What Do We Mean by Societal Issues?
Societal issues and geoscience
Geoscientists often think of the intersection of geoscience and societal issues in terms of:
- Resource issues (food, water quantity, mineral/aggregate resources, energy)
- Environmental stability (environmental degradation, environmental justice)
- Health and safety issues (natural hazards, climate change, water quality)
The American Geosciencesl Institute outlines the role of geoscience expertise in many of these issues in its document: Critical Needs for the Twenty-first Century: The Role of Geosciences
Today we understand that these issues are linked to one of the grand challenges that we face: living sustainably on the planet. While there are many different definitions of sustainability, most share the commonalities in attention to both people and their environment and the well-being of future generations as well as the well-being of people today. We conceptualize sustainability as meeting the needs of people today and in the future while sustaining the life support systems of the planet.
"In a sustainable world, human needs would be met without chronic harm to the environment and without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This incorporates four topical themes: environment, energy, materials and resilience." Killeen, 2012, A Focus on Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability, EOS v. 93, no 1, pg 1-3
Grand Challenges Documents:
- American Geosciences Institute, 2012, Critical Needs for the 21st Century: The Role of the Geosciences
- National Research Council, 2001, Grand Challenges in Environmental Science. Washington, D.C., National Academy Press, 106 p.
- Jones Kershaw, P., 2005, Creating a Disaster Resilient America: Grand Challenges in Science and Technology: Summary of a Workshop. Summary of a workshop. National Research Council
- Zoback, M, 2001, Grand challenges in Earth and Environmental Sciences: Science, stewardship, and service for the Twenty-First Century. GSA Today, December, p.41-47.
- Reid, W.V., D. Chen, L. Goldfarb, H. Hackmann, Y.T. Lee, K. Mokhele, E. Ostrom, K. Raivio, J. Rockstrom, H.J. Schellnhuber, A. Whyte, 2010, Earth System Science for Global Sustainability: Grand Challenges. Science, November, p. 916-917.