Brit Liggett

Physicist Calls Out Other Physicists for Being Climate Change Hypocrites

by , 10/04/11

physicist. climate change, travel emissions, cern energy, energy needs, science experiments, astrophysicist, hydrogen collider

Physicists clock, on average, 23,000 air miles per year flying around the world to observatories, conferences and meetings, and generally use 130 KWh more energy per day than the average United States citizen. One physicist, Phil Marshall of the University of Oxford, thinks that others in his profession need to curb their emissions if they are to help reverse global climate change and he has called his colleagues out in this month’s issue of Physics World. Marshall notes that the physics world’s traveling addiction isn’t the only problem. Their experiments are heavy hitters as well — CERN’s hydrogen collider alone runs up an estimated $13.1 million per year electric bill.

physicist. climate change, travel emissions, cern energy, energy needs, science experiments, astrophysicist, hydrogen collider

With such high energy and emissions quotas, Marshall thinks that the community is setting a terrible example for the rest of the world. “Individual physicists can help to solve the energy problem, and not just the ones whose research is in new technologies; we can all contribute by setting the right example,” writes Marshall. He notes that the whole community needs a behavioral shift and should start taking part in distant meetings via video conferencing and planning experiments to use less energy.

The physics world is set to meet this month in Lund, Sweden to discuss this very topic. The meeting will explore how to make the physics world as a whole more sustainable and will take place on the site of the world’s first carbon-neutral, large science facility, the European Spallation Source, which will ramp up experiments toward the end of the 2010s. Marshall makes his point clear – physicists can’t be telling the rest of the world to stop taking exotic vacations and hop in their electric cars if they’re still spewing carbon dioxide all over the earth just to see the Large Hadron Collider in person.

Via Science Daily

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3 Comments

  1. deamhan October 13, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    It really depends on the necessity of travel. If the situation requires them to physically be there (lol) then by all means, travel but if it’s something like a conference where they simply need to be seen and/or heard then there are options in place that don’t require them to travel.

    Listing off a power bill doesn’t really say much either. Energy, renewable or not, will have a price tag put on it and sold to users (customers). So the size of their bill only means something when backed by how the electricity is being produced. Regardless, you must also weigh the importance against the emission cost.

    Can you imagine if their research could have lead to a completely clean and renewable energy source but got stopped simply because they were using up a lot of energy that came from a pollution emitting source? Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

  2. caeman October 5, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Unfortunately, to learn what we are learning about the subatomic world, we need to expend that level energy.

  3. lazyreader October 4, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Who cares, if you need to be somewhere or several places, go…. I don’t trust a physicist for climatological study, I leave that for climatologists.

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