Wednesday, December 31, 2014

EFG and IAPG sign a MoA

The European Federation of Geologists (EFG) and the International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG) have signed on 12 December 2014 a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to collaborate on issues of common interest.
EFG and IAPG shall collaborate in defining ethical problems, also through case-studies, affecting professional geologists, and in promoting geoethical principles and best practices in geosciences among their networks.

EFG ( is a federation of professional geoscience societies and associations in Europe whose main objectives are to: represent the geological profession in Europe; safeguard and promote the interests of the geological profession in Europe (and elsewhere in the World); promote best technical, scientific and ethical practice in the application of geology generally; and promote responsible use of the Earth’s resources and sustainable use of land. It currently has 23 National Association members. 

More information at:

Sunday, December 28, 2014

How do we build a healthy geoscience community 
that better serves society?

The IAPG at the AGU-GAC-MAC-CGU Joint Assembly 2015

Vince Cronin and Anne-Marie Ryan
Anne-Marie Ryan (IAPG-Canada) and Vince Cronin (IAPG-USA) invite and encourage you to contribute an abstract to the session entitled "How do we build a healthy geoscience community that better serves society?

This session will be held at the AGU-GAC-MAC-CGU Joint Assembly in Montréal, Canada, May 3-7, 2015. The abstract deadline is January 14.

Information about the session can be found at:

Session 6358 description
Montreal view
It goes without saying that we geoscientists would like to think of ourselves as competent scientists and paragons of personal and professional ethics. Perhaps "it goes without saying" because that self-image is not always accurate. Society faces critical challenges related to water, hazards, energy, mineral resources, and environmental change that require an informed public and reliable geoscience expertise. Is society getting what it needs from geoscientists in terms of education, objective information, and useful, informed opinions that are scientifically valid? We want to host a conversation about what we should expect from ourselves and from each other within the geosciences community, and about what society should be able to expect from us. A broad spectrum including research results, case studies in geoethics, educational strategies, and discussion of societal geoscience-related needs and issues, are all welcome in this session.

The description for this session is intentionally broad, so that we can encompass topics ranging from our responsibilities as geoscientists with respect to our planet and its inhabitants (of all species), all the way to ethical aspects of geosciences in school, businesses, law, politics, land-use planning, and so on. Whatever your interest or concern that relates to the geosciences and that has an ethical dimension to it, this is the forum in which to present your thoughts and engage in discussion.

The meeting is the Joint Assembly of the American Geophysical Union with several Canadian organizations, and will be held in lovely and historic Montreal, Canada, May 3-7. Please do not hesitate to contact Anne-Marie Ryan or Vince Cronin if you have any questions or suggestions for potential contributors who might not otherwise hear about our session.

Vince Cronin:

Anne-Marie Ryan: Anne.Marie.Ryan@Dal.Ca

This session is organized by the IAPG-International Association for Promoting Geoethics (

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

We will be there!

The IAPG at the AGU Fall Meeting 2014

IAPG will attend the AGU Fall Meeting 2014 in San Francisco (USA) and will contribute mainly to the Poster Session ED23D: Teaching GeoEthics Across the Geoscience Curriculum (Tuesday, December 16, 2014):

The session is organized by the colleagues of the section IAPG-USA: David Mogk (Montana State University, USA) and John Geissman (University of Texas at Dallas, USA).

IAPG posters:

ED23D-3495 - Training in Geoethics: Shared Values in Serving Society
Giuseppe Di Capua and Silvia Peppoloni:

ED23D-3496 - Geoethics and the Role of Professional Geoscience Societies
Susan Kieffer, John Palka, John Geissman, Dave Mogk

ED23D-3499 - A Collaborative Effort to Build a Modular Course on GeoEthics
Vincent Cronin, Giuseppe Di Capua, Cindy Palinkas, Catherine Pappas Maenz, Silvia Peppoloni, Anne-Marie Ryan

ED23D-3501 - Teaching the Ethical Aspects of Environmental Science
Cindy M Palinkas

Another IAPG poster will be presented in the Session ED31C: Solutions and Strategies for Fostering GeoEthics and Enhancing the Geosciences Section (Wednesday, December 17, 2014), convened by Britta Voss (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Neesha Schnepf (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Gretchen Goldman (Union of Concerned Scientists), David Mogk (Montana State University, USA):

