Session B, July 7, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST
While ethics codes used for licensing geoscience professionals are useful and necessary, they only address major breaches within precisely defined boundaries. Geoscientists also need to address broader issues. For example, in a real case in Austria, they needed to deal with the ethical dilemma of weighing the physical risk of landslides burying an entire community against the sociological risk of breaking up a centuries-old culture and way of life. Moreover, there is a need to address the worrisome frequency of reports of harassment and lack of respect in the science community. The International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG) aims to contribute by encouraging research and reflection on the values that underpin appropriate behaviours and practices, wherever human activities interact with the Earth system. The presentation will illustrate the IAPG approach through examples.
Nestle’s decision to buy a well near Elora in 2016 for bottled water sparked public outcry and triggered what is arguably Canada’s largest groundwater conflict. The government of the day responded quickly with a two-year moratorium of new groundwater permits for bottled water, which has been extended twice by the current government. As geoscientists we may have a deep understanding of the technical issues, but our voices may wither in the face of strong public opinion. Groundwater is rarely a subject of scientifically based opinion surveys and relying on talk radio for information can be akin to walking across a mine field.
Through analysis of public comments and Google Trends search results, this presentation tries to provide geoscientists with a better understanding of public concerns. It is hoped that with this information they will be able to better engage in these important discussions that swirl around this issue and may affect our profession.
Geoscientists, like other professionals, deal with clients who may/will attempt to push the boundaries of professional conduct. This leads to Professional Geoscientists facing ethical dilemmas, especially in consulting. These challenges can relate to finances, approvals, scheduling, reporting and other issues on projects. Since our primary responsibility is to protect the public, we cannot stray from following both the law and ethical practices. We will explore a few examples of real-life ethical dilemmas and how these were, or should have been, handled. The varied outcomes of ethical decisions will also be discussed, as they may potentially include negative impacts to your business.
The philosophy of sustainable development, which often invokes the principles of precaution and intergenerational risk, aims to advance the long-term protection of the planet for future generations. What does 'sustainability' mean in the context of project planning and public consultation? And, how do principles like the precautionary principle and intergenerational risk apply? In this session, we'll review these key principles of international environmental law and review their applicability within a Canadian context. Drawing on our history of working with citizens' groups and advocating for greater public participation in decision-making, CELA will also share legal tools and policies which can advance a project's social acceptance, or 'social license' to operate.
Register online for this session or for the full Symposium.