EGU22-664, updated on 26 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Geoethics, emerging from splendid segregation?

Martin Bohle1,4 and Eduardo Marone2,3,4
Martin Bohle and Eduardo Marone
  • 1Ronin Institute, Montclair, NJ, USA
  • 2Centre for Marine Studies, Federal University of Paraná (CEM/UFPR)
  • 3International Ocean Institute Training Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (IOITCLAC) Pontal do Paraná, Brazil
  • 4International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG), Rome, Italy

Geoethics’ programmatic essence is “research and reflection on the values which underpin appropriate behaviours and practices, wherever human activities interact with the Earth system” [1] (p.30). Although values, behaviours and practices are mainly geographically local, culturally constrained, and individual-specific, they are also subject to hegemonic traditions. Regarding the latter, European cultures [2, 3] merged engineering, economy, and sciences, including early studies of Earth [4, 5]. Subsequently, they shaped societal practices on a planetary scale [6–8]. Geoethics is also formed through these socio-historical features. As a result, geoethical practices are caught in the dialectic of local versus hegemonic traditions, like any European tradition of thought and practices. Therefore exchanges with these and other traditions are desirable for mutual learning.

As literature studies show, the interaction of geoethics and other schools of thought and practices is limited, although with some valuable exceptions, e.g. [9]. Recently a publication [10], written mainly by political sciences and humanities scholars, broadens the exchanges. Although this collection of essays may mark a shift, regular interactions of geoethics with other traditions of thought and practices is much desirable. Frequent interactions between various schools of thought permit scrutinizing thinking and strengthening geoethics.

Illustrating which kind of interaction might be beneficial: In The Idea of Justice [11], the Indian Economist and Philosopher Armatya Sen investigated the Rawlsian theory of justice as fairness,  showing (also) why ethically just choices “taken in a specific social and cultural setting, that respect the ethical norms of this setting, may appear unethical elsewhere” (p.30) [1]. Hence, Armatya Sen's study supports an essential insight that geoethics promotes as a central tenet.

  • [1] Peppoloni S, Bilham N, Di Capua G (2019) Contemporary Geoethics Within the Geosciences. In: Exploring Geoethics. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 25–70
  • [2] Reinhard W (2016) Die Unterwerfung der Welt - Globalgeschichte der Europäischen Expansion 1415-2015. Verlag C.H. Beck oHG, München
  • [3] Mokyr J (2016) A Culture of Growth - The Origins of the Modern Economy. Princeton University Press, Princeton
  • [4] Hall DH (1976) History of the Earth Sciences during the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions with Special Emphasis on the Physical Geosciences. Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Amsterdam
  • [5] Meiske M (2021) Die Geburt des Geoengineerings : Großbauprojekte in der Frühphase des Anthropozäns. Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen
  • [6] Head MJ, Steffen W, Fagerlind D, et al. (2021) The Great Acceleration is real and provides a quantitative basis for the proposed Anthropocene Series/Epoch. Episodes 1–18.
  • [7] Dyer-Witheford N (2018) Struggles in the Planet Factory: Class Composition and Global Warming. In: Interrogating the Anthropocene. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 75–103
  • [8] Rosol C, Nelson S, Renn J (2017) Introduction: In the machine room of the Anthropocene. Anthr Rev 4:2–8.
  • [9] Potthast T (2015) Toward an Inclusive Geoethics—Commonalities of Ethics in Technology, Science, Business, and Environment. In: Peppoloni MW (ed) Geoethics. Elsevier, pp 49–56
  • [10] Bohle M, Marone E (2021) Geo-societal Narratives - Contextualsing Geosciences. Springer International Publishing, Cham
  • [11] Sen A (2010) The idea of Justice. Penguin Books, London, UK


How to cite: Bohle, M. and Marone, E.: Geoethics, emerging from splendid segregation?, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-664,, 2022.


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