The record of the rocks is not just the history of Earth; it’s your history too. Geologists can learn about events going back billions of years that influenced – and even made possible – our present-day existence and shaped our society.
If the last Ice Age had been a bit warmer, the rivers and lakes of the Midwest would have been much farther north and the U.S. might still be a small country of 13 states. If some Mediterranean islands hadn’t twisted a bit, no roads would have led to Rome.
Geology is big history, and the story is on-going. Human activity is changing the planet too, and has introduced its own geologic era, the Anthropocene. Will Earthlings of a hundred million years from now dig up our plastic refuse and study it the way we study dinosaur bones?
Plus, the dodo had the bad luck to inhabit a small island and couldn’t adapt to human predators. But guess what? It wasn’t as dumb as you think.
- Walter Alvarez – Professor of Geology, University of California, Berkeley, and author of A Most Improbable Journey: A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves
- David Grinspoon – Senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, and author of Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future
- Eugenia Gold – Instructor, Department of Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook University