What will the fate of California's state rock be?
If you tune into the news regularly, you might feel as if the world is encountering immense problems on a daily basis. People are living in a state of fear, thanks mostly to news stories involving the disaster in the gulf coast, never-ending wars overseas, the plummeting economy, California's state rock that could possibly give you cancer… Wait… we have a state rock!? Oh, we do and on top of that it could be the coolest of all state rocks. Thanks to an old American friend, asbestos. Turns out that serpentine, the Golden State’s rock, has asbestos in it, and yes the bad kind. So what do we do? Senator Gloria Romero has made a push to change the state’s rock to something that doesn’t give you cancer; someone isn’t worried about losing the all too important pro-asbestos rock vote. Many geologists think it’s senseless to change a rock that has so much history in California, sighting that this is a perfect example of politics affecting education in a negative way; no igneous rock left behind? So how do you feel about it? Should we divorce from our state rock or try to work things out with serpentine?
Brian Wernicke, Ph.D., professor of geology at Caltech
Garry Hayes, teacher of geology at Modesto Junior College, former president of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, Far Western Section