Thursday, November 22, 2018

An article just published in Advances in Geosciences (open-access)

"Ethical recommendations for ocean observation"

(by Michèle Barbier, Anja Reitz, Katsiaryna Pabortsava, Anne-Cathrin Wölfl, Tobias Hahn, and Fred Whoriskey)

The United Nations proclaimed a decade of marine science for sustainable development (2021–2030) to develop a common framework that will ensure that ocean science can fully support countries in achieving the goal of sustainable development. Marine scientific understanding is fundamental to managing human activities that affect this environment, and ocean observations have a particularly important role in enhancing the knowledge base of our oceans. With this important task, scientists have the responsibility to act in an ethical way and apply all the fundamental principles described in the Cape Town statement: (a) ethical values, (b) social values and (c) cultural values (Peppoloni and Di Capua, 2017). This article is a fist attempt to highlight the core values applicable to ocean observation, which can then be improved and adopted as part of geoethics and the stewardship of the Earth system. It opens up avenues for reflection on geoethical implications in the field of ocean observation and suggests nine key principles that marine scientists could follow in their innovative research regarding open access to data, effectiveness, compliance with laws, environmental respect and nature conservation, reciprocal relation and cultural respect, equity and fairness, knowledge transfer, governance adapted to socio-ecological systems, and the use of animals in research.

Barbier M., Reitz A., Pabortsava K., Wölfl A.-C., Hahn T., and Whoriskey F. (2018). Ethical recommendations for ocean observation. Advances in Geosciences, 45, 343–361, doi: 10.5194/adgeo-45-343-2018

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Teaching Geoethics
as a Form of Eco-political Resistance

Francesc Bellaubi
(PhD Natural Sciences, IAPG member)

Francesc Bellaubi

From the outside, however, it seems that everything is in order. The pupils make gestures as if they were pupils seen by the teachers. They wear the proper uniforms, stand in line according to school regulations, submit to a ritual. The main effect of education through castigation is that people “dance” to the ritual and do it with a certain degree of skill. In this way an old truth confirms itself – the one who wants to achieve too much does not achieve anything. (Tischner, 2005).

In the words of the Iranian-American philosopher S. H. Nasr (1997) "the environmental crisis is fundamentally a crisis of values." Environmental sustainability cannot be widely achieved in the absence of social justice (Goodwin, 2003). Equity and equality that forge the concept of justice as fairness (Rawls, 1971) are not value-neutral (Goodwin, 2003) and are deeply rooted in the political and economic ideologies of the status quo. 

Environmental sustainability goes hand to hand with human rights as both point out the current political and economic status quo as the main cause for existing inequity and inequality in the human-human/human-nature(1) relationships. Historically, "green-environmental" movements and human rights activism have failed in finding a common pathAlthough under an anthropocentric vision, progress against the deeper structures of oppression and environmental exploitation could only be made when the movements recognized their connections (Cone, cited in Spencer, 2008).

Achieving solutions must tackle environmental literacy not only in achieving better educated citizens, private sector entrepreneurs, and politicians in specific topics but also in revisiting values and norms in politically contested decision making (Goodwin, 2003) for ecological justice(2)

A values-based pedagogic approach

The current political and economic status quo is sustained by the existing educational paradigm (Robinson, n.d.) and as long as the current Technopoly (Postman, 1993) development paradigm keeps seeing nature as a resource to exploit, human rights inequities will remain. Current education systems enhance the belief technology is the solution to environmental-human challenges regardless of the values behind technological development. However, even a change in production technology will not be sufficient to achieve sustainability (Daly, 1987).

On the other hand, transparency accountability and participation that are considered key in enhancing governance fail short in addressing inequity issues. Instead, credibility is to be considered one of the most important soft skills in the generations to come (Bellaubi and Pahl-Wostl, 2017).

The anthropocene pushes for a further understanding of values-oriented solutions. Therefore, as Martin Luther King (1967) said, we must call for "a radical revolution of values" shifting from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘nature-oriented’ society.

"What is the added-created value of a pedagogy of geoethics as a form of political resistance for ecological justice challenging the current Technopoly paradigm?"

Education plays a key role in pointing out paradigm failures and paving the way for change (Dewey, 2001). In his turn, Freire (1970) points out pedagogy as being a clear political and social purpose liberating the oppressed. Furthermore, Postman (1993) defines teaching as a subversive activity. 

