Neuromag May 2017 - Page 12

30 Travel MEG Computing 25 20 15 10 Emissions per person in Germany 5 Limit per person 0 reality no He- recycling use trains Figure 1: CO2-emissions per paper in three scenarios. A) estimated real emissions, B) emissions if no Helium-recycling was performed, C) emissions if the same distance was traveled per paper, but by train instead of airplane. For comparison, yearly emission per person and year in Germany as well as the limit of sustainable emissions per person and year are marked as black lines. Yes, this is a bar graph and I think it’s appropriate [6]. Those finding themselves in a more powerful position can have a much bigger impact. When organizing con- ferences, choosing the location de- pendent on where the likely partici- pants work can drastically cut carbon emissions [8]. While it generally seems more reasonable to bring a limited number of speakers to a big audience, emissions can be further reduced if speakers from remote locations give their talks virtually, which can be sup- plemented by technical solutions to enable interaction. Additionally, conference organizers can promote climate awareness among their par- ticipants by supplying information on alternatives to air travel or emission compensations. For big conferences, it might even be possible to organize additional ground transportation to the conference location. If you are in the position to acquire sci- entific equipment, it can make a great difference to investigate alternatives and recycling options such as the MEG center did for the helium cooling. In many cases, this might even be eco- nomically useful – the reason to intro- duce a helium recycling system was an increased independence from the helium market. Finally, funding bodies and administra- tors could influence the environmental impact of science by requesting infor- mation on climate costs in grant ap- plications and more readily supplying 12 | NEUROMAG | May 2017 funds for alternatives to travel [9] or cutting bureaucracy (it has been es- timated that 44000 pages may be printed for the filling of a faculty posi- tion in Greece [10]). To me, science is inherently directed towards the future. We are building on knowledge that previous generations have gained, and future generations will build upon our work – if they will have a planet to live on that permits sufficiently comfortable conditions for luxuries such as research. While curi- osity might still compel us to find out as much about the world as we can, knowing that our branch of intelligent life has no future in the medium term would take away one of the major drives for science. Scientists, I believe, should be and are invested in the fu- ture and therefore should care about the climate. And caring means acting – even if it is only in tiny steps. I hope that in the future scientists on all lev- els will be more aware of the environ- mental impact of their work. Research has all sorts of costs that we take into account when making decisions – is it worth to take animal lives? Is the time and money well spent on the project? We should take climate costs into ac- count, too. Please note that all numbers in this article are approximate and are meant to be understood in terms of their or- der of magnitude. Florian Sandhäger  graduated from the Neural and Behavioral Sciences master’s program in 2015. He is currently a PhD candidate in the laboratory of Markus Siegel at the MEG Center and the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience in Tübingen. [1] www.calculator.carbonfootprint.com/ calculator.aspx?lang=de&tab=3 [2] www.co2-emissionen-vergleichen.de/ Lebensmittel/CO2-Lebensmittel-Fleisch- Kaese.html [3] www.de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_ der_L%C3%A4nder_nach_CO2-Emission [4] Achten, W. M. J., Almeida, J. & Muys, B. (2013). Carbon footprint of science: More than flying. Ecological Indicators, 34, 352–355 [5] www.gov.uk/government/publications/ greenhouse-gas-reporting-conversion- factors-2015 [6] www.neuromag.wordpress. com/2015/11/25/bar-graphs-anyone/ [7] Reay, D. S. (2003). Virtual solution to carbon cost of conferences. Nature, 424(6946), 251 [8] Stroud, J. T., & Feeley, K. J. (2015). Re- sponsible academia: Optimizing conference locations to minimize greenhouse gas emis- sions. Ecography, 38(4), 402–404. [9] Burke, I. C. (2010). Travel Trade-Offs for Scientists. Science, 330(6010), 1476 [10] Synolakis, C., & Foteinis, S. (2009). Choking on carbon emissions from Greek academic paperwork. Nature, 461(7261), 167