I am very excited about this year. I plan to promote an awareness of our environment. For most of us geologists, this means we need to protect the groundwater and the areas surrounding our oil wells from petroleum contamination. We have been trained to look at the area we are working. Look for environmental problems and either correct them or report the problems to someone who can fix them.
First, I would like to thank my fellow volunteers for giving generously their valuable time to the Division of Environmental Geosciences. Mary Barrett, immediate past president, thank you for putting form to the Division and for your hours of advice and guidance as we moved through this last year. Francois Marechal, your presidency widened DEG’s normal view of the environment and the energy industry. I very much enjoyed working with you and look forward to working with you again this year. Autumn Haagsma, vice president, thank you for your DEG committee work and Tim Duex, thanks for being the secretary-treasurer and formalizing the records of our meetings. Olga Popova, editor, you are the glue that holds us together at DEG. Your tireless and dedicated work on the journal is greatly appreciated.
My thanks to Diane Keim of AAPG for keeping us on time and on track through these tough times.
Thanks to the members of the DEG Advisory Board for your excellent advice. This includes K. B. Trivedi, John Kaldi, Francois Marechal, Robin Anthony, Tim Duex, Londono Garcia, Abdulrahman S. Al-Sharhan, Allen Waggoner, Dan Jackson, Mike Jacobs and Reetu Ragini.
Be Cautious About Science Reporting
Many new scientific discoveries are reported daily by the news media. These are evaluated and discussed in detail by scientific cable shows like you see on the Smithsonian Channel. These shows mix science and pseudo-science. I’m still waiting for the Loch Ness monster to show up at the pyramids in Egypt. We actually had an AAPG field trip to view the fossil sea monsters in Egypt! I ask that you critically evaluate what you hear in the news media and from special interest groups. The facts might be distorted to make it more interesting. Try to make sure the environmental person is reputable. A good scientist will challenge what is presented. The goal is to find out the truth.
I will give you an anecdotal example: COVID-19 has caused everyone to be more aware of their environment. That awareness has opened our eyes to what is going on around us. From February through June, I observed the clearest skies over Los Angeles that I can remember in my 70 years living here. It was amazing how quickly the aerosols dropped out of the atmosphere after the petroleum powered transportation, industries and mining operations nearly shut down. It makes me wonder how long it took for the air to clear 66 million years ago at the KT event. I asked a friend in Houston if he observed the same thing. He did! All of this came to an end staring the Fourth of July weekend.
As confident as I feel about my observations, I only gave an opinion and followed it up with consensus. Someone should look into this and present a scientific study. I think this should provide valuable information for our climatologists.
As long as we are on climatology, I would like to know the confidence levels of their predictions. Also, how much normalization of data was used? It is easy to unintentionally bias findings, especially when you have many unknowns.
Sustainability and Renewables
Making more efficient use of petroleum products should be the immediate best course of action, in my opinion. The sustainability movement in our industry to improve environmental performance, as well as the expansion into renewables by companies such as Shell, Repsol, Total and Equinor, are big steps in the right direction.
In the Los Angeles basin, many people want to see the end of oil and gas production. Rarely do they realize how much their lives are impacted by the oil we produce here and in basins around the world. When the oil wells are abandoned, they seal off the producing intervals and the freshwater intervals. Those very same geologists who chose the bottom-hole locations are now employed to abandon them, thus extending their careers. Many geoscientists have lost their jobs and are looking into new career roles, whether it be in oil and gas, or other industries. AAPG President Rick Fritz has made this a major goal of his presidency. DEG is on board.
What does the future bring? I suspect we will go to the Moon and asteroids next in our search for energy. Mars will follow as humans move out into space. AAPG geoscientists will be there to find and exploit new sources of energy, here on earth and beyond. Sustainability and conservation are our goals.