Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
12.3 Geoscience and Society
Wednesday, 22/Sept/2021:
4:15pm - 5:45pm

Session Chair: Christian Bücker, CB Photography
Session Chair: Christoph Hilgers, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Session Chair: Frank R. Schilling, KIT

Session Abstract

Climate, energy transition, raw material supply, underground storage are socially relevant topics that require geoscientific expertise but are not associated with the geosciences. How do you bring topics from the geosciences into society? Geohazards such as earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, floods and volcanic eruptions are high-profile issues that geoscience experts contribute to in the media. Geoscientists in geoparks also develop active communication strategies to present geoscientific phenomena to society.The session will highlight ways in which the topics of climate, energy transition, raw material supply and underground storage can be linked to the geosciences in society.

4:15pm - 4:30pm

How much royalties are paid for hydrocarbon and lignite explorations in Germany?

Philipp Blum, Frederic Berger

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany

The Federal Mining Act (Bundesberggesetz, BBergG) was introduced to govern the use of the German subsurface. By paying royalties, companies obtain permissions to exploit resources in Germany. However, there is no transparent reporting on the paid royalties yet. Hence, the objective of this study is to provide an overview of the ownership and paid royalties. Furthermore, we discuss the sustainable use and management of the German subsurface. Our study shows that the subsurface is partly state- and also company-owned. Lignite, for example, is privately owned. In contrast, hydrocarbons are state-owned. In 2017, for example, on average 13% was paid in royalties for gas and 11% for petroleum. These paid royalties however have minor impacts on state budgets. For instance, in Lower Saxony, the royalties amount to 189 million Euro or 0.6% of the state budget. Thus, state income from royalties is negligible small. However, local communities and property owners have no financial benefits, but can be socially and environmentally impacted. In other countries such as the USA, paid royalties are much more transparent and also landowners directly obtain royalties. For example, in the US states, Texas and Louisiana, private landowners get paid 25% royalties on resources extracted from their land. In Germany, the subsurface is also crucial for our energy transition (“Energiewende”) as the subsurface is gradually used to extract and store energy. Thus, we propose to adapt the current Federal Mining Act to also account for environmental and social impacts providing a sustainable use and management of the subsurface.

4:30pm - 4:45pm

Social licence to operate in the applied geo- and engineering projects

Tobias Rudolph1, Jörg Benndorf2, Peter Goerke-Mallet1

1Forschungszentrum Nachbergbau (FZN), Technische Hochschule Georg Agricola (THGA), Germany; 2Institut für Markscheidewesen und Geodäsie der TU Bergakademie Freiberg

The social license to operate of projects in applied geosciences and engineering has been an issue since the days of Georg Agricola. Its importance for the reputation of companies has increased in recent years. This is due to the public's increased environmental awareness, the desire for more transparency regarding commodity supply chains (circular economy), and especially the perception of catastrophic events such as dam breaches at tailings ponds.

The institutionalized and private public's demand for more information introduces new challenges for operators. Most conflicts between stakeholders and companies occur during periods of change in projects.

However, from the operational point of view, only securing and strengthening the social licence to operate leads to the creation of a positive atmosphere. For this purpose, modern geomonitoring concepts are necessary. A modern geomonitoring integrates a variety of geospatial and engineering measurement techniques and sensors, from space, air, ground and subsurface. This fusion creates a transparent, spatial and temporal understanding of processes that must be communicated to stakeholders.

Geomonitoring therefore represents an important tool and supports open and transparent communication and transfer. Stakeholders see the integration of geomonitoring, risk management and communication into operational practice as evidence that the company is pursuing sustainable development. In this way, the basis for social acceptance of current but also future projects in applied geosciences and engineering is created.

4:45pm - 5:00pm

Creating sustainable approaches in a holistic way or Other ways to sustainability

Julia Bauer

Tauw GmbH, Germany

Every country has a different approach to of climate change adaptation based on local context and needs. This presentation gives an overview how the Netherlands and Germany approach sustainability, and how these differences impacted the energy transition process. Multi-Stakeholder processes have been one of the most crucial features during this process. Germany has proven to be a pioneer in the renewable energy technology and implemented the energy transition through an integrated long-term governance perspective. Public awareness is created through economic incentives, like a tariff-system that is supposed to support renewable energy producers with attractive rates. The Netherlands proved to be a pioneer in "transition management frameworks" throughout the process initiating new ways for coalitions between research and policy making to create storylines alongside already existing agendas of various governmental bodies. By now, the governing authorities in the Netherlands have implemented sustainability agendas on every level. The Netherlands create sustainable project outcomes by

  • Multi-Stakeholder dialogues
  • Analyzing and planning every project from a long-term sustainability perspective
  • Putting the SDG framework at the center of project design on every governmental level
  • Creating public awareness

In Germany sustainability adaptation projects are created, if municipalities see an urgent need or receive special funding for pilot projects. However, by creating a multi-stakeholder communication plan including municipalities, utilities committees, urban planners, local academia and local fund givers as well the engaged public, new ideas can be generated in an joint effort. This can broaden up finance opportunities and leads, as in the Netherlands, to more holistic projects.

