Science must reduce its carbon footprint


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What’s science worth? For many researchers, the answer is “priceless.” It’s not just that science has provided the basis for modern life through sanitation and energy and electricity and telecommunications or that technology gives us useful things. Science provides us with a deeper understanding of the world and offers more than just material benefits. Poet William Blake may not have been thinking about science when he described seeing “a World in a Grain of Sand/And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,” but he could have been. For me, science’s greatest value is how it can help us feel connected to the vastness of the universe and the power inherent in natural forces.

However, science can be expensive. Recent research has raised concerns about one cost, its carbon footprint. Research on large scales uses a lot carbon-based energy. It also emits a lot of greenhouse gases. This contributes to the current climate crisis. Even though scientists help us understand the world, some of them also cause damage.

In a Recent case study of computer science, Steven Gonzalez Monserrate—a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—argues that the environmental costs of this research field, particularly computer cloud storage and data centers, are huge and rising. The cloud, he argued, is a growing phenomenon. You can also submit, is a “carbonivore”: a single data center can use the same amount of electricity as 50,000 homes. The entire cloud leaves a larger carbon footprint than all of the airline industry.

The carbon problem in research is not just limited to computer science.

Astrologically large Observatories and space-based telescopesEmissions are large. One study Published earlier in the year in the journal Astronomy in NatureAccording to research, about 20 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO) will be produced by the world’s top astronomical observatories over the course their lives.2e). The authors announced their findings at a news conference. They said that astronomers are required if the world is going to meet the challenge of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Their research facilities can reduce their carbon footprint up to 20 times.. This could mean fewer large observatories. The facility was analyzed by the researchers. Institute for Research in Astrophysics and PlanetologyThey found the average in Toulouse, France. Greenhouse gas emissions per capita were 28 metric tonnes of CO2eOne yearIt is 4.24 metric tons per capita for the average French citizen.

Others scientists have also focused on the Carbon footprint of research conferences. The American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting (AGU) is one the most important events in climate science. It usually takes place in San Francisco. Climate modeler Milan Klöwer and his colleagues Calculated the travel-related carbon footprint of the 2019 AGU meeting at 80,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide—about three metric tons per attending scientist. The annual output of the average person was about three metric tons. Mexico. Klöwer offered footprint-reducing ideas: moving the meeting to a central U.S. city to shorten travel, holding the conference biennially and encouraging virtual participation. Together, these changes can reduce the travel footprint. More than 90 percent. According to the AGU, it intends to use hybrid meetings and rotate meeting locations in the future.

However, the analysis of computer science and astronomy shows that it is the research, and not travel, which increases the scientific carbon footprint. Emma Strubell, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, and her colleagues concluded—in a Study that has not yet been peer-reviewed—that from a carbon budget standpoint, the extreme amount of energy spent training a neural network “might better be allocated to heating a family’s home.” Similar complaints have been raised about bioinformatics, Language modeling Physics.

This is an unpleasant reality. However, as scientists run out of time to prevent a climate disaster, they will need to find a way for us to use less of our energy to accomplish more of our work.


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