“We learn geology the morning after the earthquake,” the 19th-century essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote. The quote has a pithy resonance as we grapple with the fallout of our inaction on so many fronts, from pandemic prevention to climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.
Applied to geology itself, it is a case of “if only”. These days, hardly anyone learns the subject. In the UK, just over 1000 pupils a year gain an A level in geology, down from almost 4000 four decades ago.
There are many reasons for that squeeze, not least the narrowing of the …