Narrator: Just like plants,
society is built from the ground up. Plants rely on their roots
for stability and nourishment, just like we rely
on our infrastructure for organization and growth. But how do we build
this connection between humans and the earth? Our job as
geotechnical engineers is to create a sustainable world
by investigating, designing, and building through
the soil and rock that we all live on top of. We use scientific principles
to work with natural materials that have formed millions
of years ago, and assess how they can change at any moment. Climate change is increasing
the frequency and severity of natural disasters,
which demands stronger infrastructure in our cities
to protect our people. Geotechnical engineering
is a branch of civil engineering that has developed the past,
shaped the present, and will protect the future. In the past,
lack of geotechnical awareness has caused a series
of disasters. In 1777, Paris began to collapse
due to unregulated underground limestone quarries used to build
all the iconic white buildings. The Roman Colosseum
was built on top of an unstable clay layer,
which failed during an earthquake
in 1349, resulting in its
partial collapse. Yet the Great Pyramids
in Egypt still stand in their entirety because
of not only their impressive structural integrity,
but also the stability of the foundation. Today, our society benefits
from geotechnical infrastructure advancements in such areas
as tunnels, foundations, roadways, slopes, levees,
offshore drilling, retaining walls,
and other systems that are supported by rock and soil. We are now interconnected
to all parts of the globe, creating the largest network
of information and culture sharing that history
has ever known. Yet this massive network
has a large resource cost and a finite supply. With a sustainable
future in mind, research and geotech
can find solutions for major problems facing
our rapidly changing world. For instance,
shallow energy piles use the constant temperature
of the earth’s soil to heat and cool buildings. In the average residential home,
this system saves 49 percent of energy costs and prevents
the release of one ton of CO2 from coal
into the atmosphere each year. In certain locations
near tectonic plate boundaries, geothermal energy
can be harnessed directly from the earth’s crust. As of today, 27 percent
of the Philippines runs off this natural form of energy. Looking underneath us,
previously unused underground caverns
are being developed into massive storage
units for nuclear waste, petroleum, and natural gas. This field is in demand
and it is projected to grow even more due
to the increasing need of infrastructure
and sustainable energies. Humanity relies
on geotechnical engineering for resilient structures,
efficient transportation, and groundbreaking innovations. If we want our future
generations to enjoy the beauty of our magnificent planet, then we need
to take action starting now. The key to our future
is to learn from our past and act in the present.