2017-12-21. Should AGU Have Fly-in Meetings Anymore?

posted Dec 26, 2017, 11:07 PM by Alan Gould
By Judith Totman Parrish, Eos/AGU. For GSS Energy Use chapter 9. Excerpt: Should members of the American Geophysical Union “walk their talk” by cutting carbon emissions related to meeting travel? The American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Fall Meeting is the world’s largest international gathering of Earth and space scientists. Last year, nearly 24,000 people gathered in San Francisco, Calif., to attend. This year, about 22,500 people attended Fall Meeting in New Orleans, La. ...I undertook a study in 2012...to estimate the carbon contribution of all this air travel to and from the meeting. In 2012, 21,702 people gathered for the meeting. I expected that the contribution would be vanishingly small.... The contribution was more significant than I expected. Attendees’ air travel to and from this meeting was responsible for more than 5 millionths of total global carbon emissions, even though these attendees accounted for 3 millionths of the global population. How can AGU “walk its talk” on environmental stewardship when participation in its annual meetings requires such carbon-intensive travel? ...Whether dispensing with fly-in AGU meetings would have a significant effect on carbon emissions is almost beside the point. AGU’s leadership role compels it to act as an example to the community. By leading the way, the initial small effect of its actions could be multiplied, encouraging enough other organizations to dispense with large meetings and perhaps reducing business travel enough to influence airline scheduling. Thus, I suggest that AGU consider moving with appropriate haste toward using current and developing technologies for its meetings and eventually end fly-in meetings. AGU already provides video access to a few sessions, but the presenters in most cases are at the meeting, and the video is for people who cannot attend....  https://eos.org/opinions/should-agu-have-fly-in-meetings-anymore