There is a great letter from Brett Favaro in Science this week about the environmental impact of doing science and research. It turns out that doing research in many cases is not that friendly to the environment, including the contribution of emissions and greenhouse gases. Laboratories require lots of equipment to be running all the time, sucking up electricity to monitor things, keep things at the right temperature (including tons and tons of freezer space), and keep science moving forward. Science also requires lots of disposable and single-use items, which fill up landfills and needs to be manufactured, shipped, and disposed of for every use.
Since most scientists from any field of science believe in man-made climate change, we should also be leaders in improving how we personally and professionally address this issue. If scientists that support the claim of climate-change don’t make any changes to lower emmissions, how can we expect anyone else to. It is called leading by example.
Favaro thinks that researchers should deal with carbon emissions in much the same way we deal with using animals for research. Carbon emission should be justified, and minimized in a similar justification and minimization scheme to animal experimentation. Where possible, researchers can Replace, Reduce, and Refine activities in order to lower carbon impacts. Favaro adds a 4th R that can help researchers lower carbon impacts, which is purchase of Reputable offsets.
It is great to see that scientists and researchers are thinking of how we can lead by example. Especially since many of our day to day experiments can be not so environmentally friendly. Check out Favaro’s article in Science for a better explanation.