The research, published in Conservation Biology, revealed that over a nine year period the number of registered sex offenders in energy 'boomtowns' was two to three times higher than towns dependent on other industries.
The research, carried out by Dr Joel Berger and Dr Jon P. Beckmann, analysed communities in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) in Wyoming USA, an area often referred to as the largest intact ecosystem in Earth's temperate zone. Many towns across the area are dependent on energy extraction, while others are dependent on agriculture and tourism. The authors assessed whether social and environmental issues are related to the industries that dominate these boomtowns.
"In the past few years it has become clear that the development of wide-scale energy projects takes both social and environmental tolls," said Berger from the University of Montana and Wildlife Conservation Society. "Our research identified societal markers to reveal the negative elements associated with changing human economies and to gauge changes in both community composition and services. One of these markers was the increase in sexual predators."
Through nine local county attorney's offices the authors were able to study the number of registered sexual offenders, defined as convicted felons that are required by law to register with legal authorities, across the Greater Yellowstone area.
The research revealed that over a nine year period the number of sexual offenders grew by two to three times more in areas dependent on oil extraction than in similar areas dependent on agriculture or tourism.
In 2008 there were 300% more sexual offenders in the GYE than in 1997 when the US Sex Offenders Registry became law. The number of sex offenders increased most rapidly in counties dominated by oil and gas extraction.
"The absolute and relative frequency of registered sexual offenders grew faster in areas reliant on energy extraction," Berger confirmed. "This is a severe symptom of the social problems faced by these communities. These problems, coupled with a parallel rise in ecological destruction, fit a pattern which has been reflected consistently around energy boomtowns from Ecuador to northern Canada."
"This is not to say that the arrival of the energy industry into a community directly leads to sexual predation. Rather it is symptomatic of wider social and economic issues which communities face when they become dependent on the rise and fall of these industries," said Beckmann from the Wildlife Conservation Society. "Our findings underscore an increase in sexual predators as a result of the dramatic social upheaval caused when a large influx of people are attracted to energy boomtowns due to high rates of employment and high salaries."
Other symptoms of social change seen in energy boomtowns across the western United States include the use of illicit drugs, domestic violence, wildlife poaching and a general rise in crime. The research suggests that these changes occur because of the differences between the traditional rural residents and the incoming workforce.
The link between these social issues and environmental change has led to the rise of unlikely alliances as social advocates and state agencies have banded together across the area to conserve the potential for traditional rural lifestyles.
"Our findings suggest that the public and industry need stronger regulatory action to instil greater vigilance in areas which face ecological, economic and social problems, due to dependence on the energy industry," concluded Berger.
Ben Norman | EurekAlert!
Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel
Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy