Listening to “King of the Mountain” by Midnight Oil, a song about a foot race up the wickedly steep Mount Cooroora in Australia, prompted me to think about whether it is good to be the king, or to be in a position to just help others get to the top of the mountain.
We do not need royal powers or superhuman running ability to make a difference for people participating in AAPG activities. Making a difference can be much simpler and just requires the will to make the climb and help others along the way.
Part of AAPG’s climb up the mountain is embracing new ideas and opportunities. AAPG held its second Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage Conference in March on the campus of the University of Houston with endorsing societies, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Conference Chair Autumn Haagsma and her organizing committee did an outstanding job of planning a fresh, coherent, informative three-day program. Of greatest interest to me were presentations about risk assessment and about creation of a database of unplugged, orphan wells that could result in unpleasant surprises for CCUS projects in the United States. The AAPG-SEG Joint Events Team made excellent use of the university’s facilities. Almost 700 people attended – most in person – and the high number of sponsors also demonstrated strong interest in CCUS. The event attracted a distinctly younger and more diverse crowd than many AAPG events, so we will work to encourage the attendees who are not AAPG members to join us.
The CCUS Conference reminded me of the opportunity for us to make conferences more equitable experiences for all participants. While many of us might think only of accommodations that ease mobility challenges, there are many other issues that affect the full participation of would-be attendees. We can join with others so that more of us make it to the top of the mountain.
Podiums should be adjustable for presenters who are not of average height. Speaker timing should be adjusted for speakers who stutter. Laser pointing and slide advancing can be done in ways that minimize negative effects on people with vertigo, migraines and other disorders triggered by rapid motion – disorders that affect an estimated five million people in the United States alone. We might also rethink our use of red and green in illustrations because these colors can be difficult to distinguish by people with color vision deficiency, also known as color blindness. We all probably know someone who would benefit from practicing these types of inclusivity, but we might not realize it because these differences are invisible.
AAPG is taking steps to be a better conference host. Photography is now preceded by an alert to attendees who might be sensitive to camera flashes. Conference conveners and session chairs are instructed on how to minimize negative effects of laser pointers and motion in presentations. Speakers are requested to mention animations before they cause problems. Sound systems can be adjusted to comfortable volumes. These minor adjustments for many of us translate into tremendous relief for people whose struggles are invisible. As we learn, we will continue to do better.
A Few Words About Ethics
Getting to the top of the mountain does not include knocking others down or cheating in the race.
You will see in this EXPLORER a contribution from the AAPG Ethics Committee, which is chaired by Anne Draucker. The Ethics Committee is charged with investigating and prosecuting charges of misconduct by AAPG members who are in violation of the AAPG Code of Ethics. As our website states, “It is important if you are considering joining the AAPG that you review (the Code of Ethics) and familiarize yourself with its objectives.”
How You Can Help AAPG
At the end of the Mount Cooroora race, runners and spectators celebrate in true Australian style as part of the King of the Mountain Festival. In that same spirit of celebrating everyone reaching the top of the mountain, each of us can do our part to make AAPG more welcoming to current and future members as we advance petroleum geoscience, promote relevant technology and inspire high standards of professional conduct. As our friends in the House of Delegates Membership Committee reminded us in the April edition of the Delegates’ Voice, each of us can attend local, regional and global events with an eye toward recruiting new members and serving as mentors.
In the short term, you can support AAPG by logging into AAPG.org, updating your profile, paying your dues, registering for a conference, buying a book and recruiting new members. AAPG has great events in the next few months – AAPG’s first workshops and field trip in Namibia, workshops and field trips in Barcelona and Naples, and URTeC in Houston, and that is just the list for June! Donations to the AAPG Foundation can be directed to support your favorite programs, including Grants-in-Aid, the Teacher of the Year Award, the Imperial Barrel Award and publications, among many other worthwhile educational programs that align with the AAPG mission.
Scenes in Midnight Oil’s music video were filmed in New York City in front of what was then called the Exxon Building. I am sure my late father spent time there during his long career in refining and LNG, part of which was spent at Esso. Finding and producing the gas that becomes LNG is one of many instances in which we geoscientists contribute to helping society move farther up the mountain.
Since you have read this far, I will award a $100 AAPG gift certificate to the first person who provides an interesting fact about oil and gas production from non-sedimentary reservoirs as an online comment to this EXPLORER article.
Congratulations to April’s winner, David Moy, who commented, “Here’s my interesting fact, which I hope will brighten your day, and one which always amazes me about my home island of Great Britain. In a little over 500 miles (as the crow flies), you can stand upon the Archean Basement in the NW of Scotland, and transect through geologic history, up to and including the present-day deposition of gravels and clays of the Thames Estuary. Greater than 2.5 Billion Years of Geological History in less than the distance of Houston to Amarillo!”
Until next time,