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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE


Good Times Ahead for the Geosciences


R. Douglas Bartlett, CPG-08433 dbartlett@clearcreekassociates.com


While researching information for the discussion on age distribution of geologists (Abbott and Bartlett, this publication on page 10), I was curious to see how the numbers of geoscientists compare to other professions. I found the information listed in Table 1 on the inter- net, mostly from the U.S. Department of Labor and American Geosciences Institutes websites. Please study the table before proceeding with the column.


So, as a geoscientist, how does this information make you feel?


Bad • Insignificant • Lost in the weeds • Forgotten


• Misunderstood Good


• Part of a small family • Unique


• Awed: doing a lot with a little


• Empowered: one geologist CAN make a difference!


I had all of these feelings after I reviewed this information. I had never thought about how few of us there are in this country given how important our work is. This makes me feel truly blessed to be a geologist. We do make a differ- ence even though we are few in number relative to other fields.


Just think of it: we are 1 in 10,000 of the US population, but between us we find, delineate, and quantify all the fuel and metal resources on which the other 9,999 people depend; we map and often quantify the geological hazards to which they are exposed, we provide the geo- logical maps that tell them where best to build roads, railroads, tunnels, bridges, canals and dams, we determine the potential quantities of water available to cities and farms and the threats to its quality. Without the work of this 100th of a hundredth of the population, civili- zation would collapse for lack of energy,


www.aipg.org Notes:


1 Approximate numbers found on various websites (too many to cite). Estimates varied from site to site. 2 In 2017, the U.S. population was 325.7 M; in 2026, the U.S. population is projected to be 347.3 M


lack of steel, lack of electrical conductors, lack of cement and concrete and the resulting rapid failure of infrastructure. Our work is often taken for granted and our voices are too few to be heard over the din of political mudslinging.


I have long suspected our invisibility as a profession and I’m sure you have too. At social functions with neighbors or friends outside of work, when asked what I do for a living, inevitably when I say “I’m a geologist”, the response is “Oh!” as in “Never met one before” or “such a waste of talent – thought you were an engineer or a lawyer!” If I say “I’m a hydrogeologist” – blank stares.


What implication does this have when considered in the context of the age dis- tribution discussion that David Abbott and I prepared for this edition of TPG? How should a geology student looking at graduation feel about a career in a field with relatively few aging practicing professionals? From my perspective they should feel GREAT! Here’s why:


Let’s start with the projected growth for geoscientists as described by the


Department of Labor: 14 percent between 2016 and 2026, more than any other pro- fession. When you consider the “bell” curves presented in our age distribution article, it is clear that geoscientists will be retiring in large numbers between now and 2026. If there are 32,000 geo- scientists today and you assume that approximately 30 percent of those will retire before 2026, then that leaves a total of 22,400 working geoscientists in 2026. If the demand for geoscientists is expected to grow to 36,500 by 2026, then there will need to be 14,100 geoscientists added to the pool of practicing profes- sionals by the year 2026 - 9 years from now! That represents close to 44% of the current pool of practicing professionals. That is quite a turnover!


Geologists are not going to get auto- mated out of existence as in other professions. Our skills and knowledge are unique and very much experience based. With the retirement of so many older, experienced and skilled geologists, our profession will undergo a significant “brain drain.” Entry level geologists will


Jul.Aug.Sep 2018 • TPG 31 Table 1. Profession


Software Developers Engineers Lawyers Doctors CPAs


Geoscientists Geoscientists (projected)


No. of Practicing Professionals in the U.S. No.1


4,400,000 1,600,000 1,340,000 950,000 665,000 32,000 36,500


Percent of U.S.2 1.3 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2


0.01 0.01


Year 2015 2015 2017 2016 2016 2016 2026


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