The W.H.E.R.E theme
Canada's IYPE Theme: WHERE on Earth? WHERE in Canada?
WHERE is an acronym for Water, Hazards, Energy, Resources and the Environment. These five key Earth Sciences Themes are featured in a mix of highly visible projects from the national to the local level.
WATER is the key to life on Earth. It occurs on the Earth's surface as oceans, lakes and rivers and it also occurs under the land surface as groundwater. The availability of clean, fresh drinking water is essential to a healthy population and Canadians want to ensure that there is a long-lasting, sustainable supply of fresh water. Earth scientists are elucidating the extent of Canada's groundwater resources to help Canadians understand the quality and quantity of existing water resources and identify threats to the maintenance of clean fresh water.
HAZARDS to life and property occur naturally. Earthquakes are perhaps the most dangerous of all natural hazards and earth scientists work to understand the nature, frequency and severity of earthquakes. Earthquakes can also cause tsunamis. Volcanic eruptions can also cause loss of life and property damage; there have been large eruptions in North America in the past and the threat of explosive eruptions remains, especially in western Canada. On a more local scale, landslides are also damaging and occur throughout Canada. Earth scientists work to understand the areas that are most prone to the many different types of landslides.
ENERGY supply is critical for Canadians. It is extracted from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, from uranium minerals through nuclear energy and from the damming of waterways to produce hydroelectricity. Earth scientists work to discover supplies of these resources that keep Canadians warm and dry throughout the year and allow for transportation of goods across the country and around the world. We are moving towards increasing use of solar and wind energy, but of course the construction of windmills and solar panels requires considerable energy and resources as well.
RESOURCES are extracted from the Earth to make the material things that Canadians take for granted. We extract ores, rocks, gravel, and gems from the Earth and turn them into metals, cars, buildings, roads, jewelry and everything else we use every day. Without mineral resources we would have virtually nothing to build with and therefore almost none of the goods that fill our stores year after year. Earth scientists develop highly sophisticated methods to find and extract these resources.
A clean and safe ENVIRONMENT is important to all Canadians. In some cases environmental exposures are natural such as local concentrations of hazardous elements like lead or radioactive materials. The environment is also under severe pressure from the scale of human social and economic development. More commonly we cause our own environmental problems and experts are required to try and fix them. Since earth scientists understand how the Earth and its materials behave, their knowledge and advice are critical to the solutions.