case is a major ethical wake-up call for our industry. Meanwhile
AAPG has been struggling with its commitment to the Code
of Ethics for several years.
We want to be resolute
and reputable with our commitment to ethics -- but we also contend
with living in a highly litigious world.
We may be at a crossroad
and need to decide if we will do what is necessary to make the Code
of Ethics meaningful, or if we should just scrap it.
If we decide to keep
our Code of Ethics, we need to practice it, teach it and enforce
By committing to practice
it, we individually must adhere to this code, and we especially
need to set this standard within and for our companies -- because
individuals do set the standards for companies.
As individuals, daunting
of a task as it is, we would have to commit to filing complaints
when they are truly valid, especially when doing so can protect
others from similar harm. And we have to develop the wisdom NOT
to file personal and frivolous suits. A grievance MUST be absolutely
provable, or it wastes everyone's time -- and makes the plaintiff
I am as guilty as the
next person in not filing grievances, not wanting to get sidetracked
from what I love to do and be forced to do what I despise -- becoming
embroiled in a legal dispute.
From my own experience,
I expect we are just not bothering. Why? Well, like me, many may
just not want to mess with the hassle. Like most people in this
industry, I have had my share of dishonest encounters. I have declined
the fight because I didn't wish to endure the financial and emotional
Some have declined the
fight because they don't have any confidence that AAPG can deliver
on our Code.
Let's Teach It!
Did you have an ethics
class in your university program? Does your alma mater offer one
I will never forget
the great Edgar Owen, author of the Trek of the Oil Finders
(AAPG Memoir 6), teaching ethics at The University of Texas at Austin
when I was a student. His words are indelibly burned into my memory.
Wouldn't it be a step
forward if every petroleum geology curriculum taught professional
Most companies do publish
their ethical expectations. But wouldn't it be more effective if
they provided regular instruction on ethical behaviors AS DEFINED
by that company. This is more important because we have so many
multi-national, multi-cultural companies today. We cannot assume
that people of every culture in the world define ethical behavior
consistently. No culture has a monopoly on the best definition of
Therefore it is incumbent
upon a company to state policies and to teach employees with examples
demonstrating their expectations.
And I believe AAPG could
offer a service by creating classes and visiting lectures on ethics,
so that within our organization the message is clear and our expectations
And Let's Enforce It!
Our Ethics Committee,
our Advisory Council and our Executive Committee all play a role
in this enforcement. We will have to be more resolute, and painstakingly
And we must be protected
in this effort. If these three bodies are asked to stand up to uphold
AAPG's standards, they must be insured against litigation -- because
it WILL happen! And it could happen often.
This means making a
financial commitment with AAPG's budget. Legal battles cost money,
cost time and cost emotional toil.
Are we ready to invest
our dues this way?
If not, then we cannot
expect geologists to volunteer their time making these difficult
decisions while risking their own financial and mental wellbeing.
Or ... Should We Scrap
So maybe we decide it
is asking too much. Maybe we decide AAPG cannot uphold the Code
of Ethics. Maybe we don't want to spend our time and association
money that way. Maybe we would rather spend time doing geology,
finding oil and gas and reading a new technical paper.
Is it more prudent to
acknowledge the cost is too high, the goods are not deliverable?
This is an important
decision for all members to think about and to voice their preference.
Are you willing for
a portion of your dues to be dedicated for ethics enforcement?
Are you willing to stick
YOUR neck out?
Willing to serve the
association by being on an Ethics Committee?