State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


New Book Teaches How to Think like a Geologist

Geologists really do see the world differently, whether it’s imagining the ancient processes that give rise to mountains or untangling the complexities that produce weather. A new book, co-edited by Lamont scientist Kim Kastens, explores the ways that geologists analyze and understand the earth system, and offers tips for those seeking to better understand it.

Earth and Mind II is written by a team of geoscientists collaborating with cognitive scientists to address topics such as thinking about space, time and natural systems and the importance of fieldwork for teaching and learning. Kastens and co-editor Cathryn Manduca, director of Carleton College’s Science Education Resource Center, have divided the book into four sections–Time, Space, Systems and Field. Each begins with an introduction by the editors, a paper by experts and several commentaries on the theme. Commentaries include: “Did time exist in the Cretaceous?” and “Addressing complexity in weather: The human role in forecasting.” The editors said their goal in writing the book was to reach the next generation with new methods and clearer information.

“Many of the most difficult problems facing society in the twenty-first century concern interactions between humanity and the planet, including global warming, freshwater supply, energy supply, and natural hazards such as hurricanes and earthquakes,” they write. “Our ability as a society to deal effectively with these problems depends on raising a next generation of citizens, scientists, and decision makers who can think more insightfully about Earth and environment than did their parents and grandparents.” Earth and Mind II: A Synthesis of Research on Thinking and Learning in the Geosciences is available through its publisher, Geological Society of America. Kastens is also co-author of the award-winning Earth Science Puzzles, a hands-on book that allows students to practice earth science skills and concepts such as locating an earthquake or figuring out what controls the amount of water flowing in a stream.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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