The term pedagogy encompasses the act of teaching to learn to think as a self-liberating and consciousness process based on the concept of critical pedagogy. Pedagogy as an action contributes to sustainable learning establishing communities of practices (Pahl-Wostl et al., 2007) where, if degrees of ecological justice are achieved, need to be seen within the influences played by ecological movements and communities of practice. The concept of geoethics refers to the "... research and reflection on the values which underpin appropriate behaviors and practices, wherever human activities interact with the geosphere" (Peppoloni and Di Capua, 2015).

The term political resistance is understood as the hope brought into the pedagogic process as a created value (Makiguchi, cited in Kumagai, 2000) considering not only the formal education teacher-student relationship but also the accompanying relationships (advice and extension) outside the formal education (e.g. in communities of practice), as a struggle for faithfulness/credible relations (Human-Nature). This faithfulness/credible relation is reached when the Human takes full consciousness of Nature as being part of it(3), in a sense of belonging one to another. Therefore, pedagogy has a moral and humanistic sense (Tolstoy, cited in Yegorov 1999). However, values are rooted in different beliefs and ideologies(4) that interact with history-story territorial identities as human-nature relationship constructs, and manifested through cultural and folkloric expressions in the duality power-space over time (territories as spaces of power but also the power of the space(5)

The added-created value of pedagogy

Exploring the value-creating pedagogy of geoethics to challenge the Technopoly paradigm means to take into consideration the created cultural capital as an individual factor and also that of solidarity as a social variable that makes individuals part of a community in the sense of voluntary engagement towards the Others (humans and non-humans or Nature). Another concept of importance is social cohesion related to the social gains/cost in the relationships with the Others.

The cultural capital as a power to influence change is not only based on knowledge and capacities that largely have failed in addressing behavioral change but on attitude that defines credibility levels. Attitude is key in boosting credibility working in two complementary directions: integrity and ethics that shape our moral judgments between what we believe and how we behave. There is extensive research-advocacy on integrity issues but more needs to be done on ethics. In this sense, game theory and, specifically, understanding ecological moral dilemmas through agent based modelling (ABM) can help us to improve how teaching geoethics influences moral judgment. 

In its turn, solidarity has been largely forgotten in the discussion about ethics. Rather than a concept or theory, solidarity remains an idea that, in contrast to a theory or concept, does not need justification but justifies itself (Tischner, 2005). Tischner talks about the ethics of solidarity as the ethics of the conscience but this idea does not need to be kept in the individual sphere but be enlarged as a social-natural phenomenon bounded to politics, an ethics of social conscience.


Bellaubi F. and Pahl-Wostl C. (2017). Corruption risks, management practices, and performance in water service delivery in Kenya and Ghana: an agent-based model. Ecology and Society, 22(2), 6.

Daly H.E. (1987). The Economic Growth Debate: What Some Economists Have Learned But Many Have Not. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 14, 323-336.

Dewey J. (2001). Education and social change. In F. Schultz (Ed.), SOURCES: Notable selections in education (3rd ed.) (pp. 333-341). New York: McGraw Hill Dushkin.

Freire P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc.

Goodwin N.R. (2003). International Society for Ecological Economics. Internet Encyclopaedia of Ecological Economics Equity, February 2003. Retrieved 20 May 2018 from

King Jr M.L. (1967). Text of speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Vietnam War. Retrieved 15 July 2018 from

Kortetmäki T. (2017). Justice in and to Nature: An Application of the Broad Framework of Environmental and Ecological Justice. Academic dissertation, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Kumagai K. (2000). Value-creating pedagogy and Japanese education in the modern era, In: Ideas and influence of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Special issue of The Journal of Oriental Studies, (10, pp. 29-45). Tokyo, The Institute of Oriental Philosophy.

Levit G.S. (2000). Biosphere and the Noosphere Theories of V.I. Vernadsky and P. Teilhard De Chardin: A Methodological Essay. Academe Internationale D'histoire Des Sciences, 50(144), 160-177.

Nasr S.H. (1997). Man and nature. Chicago: ABC International Group, Inc.

Pahl-Wostl C. et al. (2007). The importance of social learning and culture for sustainable water management, Ecological Economics. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2007.08.007.

Peppoloni S. and Di Capua G. (2015). The Meaning of Geoethics. In: M. Wyss and S. Peppoloni (Eds.), Geoethics: Ethical Challenges and Case Studies in Earth Science. Waltham, MA, USA: Elsevier, pp. 3–14. ISBN 978-0-12-799935-7.

Postman N. (1993). Technopoly the surrender of culture to technology. New York: Vintage Books.

