APS News

January 2019 (Volume 28, Number 1)

News from the Office of Government Affairs

APS Launches Campaign to Help Members Mitigate Their Carbon Footprint

By Mariah Heinzerling

APS recently took steps to help curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by offering members an opportunity to mitigate their carbon footprint by making a donation to an environmental organization of their choice.

In November 2018, APS unveiled the pilot campaign by providing Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) members the ability to mitigate the effect of their travel to and from the DFD annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Rather than promoting the purchase of carbon offsets, which have often been criticized as being insubstantial, the Society provided members with an estimate of their carbon footprint from traveling to and from the meeting and provided options for donation.

APS calculated a suggested donation amount using an estimate of the average travel-related GHG emissions per person and the social cost of carbon as published by the Interagency Working Group, an organization of federal regulatory agencies charged with determining the social cost of GHGs.

APS Greenhouse Gas Report cover

“DFD is proud to be the first APS division to offer this step toward mitigating the carbon footprint from Society activities. As members of a scientific society, it is our responsibility to support APS in continually implementing forward-thinking strategies in the critical fight against climate change,” said Eckart Meiburg, a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara and 2018 chair of DFD.

For those without a preferred organization, APS suggested directing donations to the Clean Energy Trust (CET). The Trust is a nonprofit clean technology accelerator focused on bringing scientific and technological advances to market that change how the world generates, consumes, and reuses energy and natural resources. CET is a 501c3 public charity, and donations are tax deductible. By donating to CET, DFD meeting attendees supported an investment in entrepreneurs who are working to commercialize clean technology startups, reduce GHG emissions, and mitigate the risks of climate change.

The DFD effort follows APS’s recent release of its Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, an analysis of the Society’s day-to-day operations and select activities that contribute to its carbon footprint. Member travel to and from annual meetings was the second-largest GHG contributor detailed in the inventory.

DFD members who registered for the 2018 meeting received information about the pilot ahead of their travel and were notified throughout the meeting about participating in the campaign. APS also launched a social media campaign to inform members.

CET has received several donations from APS members, and another organization reached out to APS expressing interest in being involved with future iterations of the campaign. During upcoming meetings, APS will improve upon the model tested at the DFD meeting and aims to make the donation option available earlier in the registration cycle.

“APS will continue running this donation campaign at our largest national meetings. By working with CET and potentially other organizations going forward, we hope to make APS meetings beneficial not only to the physics community but also the environment as a whole,” said Mark Elsesser, manager of science policy at the APS Office of Government Affairs.

The author is a Science Policy Intern in the APS Office of Government Affairs.

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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik

January 2019 (Volume 28, Number 1)

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Articles in this Issue
Physics Highlights from 2018
Blending Paint with Physics
APS Membership Unit Profile: The Forum for Early Career Scientists
Shoucheng Zhang 1963-2018
New Supported Sites Chosen for PhysTEC
2018 APS Division of Plasma Physics Meeting
International News
This Month in Physics History
Education and Diversity Update
News from the Office of Government Affairs
FYI: Science Policy News from AIP
Profiles In Versatility
Letter to the Editor
The Back Page