Science and Exploration

Astronomy In A Low-Carbon Future

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 3, 2019
Filed under ,
Astronomy In A Low-Carbon Future
Stargazing From Orbit

The global climate crisis poses new risks to humanity, and with them, new challenges to the practices of professional astronomy.

Avoiding the more catastrophic consequences of global warming by more than 1.5 degrees requires an immediate reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the 2018 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel report, this will necessitate a 45% reduction of emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. Efforts are required at all levels, from the individual to the governmental, and every discipline must find ways to achieve these goals. This will be especially difficult for astronomy with its significant reliance on conference and research travel, among other impacts. However, our long-range planning exercises provide the means to coordinate our response on a variety of levels. We have the opportunity to lead by example, rising to the challenge rather than reacting to external constraints.

We explore how astronomy can meet the challenge of a changing climate in clear and responsible ways, such as how we set expectations (for ourselves, our institutions, and our granting agencies) around scientific travel, the organization of conferences, and the design of our infrastructure. We also emphasize our role as reliable communicators of scientific information on a problem that is both human and planetary in scale.

Christopher D. Matzner, Nicolas B. Cowan, René Doyon, Vincent Hénault-Brunet, David Lafrenère, Martine Lokken, Peter G. Martin, Sharon Morsink, Magdalen Normandeau, Nathalie Ouellette, Mubdi Rahman, Joel Roediger, James Taylor, Rob Thacker, Marten van Kerkwijk
(Submitted on 3 Oct 2019)

Comments: 16 pages. A White Paper prepared for the Canadian Long Range Plan 2020
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (astro-ph.CO); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA); High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (astro-ph.HE)
Cite as: arXiv:1910.01272 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1910.01272v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Christopher D. Matzner
[v1] Thu, 3 Oct 2019 01:42:35 UTC (39 KB)

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.