Humanistic Geosciences and the Planetary Human Niche

  • Martin BohleEmail author
  • Eduardo Marone


The societal relevance and purpose of geoscience are discussed from a conceptual perspective in this chapter. It explores how people should live ethically in times of anthropogenic global change and describes the history and current state of ‘human niche-building’ (or ‘engineering’, in its broadest sense) at the planetary scale. It outlines how the Earth can be conceived as a single system, ‘people included’, by considering the geosphere, biosphere and ‘noosphere’—a term repurposed here to denote the human agent and its socio-technological means, consisting of physical and mental artefacts. It posits Kohlberg’s hierarchy of moral adequacy as a reference scale for assessing the maturity of human–Earth interactions, and argues for the social value of geoethical thinking in shaping public narratives about these interactions.


Geoethics Earth system Socio-ecological systems Planetary human niche Kohlberg’s hierarchy of moral adequacy 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ronin Institute for Independent ScholarshipMontclairUSA
  2. 2.DG RTDEuropean CommissionBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.International Ocean Institute Training Centre for Latin America and the CaribbeanCuritibaBrazil
  4. 4.Centre for Marine StudiesFederal University of Paraná (CEM-UFPR)Curitiba Brazil

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