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Ethical careers for geologists? Dr. Tim Foxon Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), and Imperial College, London Presentation to Sedgwick Club, 02/02/04.

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Presentation on theme: "Ethical careers for geologists? Dr. Tim Foxon Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), and Imperial College, London Presentation to Sedgwick Club, 02/02/04."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethical careers for geologists? Dr. Tim Foxon Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), and Imperial College, London Presentation to Sedgwick Club, 02/02/04

2 Outline What does SGR do? What are the major concerns relating to sustainability and climate change? Career choices - what to think about and what are the alternatives? Personal empowerment Getting the right advice

3 Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), U.K. Network of concerned scientists Promote socially responsible and ethical use of science and technology - e.g. Climate Train to Kyoto Professional support - e.g. Ethics guide and mentoring Web site:

4 Ethical Careers Guide and Briefings Produced by SGR Covers a range of issues to help make informed ethical choices about careers in science and technology Contributors include Joseph Rotblat and Tim Berners-Lee More detailed briefings, including climate change and clean technologies

5 Science and technology Science and technology are powerful forces for understanding and transforming our world Power brings responsibility: –the more that we are able to do, the more that we should be concerned with the consequences of our actions

6 Sustainable Development Principles agreed at Rio Earth Summit in 1992 Re-affirmed at Johannesburg in 2002 ‘A better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come’ –meeting social needs –protecting the environment –enabling economic development

7 Key issues Climate Change: –IPCC predicts between 1.5 °C and 4.5 °C rise in mean global temperature by 2100 –sea level rise, increased extreme events Loss of biodiversity and habitats Risks created by new technologies Lack of democratic control Need for development in poorer countries

8 Ecological footprint of nations

9 Sustainability target Need to increase in efficiency by which we create value per unit of resource used by a Factor of 10 UK Energy White Paper sets a goal of reducing UK CO 2 emissions by 60% by 2050

10 Climate Change solutions Increase efficiency of providing energy services at each stage in the chain –production, distribution, conversion, end-use Decarbonisation of primary fuel sources –Switch to lower carbon fossil fuels, e.g. gas instead of coal or oil –Capture and sequester carbon emissions –Development of renewable energy sources, e.g. wind, solar, biomass, geothermal

11 Reducing CO 2 emissions by 2050 Source: The Carbon Trust

12 Technological change is not enough Technological change alone will not be sufficient to achieve sustainability Will also need political and institutional change ‘Take-back’ of efficiency gains in increased consumption Need move towards ‘sufficiency’ in consumption as well as efficiency

13 What should we do? No shortage of socially useful things to do However, current socio-economic systems give higher rewards to those who act to maintain the current system ‘Lock-in’ of technologies and institutions

14 Four basic steps 1. Educate yourself about wider issues 2. Decide where we stand - and what you might do if your views were compromised 3. Try to choose a career path consistent with your views 4. Get support - from colleagues, mentors, networks, other organisations

15 Be aware of incremental drift One scientist we interviewed noted: –“You will rarely be faced with a big ethical dilemma in work. What is more likely is a series of very small steps which together add up to something much larger - which is why one constantly has to think about what one is doing”

16 Employment opportunities Does the employer have an environment or sustainability policy? What are the life cycle impacts of the product or service provided? What are the targets and opportunities for reducing environmental impacts?

17 Options for geologists Work for change within a large company Work for a company which you feel is making a positive contribution Work for change from within government, consultancies, NGOs, media, etc. Exert influence by researching and teaching

18 Working for a large company Working to improve environmental efficiency Working for, e.g. the renewables division of a large company Using your position to try to influence the company’s position Possible, but could be very frustrating, and long term benefits not clear

19 Working for a ‘responsible’ company Need to judge attitude and commitment of the company Opportunity to work with like-minded people and feel like you’re making a difference May also involve compromises in certain areas

20 Working for government, consultancies media, NGOs, etc Opportunities to exert influence Difficulties –large organisations may have their own biases and agendas –small organisations may be more radical, but have less power

21 Researching and teaching More opportunities to understand what is going on and set your own agenda Influence the next generation Some influence on decision-makers but no power!

22 Big or small? Think about choosing to work for a smaller, more ethically oriented company - or even about starting your own! Transferable skills –basic knowledge and understanding of science and engineering are transferable to a wide range of potential jobs

23 Get support Talk to your colleagues Talk to others with experience of different jobs or roles Use the careers service Network with like-minded people - through professional organisations, trade unions, organisations like SGR

24 Summary Social and environmental concerns are real and likely to become increasingly influential Many opportunities for a more ethical careers, but may involve hard choices You can make a difference - good luck!


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