EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Geoethics to redefine the human-Earth system nexus

Giuseppe Di Capua1,2 and Silvia Peppoloni1,2
Giuseppe Di Capua and Silvia Peppoloni
  • 1Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Rome, Italy (;
  • 2IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics, Rome, Italy (

Environmental problems and the ways in which humanity must ensure its well-being on planet Earth are fundamental issues for today's ethics. Ethics must be rethought in the light of the modern ecological crisis to give answers that hold together environmental, economic and social issues. Geoethics, which has been defined as “research and reflection on the values that underpin appropriate behaviors and practices, wherever human activities interact with the Earth system” (Peppoloni et al. 2019:, can implement an ecological humanism, integrating some principles of human ethics (dignity, freedom and responsibility) with the necessary duties that each human being must have towards the Earth system (Peppoloni and Di Capua 2021: /10.3390/su131810024). So, human progress is at the same time an economic, social, cultural, political development process which is carried out in compliance with human rights and the delicate ecosystemic balances of which the human being is an integral part.

In the vision of geoethics, the human being becomes aware of its action as a modifying agent of the environment, but also of its non-centrality within the natural ecosystem. In this sense, ecological humanism allows to overcome the contrasts present in the different positions of environmental ethics regarding the human-nature connection (weak and strong anthropocentrism, biocentrism, ecocentrism with its geocentric extension). These positions, despite the progressive attempt to overcome the rigidities present in each of them, however taken individually do not seem to respond to human complexity and overcome the dichotomy between the human being and nature, and in fact are creating obstacles on the operational level, which if not solved, risk slowing down the search for solutions to anthropogenic global problems.

We argue that human beings living in the Anthropocene must recompose in their naturalness the different visions that have been provided on the human-nature nexus.

This recomposition has to consider that the human being is:

  • intrinsically and perceptively anthropocentric, as it cannot escape its specific nature, the forms of its way of thinking, the biological, emotional, spiritual, and rational complexity through which it constructs its vision of the world on the basis of its species peculiarities;
  • dynamically anthropogenic, since it builds its ecological niche to create its own operational space, which it modifies if necessary to try to improve one's living conditions.

And in the geoethical perspective, the human being must evolve to become also:

  • relationally biocentric (in the recognition of the value of life of any living being) and ecocentric (in the attitude of respect towards the Earth system in its entirety);
  • geocentric in its identity (when it develops a sense of supranational belonging to a terrestrial citizenship and takes care of its dwelling place).

Therefore, geoethics seeks to go beyond the oppositions and to make a synthesis, by saving the best intuitions of the categories of environmental ethics and using them to develop a new vision of human being, through which implementing an operational logic that can drive the human progress.

How to cite: Di Capua, G. and Peppoloni, S.: Geoethics to redefine the human-Earth system nexus, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-1747,, 2022.


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