Well, the semester has come to a close and it is time to reflect on what I have learned. When I look back on it all, I realize that I have learned a vast amount about how the systems of the earth work and interact. I can describe how the carbon cycle works as well as tell you about the general atmospheric circulation patterns of the earth. But even though I know much more now that I did before, I now also know enough to realize the depth of what I don’t know. The field of earth science encompasses so much (everything enclosed within our blue sphere in space) that it seems almost impossible that someone could learn everything about the earth’s inner workings. And indeed, there is an almost infinite store of knowledge that no one knows. We spend our lives chipping away at this endless mass of knowledge in the hopes that we will eventually arrive at the ultimate answer to everything. I don’t think we’ll ever get there. In this class (and in life!) every answer brings only more questions.
One thing that I think we do have enough knowledge to realize is that the earth cannot sustain us the way we are using it now. The thing that separates us humans from other animals is our ability to consciously understand or surroundings and how the work. Doesn’t this sentient ability also give us some moral responsibility over the environments we so readily destroy? It would be a shame if our brain capacity (the reason we are able to alter our environments to such a scale) was also the reason for our downfall. The human race is capable of changing, we do it every day. All we need to do is have a little more respect for the planet we live on.
-Max Royster, Cornell University Student