确,我们对本次采访进行了少量修改

Early on in your book, you mention that it’d be embarrassing for an adult not to be able to point out the continents, but most people don’t know the geologic time periods. Why is that?

早期你在书中提到,无法认出大陆对一个成年人来说很令人尴尬,但大多数人都不知道地质时期是什么意思。造成这种现象的原因是什么呢?

Photo: Rachel Crowl 

照片:瑞秋克劳尔

I think a lot of educated people don’t quite believe in the geologic past. It’s obscure, they haven’t had much background in it and it doesn’t seem real. As a geologist, of course that’s frustrating. The field of geology has such vast explanatory power. There’s really something heady about being able to look out at the landscape and see how things came to be. I sometimes tell students that geology is the etymology of the world and I think most people don’t realize it but would love to have a rational explanation for how the world around them got to be the way it is.

我想大部分受过教育的人并不太相信地质历史。因为这个概念不太明确,也许因为他们没有太多的相关文学知识所以他们认为这是假的。作为地质学家,这种无知的现象当然令人沮丧。地质学领域有如此巨大的解释力,以至于地质学家们能够看到地质景观并了解到这是如何形成的,这真的令人兴奋极了。我有时会告诉学生,地质学是世界的语源,我认为大多数人没有意识到这一点,不过我希望能有一个合理的解释来向他们阐释他们所生活着的世界是怎样的。

Right, but most people don’t think about geology like that.

没错,绝大部分人并没有把地质学当成一回事儿。

Geology has this PR problem. People think it’s about dusty mineral collection or just oil and glass, but it actually has both the pragmatic and a deep philosophical side. It’s about big existential questions as much as finding resources. The analogy I like to use is that of a palimpsest, a which is a term used in medieval scholarship of a parchment that was written on and scraped on so it could be reused and reinked. But usually there’s some vestige of the earlier writing that persists underneath the most recent one.

地质学中有个公认的难题。人们认为地质学只是关于尘土飞扬的矿物或者是石油和玻璃的集合,但它实际上既有务实的一面,又有深奥的哲学的一面。它涉及的是宏观的存在主义以及发现资源的问题。我喜欢用重写本这个比喻,这是中世纪学术中使用的一个术语,指一张羊皮纸,可以写可以刮,可以被重复利用和重新印刷。但在一般情况下,在最新的文章中仍有一些早期写作的痕迹。

That’s the metaphor for the way we see landscapes. They’re a work in progress partially erased many times over. As geologists, you start learning how to read those vestiges of earlier inking and reconstruct past cycles of past landscape development.

这就是我们看待地质风貌方式的隐喻。他们正在进行的工作部分被删除了很多次。一名地质学家,得开始学习如何看懂早期着墨的遗迹并重建过去地质地貌发展的过去循环。

Everything in the natural world has a backstory and is the product of evolution over long periods of time.

自然界中的一切都有一个历史故事,都是历史长期演变的产物。

Once you get in that habit, it’s like a window goes up. You realize how ephemeral any particular iteration of the Earth’s surface really is. We urgently need people to see that we are embedded in geologic time. There isn’t a geologic past and the future. We are on a continuum and processes that have been going on on Earth for millennia and longer are going to continue and our activities feed into those in ways that are sometimes surprising to us but shouldn’t be if we have a better understanding of the way the Earth has unfolded in the past. Some people might think, who cares, the geologic past doesn’t affect me. Yet it’s created a lot of the environmental problems we face today because people are taken by surprise when the slow, inexorable processes that have always been going on interact with humans have undesirable consequences.

一旦你养成了这种习惯,就像打开了一扇窗。你将会意识到地球表面的任何特定迭代都是短暂的。我们迫切地需要人们明白,我们已深陷一个没有过去和未来的地质时代。我们正处在一个连续的统一体的状态,并且其发展过程在地球上已持续了数千年甚至更长时间,并且还将继续进行,我们的活动会以对我们来说有些令人惊讶的方式进入,但如果我们对这种方式有更好的理解则不应该地球在过去已经展开。有些人可能会想,谁在乎,地质过去不会影响我。然而,它造成了我们今天面临的许多环境问题,因为当人们一直在进行的缓慢,不可阻挡的过程与人类相互作用产生不良后果时,人们会感到惊讶。

What are some of the big questions in geology?

地质学中有哪些重大问题?

The climate system is complicated, certainly, though virtually all geoscientists recognize that what we’re doing to the climate system now is nearly unprecedented. Right now, we’re changing things on this decadal scale and we can’t tell from the geological record whether previous changes happened over decades or centuries or thousands of years.

