Friday, March 18, 2016

A need to re-define “Human Geology” from a geoethical point of view

by Ndzishepngong Kelvin Ngwang*
Ndzishepngong Kelvin Ngwang

Geo-Environmental Resource Association (GERAS) 
Coordinator of IAPG-Cameroon 

Picture at the top: Hong Kong, by James Gould-Bourn (from

Disclaimer: the views expressed in this paper solemnly engage the author

After reading the post on the Blog GeoPolicy [1], I started to reflect on direct relationships between human beings and the geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and the biosphere. This led me to think about "Human Geology" which is an expression I have hardly come across during geosciences research.
A google search of the expression "human geology" led me to some definitions beyond my expectations.
On the Journal of Socialomics [2], human geology is defined as "... one of the two major branches of geography and it is often called cultural geography".
The Blog Geology in Art [3] talks about human spaces and human minds as geological places. The following two definitions of "Human Geology" are given there:
  • Human geology could be the set of human processes resembling sedimentation. In a certain sense, cities are "human geologies".
  • Human geology could also refer to the structural organization of the mind. In other words, human geology is the geology inside, as expressed by the intricate structure of the human mind (and brain).
Another post at website Serendip Studio [4] on human geology compares the responses to different levels of stress of the earth and the human body.
From the above mentioned approaches and definitions, I feel that a less value has been considered for the expression "Human Geology" than it might be. "Human geology" can be valorized as an expression linked to the "Anthropocene" concept.
From my point of view, "human geology" should be connected to the direct interaction of human beings with the geosphere, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the biosphere. It should highlight the physical and chemical transformation of these spheres due to the actions of human beings and the direct impacts of the modifications of these spheres on human beings. The modification of these spheres can either be due to human beings themselves, or to other living beings or natural processes in general. 
Human geology should also highlight the positive and negative impacts of these interactions; the adaptation and mitigation measures towards the negative impacts; and the promotion of the positive impacts. 
The differences and similarities between human geology and environmental geology should be clarified. For example, if landslides and floods occur, the human geology component should be the number of people directly affected through deaths and injuries; meanwhile the modification of the slopes, erosion of the river beds, deposition of eroded and displaced earth material constitutes the environmental geology component; moreover, we have the economic, cultural and social components that also have to be distinguished.
Emerging concepts like "Urban Geology" should be also included in the discussion and further debates in order to valorize "Human geology" as an essential aspect if we look at the Earth in a geoethical perspective.


[1] GeoPolicy: Assessing environmental and social impact – applying policy in big industry: (Accessed on 14 March 2016).
[2] Journal of Socialomics: Human Geology, list of high impact articles: (Accessed on 14 March 2016).
[3] Human Geology: (Accessed on 14 March 2016).
[4] Human Geology: (Accessed on 14 March 2016).

*About the Author:
Ndzishepngong Kelvin Ngwang is a Cameroonian geoscientist, holder of a Master of Sciences (MSc) in Earth Sciences from the University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon. His MSc thesis was on Environmental Geology with focus on landslides. He has work experience with the Cameroon’s Ministry of Mines, Industry and Technological Development (MINMIDT) and a broad knowledge on the management of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). His career development goals are focused on leadership, strategic planning and organizational development, project management, capacity building, communication, and fundraising. His career interests are Mining, Environment and Sustainable Development, Geoethics, Scientific research, Administration, and consultancy services. He is the National Coordinator of the International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG) – Cameroon Section; and one of the alumni of the Minerals and Energy for Development Alliance (MEfDA).