Advertisement

Reconsidering alternative transportation systems to reach academic conferences and to convey an example to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

  • Mauro Fois
  • Alba Cuena-LombrañaEmail author
  • Trevor Fristoe
  • Giuseppe Fenu
  • Gianluigi Bacchetta
Notes and Comments

Abstract

Scientists are typically responsible for greater greenhouse gas emissions than the general population. These ‘extra’ emissions are largely due to frequent travel, often by airplane, to professional and academic meetings. In the following commentary, we explore how employing mixed modes of transportation, particularly by prioritizing train travel, can significantly reduce the environmental costs associated with attending conferences. Estimating travel distances for attendants to recent meetings, we demonstrate that the proposed strategy has the potential to decrease emissions, even when considering exotic, remote (and potentially enticing) locations. Our suggestions are easy to implement, can be combined with previous proposals for reducing emissions, and provide an opportunity for scientists to convey an important message to the general public. This message is not confined to our particular example and we hope that it will encourage ecologists, sociologists and other scientists, historians and philosophers to pursue additional creative behavioural solutions in order to reduce our impact on an increasingly stressed ecosphere.

Keywords

Academic conference planning Researchers’ behavioural change GHG emissions Transportation Sustainability 

References

  1. Bossdorf, O., Parepa, M., & Fisher, M. (2010). Climate-neutral ecology conferences: Just do it! Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 25(2), 61. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2009.09.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burke, I. C. (2010). Travel trade-offs for scientists. Science, 330(6010), 1476. doi: 10.1126/science.330.6010.1476-a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Favaro, B. (2014). A carbon code of conduct for science. Science, 344(6191), 1461. doi: 10.1126/science.344.6191.1461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fox, H. E., Kareiva, P., Silliman, B., Hitt, J., Lytle, D. A., Halpern, B. S., et al. (2009). Why do we fly? Ecologists’ sins of emission. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 7(6), 294–296. doi: 10.1890/09.WB.019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Macek, B. E., Scholz, C, Atzmueller, M., & Stumme, G. (2012). Anatomy of a conference. In Proceedings of 23rd ACM conference on hypertext and social media (pp. 245–254). doi: 10.1145/2309996.2310038
  6. Moss, R. H., Edmonds, J. A., Hibbard, K. A., Manning, M. R., Rose, S. K., Van Vuuren, D. P., et al. (2010). The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment. Nature, 463(7282), 747–756. doi: 10.1038/nature08823.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Penner, J. E. (1999). Aviation and the global atmosphere: A special report of IPCC Working Groups I and III in collaboration with the Scientific Assessment Panel to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  8. Spinellis, D., & Louridas, P. (2013). The carbon footprint of conference papers. PLoS ONE, 8(6), e66508. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Stroud, J. T., & Feeley, K. J. (2015). Responsible academia: Optimizing conference locations to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Ecography, 38(4), 402–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Stuber, N., Forster, P., Rädel, G., & Shine, K. (2006). The importance of the diurnal and annual cycle of air traffic for contrail radiative forcing. Nature, 441(7095), 864–867. doi: 10.1038/nature04877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. USEPA. (2008). Optional emissions from commuting, business travel and product transport. Retrieved from, http://www.epa.gov/climateleadership/documents/resources/commute_travel_product

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro Conservazione BiodiversitàUniversity of CagliariCagliariItaly
  2. 2.Department of BiologyWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Biology‘Sapienza’ University of RomeRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations