GEOETHICS AS AN EMERGING DISCIPLINE: PERSPECTIVES, ETHICAL CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS
Journal: Earth Science Malaysia (ESMY)
Author: Nwankwoala, H.O
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited
Geoethics is the union of the prefix “geo” and the word “ethics”. This means responsibility towards the Earth, an ethics for the planet. Geoethics involves research and reflection on the values which underpin appropriate behaviours and practices, wherever human activities interact with the Earth system. Geoethics deals with the ethical, social and cultural implications of geoscience knowledge, education, research, practice and communication, and with the social role and responsibility of geoscientists in conducting their activities. Geoethics recognizes that human beings are a geological force capable of acting on natural environments, and in virtue of this prerogative assigns to them an ethical responsibility towards the Earth system. Studying and managing the Earth system, exploiting its geo-resources, intervening in natural processes are actions that involve great responsibilities towards society and the environment are the exclusive reserve of geoscientists. Only by increasing the awareness of this responsibility, can we work with wisdom and foresight, and respect the balances that exist in nature while guaranteeing a sustainable development for future generations. Promoting Geoethics articulates the responsibilities of geoscientists to improve both the quality of professional work and the credibility of geoscientists, to foster excellence in geosciences, to assure sustainable benefits for communities, as well as to protect local and global environments; all with the aim of creating and maintaining the conditions for the healthy and prosperous development of future generations. Equally as important to the success of the scientific enterprise are the personal attributes required of being a scientist and the responsible conduct of scientists in their personal interactions with colleagues and the public. The paper therefore provides an overview the scope and dynamics of the emerging field of geoethics, by showing the trajectory that has led to the current point of development of geoethics, challenges, prospects and suggesting some cues for thought for further advancements of ethical thinking in geosciences.