I believe in a solid Earth

Catherine (Katie) - Washington, District of Columbia
Entered on June 15, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: environment

I believe in a solid Earth. I’m sure not a day goes by when I’m not hounded by global warming guilt. Did I recycle that bottle of water? Was my carbon footprint just increased by the boots that I just had to have? Why isn’t my dream car hybrid? Day in and day out, the carbon cycle, surface temperature curve and glacial/interglacial maximums weigh on my conscience. And probably yours, too. And your kids. Ask any third or fourth grader about climate change and I’ll bet you’ll get a decent answer about fossil fuels, recycling, and doom & gloom scenarios. However, ask that same kid what lies beneath their feet or what the middle of the Earth looks like – is it molten? Is it hollow? Does it matter? (and in case you’re wondering – no, no and YES). Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic that climate change science has now become as hip as nerdy, funky plastic eyeglasses and messenger bags. It’s great that people get jazzed and up in arms about the workings of the surface of our planet. But why is it that knowledge and excitement so shallow? Literally. There are more than 3,900 miles of spectacular change and complicated systems below our feet and that’s just to the center of the Earth. And yet, it’s neglected every day. Sure, we all hear about how the surface of our planet is heating up due to the delicate balance between our atmosphere, the stuff we dump in it and the Sun, but did you know that the Earth, as the entire planet, (as in from the center of the core out) is actually losing heat? And that heat is being generated in part from the decay of radioactive material that exists naturally within our planet? And that is the very reason that we have mountains, volcanoes, and earthquakes? Oh, and by the way, mountains and volcanoes have direct impact on both local and global climate (as anyone living in a rain shadow or near a volcano could tell you). Sure, mountains and volcanoes don’t just pop up or disappear overnight, but the nature of the surface of our Earth depends on processes from the innermost regions up. The Earth should be respected as an entire planet rather than just the surface that we’re lucky enough to live on. As an educator moving forward in this climate change fever encouraged to focus on environmental (i.e., surficial) science, I worry that the beautiful connections that link the interior of the Earth to its surface will be overlooked or dismissed as not pertinent to stopping our anthropomorphic mess. I worry that the Earth’s surface temperature variation over the past 100 years will be easy party trivia knowledge, but the temperature of the interior of the Earth is not even worth pondering. I worry that no one will know what lies beneath their feet (or carbon footprint) or worse, will even care. There’s more to this Earth than the surface that we abuse. It’s a solid, ever-evolving planet that will keep on changing no matter what science is in vogue. It’s up to us to keep up. This I believe.