When he was a young Air Force pilot, Arthur R. Green said he was required in training to memorize all the constellations in the heavens.
It was something of an ordeal at the time, but later, as an exploration geologist traveling the globe, Green said he was always thankful for that basic understanding of the universe around him and found great comfort in his hard-earned knowledge.
“Wherever I was in the world, whether I was in a desert in the Middle East, in the Arctic or anywhere else far from home, I could always look up and see my friends, the stars,” said Green, a long-time AAPG member now retired as chief geoscientist for ExxonMobil Exploration.
“Having that knowledge has always seemed a precious thing to me. To know how the universe around you works, to understand your place on the planet seems to me to be a very basic part of being alive and living on the Earth.”
It was that deep, abiding understanding of the value of science education that inspired Green to become involved early on in envisioning a comprehensive film project on geosciences that would eventually evolve into “Faces of Earth,” the four-part documentary series that premiered on The Science Channel.
“Art was very active in the formative process of the series, helping define the scope and general science approaches,” said Christopher Keane, AGI’s director of communications and technology and an executive producer on the series.
Green said he worked closely from the start with AGI and its former executive director, the late Marcus E. Milling, in defining the aims of the documentary series. And later he was encouraged by Milling to make a strong case to his bosses at ExxonMobil to become a major financial underwriter of the project.
“It was Marcus, with his strong commitment to earth sciences education, who really had the vision and kept things moving forward,” Green said.
Our Need to Know
The author of many geologic studies and published papers, and a noted lecturer
on petroleum exploration and global energy, Green said he is “consistently dumbfounded” by the lack of basic science literacy he finds among the general public as he travels around the country.
“It’s amazing to me that something so important to life and the health and well-being of our country and our planet seems to be ignored by so many people,” he said. “It’s amazing how little people know about our use of energy, where that energy comes from, (and) how we’re going to deal with increasing demands in the future.
“That’s why I believe it’s so important that we provide useful, interesting and dynamic tools to help people understand how the Earth works,” he continued. “That’s what ‘Faces of Earth’ is all about.”
As a long-time AAPG member, Green said he is especially pleased that the AAPG Foundation agreed to sponsor the series and contribute funds specifically to support its educational mission after the cable TV broadcast.
“We need to encourage people to ask hard questions, look carefully at the world around them and engage in discussions about the future of the Earth,” he said. “If we can get more people thinking about the state of the Earth and how to better care for the planet, then we’ll all be better for it.
“And if we can inform people and educate them on how the Earth works, let them understand that it’s a living, constantly shifting and evolving thing, then we’ll all be able to feel more at home in the universe and understand our place in it.”