Terrawatch: 'think like a rock' to help safeguard our survival

Geologist Marcia Bjornerud encourages us to look at evolution through deep time

How far ahead do your thoughts tend to stray? Tomorrow, next week, summer holidays? Perhaps some fleeting thoughts about the years ahead? But what if we stared deeper into the future? Reframing our thinking in this way would go a long way to saving the world, according to the geologist Marcia Bjornerud. In her mind-expanding book Timefulness she introduces us to “thinking like a rock” and seeing how our planet has evolved through deep time.

Realising that dinosaurs dominated the planet for 180m years, while humans have been around for a mere 4m, suddenly puts a new spin on our “success”. Meanwhile, observing some of the major swings in Earth’s past climate, and the impact that these had on life, is both reassuring (the Earth looked after itself just fine and life evolved and came out the other side) and concerning (many species became extinct during these big changes).

Bjornerud argues that if more people saw the world through a geological lens, then humans might stand a chance of being as successful as the dinosaurs. Timefulness is a call to arms for all of us to consider how our actions today will affect future generations.

Contributor

Kate Ravilious

The GuardianTramp

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