IAPG posters:

ED31C-3449 - Risk communication, geoethics and decision science issues in Japan’s disaster management system
Megumi Sugimoto

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

This book is only a start

Max Wyss and Silvia Peppoloni

A positive aspect of promoting Geoethics is that one begins to scrutinize one's own actions a bit closer. We hope this is true for the 48 authors who wrote the 33 chapters with 417 pages on Geoethics ( The spirit in which we assembled this book was to make ourselves, the authors, and the readers think a bit more about the hidden and overt ways in which we geoscientists fail to fulfill our duty to Earth and its population.

In case you should read this book on Geoethics, think about what is missing in it and make a plan on how to bring it to the community's attention. This book should be a start for many, hopefully more sophisticated and polished ones, to follow.

To openly discuss the heavy transgressions that experts sometimes commit in what should be a service to the public is not easy. First of all, one must stick to facts and use neutral language. Second, one has to be careful in wording that might seem like personal criticism so that one does not end up in court proceedings. We think that the authors of some of the more daring chapters were successful in avoiding personal confrontation and avoiding moralizing.

Silvia Peppoloni
The foundation for the discussion is laid by a section on Philosophical Reflections consisting of six chapters, by philosophers as well as geoscientists. In the section on Geoscience Community, three chapters outline how professional organizations are dealing with ethical problems and how plagiarism is on the rise. Some serious distortions of facts by experts are exposed in six chapters in the section on Ethics of Practice, which also contains one chapter advising first responders how to avoid offending religious feelings in the heat of coming to the rescue in disasters.

Communicating results, especially those relating to geo-hazards, implies many ethical and social aspects, as it was evident in the L'Aquila earthquake case, where an ongoing earthquake swarm led to a main shock that killed 309 people. The court trial that followed is discussed in one chapter and the distribution of responsibilities in the face of natural threats in Italy in another.

This section on Communicating contains four chapters critical of practices in seismology, and the potential of maps for misleading the consumer and the incomprehensibility of scientific jargon are discussed in a chapter each.

Max Wyss
In the section on Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards, four chapters address volcanic threats, earthquake prediction and the danger of tsunamis. Two chapters are devoted to the seemingly unsolvable problem of nuclear waste disposal. The demonstration by Nature how dangerous the generation of nuclear power is, has lead to an awakening of mankind, who is beginning to realize the immeasurable foolishness of saddling our descendants with growing volumes of everlasting poison. It seems that there is still much waking up to be done concerning this problem and geoscientists ought to be able to contribute.

The disadvantage of Low Income and Indigenous Communities is discussed in the last section in three chapters on mining and one on earthquake risk. It is probably fair to say that more than 90% of geoscientists have never in their careers considered the needs and predicaments of these communities. The funding of research also suffers from the same bias: Sophisticated problems of intellectual interest, but no practical use, are funded, while those people who need help most and could benefit from geo-research are forgotten.

Many other aspects should be addressed: this book is only a start. We hope that many geoethical problems will be flushed out in more detail in future volumes.

Max Wyss and Silvia Peppoloni (Eds)
Geoethics, Ethical Challenges and Case Studies in Earth Sciences
2015, p. 450, Elsevier, ISBN 978-0127999357

Other information:

(picture from:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"The time for a first book on Geoethics has come"

The IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics is proud to announce that this book has been just published:

Max Wyss and Silvia Peppoloni (Eds)
Geoethics, Ethical Challenges and Case Studies in Earth Sciences
2015, p. 450, Elsevier, ISBN 978-0127999357

From the publisher:

Max Wyss
Key Features

Written by a global group of contributors with backgrounds ranging from philosopher to geo-practitioner, providing a balance of voices.
Includes case studies, showing where experts have gone wrong and where key organizations have ignored facts, wanting assessments favorable to their agendas. 
Provides a much needed basis for discussion to guide scientists to consider their responsibilities and to improve communication with the public.

