Friday, November 27, 2015

IAPG-Egypt workshop on Geoethics and Geoeducation

The IAPG-Egypt (coordinator: Kholoud Mohamed Abdelmaksoud) organizes a workshop on Geoethics and Geoeducation.
This event takes place on Saturday 28 November (11:00 am) at the Cairo University, in the Institute of African Research and Studies.
The workshop is open to post-graduated students of different disciplines.


The Ten Plagues of Egypt and our world at the transition between the Electromechanical and the Cyberinformational Era on our planet

by Franco Oboni
Franco Oboni

(Riskope, Vancouver B.C. Canada; email:

In a prior post we discussed large scale water contamination and related it to a planetary plague, unless we do not decide to "rewrite" the future. We imagined how, unless we take robust decisions, in a distant future archaeologists will likely find books or some records relating events that are occurring under our eyes, namely wide-spread water contamination, which could be considered like the first Plague of Egypt.

We decided to play that game and look for hints of the other nine plagues "here and now":
  • Possibly compounded by climate change and ocean acidification, overfishing frogs and fishes will die, or be depleted to extinction, developing a similar scenario to the second Plague of Egypt. Batrachia and entire species of fishes are actually already "disappearing" from our ecosystem today.
  • Killer bees, dengue mosquitoes, tiger mosquitoes are on the raise and animals like polar bears and other species are migrating to escape from territories were the food chain is disrupted. The third and Fourth Plagues — biting insects and wild animals depicted such a scenario is also already occurring today to some worrisome level.
  • Foot disease, Swine influenza, avian flu have occurred in the last decade. Plagues 5 and 6 — livestock disease and boils cover this scenario quite well: where will we go from here?
  • We are seeing a number of strong volcano eruptions, maybe not stronger than in the past, but certainly driving a lot of attention because of their impact on human activities including of course commercial aviation. Plague 7 — fiery hail, volcanic eruption, resulting in showers of rock and fire are not so far fetched: it would be enough to have a number of simultaneous eruptions around the world: IcelandItaly with Mt. Etna, or Vesuvius; Japan with Sakurajima; Kamchakta; South East Asia with Taal Volcano, Philippines and Mt. Merapi, Indonesia; Ulawun, Papua New Guinea; Andean or Cascadian Mountains volcano such as Popocatépetl, Mexico and the Galeras, Columbia to lock the world into no travel mode with immense consequences; or with Yellowstone Caldera, United States of America and Mt. Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of Congo or the Mauna Loa, Hawaii.
  • Reportedly there has been a locust invasion in Crimea during summer. The conflict in the Middle East has already driven a very large sand storm in the area, covering several countries. Desertification is progressing. As a matter of fact some news headlines were: "Near-Biblical scenes are emerging from the Astrakhan region in southern Russia, which has been invaded by giant swarms of locusts. Local authorities have scrambled vehicles and aircraft to combat the infestation." Plague 8 — locusts, check again.
  • Let's not forget that Plague 9 — darkness, could be the result of a large volcano eruption, a mega sand storm, air pollution/smoke (China, SE Asia) or a nuclear accident of the largest magnitude. Similar occurrences have been seen on our planet since history is recorded (not such a long time, after all). Or simply a lack of electricity, which could be generated either by a event similar of the solar storm of 1859, also known as the Carrington event or a cyberattack or, as we experienced in Vancouver this year, strong wind, etc.
  • Finally, Plague 10 — death of the firstborn… well let's see what happens, but the CDC warnings related to aviarian flu, MERS, SARS, plague in the US, Ebola in West Africa could well be reinterpreted in the distant future as one event causing the death of scores of people, re-interpreted, lumped-up, for more vivid impression as "first child and first born animals".
Of course, we have not yet discussed climate change, the fact that we are over 7 billions and counting, the fact that information are spread at light speed on our planet today and despite that, or may be because of that, we are numbed to catastrophic news like the 11 million  of people displaced by wars in the Middle East.

Isn't it interesting that we are seeing the "Ten Plagues of Egypt, the return" movie playing in all theaters near our houses, without understanding the difference between the pre-show commercials and the actual plot, yet we feel the need to develop theories about Black Swans and other esoteric concepts?

