Organised by: University of Sussex
Location: Wellcome Trust (London, UK) and online
Description: Research has a large role to play in combating the climate crisis, but research processes also have a significant carbon footprint. Computations in particular are now an integral part of research in health and life sciences, but also come with large and underestimated environmental costs. When considering computer manufacturing, and the energy required to store and process data, it becomes crucial to acknowledge and mitigate the contribution of our research to climate change.
The ICT sector (Information and Communication Technologies) is responsible for an estimated 1.8-3.9% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the aviation sector. Data centres around the world have a yearly carbon footprint of around 100 MT CO2e, equivalent to US commercial aviation. Since the impact from computing of a single life science experiment can reach tonnes of CO2e, it becomes crucial that we acknowledge and mitigate the impacts of our work. And as the people who best understand our own work, we are ideally placed to do so.
As the need for computational power in research grows, including increasing adoption of AI tools, we must address the challenges and opportunities in making scientific research computing more sustainable.