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Diary date: rock talk edition

The Geological Society has decided to join the throng of institutions keen to discover that magic ingredient that will get the public to hang on their every word. Yes, it's scientific communication time once again:

Geological issues are increasingly intruding on the everyday lives of people across the UK. Whether it be onshore exploration and extraction of oil and gas, subsurface injection of waters for geothermal power or deep storage of carbon and radioactive waste, many communities across the country are being confronted with controversial geo-engineering interventions under their backyard. Alongside the complex scientific and technical challenges, an additional problem is that, to most people, the geological subsurface is an unknown realm. That combination presents particular difficulties for professional geoscientists communicating what they do and what they know to the lay public. Developing public participation strategies that effectively engage with citizens, communities, and stakeholder groups, requires geoscientists to better appreciate what the public knows and what they have concerns about.

This conference will be a forum to bring together geoscientists from universities, industry and government alongside specialists in communication and public engagement to explore the challenges of communicating contested geological issues to the wider public. The meeting, which is aimed at emerging geoscience professionals and experienced practitioners who wish to better engage with the public, will focus principally on three current and pressing societal concerns in the UK: (1) radioactive waste disposal; (2) shale gas/fracking; and (3) carbon capture and storage.

These themes will be explored through a mix of keynote talks and expert panel discussions, alongside active Q & A from an audience of geoscience and communication practitioners.

The cast of speakers is very impressive, with David Mackay and Brigitte Nerlich speaking on shale and Nick Pidgeon on public engagement and Iain Stewart taking a chairman's role.

The date is the 20th June in London. Details here.

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Reader Comments (15)

...The Geological Society has decided to join the throng of institutions keen to discover that magic ingredient that will get the public to hang on their every word...

I would have thought that finding that Global Warming was going to expand the globe, causing volcanoes and earthquakes, or melting the crust and causing us all to fall into the mantle would have done the job...

May 4, 2014 at 9:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

"Developing public participation strategies that effectively engage with citizens, communities, and stakeholder groups......"

Not a good start.

May 4, 2014 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered Commenter52

Remind me again why David Mackay is an impressive expert on shale.

May 4, 2014 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered Commenternvw

All public statements by scientists translate as "Gimme da money!"

May 4, 2014 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

The old adage says that the best geologist is the one who has seen the most rocks. But how many of these individuals actually had years of hands on 'in depth' experience - worked for years analysing and evaluating the properties of subsurface drill cuttings, cores, rock mechanics, connate fluid behaviour, electric logs, seismic records, downhole pressure-temperature data, or are they just the inevitable silver-tongued media 'rock stars' whose status excuses the tedium of such experience.

May 4, 2014 at 10:44 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

This conference could be useful.
As an active soil profile geochemist years ago, I was often dismayed to find that Joe Citizen had not the foggiest idea of what was below the surface. It was distressingly prevalent to meet the fictional picture of underground cities and civilisations as in Jules Verne. This seems to be getting worse with games for children Dungeons & Dragons style.
I would be hopeful that public education about the near sub subsurface would lower the tensions of frakking. There is so, so much ignorance out there.
But then the same applies to brain surgery. There is a limit to topics that ought to be taught in detail to all and sundry, particularly given the low levels of capability in spelling and grammar among undergrads, for example, having higher priority.

May 5, 2014 at 2:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington


May 5, 2014 at 4:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterSanta Baby

Not quite sure which aspect of carbon capture could legitimately be described as "current".

May 5, 2014 at 5:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

With another BBC global warming alarmist and Professor of Geosciences Communication in the chair, what are the chances of a fair debate?

May 5, 2014 at 7:33 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Given that the general consensus among geologists appears to be that fracking is not likely to be troublesome it will certainly be interesting to see what stand they take on the subject from a geological point of view.
Should tell us a lot.

May 5, 2014 at 8:22 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

It's the "stakeholder" word that usually trips my BS meter.

May 5, 2014 at 8:31 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"Carbon capture and storage"

So, it's a science fiction convention then?

May 5, 2014 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Interesting that all four speakers on shale gas have not produced one molecule of shale gas between them - their expertise should be invaluable

May 5, 2014 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered Commenterdavdi jenkins

With others, I am surprised at the mention of Carbon capture and storage. Though an honest progress report on the R and D programme would be welcome.

May 5, 2014 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Some of the best communication on shale I've seen comes from James Verdon. He's not quite so good on radio where he has to learn how they will subvert what he says, but his blog makes its points very well.

Get a professional presenter to make a programme based on his writing and you'd have quite a persuasive piece.

May 6, 2014 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

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