Identifying a Best-Fit Climatic Fluctuations Model from the Geological Record

If there was one personal lesson that I learned while moving from conventional oil and gas exploration efforts to broach the realm of unconventional resources more than 15 years ago, it is that many, if not all paradigms were bound to be broken.

This sometimes came with a degree of trepidation. The less obvious answers were often tied to challenging previously accepted principles in the hope that another conundrum could be solved. The repeated increases in estimated global and domestic ultimate recoverable reserves attest to the fact that we did not know what we thought we knew. Likewise, there is still much that we have yet to figure out.

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If there was one personal lesson that I learned while moving from conventional oil and gas exploration efforts to broach the realm of unconventional resources more than 15 years ago, it is that many, if not all paradigms were bound to be broken.

This sometimes came with a degree of trepidation. The less obvious answers were often tied to challenging previously accepted principles in the hope that another conundrum could be solved. The repeated increases in estimated global and domestic ultimate recoverable reserves attest to the fact that we did not know what we thought we knew. Likewise, there is still much that we have yet to figure out.

In a similar fashion, we as geoscientists are currently under society’s microscope, as it were. We are challenged on many fronts to provide answers related to meteorological phenomena (climatic fluctuations) that appear out of the norm when using modern human history as a time scale.

Although the more immediate problems facing modern society are measured in months, years and perhaps decades, it is my belief that as geoscientists we can best serve society by stepping away from predictions of environmental and climatic cataclysms. There is currently a significant socio-political brouhaha that could use a little dampening based on good scientific analysis and discussion.

An exploration geologist at heart, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the geological record from as different a perspective as I can muster. The Division of Environmental Geosciences is also at a point at which that approach can come to fruition, providing sound estimates of the future by looking at the present, then relating it to a distant yet similar scenario in the geological record, then applying amalgamated learnings to provide adequate parameters for future predictive models used in climatic fluctuations. By so doing, the geoscience community can play a key role in continued efforts to derive credible, non-alarmist predictions.

An added benefit of doing so is the demonstration of a sound, scientific, principled approach – the type of critical thinking from which youth can learn and hopefully emulate. Knowing that they can sleep at night with confirmation that the planet will still be habitable when they grow up, some might even choose to become environmental geoscientists.

Seeking Abstracts for ACE 2020

On a closing note of encouragement, the DEG is looking forward to receiving abstracts for the AAPG 2020 Annual Convention and Exhibition to be held in Houston, June 7-10, 2020.

The abstracts submission site is now open, we are looking forward to a strong DEG representation. I would like to invite everyone to look up the event details at AAPG.org/events/conferences/ace and to help us make the DEG subject matter a resounding success at ACE 2020.

Comments (3)

A different opinion from a fellow member
On the other hand, I want to be part of an organization that 1) recognizes the abundant and compelling evidence that human activities are a key factor in current climate change, as referenced in the collective authoritative statements of the global national academies of science and the comprehensive analyses on climate science as presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2) accepts that these scientific observations require concerted worldwide action to avoid the worst impacts of future climate change, 3) supports national and international climate frameworks as important roadmaps towards meeting climate change commitments and accelerating the market-led and policy-driven transition to lower-carbon forms of energy, 4) offers to empower the future by employing the surface and subsurface geological skills and talents of our members in areas such as carbon capture and storage, geothermal energy development, and critical minerals extraction, and to use creativity and innovation in the responsible and sustainable development of hydrocarbons, with the goal of reducing humanity’s carbon footprint, and finally, 5) accepts the immense challenges of the energy transition and welcomes the important role that geoscientists will play in delivering sustainable energy to the world.
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2/10/2020 4:11:45 PM
Not Overstepping Our Science & Credibility
Fully on board with your comment Wayne K. Camp. Modeling is essentially just that, reality has many additional nuances that quite frankly make predictions often tenuous. Our tangible asset being to look at rock & glacial records across millions of years with an ever evolving set of analytical tools.
10/8/2019 5:12:57 PM
DEG President's Column
I agree that it is an appropriate role of the geologist to explain the geological past, including what we can deduce from the rocks about paleo climate (including ice cores and marine sediments), but we need to be careful not to overstep our science and credibility by predicting future climate, which is even a difficult task for the climatologists.
9/21/2019 9:40:51 PM

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