5:00pm - 5:15pm

Geo-Rational - Ethics in/for the Geosciences

Martin Bohle1,2,3

1Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship, Montclair, NJ, USA; 2International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG), Rome, Italy; 3Edgeryders, Brussels, Belgium

Geosciences co-shape the human niche, that is, the planetary network of twinned natural and cultural landscapes. Bundled by global supply chains, human agents (individuals, groups, institutions, corporations) alter the human niche through engineering, production processes and consumption patterns [1]. The resulting [planetary] social-ecological systems exhibit complex-adaptive dynamics. In turn, human agents face system features like counter-intuitive behaviour, irreversible path-dependency and multi-facet values and interests. Geoethical thinking explores cultural substrates that nurture human agents' skills and operational circumstances when facing suchlike ["wicked"] system features.

Geoethics is about responsible geosciences. Initially, geoscientists conceived geoethics for geoscientists, that is, their professional functions in various societal contexts [2]. Subsequently, geoethics evolved and diversified, including a plurality of value systems. For example, incorporating Kohlberg's hierarchy of moral adequacy and Jonas's imperative of responsibility into geoethics leads to formulating a 'geo-rationale', namely, to act with: 'agent-centricity, virtue-focus, responsibility focus, knowledge-based, all-actor-inclusiveness, and universal-rights based'. Irrespectively of different settings, geoethics offers (philosophical) work-horses when handling geoscience challenges in their societal contexts; for example, [nuclear] repositories. Geoethics takes the shape of an epistemic, moral hybrid for citizens interacting with the Earth system [3].

1. Rosol C, Nelson S, Renn J (2017) Introduction: In the machine room of the Anthropocene. Anthr Rev 4:2–8.

2. Peppoloni S, Di Capua G (2015) Geoethics, the role and responsibility of geoscientists, Lyell Coll. Geological Society of London, London

3. Bohle M, Marone E (2021) Geoethics, a Branding for Sustainable Practices. Sustainability 13:895.

5:15pm - 5:30pm

The German Site Selection Procedure – Results presented in the Interim Report by the Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung mbH

Nadine Schöner, Julia Rienäcker-Burschil, Matthias Emanuel Bauer

BGE Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung mbH

n 2013, the German Site Selection Act (StandAG) restarted the search for a site with the best possible safety for a geological repository for the high-level radioactive waste produced in Germany. This Act describes the principles of the Site Selection Procedure as a science-based, participative, transparent, self-questioning and learning process. The search area will be narrowed down increasingly over the course of three phases: starting with the entire federal territory, followed by surface exploration in site regions and subsurface exploration of sites, and finally a proposal for a geological repository site offering the best possible safety to host and retard the German high-level radioactive waste.

The Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung mbH (BGE) is responsible for the implementation of the site selection procedure. With an Interim Report published in 2020, first results were presented, outlining sub-areas in preparation for defining the site regions. These 90 sub-areas are characterized by favorable geological conditions for storage of high-level radioactive waste and are located in the host rocks claystone, crystalline rock and rock salt.

As a large number of stakeholders are involved, public participation and community engagement are mandatory in all phases of the site selection procedure. The Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE) acts as the regulator in the Site Selection Procedure and organizes public participation. At the BGE we inform the public about our work by using digital information formats such as online consultation, explanatory videos and visual presentation of relevant data and models.

5:30pm - 5:45pm

Shaping responsible future experts: the need for integrating Geoethics in Geoscience university education

Dominic Hildebrandt1,2

1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Germany; 2Institute of Earth Sciences, Ruprecht Karl University Heidelberg, Germany

Geoscientific know-how is essential to tackle pressing challenges: climate change, geohazards, energy and raw material supply. However, technical expertise alone – without considering societal dimensions – will not be sufficient to find sustainable solutions to these problems. Geoethics literacy is needed to qualify Geoscientists to work responsibly on complex tasks at the interface to society. Also, Geoethics deals with our own Geoscience philosophy and can therefore help to address current problems in Geoscience academia – e.g. gender inequalities and sexism, studying with mental or physical illnesses and falling university entrant numbers. In teaching, Geoethics can be approached through five questions: How do we relate 1) to our own discipline, its history and its methods; 2) among each other; 3) to the environment; 4) to other disciplines; and 5) to society? This 'inside-out' approach ties up with existing courses in scientific working methods. These can be taken to the next level by teaching a holistic epistemology of Geosciences, which lies the foundation for a critical reflection upon the methods. Conducting field work, which plays a central role in Geosciences, raises many ethical questions. This is only one reason, why 'Geo-ethics' is needed and 'ethics' for itself falls short. These thoughts are fundamental for evaluating the role of Geoscientists in interdisciplinary teams and as part of society. Geoethics equips Geoscientists with the ability to critically reflect upon their work and its ethical implications to identify future-oriented solutions. Appropriate teaching formats should be developed – and implemented – to convey geoethical aspects in modern Geoscience study programs.