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: