The geological column-tt

Will Meadows

In politics there is a dangerous gap between science and policy. Maybe this isn’t the exact thought you had in your lab this morning, or late last doing that long government assignment. It definitely isn’t always mine.

Yet if we’re going to spend so many hours in labs, in front of computers, and deep into text books for the sake of getting majors that will eventually allow us to be influential, why not see the usefulness of our knowledge now and do something?

With the Human Rights Month coming to an end at Lawrence it is interested to think about the potential Lawrence students actually have to make an impact in real world issues – without waiting. In this week’s Geology Column I’ll show two examples of how geology relates to real world issue at Lawrence. Whatever you major, you can lead to real impacts.

A group of students committed to the environment, Adam Kranz at the helm, have been organizing, with a movement across North America, to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline will pump oil from the Alberta Tar Sands, one of the most ecologically devastating fossil fuel projects in history. The Greenfire students are on their way to D.C. to protest, are doing mass letter campaigns, and holding numerous public events to educate local communities.

This political movement is essentially geological. With thorough knowledge of climate and carbon implication and an analysis of the ever increasing destruction of the Alberta watersheds, geologists have the most powerful tool in winning this legal and political battle – truth. Thanks to Lawrence students, that truth will be heard.

In eastern Honduras four indigenous groups are fighting for the livelihoods on the Patuca River. A series of economically unviable dam projects, being used as a political statement of the recent coup, threatens their way of life. Hearing the call of these indigenous groups, Lawrence students, in collaboration with students from around the country, have founded the Partners of the Patuca – an international campaign along with Cultural Survival to stop these dams.

What might actually stop this dam? Geologists! As of today, the major piece of the campaign’s goal, working with scientists from various U.S. colleges, is to review the Environmental Impact Assessment of the dam projects, and showing, through science, that neither the hydrology upon which the economics of the project is based nor the ecological impacts have truly been taken into account. Lawrence students are working to educate key political players on these facts, working to help the indigenous tell their story, Again, knowledge into action.

So knowledge is important, but knowledge without action is less and less the Lawrence way. I’m proud to say that majors, at Lawrence, have shifted, if even just a little bit, from a goal, to a tool to a larger importance.