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critical issues

Critical Issues Monthly Roundup: March 2017

Welcome to April! Here’s what’s new from the Critical Issues Program:
  • We have begun publishing a new suite of information products: case studies and factsheets on specific issues at the interface of geoscience and society. Our first factsheet, on groundwater use in the United States, is now live on our website. We will continue to produce and publish these throughout 2017, so if you have any comments, suggestions, or ideas, or would like to guest author a factsheet or case study, please feel free to contact us.
  • Our next webinar, “State Responses to Induced Earthquakes,” will take place on Friday April 14th at 2pm ET. This free webinar will focus on state-level activities in Oklahoma, Texas, and Ohio to monitor and reduce earthquakes associated with oil and gas activities, particularly the deep underground injection of wastewater. For more information, and to register for the webinar, visit bit.ly/induced-eq-webinar.
Click "Read More" to see more news.

Learned Societies' Climate Communiqué - COP21

In the run up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 21 scheduled for December 2015, 24 of the UK's foremost academic institutions, including the Geological Society have published a joint Climate Communiqué calling on national governments to take immediate action if they want to avert the serious risks posed by climate change. The document states that to tackle climate change, governments, including that of the UK, must seize the opportunity at climate talks in Paris in December to negotiate an agreement based on the latest scientific evidence. Pointing to that scientific evidence, the organisations say that if we are to have a reasonable chance of limiting global warming in this century to 2°C relative to the pre-industrial period, we must transition to a zero-carbon world by early in the second half of the century.

Statement on the U.S. Executive Order

The Geological Society, along with many other national and international scientific organisations, is concerned by the Executive Order, announced on 27 January 2017, which will prevent people from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa from entering the United States, if it is allowed to stand.

From the perspective of an international organisation with members living and working around the world in what is a truly global scientific discipline, such a ban would have the potential to hinder a number of activities that are critical to our science. Furthermore, as an organisation we are committed to supporting diversity and inclusion in the geoscience profession, irrespective of nationality, and the Executive Order conflicts with our stated aims in this area. Read more in this position statement.


How do geologists find mineral deposits, and what happens after the mines close? What is a critical metal, and where are the deepest mines on earth? Find out how we mine and process minerals above and below ground in our mining fact sheet.

Proposal to construct a waste pipeline near Siccar Point, Berwickshire

The Geological Society’s attention has been drawn to a planning application by Drysdales to the Scottish Borders Council, for permission to construct a pipeline to carry solid and liquid waste from its vegetable processing plant at Old Cambus, Berwickshire. The route of the proposed pipeline crosses the foreshore 150m to the east of Siccar Point. Concerns have been raised regarding this application.  Siccar Point is a globally significant geoheritage site, as recognised by its designation as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).  It is famous as the location of ‘Hutton’s Unconformity’, which as early as 1788 provided crucial evidence for the emerging uniformitarian theory of geology and about the age of the Earth.  Near-vertical Silurian greywackes are overlain by gently  dipping Devonian strata (Old Red Sandstone). Read more in this position statement.


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