Climate scientists fly more than other researchers, first global study suggests

Climate conference transport

It takes more than a ‘climate emergency’ to keep climatologists on the ground. It’s almost like they don’t take their own theories seriously, although professors not travelling isn’t going to make any difference anyway. Do as they say, not as they do.
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Climate change researchers, especially professors, fly more than other researchers—but are also more likely to have taken steps to reduce or offset their flying, a new study has found.

Climate change researchers, especially professors, fly more than other researchers—but are also more likely to have taken steps to reduce or offset their flying, a new study has found.

The large, international survey of more than 1,400 university researchers was carried out by the UK Centre for Climate and Social Transformation (CAST), which is coordinated by Cardiff University, reports Phys.org.

A follow-up experiment with more than 350 researchers found that providing information about the impacts of aviation and support for workplace policies increases intentions to fly less.

The large-scale study—the first of its kind to survey climate academics about their travel for conferences, fieldwork and meetings—is published in the journal Global Environmental Change.

Director of CAST Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh, who led the study, said the findings were “unexpected” but said it also suggested “knowledge alone is not enough” to tackle global warming.

“Our findings highlight that climate scientists, like many other professionals, can struggle to square their environmental commitments with competing professional and personal demands, and academia itself is not doing enough to change this culture,” she said.

“Crucially, our research demonstrates the need for policies and ways of working to encourage and enable low-carbon travel and use of virtual alternatives—something which is already happening in light of COVID-19.

“Travel restrictions have required businesses, including universities, to replace a lot of physical travel with virtual interaction, such as online conferencing. These virtual options can be just as effective as face-to-face meetings, but at a fraction of the cost, as well as being more accessible for those with caring commitments.”

Flying is one of the most carbon-emitting actions and there have been growing calls from both within and outside the research community for scientists, and in particular climate researchers, to do more to curb their flying so their crucial message on the need to reduce aviation emissions is not undermined.

Continued here.

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October 21, 2020 at 04:06AM

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