Geoethics and geological culture: awareness, responsibility and challenges

Silvia Peppoloni, Giuseppe Di Capua


The international debate in the field of geoethics focuses on some of the most important environmental emergencies, while highlighting the great responsibilities of geoscientists, whatever field they work in, and the important social, cultural and economic repercussions that their choices can have on society. The GeoItalia 2009 and 2011 conferences that were held in Rimini and Turin, respectively, and were organized by the Italian Federation of Earth Science, were two important moments for the promotion of geoethics in Italy. They were devoted to the highlighting of how, and with what tools and contents, can the geosciences contribute to the cultural renewal of society. They also covered the active roles of geoscientists in the dissemination of scientific information, contributing in this way to the correct construction of social knowledge. Geology is culture, and as such it can help to dispel misconceptions and cultural stereotypes that concern natural phenomena, disasters, resources, and land management. Geological culture consists of methods, goals, values, history, ways of thinking about nature, and specific sensitivity for approaching problems and their solutions. So geology has to fix referenced values, as indispensable prerequisites for geoethics. Together, geological culture and geoethics can strengthen the bond that joins people to their territory, and can help to find solutions and answers to some important challenges in the coming years regarding natural risks, resources, and climate change. Starting from these considerations, we stress the importance of establishing an ethical criterion for Earth scientists, to focus attention on the issue of the responsibility of geoscientists, and the need to more clearly define their scientific identity and the value of their specificities.


Education; History of Science; Public Issues; General (Philosophy of Earth Sciences)

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN:  2037-416X