Next week the Geological Society is hosting the first in a series of flagship ‘Bryan Lovell Meetings’, named after our former President of 2010-2012. These meetings are designed to focus on geoscience relevant to major societal issues, such as environmental change, energy and raw material resource security, radioactive waste management and water availability.
The first meeting focuses on the Society’s 2016 ‘Year of Water’ and 2017’s ‘Year of Risk’, both of which encompass pertinent societal challenges that require engagement across government, business, industry, the public and the science and research community. The meeting is an opportunity to think about how our science feeds into hazard management and understanding, and how geoscience can be part of the solution to many of these issues.
Flooding on the Somerset Levels. © geograph.org
Most people in the UK, whether via news or events in their local area, are aware of some of the dangers of water-related hazards and the risks surrounding water resources, quality and behaviour – particularly due to some of the more extreme events felt in the UK over the past few years. Flooding, water contamination, sinkholes and climate change all make the headlines on a semi-regular basis and they all represent big challenges for policy and decision makers.
This meeting is an opportunity for people from across industry, government and academia in both the physical and social sciences to explore a number of cross-disciplinary themes in the area of water and risk. These include water as a resource and a hazard, the impact of environmental change, working with uncertainty and risk through effective strategy, mitigation, management and intervention as well as examining the public perception and understanding of risk and uncertainty and more effective ways of communicating this to members of the public.
Groundwater flooding, Berkshire © geopgraph.org
There have been numerous examples of events both in the UK and globally where many of these themes conflate around one issue. These include challenges or events such as the UK flooding events of winter ’13-’14, groundwater flooding in 2014, effective communication of the risks around fracking, geological disposal of radioactive waste and the formation of the sinkholes seen in St Albans and Ripon. There are also indirect challenges such as financial and risk modelling around catastrophic events like flooding and slope failure, which can result in loss of life as well as substantial financial losses through damage to property and infrastructure. Understanding and communicating these challenges is essential to limiting their impact in a changing world.
St Alban’s Sinkhole. Image from the BBC website © Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
The conference will examine many of these challenges, and more from the perspectives of those working in policy research, industry, social science, finance and engineering.
You can still register for the conference which runs from the 24-25 November at The Geological Society in London. To encourage attendees from a broad range of backgrounds and at all stages of their career we have set modest registration prices starting from just £20 for students for the full conference. You can find more information about the conference, including the programme, and information about how to register on the event page: www.geolsoc.org.uk/Lovell16.