Reports, Roadmaps, & Plans

Climate Change Task Force Report for the American Astronomical Society

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
June 18, 2024
Filed under , , , , , , ,
Climate Change Task Force Report for the American Astronomical Society
Climate Change Task Force Report – American Astronomical Society

The AAS Strategic Plan for 2021-26 called for the creation of a task force to identify how the AAS can meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The AAS and its membership recognize the danger climate change represents to humanity and our world, and to astronomy — as a profession, a hobby, and a cultural good. Our profession in general — and the AAS in particular — should work to make it possible for all astronomers to have an equal opportunity to be successful without needing to incur high carbon emissions, and to preserve astronomy for future generations.

A study was completed of the carbon emissions associated with the AAS, finding that 84% of total AAS-related emissions are from in-person conferences. We also conducted a survey of AAS members to determine their attitudes about climate change. Respondents overwhelmingly (97%) think that the AAS should reduce its carbon footprint. Our task force created a list of fourteen recommendations, with two ranked as top priorities: The AAS should not schedule additional in-person meetings before 2030 and it should work to innovate the AAS conference model. Based upon our analysis it is clear that online interaction is the only way to increase participation while meaningfully decreasing emissions.

Our recommendations are aligned with the Astro2020 Decadal Survey as well as AAS values to disseminate our scientific understanding of the universe, and to do our work in an ethically responsible way. Because of their other benefits — particularly in making our society more welcoming to those who traditionally have been excluded — we feel that these are sound decisions, worthy of implementation even if the AAS wasn’t trying to reduce its carbon footprint. They simply make sense as steps towards a professional society that better serves a broader membership, as our profession evolves to be greener, more inclusive, and more productive.

T.A. Rector, L. Barbier, A. Couperis, R. Danner, A. Egan, P. Green, G. Jacoby, J. Monkiewicz, R. Nikutta, K. Pitman, M. Rutkowski, S. Tuttle, A. Virkki, K. Volk

Comments: 46 pages
Subjects: Physics and Society (physics.soc-ph); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (
Cite as: arXiv:2406.10451 [physics.soc-ph] (or arXiv:2406.10451v1 [physics.soc-ph] for this version)
Submission history
From: Travis Rector
[v1] Sat, 15 Jun 2024 00:17:32 UTC (10,281 KB)

Astrobiology, Climate change,

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