Silvia Peppoloni

Edited by two experts in the area, Geoethics: Ethical Challenges and Case Studies in Earth Sciences addresses a range of topics surrounding the concept of ethics in geoscience, making it  an important reference for any Earth scientist with a growing concern for sustainable development  and social responsibility.
This book will provide the reader with some obvious and some hidden information you need for understanding where experts have not served the public, what more could have been done to reach  and serve the public and the ethical issues surrounding the Earth Sciences, from a global  perspective.

Table of contents


This book in the Elsevier website:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The L'Aquila earthquake case: a brief note

The L'Aquila trial has had a positive outcome for the six scientists involved.
Their acquittal is complete: the crime does not subsist (paragraph 1, Art. 530 of the Italian Criminal Code). So, the scientists have not committed crimes.

The IAPG has followed the L'Aquila earthquake-case from the beginning, because of its important  geoethical implications.

The IAPG session on Geoethics at the EGU 2013 

In 2013, the IAPG organized a session on Geoethics (NH9.8 - Geoethics: Ethical Challenges In Communication, Geoeducation And Management of Natural Hazards:; convenership: Silvia Peppoloni, Susan Kieffer, Janusz Wasowski, Elizabeth Silva and Meng Wang) at the EGU General Assembly in Vienna, focused on this unfortunate case. 

The session was attended by prominent scientists, including Massimo Cocco, Tomas Jordan and Max Wyss.

Massimo Cocco 
(INGV - Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia)
Thomas Jordan 
(Southern California Earthquake Center at The University of Southern California) 
Max Wyss 
(Past Director of the World Agency of Planetary Monitoring & Earthquake Risk Reduction)

The IAPG, in collaboration with the AGI and the YES Network, organized a webinar of that session ( in order to allow geoscientists from all over the world to follow oral presentations and slides.

We take this opportunity to inform you that an important book will be published by November 2014: “Wyss M. & Peppoloni S. (Eds). Geoethics: Ethical Challenges and Case Studies in Earth Sciences. 2014, 450 p. Elsevier” (, in which space is given to the L'Aquila earthquake-case.

A second book on Geoethics will be published in 2015. It will contain a detailed article on the L'Aquila trial.

It is desiderable that this case can be transformed into an important moment to reflect upon the social role of geoscientists, in order to improve their relationships with the population, politicians and mass-media.

An in-depth analysis of the L'Aquila earthquake case may contribute to increase the trust of citizens towards the geoscientists and to develop more effective strategies in the defense against natural hazards.

Pictures from:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Geoethics at the EGU - GA 2015

Session EOS8
Geoethics for Society: general aspects and case studies in geosciences

Call for Abstracts 

(deadline: 7 January 2015, 13:00 CET)

European Geosciences Union, General Assembly
Vienna (Austria), 12-17 April 2015

Silvia Peppoloni, Nic Bilham, Susan W. Kieffer, Eduardo Marone

Session description
Geoethics consists of research and reflection on the values which underpin appropriate behaviours and practices, wherever human activities interact with the geosphere. Geoethics deals with the ethical, social and cultural implications of Earth Sciences education, research and practice, and with the social role and responsibility of geoscientists in conducting their activities.

Silvia Peppoloni
As scholars and experts on some of the most urgent problems affecting our planet, geoscientists can play a fundamental role in society, thanks to their unique range of skills, by helping to meet human needs and address environmental problems at the local and global scale, and by providing information and expert advice to support informed decision-making and public debate. Education, at all levels, must be re-oriented to give 21st century citizens a better understanding of natural systems and our interactions with them, and to equip them to participate in debate about the challenges of living equitably and sustainably on our planet. Geoscientists have a great deal to contribute to this re-orientation.

Nic Bilham
The success of past sessions on Geoethics, organized at the EGU General Assembly since 2012, has demonstrated the growing interest of the academic and professional geoscience community in issues such as environmentally sustainable supply of energy and water resources, protection from natural hazards, and reducing pollution and its impacts on health and the climate. More specifically, geoscientific discourse is increasingly addressing ethical and social problems related to land management; use of natural resources; risk mitigation and communication; geoeducational strategies; research integrity and professional deontology; relationships between geoscientists, politicians, the mass media and the public; and the value of geodiversity, geoheritage and geoparks.