Now, let's imagine how we could "rewrite" the future book so that world-events will actually not go through history as plagues. On one hand the solutions seems at our reach. Since physicist like Maupertuis (least-action principle) gave us the first expression of the concept of optimization, or the creation of systems maximizing efficiency or functionality, then all we need to do is optimize our decisions and mitigate our burgeoning plagues! The problem however is that those views can only make action stationary, an idea that is present also in Cournot (Theory of Oligopoly, 1838), Von Neumann & Oskar Morgenstern (The theory of Games and Economic Behavior), then John Nash (Non-cooperative games, 1950) equilibrium. Stationarity, perfection of information, rational behavior of all stake-holders, can chess-mate all of the above, despite the numerous attempts to refine those solutions.

Chaos theory and "modern applied mathematics" like those promoted by Ivar Ekeland (BTW he advised Jurassic Park by Crichton and Spielberg and in particular Jeff Goldblum impersonating a chaos mathematician) and Alfio Quarteroni certainly constitute great research fields, full of promises and capable of giving us formidable tools to rewrite the world-future history.

At our level (we mean personal, corporate, many governements), however, we can only see implementing well designed and thought-out multi-risk assessments, where:
  • biases and censoring are fought as worst enemies,
  • consequences are considered, as they are, multi-dimensional,
  • corporate responsibility and business ethics are maintained at the highest standards,
  • scenarios are built thinking to the unthinkable.
Ethics demands we stop designing "to pass compliance tests", but instead to work toward long term sustainability, durability so that we will not be among the authors of that future "Ten Plagues" book.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The new IAPG session on Geoethics at the EGU 2016

EGU General Assembly 2016 will take place in Vienna from 17 to 22 April 2016. The IAPG organizes the Session EOS5:

Geoethics: theoretical and practical aspects from research integrity to relationships between geosciences and society

The call for abstracts is open: "Recent years have seen a great growth of interest in geoethics among geoscientists. They have become more involved in discussions of the values which underpin appropriate behaviors and practices, wherever human activities interact with the geosphere. All branches of geosciences have ethical, social and cultural implications. Therefore, there is an evident need to develop an ethical framework for geoscience research and practices that can help geoscientists confronting ethical dilemmas and make them more aware of their responsibility in conducting their activities.....
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 EOS5 will be convened by Silvia Peppoloni, Nic Bihlam, Marie Charrìere, Eduardo Marone and Tony Mayer.

Read more about the session description and how to submit an abstract at:

(Deadline: 13 January 2016)

Friday, November 20, 2015

The IAPG is recognized as an Associated Society of the GSL

The IAPG is recognized as an Associated Society of the Geological Society of London (GSL). 

The GSL ( is a not-for-profit organisation, and a registered charity. Its aims are to improve knowledge and understanding of the Earth, to promote Earth science education and awareness, and to promote professional excellence and ethical standards in the work of Earth scientists, for the public good.

Founded in 1807, it is the oldest geological society in the world. Today, it is a world-leading communicator of Earth science – through its scholarly publishing, library and information services, cutting-edge scientific conferences, education activities and outreach to the general public. It also provides impartial scientific information and evidence to support policy-making and public debate about the challenges facing humanity.
The GSL is located at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London.

The Society is the UK's professional body for Earth science and has a worldwide membership of over 11,500. More than 2,000 of its members live overseas and over 2,500 are Chartered Geologists or Chartered Scientists – professionals who have demonstrated a high level of education, professional competence in their field and a commitment to professional ethics. The Society is licensed by the European Federation of Geologists to award the title of European Geologist and works with partner bodies in the UK to maintain specialist professional registers. It accredits undergraduate and MSc degree programmes, as well as in-house professional training schemes provided by employers. These professional designations and programmes play a vital role in assuring high professional standards, for the benefit of society.

Read more about the affiliations and agreements of the IAPG

Friday, November 13, 2015

Memorandum of Understanding between AGU and IAPG

AGU - American Geophysical Union and IAPG have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 10 November 2015.

The aim of the agreement is to develop a co-ordinated activity for promoting initiatives and events discussing the ethical, social and cultural implications of geosciences and favouring the adoption of ethical standards in the research and practice of geoscience community in order to better serving the Society. The agreement expresses a mutual desire to co-operate on a range of themes in the field of Geoethics. It helps to assure a continued IAPG-AGU collaboration and coordination on issues of common interests, in particular, the following:

  • promotion of principles of geoethics, research integrity and professional deontology in geosciences activities among their networks;
  • definition of ethical problems, also through case-studies, affecting geoscience community and organizations;
  • co-organization of scientific events to disseminate concepts of geoethics, among both the professional and research communities, with particular attention to young geologists;
  • production of relevant publications.

