Geoethics and natural hazards: communication, education and the science-policy-practice interface (co-organized)
|Convener: S. Peppoloni | Co-Conveners: J. Wasowski , Reitan , G. Devoli , S. W. Kieffer , E. Lindquist|
Among the more relevant ethical issues faced by Geoscientists and Engineers concerned with natural hazards (including but not limited to earthquake, volcano, landslide, flood, and tsunami events) is the increasing death toll and cost owing to rapidly growing population, occupation of marginal and/or unsafe land, and misuse of land. This problem is often aggravated in developing countries. It is apparent that many natural disasters can be prevented and/or their impact reduced. However, the desirable shift from our culture of reaction to a culture of prevention is far from being realized.
Consequently, most efforts by researchers and practitioners (and politicians) appear devoted to the post-factum phase, usually oriented toward drastic and expensive interventions rather than anticipation with longer-term and often definitive solutions. Moreover, the lack of serious cost-benefit analyses and verification of performance of risk reduction measures in activities related to natural hazards is frequent.
Geoscientists are in the best position to provide historical perspectives and prospects for the future; therefore they can and should be more involved in securing funds for pre-disaster risk reduction and prevention measures.
The search for balance between short-term economic issues (especially critical to private stakeholders) and wider social impacts from natural hazards is an increasingly urgent need. Geoethics must be central to society's responses to natural hazard threats.
It appears that in addition to communication with local societies and government agencies, [a] concerted action on regional and international level policies is needed to promote risk reduction and prevention initiatives, as well as specific adaptive measures to ways of living in hazard-prone areas.
Within the above context, Geoscientists have a key role to play and must take responsibility to share and communicate their knowledge more effectively with all private and public stakeholders involved, paying attention to providing balanced information about risks (neither catastrophism nor superficial reassurances) and addressing inevitable uncertainties in natural hazard mapping, assessment, warning, and forecasting.
We believe that to succeed in fulfilling our ethical obligations we will need greater interdisciplinary collaboration, more specific training on how to address various stakeholders interests, and greater understanding and support from mass media in spreading correct scientific information, with the aim and awareness of providing a service of public utility.
We welcome contributions on the above and related ethical issues that have to be dealt with by those involved in studying and managing natural hazards, as well as in designing and implementing risk reduction methods.