Susan Kieffer
Geoscientists with greater awareness of their ethical responsibilities will be better able to put their knowledge at the disposal of society, by spreading the value of geosciences and geoeducation, especially among the young, improving the communication of their research and practice to the public and policy makers, taking care of the quality of human life, and promoting sustainable development globally.

Eduardo Marone
The conveners invite abstracts on both practical and theoretical aspects of Geoethics, including case studies. The aim of the session is to develop ethical and social perspectives on the challenges arising from human interaction with natural systems, to complement technical approaches and solutions, and to help to define an ethical framework for geoscientists’ research and practice in addressing these challenges.

The session is promoted by the IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics (

Submit an abstract

7 January 2015, 13:00 CET

EGU Financial Support
Scientists who wish to apply for EGU financial support must be the contact author of their contribution, and they must submit an abstract by 28 November 2014.
For more information about the financial support, visit the EGU GA 2015 website: 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The "Geoethical Promise"

The members of the Italian Commission on Geoethics of the Italian Federation of Earth Sciences have published an interesting article on Episodes (the Journal of the IUGS - International Union of Geological Sciences):

Matteucci R., Gosso G., Peppoloni S., Piacente S., Wasowski J. (2014). The Geoethical Promise: A Proposal. Episodes, vol. 37, n. 3, pp. 190-191:

These colleagues (among them, the IAPG Secretary General, Silvia Peppoloni) have proposed a Hippocratic-like oath for geoscientists: the geoethical promise. Here the formula:

The Geoethical Promise

I promise I will practice geosciences being fully aware of the involved social implications, and I will do my best for the protection of geosphere for the benefit of mankind.

I know my responsibilities towards society, future generations and the Earth for a sustainable development.

In my job I will put the interest of society at large in the first place.

I will never misuse my geological knowledge, not even under constraint.

I will always be ready to provide my professional assistance when needed; I will always make my expertise available to decision makers.

I will continue to improve my geological knowledge lifelong and I will always maintain my intellectual honesty at work, being aware of the limits of my capabilities and possibilities.

I will act to foster progress in geosciences, the dissemination of geological knowledge and the spreading of the geoethical approach to the management of land and geological resources.

I will honor my promise that in my work as a geoscientist or certified geologist will be fully respectful of Earth processes.

I promise

The authors "think that a geoethical approach to the geosphere-society relationship is necessary in the epoch in which we live. Geoscientists have to improve their awareness of the geoethical dimension and the importance for sustainable development of their work in geosciences. The introduction of a Hippocratic-like oath for young geoscientists - "the geoethical promise" - could be a way for this purpose. A draft text is proposed for discussion".

The IAPG is starting to collect proposal for changes, suggestions, improvements and ideas about the formula.

If you like to participate in the discussion, we will be grateful to receive your comments with an email to:

Thank you.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Navigating the ethical domains of a professional applied geoscientist

by Vincent S. Cronin
(Geology Department, Baylor University; IAPG-USA co-responsible)

A talk for the Texas Section of the 
Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists

4 October 2014 
Fort Worth (Texas, USA)

An applied geoscientist works in a complex environment involving science, business, interpersonal relationships and professional obligations.
Virtually all professional geoscientists are trained as geoscientists rather than as moral philosophers. Yet the imperative to act as a positive moral agent is recognized throughout the geosciences, in our professional organizations, and in laws that provide for the licensure of geoscientists.
As a community, we must engage in the development of a practical understanding of ethics applied to the professional practice of geoscience.
One distinguished engineering geologist stated that the key to ethical practice is simple: just do a good job. 
While it is clearly imperative to "do a good job," applied ethics cannot be reduced to one or a few memorable aphorisms. 
As a practical matter, we need to know about techniques that can be used when we are confronted with an ethical dilemma, in which two or more "goods" are in conflict with one another. 
How should we act when confronted with unethical behavior by a colleague, by a company, by your boss, by a client?
What can modern moral philosophers teach us about making moral decisions?
In a recent questionnaire, ASBOG identified 13 ethical issues they believe constitute potential problems for licensed geoscientists, ranging from "conflict of interest" to "retaliation against whistle-blowers." Some issues are related to the conduct of science, while others concerned such matters as the ethical conduct of scientific research, adherence to laws, client interactions, and business practices.
Ethical codes promulgated by geoscience societies can provide additional insights about ethical problems that have arisen in the past.
We will review some basic information gleaned from relevant work by moral philosophers, explore some ethical issues associated with the life of a professional geoscientist, learn about some intellectual tools for meeting ethical challenges, and share some of our own experiences in which we encountered (what we perceived to be) ethically questionable practices, behaviors or actions.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The IAPG has been recognized as an International Associate Organization of the AGI - American Geosciences Institute

