Adam's Reviews > Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth

Reading the Rocks by Marcia Bjornerud
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's review
Jan 15, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: freshman-studies-09-10, non-fiction, science, the-problem-of-civilization, geology, school-reading
Recommended to Adam by: Freshman Studies
Recommended for: People interested in pop geology

Reading the Rocks is a perfect book for me, since its two themes, geology and humanity's atrocities against the planet, are both things that fascinate me more than most things. And as a pop geology book, Bjornerud makes a contribution worth reading alongside books that are perhaps better written or give more information, like Richard Fortey's Earth, or Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. She does give information that is still new and fascinating after reading those two books.

However, the latter issue, which seems to be the major theme of the book and her personal preoccupation, is given very little treatment in the book. It is simply stated that we should change our attitude towards the Earth, that we should be less presumptuous and more respectful, and that we should consider our actions more before we take them. She offers no analysis of what humans have done so far, nor does she give any suggestions for the reader about what they can do. She treats the whole of humanity as one individual, with particular attitudes towards the environment and an overarching consciousness and cohesive decision-making process, and then acts as though this unified human consciousness is her audience. This all ignores the fact that human actions collectively are determined as a result of natural social selection and emergence, not of conscious group decisions. And thus the problems we face will not be solved by mere attitude change. The social forces that are destroying our planet operate at a much deeper level than our personal ideologies and attitudes.

P.S. - This afternoon I went to a Q&A session with the author, who made it clear that the things I found fault with above. She apparently wanted to avoid being preachy or proselytizing, and instead merely present the evidence and her sentiment and let the reader judge for itself.

It is overall worth reading for its science value, but it is not particularly deep.

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Reading Progress

January 15, 2010 – Started Reading
January 15, 2010 – Shelved
January 15, 2010 –
page 70
January 15, 2010 – Shelved as: freshman-studies-09-10
January 17, 2010 –
page 182
January 17, 2010 – Shelved as: non-fiction
January 17, 2010 – Shelved as: the-problem-of-civilization
January 17, 2010 – Shelved as: science
January 17, 2010 – Shelved as: geology
January 17, 2010 – Finished Reading
February 26, 2012 – Shelved as: school-reading

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