Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:05 PM


GREENBERG, Jeffrey K., Geology, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL 60187,

The times are relatively good for the broader vocation of earth science. Environmental issues and demand for natural resources will only grow in their significance. The recent boom in oil and gas exploitation has brought a boom in employment as well as industry profits. Global mining ventures to meet unprecedented competitive demands have also brought enhanced prosperity to firms and their employees. All this is considered a rejuvenation for our disciplines.

Our science needs to recognize that the good times have a dark side, as the resource boom creates ever more stress on environmental systems and the human lives they support.

Economic and political forces tend to take precedence over science and morality in decision making. In essence, our technical knowledge serves as just another tool to increase wealth for powerful interests. It may be argued that our expertise is too often applied in further marginalizing less-advantaged people. The old colonial days among less-developed nations have given way to the same unjust exploitation in neo-colonial recent times.

There is no time like the present to assert the “better angels of our nature” (First Inaugural Address, A. Lincoln) and seek earnestly for ways to benefit those in need via our science. Interdisciplinary cooperation has great potential in creating teams to study mostly local environmental and resource problems. Anthropologists, sociologists, ecologists and engineers ought to be directed by the true experts of the land.

What will it take for us to devote some time and personal-institutional support in making the world a better place? Our students begin with great altruistic passion. Must we lose this to further inflate egos, bank accounts, and the powers of political-business dominion?