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) has formally offered the International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG) membership at the International Associate-level in the AGI federation. Inclusion in the AGI Network facilitates interaction between U.S. and international geoscience organizations; membership also supports international geoscience development as well as promoting the geosciences in underserved countries.
The many benefits to being an International Associate start with free advertising in EARTH Magazine and IAPG’s news being published in AGI’s e-magazine, GeoSpectrum. The IAPG will receive AGI media notices, electronic updates and newsletters, and can have its events posted on the AGI GeoCalendar. The IAPG programs will also be featured on AGI’s website. In addition, the IAPG will be invited to attend AGI’s Member Society Council Meetings where the IAPG will be able to collaborate with other geoscience organizations on issues of shared concern.
The American Geosciences Institute  was founded in 1948, under a directive of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S., as a network of associations representing geoscientists with a diverse array of skills and knowledge of our planet. The Institute provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in our profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society’s use of resources, resilience to natural hazards, and the health of the environment.
AGI ( is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to serving the geoscience community and addressing the needs of society.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The "Corresponding Citizen Scientist" (CCS) of the IAPG

The IAPG is creating a list of experts on specific issues related to geoethics. These colleagues have a new "function" in the IAPG: the "Corresponding Citizen Scientist" (CCS). Our first Corresponding Citizen Scientists are Martin Bohle (Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission) on "Interdisciplinary explorations for main-streaming interest in Earth sciences topics" and Tony Mayer (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) on "Research Integrity".

Read more:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

IAPG at GSA annual meeting in Vancouver (Canada)

The IAPG will be present at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) with an oral presentation by Silvia Peppoloni, Giuseppe Di Capua and Peter Bobrowsky, titled "Geoethics: building an ethical framework of reference for research and practice in geosciences" (abstract n. 246211, session number 265 "Geoscience Education: Research and Practice", scheduled for Wednesday, 22 October 2014, in the Vancouver Convention Center-West; this session begins at 8:00 AM).


GSA Annual Meeting, 19-22 October 2014, Vancouver (Canada)

Geoscience Education: Research and Practice

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Oral Presentation: 
Geoethics: building an ethical framework of reference for research and practice in geosciences

Silvia Peppoloni, Giuseppe Di Capua and Peter Bobrowsky

Geoethics is the investigation and reflection on human behavior and practice towards the Geosphere. It is a discipline with an important objective: studying and promoting the protection and valorization of the Geosphere, through increasing the awareness of geoscientists regarding their ethical and social role in the science. Geoethics deals with many significant environmental issues such as pollution and waste problems, water contamination and depletion, global warming and others. Geoethics promotes environmental sustainability, prudent use of natural resources, protection from natural hazards, by encouraging the development of eco-friendly technologies and geoeducation activities, taking into consideration that the welfare of the Earth coincides with the welfare of human beings. It aims to raise the awareness about the value of our natural heritage, highlighting how much of our geoheritage is delicate and and how this heritage needs the attention of all citizens.
The urgency to reconsider the relationship between humans and Earth and to manage resources and natural processes within a paradigm of common sense, wisdom and foresight helps describe the foundation of Geoethics and the trigger to stimulate the recent growth in attention.
Starting from these considerations, during the 34th International Geological Congress in 2012 Brisbane (Australia), the IAPG – International Association for Promoting Geoethics ( was founded. 
The IAPG was born to build a new awareness in the scientific community. It aims at joining forces with geoscientists from all over the world, through creation of an international, multidisciplinary and scientific platform for discussing ethical problems and dilemmas in Earth Sciences, as well as for promoting Geoethics themes through scientific publications and conferences. The main goal of IAPG is to give a new cultural framework of reference, in which to develop shared values within the scientific community.
Herein we provide an overview on the IAPG goals, activities and ongoing initiatives.