Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Save our serpentine!
Some fiend of a senator in Los Angeles named Gloria Romero has introduced a bill to pull serpentine from its throne as California's state rock. Advocates of the bill claim that asbestos fibers found in some forms of serpentine can be hazardous, and therefore that nasty, slippery little rock doesn't deserve the honor.
First of all, serpentine is a seriously cool rock. It forms when rock in the earth's mantle (below the crust) are smushed and heated up. It's totally unstable and very hard to build on and, of course, is all over earthquake-prone California. But I love it, and I sent Senator Gloria Romero the following email, which I copied Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on:
Dear Senator Romero:
I am surprised that with all of California's pressing problems, you are spending time and money on bill SB624. I am not a geologist, but I do like rocks, and serpentine has a deep, rich history in California.
I know some types of serpentine contain asbestos. So what? Nobody's telling people to go around sniffing crushed serpentine because it's the state rock. It's a naturally occurring mineral, not manmade insulation. People put aspects of the natural world to bad uses all the time. Is oil a bad thing because it's gushing into the Gulf of Mexico? Is sand a horrible thing because it could be made into glass, which can be broken and used to hurt somebody?
There have got to be better ways to raise public awareness of the dangers of asbestos than wasting time, energy and resources on SB624.
Here are some great links from Garry Hayes, Professor of Geology, Modesto Junior College, who's getting wiggy on the issue:
Garry Hayes’ blog
The history of SB624 is available here.
A good summary of serpentine with links to news and the debate can be found here.