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Geophysics Interacts with the Environmentalists and OPEC—The 1970s and the Early 1980s

January 01, 2001


Up to here, this narrative has been positive, for the practice of geophysics, whether applied or basic, was both exciting and productive during the first half of the 20th century. This approach fitted nicely with the expansionist, consumption-oriented, problem-solving, optimistic outlook that dominated this period. But, starting quietly in the 1960s, divergent approaches began to be taken by scientists and humanists when attempting to analyze and solve the same set of human problems.

As a consequence, a sharp cultural rift set in throughout the Western World. Two dramatically different sets of ethics competed for the mind of youth. One choice that could be followed—and the traditional one—was the “Judeo-Christian ethic” which gave mankind stewardship over the earth, the concept on which our modern industrial society is based. The alternate was the “humanist ethic” which urged that there should now be a “post-industrial society” where “smaller is better,” where the quality of life was more important than economic productivity, where society, rather than the individual, was the prime source of critical social adjustment problems.

Much of the wisdom and technology that had been accumulated by mankind for improving the world’s standard of living was rudely shunted aside in the early 1970s by groups, calling themselves “environmentalists.”2 So alarming were the claims of this group that, by exploiting concepts expressed in the best-seller, Silent Spring (Carson, 1962), their thinking soon dominated the media and political circles. Their sales pitch was keyed to the assumption that modern industrial society was contaminating the globe

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Figures & Tables


Society of Exploration Geophysicists Geophysical References Series

Geophysics in the Affairs of Mankind: A Personalized History of Exploration Geophysics

L. C. (Lee) Lawyer
L. C. (Lee) Lawyer
Past President of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists
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Charles C. Bates
Charles C. Bates
Honorary Member, Society of Exploration Geophysicists
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Robert B. Rice
Robert B. Rice
Past President and Honorary Member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists
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Society of Exploration Geophysicists
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January 01, 2001




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