GEO ExPro

Geology is Cool!

This article appeared in Vol. 10, No. 2 - 2013

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I think I can safely assume that anyone reading this has at least a passing interest in the geosciences, while for a fair number of you, geology and related subjects are not just a means of earning a living, but topics of abiding fascination.

We are, however, in a minority, with many people having either no interest, or at worst, thinking that it is a ‘dirty’ subject, associated with despoiling the planet through the extra ction of minerals and oil. Considering what an important place the subject takes in the economy of the world, it is often not taken seriously. There was a recent furore in the British media when a Member of Parliament asked whether a geologist or a person stacking supermarket shelves was more important. Would he have used the same comparison with a physicist or a biologist?

So how can we improve the general perception of our profession and encourage more young people to join it and fill the much discussed void which will be created by the ‘great crew change’? By employing all methods at our disposal, I suggest, from using social media to explain controversial aspects such as fraccing to the general public, to promoting geosciences in schools and colleges through visits, courses and sponsorships.

The UK’s PESGB recently came up with a very original and successful approach to this challenge. The speaker at its annual public ‘Stoneley Lecture’ was popular comedian Hugh Dennis, a well-known television star – also a geography graduate and geology enthusiast. The approach appeared to work, as the lecture hall was full, with an audience excited to hear Hugh talk in a very entertaining manner about his passion for the outdoors and describe geology as the basis of so much of importance in our lives. He did admit that his initial interest in landscape and rock formations was developed on long family walks in the wet British countryside, as he trailed a long way behind his family and looked at everything around him – pretending he was nothing to do with his father (a bishop), who carried the family cat inside his coat, with its head poking out for all to see!

Well, it worked. Whatever the route, we need to get more people understanding the excitement and fasciation of our subject at all levels. Geology is cool!

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