Biogeochemical Cycles & Geobiology

Driving Action On The Climate Crisis Through Astronomers For Planet Earth And Beyond

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
May 21, 2023
Filed under , ,
Driving Action On The Climate Crisis Through Astronomers For Planet Earth And Beyond

While an astronomer’s job is typically to look out from Earth, the seriousness of the climate crisis has meant a shift in many astronomers’ focus.

Astronomers are starting to consider how our resource requirements may contribute to this crisis and how we may better conduct our research in a more environmentally sustainable fashion. Astronomers for Planet Earth is an international organisation (more than 1,700 members from over 70 countries as of November 2022) that seeks to answer the call for sustainability to be at the heart of astronomers’ practices.

In this article, we review the organisation’s history, summarising the proactive, collaborative efforts and research into astronomy sustainability conducted by its members. We update the state of affairs with respect to the carbon footprint of astronomy research, noting an improvement in renewable energy powering supercomputing facilities in Australia, reducing that component of our footprint by a factor of 2–3.

We discuss how, despite accelerated changes made throughout the pandemic, we still must address the format of our meetings. Using recent annual meetings of the Australian and European astronomical societies as examples, we demonstrate that the more online-focussed a meeting is, the greater its attendance and the lower its emissions.

Adam R. H. Stevens, Vanessa A. Moss

Comments: 11 pages, 2 figures, refereed and accepted to CAPjournal for special issue on CAP2022 conference
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Physics Education (physics.ed-ph); Physics and Society (physics.soc-ph)
Cite as: arXiv:2303.05259 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2303.05259v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Adam Stevens
[v1] Thu, 9 Mar 2023 13:53:18 UTC (431 KB)

Astrobiology, Climate

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) πŸ––πŸ»