Saturday, September 26, 2009

Time for Carbon Neutral Conferences (and Standards)?

SOme conferences like Infocom and some standards events like the IETF attract a thousand people who fly around the world - a typical academic trying to get promoted might go to 4 or 5 a year just to find out what's going on (just look at the travel budget on any typical research proposal if you don't believe this). So someone working on internet standards and trying to publish papers might do 7-10 inter-continental flights per year.

According to Professor David MacKay's fine book, on sustainable energy, without hot air, (and he is now Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which is a very good thing)
a single intercontinental flight is about equivalent to 1 year's worth of communting 30 miles per day by car. So these academics (mea culpa) are basically contributing about 10 fairly heavy commuters' worth of Carbon emmissions.

We've been nattering about using the Internet to collaborate for a long time, and tried all sorts of tools (now we have even more with twitter, wiki, blogs, social nets, skype with video and shared white boards). Why don't we bight the bullet and
replace some big conference event with a virtual event and make it work by necessity?
People whinge about it, but the alternative is to plant a lot of trees every time you go to Sigcomm, Infocom, IETF, IEEE, etc etc....which would be ok, but expensive, whereas we're supposed to be the technologists, so why don't we set an example.

We could use EDAS (erm...) and annotate every author, TPC member, conference registree, with a C02 measure....that'd be a way to name and shame em....

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misery me, there is a floccipaucinihilipilification (*) of chronsynclastic infundibuli in these parts and I must therefore refer you to frank zappa instead, and go home