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voices

World War G: Zombies, energy and the geosciences

In lieu of doing a "year in review" issue this year, EARTH asked our staff and some frequent contributors to write a short commentary on something that grabbed their attention in 2013. We gave everyone carte blanche. What follows is a collection of extremely varied, often very personal insights into how the planet impacted each individual. In this commentary, EARTH contributing editor Michael Webber draws parallels between zombies and the geosciences.

22 Nov 2013

Tackling "Boundary Faults" across the Alaska-Yukon border: A report from the field

Our two dusty trucks roll across the airstrip, casting long, late-May shadows down the runway. We spot our colleagues from the Yukon Geological Survey and realize we’ve found the right place after an exhausting 12-hour drive from Anchorage punctuated by several U-turns to find the right unmarked access driveway off the Alaska Highway at the south end of Kluane Lake. The evening air is crisp, and the towering peaks to the south are capped with snow.

15 Oct 2013

Energy 360: Leaving our corners for the radical middle: New Zealand sets an example

Energy underpins every aspect of modern life, yet it is often a source of conflict in society. Thus, considering the political ramifications of energy policies is both inevitable and important. But separating politics from science and economics can be difficult, in part because everyone, including me, has biases. Bias in and of itself is not bad; some might even consider it an unavoidable byproduct of knowledge (or the lack thereof). The challenge with energy policy discussions is to manage bias and potential conflicts of interest and conscience.

13 Sep 2013

Bare Earth Elements: Rim Fire Roundup

The devasting Rim Fire has been torching a growing patch of California for the last week and a half. The latest update from Cal Fire reports that the fire has burned about 726 square kilometers (~179,000 acres), currently making it the 7th largest fire by burn area in the state's history. EARTH offers a roundup of sites where official information can be found, as well as some of the many recent news reports covering the fire.

27 Aug 2013

Geologic Column: Assessing energy and mining workforce needs

In his 1971 book, “Encounters with the Archdruid,” John McPhee quoted Charles Park, an economic geologist who worked at the U.S. Geological Survey and then Stanford University, who said, “People seldom stop to think that all these things — planes in the air, cars on the road, Sierra Club cups — once, somewhere, were rock. Our whole economy — our way of doing things, most of what we have, even our culture — rests on these things.” Although McPhee’s emphasis was on the balance between environmental protection and our societal need for raw materials, the book highlighted the fundamental importance of energy exploration and mining, an idea that implies still another significant message: Our society needs scientists, engineers and skilled laborers who can locate and extract raw materials and energy sources from the rocks beneath our feet in order to power our economy and our way of life.

16 Aug 2013

Blogging on EARTH: A letter from field camp

Bryce Mitsunaga, a recent graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., is currently attending field camp at the Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association camp located in the Beartooth Mountain Range outside of Red Lodge, Mont. In honor of EARTH's August feature on field camps, Bryce wrote in with some reflections on his experiences so far.

24 Jul 2013

Bare Earth Elements: The field camp experience in photos

For the August issue of EARTH, I wrote about some of the ways in which geology's longstanding rite of passage — field camp — has changed over the years, as well as how it has remained the same.

22 Jul 2013

Blogging on EARTH: Behind the scenes with a storm chaser (part 3)

This past May, Nick Luchetti, an undergraduate meteorology student at Virginia Tech, chased supercell storms and tornadoes across the U.S. Great Plains as part of a field course offered by the school. In this series of three posts, he describes the thrills and emotions he experienced while fulfilling a personal dream.

26 Jun 2013

Blogging on EARTH: Behind the scenes with a storm chaser (part 2)

This past May, Nick Luchetti, an undergraduate meteorology student at Virginia Tech, chased supercell storms and tornadoes across the U.S. Great Plains as part of a field course offered by the school. In this series of three posts, he describes the thrills and emotions he experienced while fulfilling a personal dream.

25 Jun 2013

Blogging on EARTH: Behind the scenes with a storm chaser (part 1)

This past May, Nick Luchetti, an undergraduate meteorology student at Virginia Tech, chased supercell storms and tornadoes across the U.S. Great Plains as part of a field course offered by the school. In this series of three posts, he describes the thrills and emotions he experienced while fulfilling a personal dream.

24 Jun 2013

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