The environmental impact of scientists

Scientific conferences are great. Brilliant minds collide and supernova ideas erupt. Networks net, collaborators collude, progress proceeds. Getting scientists together from all over the world helps science everywhere.

But they are horrible for the environment. Tons of jet fuel are burned getting to the conference. We drink bottled beverages and use the disposable table ware at the coffee breaks and lunch breaks, creating a lot of trash. I throw away so many flyers and pamphlets from vendors when I get home from a conference.

Plus I don’t like to travel. I used to think I did. That was before I had traveled much. Now I spend my hours in the airport thinking of ways to get the same benefits from a scientific conference without actually traveling.

Such as an MMO-style scientific conference. Or this workshop I’m at right now, only instead of me coming to the workshop, the workshop comes to me. Webinars. Online networking events. You can make them cost as much as the real thing, that way you weed out the spammers and such.

I don’t know. None of those ideas truly replace the in person networking experience of a scientific conference. More than wanting to save jet fuel and reduce trash, I’d just like to be at home right now, and still get this opportunity to dissect a pig knee and test the mechanical properties of a cow knee.

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