Anyone with a minimal knowledge of geology (which precludes most Americans) knows that Yellowstone National Park is basically a huge, ancient volcano. If it were to become active and blow, life on this planet would change.
Obviously, profit is more important than reality or domesday predictions, because someone wants to drill (and, most likely, frack) in currently protected national lands. These folks must not be aware of news reports of increased earthquakes in Oklahoma (!), which have occurred since fracking was introduced. Slow destruction of the planet through carbon emission does not seem to be enough for these people. They want to make a real impact…
Anyone without knowledge of geology will not know something that even beginning students learn, namely that the Alps were formed because Africa smashed into Europe and forced sedimentary layers to fold upwards. Since then, water and wind have sculpted the shapes we now see on postcards from various Swiss vacations spots.
From my dinner table at a restaurant on a plateau above Lake Lucerne I could see evidence of this tumultuous event millions of years ago. The above photo provides a clear indication of the sedimentary layers of rock and the shoving from north to south. The angular shape of the mountains, strips of sedimentary rock exposed to the elements, and bands of vegetation all reveal the geological past.
Another tidbit, known to anyone with a knowledge of geology, is that Africa is still pushing inexorably northwards. At some point in the very distant future, the Mediterranean Sea will disappear. This will ruin real estate values on the Cote d’Azur, but make sneaking into Europe much easier for refugees from poor African nations, who will then, as now, seek only to exploit generous EU benefits.
I learned something, which I probably learned years ago in science class, but have forgotten. Even the laziest, most-indolent person is moving at 100,000 mph, which is the speed at which the earth moves in its orbit around the sun. That comforts me, because I can feel that I am active, even when I feel like doing nothing or when I do nothing..
Later in the same BBC program, I learned another forgotten fact. If you drive in a car at 60 mph on a road that runs along the equator in the direction of the earth’s rotation, you are actually moving at 1000 mph plus the 60 mph (1060 mph for the math-challenged among you), which is the speed of the car plus the rotation of the earth. (For the science-challenged, ie. Republicans, that’s a different speed than the one in the first paragraph.)
Now, are you not pleased that I passed on knowledge you may or may not have acquired in school, which will do you absolutely no good...but is interesting?
Watching Hollywood movies can be difficult, if one has a basic knowledge of geography.
Case in point: Hangover 2. The wedding scenes are obviously near Krabbi, which is located on Thailand’s western side. Therefore, if one wants to ride a boat from Bangkok to Krabbi, one must circumnavigate Malaysia. The trip would take a few days, even with the swiftest boat, and not a few hours as shown in the film. Of course, one could stop in Singapore, but antics seen in this movie would be frowned upon.
I could go on...
Movies are illusions, so I should not be so pedantic...but that’s difficult to stifle, when filmmakers mess with geography.
Across the lake, two villages perch high on the mountainside. I notice them each time I sit on the terrace and enjoy the view.
Why were they built in such a difficult location? What do people do to make a living? What do they do for fun, if anything? I recall earlier geography lessons, which taught us about every human activity having a logical explanation.
After dark, I notice car lights wending down the steep roads. Perhaps a good restaurant lures people from the towns at the lakeside. There is no listing in the Michelin Guide, and I have no intention of driving up that mountain to find out.
One more mystery will remain unsolved in my mind...
There are various reasons for not knowing something: actual learning disability, lack of information, laziness, some mental block, disinterest, or stupidity.
I will not attempt to label what lies behind the following conversation during a recent Euro 2012 football match (U.S. English translation: soccer game).
Wife: Why isn’t Messi playing?
Me: He’s from Argentina.
Wife: Why aren’t they playing?
The following analogy might explain this affliction: x is to geography as dyslexia is to reading. (There might be a word for x, but I have not heard it.)
NB. For any soccer ignoramus, who might be interested in learning something, Lionel Messi plays for Real Madrid in the Spanish league. He is one of the leading scorers in league play and often called the best player in the world (I do not agree). He failed to score in the last World Cup competition, which helped his teammates return home early from South Africa.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.