EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Ethics and Role of Geoscientists in Existential Risk Studies

Gideon Futerman
Gideon Futerman
  • University of Oxford, Earth Sciences, United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales (

Existential and Global Catastrophic Risk, defined by Beard et al 2020 as risk that may result in the very worst catastrophes “encompassing human extinction, civilizational collapse and any major catastrophe commonly associated with these things.” As such, it has been the topic of work by many philosophers as we move into a world where humans have more and more power over the world around us.

However, geoscientists have typically neglected the study of these risks, and have in turn been neglected in the field of existential risk studies. I will discuss the ethical importance of reducing existential risk from a variety of different ethical frameworks, and how this links to the concepts in geoethics. I will then discuss some of the opportunities for geoscientists to contribute to the reduction of these risks, including some of the work that has been done by geoscientists to identify and reduce existential risk and increase civilisational resilience, as well as how methodological expertise of different geoscience disciplines can contribute to the growing corpus of theoretical work around existential risk.

How to cite: Futerman, G.: The Ethics and Role of Geoscientists in Existential Risk Studies, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-10097,, 2023.