Both organizations will establish a liaison to ensure good information flow and cooperation.

AGU ( is an international non-profit scientific association with more than 62,000 members. AGU was established in 1919 by the U.S. National Research Council, and for more than 50 years, we operated as an unincorporated affiliate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. AGU was independently incorporated in 1972. AGU is dedicated to the furtherance of the Earth and space sciences, and to communicating science’s ability to benefit humanity. AGU achieves these goals through publishing scientific journals and other technical publications, sponsoring scientific meetings, supporting education and outreach programs designed to increase public understanding of and support for science, and a variety of other activities.

Read more about the affiliations and agreements of the IAPG

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Call for Abstracts at the 35th IGC 2016

We remind you another symposium IAPG is organizing at the next 35th IGC - International Geological Congress 2016 in Cape Town, in collaboration with Geological Society of London (GSL), European Federation of Geologists (EFG) and EuroGeoSurveys (EGS).


Silvia Peppoloni (IAPG), Nic Bilham (GSL), Vitor Correia (EFG), Luca Demicheli (EGS)

Resourcing Future Generations

Symposium description:
Meeting the resource needs of future generations is one of the greatest challenges facing global society – one in which geoscientists have a vital role to play. Adequate supplies of food and water must be secured, and health and education assured for all. Moreover, developing countries rightly expect to achieve similar increases in their citizens' standards of living to those experienced by richer countries in the 20th century. These aspirations, and the industrial development which underpins them, will create unprecedented global demand for energy and natural resources, just as we understand more fully the impact of winning and using these resources on the environment.
The scientific and technical skills of geoscientists are essential in addressing the complex challenges of meeting these "georesource" needs sustainably. But their decisions and activities also have significant ethical implications affecting society and the environment, as they find themselves at the heart of debates about how to reconcile human and economic development with environmental protection and safeguarding the interests of future generations. Geoethics provides a valuable framework in which to consider the values on which we should base ethical professional behaviours, and how these should be put into practice, as we seek to locate the work of geoscientists in its wider social and ethical context. 
The conveners invite papers addressing how geoethical perspectives can be brought to bear on the challenges of sustainably meeting future demand for georesources, including energy, groundwater and numerous mineral commodities.

Deadline: 31 January 2016 (Extended: 29 February 2016)

More information at:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Call for Abstracts at the 35th IGC 2016

We remind you the call for the symposium on Geoethics that IAPG is organizing at the next 35th IGC - International Geological Congress 2016 in Cape Town.


Giuseppe Di Capua, Peter Bobrowsky, Martin Bohle, John Geissman, Silvia Peppoloni

Global Geoscience Professionalism and Geoethics

Symposium description: 
Geoethics consists of research and reflection on the values that underpin appropriate behaviours and practices, wherever human activities interact with the geosphere. Geoethics deals with the ethical, social and cultural implications of Geosciences education, research and practice and with the responsibility of geoscientists in conducting their professional activities. 
Geoscientists play a fundamental role in society, given their unique range of skills, by helping to meet human needs and address problems of relevance at the local and global scale, and by providing information and expert advice to support informed decision-making and public debate.
Geoscientific discourse is increasingly addressing ethical and social problems related to land management; environmentally sustainable supplies of energy and geo-resources; pollution reduction and its impacts on health and the climate; risk mitigation and communication; geoeducational strategies; research integrity and professional deontology; relationships among geoscientists, politicians, the mass media and the public; and the value of geodiversity, geoheritage and geoparks.
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, especially among the young. 
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' activities.
The symposium is proposed by the IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics.

Deadline: 31 January 2016 (Extended: 29 February 2016)

More information at:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Resilient America Roundtable

by Susan Kieffer
Susan Kieffer

(Walgreen and CAS Professor Emerita of Geology and Physics
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; IAPG Vice-President; email:

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has a Roundtable called "Resilient America," which brings together experts to organize and facilitate activities to help American communities build resilience to extreme natural hazards. Resilience is the capability of preparing for, enduring, and recovering from adverse events. Four goals of the Resilient America Roundtable are to (1) manage and communicate risk; (2) measure resilience; (3) share data and information within and between communities; and (4) build community partnerships and coalitions. 

