Can Understanding Earth's Geologic History Help Preserve Our Place On It?

Jan 24, 2019

Understanding the enormous timescales in our planet’s long history can be difficult — practically mind-boggling. But Marcia Bjornerud hopes her new book Timefulness: How Thinking Like A Geologist Can Help Save The World makes that history accessible and helps us grasp the magnitude of our effects on the planet.

The professor of geology at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., says the term "timefulness" is a counterpoint to timelessness.

“We like things to be unchanging forever and somehow hovering above us in a way that is eternal. But the fact is that everything is full of time and the recognition of that can actually be something that helps us make peace with our own short time on the planet — but also understand out deep roots here as well," Bjornerud says.

She says, although her book's title includes the words “how thinking like a geologist can help save the world” it would be more accurate to say “... can help save civilization.”

Bjornerud says we need to take care of nature so that nature will take care of us.

"That’s part of the message of the book — we are tinkering with nature in ways that are dangerous to ourself," Bjornerud says.

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