The Society has launched its latest report entitled ‘Geology for Society’ designed to communicate to policy and decision-makers, as well as the wider public, the value of geology to society. You can read and download the report on the Society website.
As enthusiasts for the subject, I’m sure many of us have entered into light-hearted conversations explaining that geologists don’t just do ‘colouring in’ and don’t just ‘look at rocks’, but in a broader sense, there are many people who do not know or understand how important our subject is. The contribution of geology to many processes is often difficult to visualise in part because so much of it goes on out of view underneath our feet or in lesser-known realms like the oceans or atmosphere. For this reason geology is often misunderstood, overlooked terms of its vast contribution to the economy, society and the environment.
Indeed this lack of understanding was highlighted last year, when following Cait Reilly’s legal victory over the governments back to work scheme (more on this story here), Iain Duncan Smith (Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) appeared on the Andrew Marr show and said, in reference to the unpaid work placement at Poundland that Cait Reilly was required to work at for no pay:
‘The next time they go into their supermarket, they should ask themselves this simple question, when they can’t find the food they want on the shelves – who is more important – the geologist or the person who stacked the shelves?’
The Society’s press team responded in the form of a press release. This highlighted an important misunderstanding in the variety and value of the work of geologists and earth scientists in all of its sub-disciplines. This report aims to highlight the value and contribution of geology to many aspects of society and outline the complex interconnectivity of the geosphere to other systems. The report focuses on some of the important areas in society where geology plays a vital role.
Producing a report of this kind is not just a case of banging the drum for geology: its undervaluation or omission in many top-level decisions can result in the geosphere being written out of fundamental policy documents. This lack of recognition and inclusion could provide an incomplete evaluation in areas such as geohazards, environmental health, marine protection and carbon and radioactive waste sequestration where thorough consideration of the geology is imperative to successful policy and decision-making.