Earth System Science is slowly coming of age – or maybe geology is returning to its background in the ‘system’ of the Earth. That means that undergraduate Earth System Science courses are appearing everywhere. High-level small-number fourth-year courses on the way the climate tops off the earth system came first, designed for students who already know the grammar and vocabulary of earth science and can read primary literature. But there are as yet few texts for huge-number first-year courses filled with students barely out of high school. Given that most prime-time researchers avoid rocks-for-jocks courses like the plague, by default...

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