Rawls J. (1971). A Theory of Justice. USA: Harvard University Press.

Robinson K. (n.d.). Retrieved 05 June 2018 from :

Spencer M.L. (2008). Environmental Racism and Black Theology: James H. Cone Instructs Us on Whiteness. 5 U. St. Thomas L.J. pp. 288-311.

Tàbara J.D. and Pahl-Wostl C. (2007). Sustainability learning in natural resource use and management. Ecology and Society, 12(2), 3. Retrieved 15 May 2018 from

Tischner J. (2005). Selected by Dobrosław Kot from Etyka solidarności [The Ethics of Solidarity], Kraków.

Yegorov, S. F. (1999). Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910). Prospects: The quarterly review of comparative education, XXIV(3/4), 647–60.

Žižek, S. (1989). The Sublime Object of Ideology. London: Verso.


(1): In the sense non-human nature.
(2): The author suggests the use of ecological justice (Naess, cited in Kortetmäki, 2017).
(3)Here it would be interesting to revisit the concept of noosphere of V.I.Vernadsky and P. Teilhard de Chardin (Levit, 2000).
(4): Ideology is understood as an imaginary of spiritual ideas that unfold in an array of multiple values in the perception of the World exercising a political influences on historic territorial identities as power of spaces and spaces of power (author, based on Žižek, 1989).
(5): Culture can be understood as a set of perceptual abilities, norms, values and frames, which are typical modes of acting that characterize specific groups and that are enacted in social practices. Tàbara and Pahl-Wostl (2007) defined the conceptual and methodological approach of cultural framework analysis as a coherent system of reference elements relative to the way of recognizing, rationalizing, evaluating and prescribing given phenomena of social (or socio-environmental) reality in such a way that they become significant and memorable for the different social actors at stake.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Geoethics at the
Earth System Governance Conference 2018

(by Martin Bohle, IAPG Board of Experts)

The Earth System Governance project is a ten-year-old global project and network of mainly and social and political scientists; interfaces of their interests with geoethics are many. Their annual gathering, open to third parties, took place in Utrecht (5-8 November) in the Netherlands. About 400 people gathered there, among them Martin Bohle (IAPG Board of Experts), who  together with Cornelia E. Nauen (speaker, Mundus Maris) and Eduardo Marone (IAPG-Brazil coordinator) made a contribution  to a panel on "ocean governance". Their paper “Not out of the blue: Ethics to Intersect Civic Participation and Formal Guidance” (below the link to download slides) draws also on geoethics. They argue that ethical frameworks (such as geoethics), civic participation and formalized guidance are features of socio-ecological systems, which support each other and that, togeher are essential for the governability of building the human niche.

The ESG2018 contribution borrows concepts from various lines of scholarly inquiry. To introduce them: the concept ‘socio-ecological systems’ refers to the combination of natural process, technological artefacts and human practices (e.g. techno-commercial operations) that set the environments in which people live. Examples are multiple, such as urban areas or small-scale fishery or seabed mining; the essay uses the latter two examples. The notion ‘niche building’ summarizes the physical and mental processes by which people shape technological artifacts, their operational practices as well how these artefacts intersect natural environments. The notion ‘governability’ refers to features that determine how governance structures may function; for example, using normative guidance and participation of people (civic participation). The former may take, for example, the form of an ethical framework, or formalized guidance for people’s practices. Likewise, civic participation tales various forms. The notion ‘blue economy’ is a term on the political agenda to label the development of ‘socio-ecological systems’ in the marine environment, essentially going well beyond fishing and shipping. The ‘blue’ techno-commercial operations in the marine environment, for which small-scale fisheries and seabed mining are examples of socio-ecological systems that are used in this essay, are embedded into global supply-chains and are subject to multi-level regulation/management. These features make them ‘complex-adaptive’ (or ‘wicked’). Hence, agents in these systems face a ‘wicked game’. People (or human agent, stakeholder) and institutions (or governments, governance arrangements) shape complex-adaptive socio-ecological systems through their practices on how to design production systems and consumption patterns, including justification of the related design choices. People act (or react) being an intrinsic part of these systems and patterns. Yet, people (and institutions) also do experience the same systems and patterns as constraining them, including constraints which they may perceive as counter-intuitive. Hence when shaping the ‘human niche’, people and institutions are entangled in a process on how to make sense of their own activities and provide, by the sense-making process, an essential feedback loop within the ‘human niche’. It is within the sense-making that geoethics has its essential role.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

IAPG has become
an Observer Organization of the CFES

CFES - Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences ( is an umbrella organization that represents a federation of Earth Science societies and associations across Canada. CFES represents about 15000 Earth scientists. Established in 2006 as the successor to the Canadian Geoscience Council, CFES brings together 13 organizations of Earth scientists in industry, government and academia. CFES advocates on behalf of the Canadian Earth Science community with government, the public, and the international Earth Science community.​

CFES cooperates with several observer organizations and other relevant Canadian non-member organizations on issues of public education and professional registration. CFES represents its members internationally as a member of the International Union of Geosciences (IUGS) and UNESCO.​

Jan Boon (IAPG-Canada co-coordinator) represents the IAPG in the CFES Council Meetings.


