Environmental Hazards on the US-Mexico
Mark Finco & George Hepner
Prior Learning Expectations
This case study assumes a basic understanding of geography, geology, population and
settlement studies, economics and trade, ecology, environmental health sciences,
and GIA (Geographical Information Analysis). It is recommended that the student
have the ability to:
a) Explain and discuss basic principles of environmental health science and industrial
hygiene issues as it relates to air, land/soil and water pollution and contamination
(surface and sub-surface).
b) Manipulate and interpret basic geological and topographic maps, aerial
photos and remotely-sensed imagery to assess and analyze urban and rural land use
and transportation systems as well as residential patterns that indicate "vulnerability"
to natural and human-induced hazards.
c) Gather and analyze socio-economic and natural science data from traditional
print as well as newer electronic sources son such issues as population and hazards
data, commodity and trade/transportation movements and so on.
d) Know generally how to find government data and documents on environmental
regulations, laws, hazards, waste storage and processing, transport and disposal.
e) Perform simple computations and calculations used in the earth, social and
Prior Textbook Reading
Background reading on selected earth science and environmental topics in basic Wiley
textbooks will enhance understanding of the case study material. Following
are specific chapters in selected textbooks that are recommended for student reading.
Geology Today: Understanding our Planet. Murck and Skinner. John Wiley
& Sons, Inc. 1999. Ch. 14 "Deserts, Glaciers, and Climate Change";
Ch. 15 "A Brief History of Life on Earth"; Ch. 16 "Earth Resources";
Ch. 17 "The Role of Geoscientists in the 21st Century" - Understanding
Earth Resources and Geologic Hazards" - page 512-521.
Blue Planet: an Introduction to Earth System Science. Skinner and Porter
. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1999. Ch. 13 "Winds, Weather and Deserts";
Ch. 17 "Biological Evolution and the History of the Biosphere"; Ch.
20 "Global Change: A Planet under Stress".
Environmental Geology. Murck, Skinner and Porter . John Wiley &
Sons, Inc. 1996. Part IV Managing Wastes: Ch 16 "Waste Disposal"; Ch. 17
"Contaminants in the Geologic Environment"; Ch. 18 "Atmospheric Change".
Geography: Realms, Regions and Concepts. H.J. de Blij and peter
O. Muller. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1997. Ch 3 "North America: The Postindustrial
Transformation" (see particularly parts on agriculture, settlement history and
related issues in the southwest of North America); Ch. 4 "Middle America: Collision
of Cultures" (part about Mexico).
Environmental Science: Earth As a Living Planet. Daniel B. Botkin
and Edward A. Keller. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1998. Part IV Sustaining
Living Resources: Ch. 10-14: "World Food Supply; Agriculture and the Environment;
Wild Living Resources; Landscapes and Seascapes; Environmental Health and Toxicology".
Systems Science Skills/Tools Emphasized
Both the web-based and printed materials in this case study can be used to increase
student skills and knowledge in the following areas:
- Access, acquisition, display, and interpretion of basic maps and images that
depict patterns of geomorphology, geology, seismology, limnology, ecology and hydrology
of the US-Mexico border region as it relates to environmental risks and hazards as
well as economic, social, industrial, land use/land cover and settlement/demographic
- Acquisition of place-name literacy regarding major features of the US-Mexico
border region's physical, cultural and biogeographical landscape and its historical
- Evaluate the policy implications of legal and regulatory crises, issues and trends
that pertain to the prevention, mitigation and enforcement of environmental treaties,
accords, and laws both internationally within NAFTA) and the US.
with the National Science Education Standards (NSES)
A good place to start is with the online or print version of:
with the National Geography Standards
Answers to Activities
- Self-Test Exercises of Virtual Tours:
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Notes on Active Pedagogy in the
There are many resources on the Internet that now deal with "active learning"
and other inquiry-based approaches to teaching science. Here are a few specific
resources that you can start with--particularly those which emphasize GEC
(Global Environmental Change) and HDGC (Human Dimensions of Global Change)
as well as ESS (Earth System Science).
I've also listed an excellent online resource dealing with Web-based Teaching,
e.g. issues of evaluating web resources and plagiarism on the web. I recommend
highly Bruce Leland's homepage
(Professor of English Western Illinois University) and its resources for librarians.
- Evaluating Web Resources
- Evaluation Guide
- Plagiarism on the Web
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Feedback and User Participation
To make suggestions and corrections or to participate by submitting material please
Robert E. Ford
International Studies and Earth System Science
Westminster College of Salt Lake City
1840 South 1300 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84105
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