Giving Thanks

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

2009 will begin with a new president of the United States. President-elect Barack Obama has promised to press hard for alternative energies and set a price on carbon emissions.

These are worthy goals, but as I have discussed in preceding columns, they need to be approached in a well-considered manner underpinned by scientific, technological and economic realities.

When it comes to U.S. energy policy – and regardless of campaign rhetoric, which was both broad and deep on both sides during the election cycle – history shows that politicians tend to avoid energy policy considerations until forced by crisis.

Although I have never been a fan of the concept of crisis, arguably we are facing global economic concerns that are serious enough to warrant global energy policy action.

I look forward to working with members of AAPG in the coming year to inform global policy makers as they consider such policy.

In the United States, the period between late November and December is called (in politically correct terms) the "holiday season."; Among other things, and regardless of one's religious leaning, it represents a time to be thankful.

Across the globe in different countries and cultures and at different times of the year, similar "seasons"; exist, and thanks are given.

So at this time and in this season, halfway through AAPG's fiscal year, allow me to offer thanks.

I have been privileged to travel the world a bit – to six continents and some 40 countries. I can say with conviction that the inside of a hotel room looks pretty much the same anywhere in the world. But outside of that room the wonders of the Earth and its inhabitants reach out, grab me and refuse to let go.

Accordingly, and often in spite of myself, I am reminded of the countless privileges that I and many members of the AAPG sometimes take for granted:

  • ♦ To observe the geologic wonders of our planet Earth.
  • ♦ To a college education.
  • ♦ To (mostly) compensated employment.
  • ♦ To unlimited information from as many perspectives as we can stomach.
  • ♦ To worship as we please – if we please.
  • ♦ To reasonably clean air and water.
  • ♦ To food and a roof.
  • ♦ To travel without fear.
  • ♦ To medical care.
  • ♦ To speak openly.
  • ♦ To vote.
  • ♦ To laugh.

If two words encapsulate these civil liberties, I think they would be freedom and hope. I realize that the dream of freedom is not uniquely American, but rather it is a human dream, and it pervades our world.

Freedom does not come without cost – human or otherwise. To those through the ages who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the right of freedom, I am thankful.

Every day of every year we must commit ourselves to preserving freedom so that everyone on Earth may someday enjoy the same.

To be sure, in developed nations, we must guard against a sense of entitlement; true entitlements, perhaps best defined by Thomas Jefferson – to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – do not include the metaphoric house that is bigger than our parents. For that "house"; we must always work, and work hard.

Often grand ideas such as freedom seem out of reach. Is pursuit not reserved for the likes of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. or John Adams? What can you or I do to make a difference?

Plenty. And it starts with saying thanks so that others will know of their service and be bolstered to continue. Saying thanks is contagious.

I offer thanks to each of you: the scientists and engineers who bring excellence to every facet of what we do; the committed and capable staff in Tulsa; the leadership across the Regions, Sections, Divisions and House of Delegates; the members of committees who give both time and expertise; the dedicated and talented Executive Committee, with whom I am so fortunate to work with and learn from and so many others.

I offer thanks for your friendship, for it is the seeds that are sewn between individuals that grow into the threads of understanding, tolerance and, ultimately, into the fabric of freedom.

I offer thanks to you for the opportunity to serve at this time and in this place; it allows me, selfishly, to feed my passion for building bridges.

Finally, I thank my family for not changing the locks when I am gone. I will come home!

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President's Column

President's Column - Scott Tinker
Scott W. Tinker, AAPG President (2008-09), is director of the Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin and Texas state geologist. Tinker also holds the Allday Endowed Chair in the Jackson School of Geosciences at UT-Austin. He has been a Distinguished Lecturer for AAPG as well as Distinguished Ethics Lecturer for the AAPG.

President's Column

AAPG Presidents offer thoughts and information about their experiences for the Association.