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Wat is Earth Science? Some people call it geology, although geology is only a small part of the geosciences. Read this article to find out more.
Hello you, welcome to the Science of Travel Blog – the blog that combines all things Earth, landscapes, and travel destinations with Earth Science!
Earth Science is also called geoscience and basically is the study of Earth. Earth scientists want to research Earth as a planetary system. Essentially, it is made up of numerous fields of study. You can imagine Earth Science as a tree, where the trunk represents Earth Science. From that trunk, multiple branches extend. Those branches are all other disciplines that are included in Earth Science. Those branches are: geology, analytical geomorphology, geophysics, geochemistry, mineralogy, crystallography, paleotonology, micropaleontology, geobiology, ecology, volcanology, seismology, oceanography, glaciology, atmospheric sciences and so many more.
But it goes even beyond Earth. Other objects in space such as our neighbor planet Mars are interesting to Earth scientists as well.
Geoscience is closely linked to and heavily influenced by biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics and this shows again how interrelated nature is. We can’t explain Earth without also understand other sciences.
Earth scientists explore processes that happen inside Earth and on its surface that regulate and control our planet from an atomic to global level. This means elements and chemical reactions that lead to crust formation and the differentiation of Earth’s layers are just as important to consider and understand as are big-scale tectonic processes which move plates, cause mountain building processes, subduction zones, volcanoes and all other Earth surface processes. Earth scientists also try to model Earth’s interior, try to unravel Earth’s and the universe's long history and are also the ones who research climate change, who study volcanoes and who, for example, use radio carbon dating to date rocks and minerals to find out how old Earth and the Moon are, and, I’m mentioning this because I just craeted a poster about this topic, Earth scientists are also those people who try to find out why and when the Atacama Desert began to be so dry, and much much more.
As you can see, it is a very, very broad field of study and, again, it shows just how complex our planet is and how interrelated all processes on it are. For me personally, understanding these connections and processes is vital, as our lives and the lives of all other creatures depend on our relationship with Earth.
For the first time in Earth’s history, humans have become the most dominant factor influencing the geological, biological and atmospheric processes on our planet.
We are changing our climate, polluting our oceans, cutting down forests, exploiting mines, building cities in deserts, creating islands out of sand, erect skyscrapers in dizzying heights, drive over 1 billion cars and travel all across the globe.
Naturally, this has to have an impact on Earth and the entire system.
Earth’s history is separated into eons, eras, periods and epochs. Currently, we live in the Holocene, which is an epoch within the period Quaternary and which started 11.700 years ago.
20 years ago, the Dutch atmospheric chemist and nobel laureate Paul Crutzen coined a new word to describe a new epoch when human actions have drastic effects on Earth: Anthropocene, which basically means the age of humans.
Understanding Earth can help to understand our role in this great little world. Earth is a tiny ball in a large black universe. We have to take care of this world and start to see the bigger picture, see beyond races and power and fame and borders. We need to understand our role on this planet, and to know our place in the universe. Because our world doesn’t end with the atmosphere that protects us from harmful sunrays. Our world is beyond this, there is no border, we are connected to each other, to our plants and animals, to the soil we build buildings on, the trees and plants that produce oxygen, oceans that cover more parts of the planet than our continents, to the stars that make the elements we are made of, to the sun, the moon and other planets surrounding us, creating gravity that pulls everything together and allows our tiny ball to circulate our average sized star that allows plants to grow and warms us and so much more.
When we educate ourselves, we already start preservation, as we will inevitably be changing our perspective on Earth.
Education isn’t bad or nerdy, education can be simple and fun, especially when you can apply your knowledge to a thing you associate joy with, such as your travel destination. Then, learning won’t feel like a burden.
The exact opposite is the case: We will want to make a difference, support local communities, culture and nature. We will feel so much more connected to other people and ourselves and nature and Earth.
Connection is so important. Technology is taking over our lives, cities are loud and noisy, we feel disconnected. Studies have shown time and time again that being out in nature can cure a bad mood, headaches and heart palpatations. But frankly, we don’t need studies to proof this – we know it deep within ourselves, and we feel it, when we listen closely, that we know this to be true. Nature is healing. It feels so good to be outside, seeing green plants is soothing, feeling sand or grass with our bare feet is calming. Getting back to basics and our roots is essential in times of distraction and deception and can help us get in touch with ourselves.
In a single-use, replace-instead-of-repair and throw-away-after-use society it maybe is hard to grasp this thought: we don’t have another planet. Once it’s sick or broken, we can’t replace it. We’re actually forced to take responsibility for our actions and solve this problem, together.
I hope that this blog will inspire you to see the world with new eyes and I hope to support you to feel grounded, down-to-earth and more satisfied, simply by showing you our planet and bringing it closer to you, by explaining the processes that have been creating and will be creating this dynamic world forever, until the sun eats up Earth in billions of years.
I hope you’ll learn to evaluate your role on this planet and its importance to your life.
The Coronavirus crisis has already shown us how vulnerable we are, and that we aren’t superior to nature. In fact, we’re at its mercy! We need to live in harmony with it.
To me, learning about science and being aware of our surroundings, living consciously and to our highest human potential isn’t mutually exclusive – but in fact science and being human, humanity, go along with each other.
My hope is that this blog and all that I do will contribute to us living in balance with our lovely home, the only planet we have!
I hope you’ll come along on these many virtual journeys and adventures to foreign countries and deep space with me, to explore the planet we live on and the universe we live in.
Be kind and love nature
About the author
Daniela is convinced that by gaining deep insights into planet Earth and travel destinations you’ll create meaningful, grounding and memorable life and travel experiences. She explains fundamental geological processes that form and shape landscapes and combines these insights with philosophical and philanthropical views in her online courses, articles, and newsletter. She holds two bachelor's degrees in geosciences (B.Sc.) and business administration with tourism (B.A.). She is the owner and founder of EarthyMe, EarthyUniversity and the Science of Travel blog and the STORIES OF EARTH newsletter.
Image: Full Disk Earth, Apollo 17, 1972; photo provided by The New York Public Library via Unsplash