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Working together

Learned Societies must unite to win trust and achieve the energy transition, argues Mark Steeves

30 May 2024
Hands holding fresh groceries in a supermarket

It is critical to win support from the public

The Geological Society Business Forum (GSBF) was created to raise the profile of the geosciences and Geological Society in the business world. The GSBF also aims to attract support for the Society, for example from organisations beyond those immediately associated with the extractive industries. When I began my involvement with the Society in 2006, while working (as a non-geologist) for HSBC Insurance Brokers’ Energy Practice, I assumed that it would be simple to secure the backing of diverse organisations. The hard truth, though, is that it has been very difficult.

Of course, we have won support from wide-ranging types of industry, particularly in the form of sponsorship for GSBF events, but we’ve seen little long-term commitment. I wonder if this is due in part to an ill-founded attitude towards those who do or have worked in the extractive industries – a kind of casual prejudice. That animosity extends beyond activists.

This view is devoid of understanding of, for instance, how a tropical fruit salad travelled to a local supermarket in the middle of winter and stayed so fresh, or where the gas comes from that heats 85% of the UK’s homes. So that we can bring reason and hands-on knowledge to the fore, it is critical to win attention and support from the public, and especially from the commentariat. Not least it needs to be understood that the extractive industries don’t stand in the way of progress, of new technology, of less dependence on hydrocarbons, or of the energy transition. But it also needs to be understood that none of these things are achieved with the stroke of a pen or the waving of a magic wand.

Learned Societies must be more assertive, and more accessible to the public. They also need – I believe – to co-operate more with each other. We must contribute to the arrest and reversal of the polarisation of society, which can only be achieved by working together.

Mark Steeves

Director Samphire & Associates Ltd, Co-Founder and Committee Member of the Geological Society Business Forum

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