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Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Debate: The growth in the battery industry hits raw material shortage

(by Pekka Nurmi, Head of Scientific Research, Geological Survey of Finland)

The orginal version of this article (in Finnish) was published at:

Translation in English by Stephen Fraser, University of Queensland)

Pekka Nurmi is member of the IAPG Task Group on Responsible Mining:

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"The importance of energy shortage is widely understood, but not its dependence on raw materials and the necessity of mining activity as a catalyst for change."

Batteries can not be produced quickly enough in Finland or elsewhere in Europe to meet industry needs, writes Pekka Nurmi.

Transport accounts for more than 20% of global carbon emissions, so reducing its emissions is one of the most effective ways to curb climate change. The tightening of regulation and, on the other hand, the opportunities created by electrification have already fueled the automotive industry, which has announced massive investment in the development and production of electric cars. The development is accelerating the rapidly improving efficiency of batteries and the falling price.

In addition to passenger cars and consumer electronics, battery technology is rapidly expanding in heavy traffic, non-road vehicles and personal mobility. Batteries are needed for energy storage and power consumption management for power grids.

Electrification requires huge investments in the battery industry. The number of large-scale factories is projected to increase tenfold over the next 15 years, and production capacity growth will continue to be strong at least until mid-century. Battery production is strongly focussed on China, the rest of the Far East and the United States.

Maintaining Europe's technological leadership and competitiveness would, however, require significant battery manufacturing here as well. A dozen battery stations are already planned, and the first are starting their production in Poland and Hungary.

Batteries in battery technology can not be realized without increasing the production of required metals and minerals. Competition in raw materials is tightening up, and it is uncertain whether future raw materials can be freely purchased from the world market.

On the contrary, there is a risk that the production and further processing of important metals will focus on a few countries and a few actors, as has been the case for rare earth metals. China manages the raw material market and component production utilizing these metals. The battery industry must ensure the availability of raw materials through strategic investments and supply contracts.

An effective battery can not be manufactured without cobalt and lithium. The aim has been to reduce the use of cobalt, but still every 5 to 10 kilograms of electric cars. 60 percent of the production comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and over half of the further processing is made in China. The battery industry will need cobalt many times compared to the current one. The reserves of lithium are divided into several countries, but production needs to be intensified.

The need for nickel and copper will also increase. Each electric car has 80 kilograms of copper and is also needed to build a charging infrastructure.

Europe has a strong manufacturing industry, technological know-how, and also raw materials for batteries, but their reserves and potential are poorly known. The European Commission has recently stated that the supply of raw materials for the battery industry is a risk that needs to be addressed quickly.

European companies do not work fast enough to secure access to raw materials from third countries, and Member States are not investing enough in research into their raw material resources. There is not enough processing and processing capacity in Europe as well.

Finland has a good opportunity to play a significant role in the European battery industry and to create billion businesses in the industry. Finland is the only EU country with production or significant potential in raw materials for all batteries. We have processing capacities, further processing and technological know-how from mining to recycling.

However, increasing the production of battery metals would require considerable investment in exploring their potential and reserves, as well as more streamlined licensing processes, mining investments and local people's approval. Now many search projects and mining projects are moving too slowly or even blocking.

The importance of energy turbidity is widely understood, but not its dependence on raw materials and the necessity of mining operations to enabling change. Batteries can not be produced quickly enough in Finland or elsewhere in Europe to meet industry needs.


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Friday, November 2, 2018

3rd Training Course on Ocean Governance, Marine Sciences, and Geoethics

The Training Course is organized by the IOI - International Ocean Institute, Training Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean, and it will take place at the Universidad del Atlántico Barranquilla (Colombia), from 21 January to 15 February 2019.

IAPG is partner of the Training Course. Eduardo Marone (IAPG-Brazil Coordinator) is coordinator of the module on Geoethics.


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