How Thinking Like A Geologist Can Help Save The World
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Why an awareness of Earths temporal rhythms is critical to our planetary survival
Few of us have any conception of the enormous timescales in our planets long history, and this narrow perspective underlies many of the environmental problems we are creating for ourselves. The passage of nine days, which is how long a drop of water typically stays in Earths atmosphere, is something we can easily grasp. But spans of hundreds of yearsthe time a molecule of carbon dioxide resides in the atmosphereapproach the limits of our comprehension. Our everyday lives are shaped by processes that vastly predate us, and our habits will in turn have consequences that will outlast us by generations.Timefulness reveals how knowing the rhythms of Earths deep past and conceiving of time as a geologist does can give us the perspective we need for a more sustainable future.
Marcia Bjornerud shows how geologists chart the planets past, explaining how we can determine the pace of solid Earth processes such as mountain building and erosion and comparing them with the more unstable rhythms of the oceans and atmosphere. These overlapping rates of change in the Earth systemsome fast, some slowdemand a poly-temporal worldview, one that Bjornerud calls timefulness. She explains why timefulness is vital in the Anthropocene, this human epoch of accelerating planetary change, and proposes sensible solutions for building a more time-literate society.
This compelling book presents a new way of thinking about our place in time, enabling us to make decisions on multigenerational timescales. The lifespan of Earth may seem unfathomable compared to the brevity of human existence, but this view of time denies our deep roots in Earths historyand the magnitude of our effects on the planet.