The second edition of the first book about Geoethics – “Geoethics: Theory, Principles, Problems” (Nikitina, 2016) – has just been published. The first edition was published four years ago (Nikitina, 2012). The monography was presented at a session dedicated to geoethics at the 34th International Geological Congress (Brisbane, Australia).
Although the definition of geoethics has already been established in some dictionaries and encyclopedias, as a science it only existed in the framework of separate reports and theses. There were no consolidated
documents on this topic in Russian or other languages, and there were just very few scientists in the world, not more than 50 in total, specifically researching about geoethics.
The situation has changed significantly within the last four years. First of all, the definition of geoethics has been specified and broadened. Independent national geoethical societies and departments for geoethics under national geological societies have been established in many countries on all continents except Antarctica. On an international level, these societies have been combined under the umbrella of two scientific associations: International Association for Geoethics – IAGETH (includes national organisations of 44 countries) and International Association for Promoting Geoethics – IAPG. Both organizations have been affiliated members of International Association of Geological Sciences – IUGS, since 2014.
During the last four years (which may seem quite a short time) the amount of accumulated knowledge has increased, geoehical situations, problems and dilemmas have been specified. New issues have been identified some of which are common for majority of countries, and others are specific to separate groups, communities and clusters of populations (NIMBY syndrome, feasibility of exploration of natural resources of the international seabed area, continental shelf, Arctic, Antarctic, other planets; fair distribution of profits from exploitation of natural resources, ethical dilemmas when predicting ever increasing catastrophical geological processes). When assessing effectiveness of geological projects, it is necessary to apply not only usual economic criteria, such as profitability, commercial viability and profit margins – but also consider deep moral essence of the terms “subsoils”, “earth”, “natural re-sources”.
More and more often in practice, when implementing any projects related to subsoil use, it is needed to take into consideration essential features of mineral resources and its useful qualities: natural and geographical uneven distribution, exhaustibility, non-replenish ability, scarcity and resource ownership by current and future generations.
We need to use geoethical principles and specific instruments when making executive decisions around subsoil exploration and use in order to avoid social conflicts.
The first edition of the monography was published in relatively small run (of just 300 copies) and only in Russian language, which significantly limited access to accumulated and systematized geoethical knowledge. Exactly for this reason, the second modified and extended edition is presented to the readers now in English language.
Dr. Nataliya Nikitina, IAGETH First Vice President