Brave New Wet World

I see what you did there…

The Earth has a lot of geographic features that don’t suck. Gullies for example. You just can’t look at a gully, without smiling. Limestone cliffs are also pretty swell. Bluebirds tend to hover over them. So, don’t get the impression that I hate all of the Earth’s crust. In fact, I let El Roque Chinchaco, a rock formation in Spain’s Canary Islands, sleep on my couch for almost two weeks. It SAID it was looking for a job but spent all day watching soccer and using my credit card to buy uncured ham. And yet, it was STILL better than that weekend I spent with Norman Vincent Peale…

But, geologists, in their own ineffectual way, seldom find anything that is both new and interesting. They often find new things and sometimes find interesting things but it seems, as far as geology goes, those things are not kept in the same place very often. But…

Turns out, there are eight continents now. On first glance, you’d expect it to be the North Pole because the South Pole is a continent, although it goes by the name “Antarctica” because of unpaid student loans and because there aren’t nearly enough geographic names that begin with the letter ‘A’. But, the Arctic is still just ice, polar bears and a big ol’ pile of discarded flags. No, this new continent is sneaky… it is UNDER the ocean.

Now, we non-geologists, otherwise known as “those who got REAL degrees”, call something like that “the ocean floor”; but, apparently, we are idiots. Zealandia, as it is called, meets all the qualifications to not only be a continent but also to run for the Australian Parliament. On the other hand, it is UNDER THE OCEAN!!! Sure, it is comprised of continental crust; but, then again, so are the other seven other masses of land that span most of the dry land on Earth and we don’t call them “continents”, do we? The answer to that is, “yes”…

The issue is this: We are very comfortable with seven continents. If you ask a child to identify all the continents on a map, are they really going to pick some spot in the ocean for number eight? And, what if we find dozens of little continents under the ocean? It would be Pluto all over again. Worse, what if we found other continents UNDER already established continents? What if it’s continents all the way to the Earth’s core… or further? I don’t think that the word “bleak” does it justice.

But, do geologists have a “governing body”… someone to make the decision, once and for all, whether we should start adding new continents to the list? Because, if Zealandia is determined NOT to be a continent, I hear that it will be towed at the owner’s expense. The closest thing we have to a geology governing body is the Geology Society of London; but, they are, by most accounts, hopeless.

So, what do we do? Internet poll? Fund-raiser? Increase awareness through education? Don’t make me laugh. The easiest thing to do is CREATE A NEW CATEGORY. Like they did with Pluto. Pluto is a “dwarf planet”. How big a slap in the face is THAT? I’d imagine, once they find Zealandia’s face, they’ll be slapping that with the same nonsense…

Because, when science needs to bravely take a stand and make a decision, they bravely rename and retreat. When the going gets tough, the tough re-categorize…

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