Ok, you’re probably thinking. Now she’s really lost it. California’s got earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, coastal erosion, oil, gold, sinking ground, a funky inland delta with levees in danger of failing, major water issues… and that’s not even getting into the really cool stuff, like serpentinites and blueschists and pillow basalts and forearc basin sediments and granodiorites.
Yeah. California’s got plenty of geology, and plenty of problems related to its geology. And college-bound high school kids don’t study it, because very few high school earth science classes count for admission to the University of California.
That is crazy. Earth & environmental science would make the perfect capstone course for a high school science curriculum. It would be easy to design a course that would reinforce chemistry, physics, and biology, because the earth sciences use them all, and for practical and fascinating and important problems, too. And it would be fun, even for kids with a bad case of senioritis, because the earth sciences are outside, everywhere around us. (Also, volcanoes explode and earthquakes destroy things. Geology = extreme science.) The earth sciences could make Californians better citizens, and better fans of science. But not if the class isn’t even offered.
Eldridge Moores (of UC Davis and Assembling California fame) is leading the fight to get earth science education into California’s schools. The Far West section of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers has taken up the call to arms, and Garry Hayes has some suggested talking points for a letter-writing campaign to the UC Academic Council here, and Andrew Alden has some additional arguments here.
Because civilization, especially California’s, lives by geologic consent. Just ask Louis Agassiz.