当然,气候系统很复杂,尽管几乎所有的地球科学家都认识到我们现在对气候系统所做的事情几乎是前所未有的。现在,我们正在改变这个十年规模的东西,我们无法从地质记录中看出以前的变化是否发生在几十年,几百年或几千年。

There are fundamental questions about tectonics, especially earthquake recurrence. We can’t predict earthquakes in real time right now, and most geophysicists have reached the conclusion that we probably will never get to that point so the best thing we can do is make people better prepared by building infrastructure and resilient homes. So those are pretty fundamental humanitarian questions.

关于构造,特别是地震复发,存在基本问题。我们现在无法实时预测地震,大多数地球物理学家已经得出结论,我们可能永远不会达到这一点,因此我们能做的最好的事情就是通过建设基础设施和适应性住宅来让人们做好更充分的准备。所以那些是非常基本的人道主义问题

Concretely, what’s a natural process that is useful to talk about in terms of longer timespans?

具体而言,什么是一个自然过程,有助于谈论更长的时间跨度?

Let’s talk about groundwater. Groundwater systems really are dependent on the geologic substrate. Here in Wisconsin we have two main types of aquifers [underground area saturated with water]. They’re glacier deposits or bedrock.

我们来谈谈地下水。地下水系统确实依赖于地质基质。在威斯康星州,我们有两种主要类型的含水层[地下饱和水域]。它们是冰川沉积物或基岩。

If your well is in those shallow deposits, the rate at which rain comes into the system and flows through the glacial sediments might be on the rate of decades. But if you’re extracting groundwater from bedrock, that might be on the order of a century. So you need to know how fast rates of withdrawal are compared with rates of replenishment.

如果你的井位于那些浅层矿床中,那么雨水进入系统并流经冰川沉积物的速度可能会达到几十年。但如果你从基岩中提取地下水,那可能是一个世纪的。因此,您需要了解提款率与补货率的比较。

And there can be real exceptions, too, which can cause problems with groundwater contamination. The take-home message is that you need to know the rock and sediment under your feet and transit times related to the properties of the geologic substrate in order to be able to maintain predictably productive water systems.

并且可能存在真正的例外,这可能导致地下水污染问题。带回家的信息是,您需要了解脚下的岩石和沉积物以及与地质基质属性相关的运输时间,以便能够维持可预测的高效水系统。

What’s the natural process that takes the longest?

什么是最长的自然过程?

If we really zoom out, it’s planetary formation. On Earth, it’s probably the tectonic cycle of supercontinents forming and breaking. That’s on a timescale of maybe 400 or 500 million years. People are probably familiar with Pangea, but that’s just the most recent. We can look back in the deeper past and construct at least two or three super-continents.

如果我们真的缩小,那就是行星的形成。在地球上,它可能是超级大陆形成和破裂的构造循环。这可能是400或5亿年的时间尺度。人们可能对Pangea很熟悉,但那只是最近的。我们可以回顾过去的深层,构建至少两三个超级大陆。

So what exactly is “timefulness”? What does someone need to know to be considered “timeful”?

究竟什么是“时间性”?有人需要知道什么被认为是“有时间的”?

It’s based on “mindfulness” and I hope it carries the connotation that people should pause and think about time in ways we don’t normally. But I also wanted it to be a deliberate counterpoint to the idea of timelessness, which is sterile. Everything in the natural world has a backstory and is the product of evolution over long periods of time.

它基于“正念”,我希望它具有人们应该以我们通常不会停顿和思考时间的含义。但我也希望它与永恒的想法是蓄意对立的,这种想法是无效的。自然界中的一切都有一个背景故事,是长期演变的产物。

It’d be good to know the big chapters in Earth’s development, some sense of rates of natural processes, and how they compare to the rates at which humans are changing the geologic realm. Without that understanding, we’d blithely wander into the natural systems and disrupt them quite badly, or cause species to go extinct much faster than they can evolve, some sense of rates. We’re all facing common challenges and doing some estate planning, so to speak, and it seems like there are no grown-ups in the room right now planning ahead. Just some sense of temporal proportion is what I’m calling for.

了解地球发展的大章节,自然过程的速度感,以及它们与人类改变地质领域的速度的比较是很好的。如果没有这种理解,我们会轻易地徘徊在自然系统中并严重破坏它们,或者导致物种灭绝的速度远远超过它们可以进化的速度,一些速率感。我们都面临着共同的挑战和做一些遗产规划,可以这么说,现在房间里似乎没有成年人正在筹划中。只是某种时间比例感是我所要求的。

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