Physicists consider their own carbon footprint

Sep 30, 2011

In October's issue of Physics World, Phil Marshall, an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford, calls on physicists to pull their weight when it comes to climate change, drawing on his own research showing that astronomers average 23,000 air miles per year flying to observatories, conferences and meetings, and use 130 KWh more energy per day than the average US citizen.

Marshall says that physicists must not only act as "trusted voices" in , but also do all they can to reduce their own carbon footprints.

This must involve a change of behaviour at the individual level – say by skipping an overseas scientific meeting and taking part via video conference call instead – and as an entire community, particularly by carefully planning future experiments to try and make them as "carbon-neutral" as possible.

"Individual can help to solve the energy problem, and not just the ones whose research is in new technologies; we can all contribute by setting the right example," writes Marshall.

It is an urgent problem for as many current "big-science" facilities – from huge particle accelerators to massive ground-based telescopes – have a frightening energy demand, Marshall notes. CERN's Large Hadron Collider, for example, has an energy bill as big as that of all the households in the region around Geneva, estimated to be around €10m.

Marshall's comments are timely as researchers are set to meet up in mid-October to identify ways to do large-scale physics research with a reliable, affordable and sustainable supply that is carbon-neutral.

The venue of this workshop – Lund, in Sweden – is an appropriate location for the meeting as the city will also play host to the first ever carbon-neutral, big-science facility – the €1.48bn European Spallation Source (ESS) – which is set to come online towards the end of the decade. All of the ESS's electricity will come from renewable sources and more than half the heat it generates will be fed back into the system.

Carbon reduction is, of course, not the only challenge facing those designing massively complex scientific facilities like the ESS. As explained in the first ever big-science supplement, which accompanies the October issue of the magazine, these challenges are many and varied – ranging from the financial and technical to the political and scientific.

Explore further: Coastal defences could contribute to flooding with sea-level rise

More information: physicsworld.com/

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omatumr
1 / 5 (4) Sep 30, 2011
Thanks for the report.

It is an excellent suggestion!

It would also get astrophysicists out of their "ivory towers" into the world of ordinary citizens.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
http://myprofile....anuelo09
Noumenon
1 / 5 (2) Sep 30, 2011
People in general are going to do what's in their individual self interest rather than what's best for the common good. Which is why Algore maintains several homes which use some 20 times the energy of an average home,... and which is why big government liberals never donate more than they have to pay in taxes to the government.

The unscientific, naive, and unnatural way is to just expect people to orchestrate their lives as if they're less relevant than the common good ,... while the scientific, realistic, and natural way is to find a means of taking advantage of the great force that is free individual self interest to reduce co;, by use of technology in making the cheapest energy source also more efficient than oil/coal. Competition.
omatumr
1 / 5 (2) Sep 30, 2011
Yesterday the German journalist the German, Quirin Schiermeier, was allowed to publish WikiLeaks "news" in Nature magazine that UNs Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is but a fig leaf for wealth transfers from industrialized nations to poor developing nations:

http://www.powerl...arce.php

http://www.nature...20110929

This seems to be a complete reversal of policy at Nature magazine, which banned me from posting comments on reports published there after I publicly called for the resignation of the editor, Dr. Philip Campbell, for publishing misinformation about the influence of Earth's heat source - the Sun - on Earth's changing climate.

Dr. Campbell and NPG were sent copies of this note for their response.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
http://myprofile....anuelo09
MarkyMark
not rated yet Oct 01, 2011
Yesterday the German journalist the German, Quirin Schiermeier, was allowed to publish WikiLeaks "news" in Nature magazine that UNs Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is but a fig leaf for wealth transfers from industrialized nations to poor developing nations:

http://www.powerl...arce.php

The reason you were rightly banned is that you post conspiracy myths and scientific nonsence such as your assertion that the sun ha a Neutron Star inside it or some sort of nonsence like that.
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2011
astronomers average 23,000 air miles per year flying to observatories, conferences and meetings, and use 130 KWh more energy per day than the average US citizen
They should operate and communicate remotely, via Internet. This travel is pretty waste of time, too.
individual physicists can help to solve the energy problem
They should focus to cold fusion research, which they're ignoring twenty years already. The contemporary generation of physicists (especially those dealing with HEP) is the brake of further evolution, rather than accelerator of it due their formal thinking based philosophy.