The Roundtable activities, such as meetings and workshops, are designed to help decision makers in the communities decide how and where to invest resources to increase their resilience, and to explain and defend the investment choices. Some of the partners in the effort are the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Z Zurich Foundation, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, and the Koshland Science Museum. The thirty-three Roundtable members come from a wide variety of organizations, including universities, private foundations and companies, FEMA, community managers and elected officials, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the American Red Cross.

One of the Roundtable’s efforts is helping communities develop ways to measure their resilience and measure progress toward becoming more resilient by helping them answer these hard questions:

  • How resilient is your community?
  • How would you go about determining how resilient you are or how resilient you should be?  
  • And how do you measure progress towards becoming resilient?

Two Roundtable activities affect all communities (so-called "cross-cutting issues"): the role of insurance in building resilience, and improving the resilience of the national power supply system. Another activity looks at the interdependencies among different supply chains (e.g., food, water, medical goods, fuel, trucking, telecommunications and electrical power), and how these supply chains can be made more resilient.

Three communities have been selected for pilot projects. On the east coast, Charleston, South Carolina, was selected because of its exposure to earthquakes, hurricanes, sea level rise and floods. Charleston is particularly concerned about its nuisance flooding problem which regularly impacts business operations and transportation routes. Just this October, a combination of heavy rain, high tides and storm surge heavily impacted the community and other regions of South Carolina. In the middle of the U.S., Cedar Rapids in Linn County, Iowa, was selected for its exposure to thunderstorms, river floods, tornadoes, and severe winter storms among others. It was the site of catastrophic floods in 2008, from which it has made significant progress toward recovery. Cedar Rapids continues to nurture the strong ties that were forged among different community groups and organizations in the wake of the 2008 flood and is working to build resilience among its more vulnerable populations. On the west coast, Seattle, Washington, was selected for its exposure to both deep and shallow earthquakes, winter storms, landslides, tsunamis and volcanic hazards among others. Seattle has serious transportation issues even in normal times because of its location between the waters of Puget Sound and the Cascade mountain range. There are only two major north-south freeway corridors, both of which could be closed during a major hazard event, blocking delivery of rescue goods and services.

Resilient America website
Geoethical issues in these areas range from philosophical to practical. How do we balance altering the natural environment to increase our human resilience with preserving that environment for other species? What if increasing the resilience of one group of humans decreases it for another group, e.g., constructing dams or otherwise altering the natural flows of water? How do we rectify past actions that have disproportionately relegated the less affluent and most underrepresented in our societies to more vulnerable areas? How can we increase the resilience of these groups within the context of their larger communities? How do we balance improving resilience to short-term hazards in the face of long-term changes, e.g., improving resilience to flooding hazards now when the people in these places will may completely inundated by climate change and rising sea levels?

More about the Roundtable can be found at:

Image at the top 
Oso landslide, by Mark Reid U.S. Geological Survey:

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Agreement on Cooperation between AEG and IAPG

The AEG - Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists and the IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics have signed an Agreement on Cooperation on 8 October 2015.

The aim of the agreement is to promote co-ordinated initiatives and events discussing the ethical, social and cultural implications of geosciences and favouring the adoption of ethical standards in the research and practice of geoscience community in order to better serving the Society.

In particular:

  • promotion of principles of geoethics, research integrity and professional deontology in geosciences activities among their networks;
  • definition of ethical problems, also through case studies, affecting geoscience community and organizations; 
  • co-organization of scientific events to disseminate concepts and values of geoethics, among both the professional and research communities, with particular attention to young geoscientists;
  • production of relevant publications;
  • identification of possibilities to apply for common projects on geoethics, research integrity and professional deontology.

AEG ( is the organization providing leadership, advocacy, and applied research in environmental and engineering geology for its members' professional success and the public welfare. AEG is the acknowledged international leader in environmental and engineering geology, and is greatly respected for its stewardship of the profession. AEG offers information on environmental and engineering geology useful to practitioners, scientists, students, and the public. AEG members are presently located in 15 countries. In the United States of America, AEG members come from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Read more about the affiliations and agreements of the IAPG