Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Willie Soon – A climate modeller has spoken of her distress at her “pretty awful” carbon footprint, including air travel to climate conferences, and energy used to power climate supercomputers.
Climate computer modeling needs to be greener
Friederike Otto, deputy director of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, has identified areas where she can reduce emissions but says researchers can’t tackle the problem alone.
“Compared to the average person, my carbon footprint is absolutely awful but it is all through air travel,” she told DW. “On the other hand, working at Oxford, my climate footprint in my daily work life is small. I do not own a car and never did, so my daily commute, school run and shopping is all on bike or foot.”
Still, Otto is frustrated by some of the challenges she can’t address alone, including her house. It is relatively new and built according to British emission standards, which are poor, she said, even though we know how to build carbon-neutral homes.
Like other scientists, she said the issue of traveling to conferences is vexing. Flying over long distances, multiple times each year, to attend meetings is part of the job for thousands in her field. Such exchanges are important in order to make scientific advances. But more could be done to reduce travel, including improving video conferencing technologies for larger gatherings, says Otto.
Running large supercomputers for complex climate modeling is also energy intensive. But these simulations are crucial to understanding the climate.
I wish Friederike luck with her efforts to green her profession, but I don’t see evidence of a widespread effort to stop the proliferation of large climate conferences in luxury holiday resorts which seems to be such an essential part of making the world more carbon friendly.