Members of the Sustainability Committee have contributed to the following projects and organized the following sessions at AAS meetings.
State of the Profession White Paper
Astro2020 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey paper "Embedding Climate Change Engagement in Astronomy Education and Research"
233rd AAS Meeting, Seattle, WA, January 2019
Helping AAS Members Help the World: A Workshop on Teaching Climate Change
Tuesday, 8 January, 2019
Travis Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage)
From a social, environmental, and political standpoint climate change is the most important scientific topic of our time. Fortunately astronomers are well positioned to make a difference. Introductory astronomy (i.e., "Astro 101") classes are an effective way to teach climate change because they reach a large number of students and cover related topics. Public outreach, e.g., presentations in schools and planetariums, are also an important way to improve attitudes and understanding. Climate change is a difficult topic to teach because it spans a wide range of subject areas, from physics to psychology. It is also a controversial topic, meaning that simply knowing the science content is not enough to effectively teach it. The purpose of this workshop is to introduce: (1) resources that will improve their science content knowledge about climate change, (2) effective interactive and inclusive methods for teaching the topic in Astro 101 classes, and (3) established strategies for engaging the public. The workshop is sponsored by the AAS Sustainability Committee.
229th AAS Meeting, Grapevine, TX, January 2017
Geoengineering the Atmosphere to Fight Climate Change: Should Astronomers Worry About It?
Wednesday, 4 January, 2017
Tom Ackerman (University of Washington), David Grinspoon (NASA/GSFC), Jane Long (Permeter Institute), Mel Ulmer (Northwestern University)
Geo-engineering is a set of proposed solutions to global climate change that involve intentionally modifying the Earth’s atmosphere and/or surface. Examples: injecting aerosols, water droplets, or other reflectors into or above the atmosphere to reduce incoming sunlight. Will it work? What if it doesn’t? How much will it cost? What are possible side effects? Is it ethical?
A video of the session is available here.
227th AAS Meeting, Kissimmee, FL, January 2016
Climate Change for Astronomers
Thursday, 7 January, 2016
Don Chambers (U. South Florida), Katy Garmany (NOAO), Julia Kregenow (PSU), Doug Duncan (Colorado)
Climate change is a massive global environmental, economic, and socio-political problem. Astronomers understand atmospheres and energy transport. Since more than 300,000 undergraduates in the U.S. take an astronomy course each year, we have an opportunity to help by teaching.
225th AAS Meeting, Seattle, WA, January 2015
Astronomers: Teach Climate Change!
Wednesday, 7 January, 2015
James Lowenthal, Katy Garmany (NOAO)
Astronomers understand atmospheres and energy transport while the public is uniformed about climate change. Since teach hundreds of thousands of undergraduates every year in the US we have an opportunity to educate a large fraction of the public about how climate change works.
220th AAS Meeting, Anchorage, AK, May 2012
Astronomy: The Impact of Getting Together
Tuesday, 12 June, 2012
James Lowenthal, Kartik Sheth
The AAS Sustainability Committee aims to reduce the ecological footprint of the AAS and its operations. This special session will focus on the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with AAS conferences and how we can reduce them.
219th AAS Meeting, Austin, TX, January 2012
Astronomers: Teach Climate Change!
Wednesday, 11 January, 2012
James Lowenthal, Jay Banner (UT Geosciences Department)
Do you teach Astronomy? Do you discuss climate change with non-astronomers? The AAS Sustainability Committee invites all AAS members to attend this Splinter Session, which will focus on how astronomers can be better educators about global warming, a subject we understand well but most members of the public do not. Since 40% of US college and university students take an astronomy class, we are in an excellent position to inform the public about this scientific and public policy issue that will increasingly take center stage in the coming decades. The session will focus on practical tools you can use in classes like Astro 100 as well as other public settings. The format will include a simulated debate between astronomers and climate skeptics; short demonstrations of climate change PowerPoint slides appropriate for astronomy classes; and advice on communicating climate change from education experts. Come share your own tips and pick up new ones.
218th AAS Meeting, Boston, MA, May 2011
Sustainability and Astronomy: "Green" Professional Action and Public Outreach
Tuesday, 24 May, 2011
James Lowenthal, Rob DeConto (UMass Amherst), Jean Sideris (Union of Concerned Scientists), Kartik Sheth (National Radio Astronomy Observatory)
Astronomers use more energy than the average citizen, and have more potential educational influence than the average citizen as well. This session will serve as a presentation and discussion forum about why and how we should take steps to reduce our profession's environmental impact -- primarily but not exclusively greenhouse gas emissions -- as well as to enhance and increase our efforts to educate the public about the science of planetary atmospheres, global energy budgets, and climate change. The format will include informal presentations by astronomers showing what they're already doing to reduce energy usage in their work; discussion of public education strategies and priorities; and a panel discussion with climate experts and federal funding agency representatives. This session represents a continuing effort by the AAS to foster active discussion in the community regarding climate change and other environmental issues that touch on our profession.
217th AAS Meeting, Seattle, WA, January 2011
AAS Sustainability Committee Splinter Session
Tuesday, 11 January, 2011
James Lowenthal, Sandra O. Archibald (University of Washington)
The new AAS Sustainability Committee invites all AAS members to attend this splinter meeting. We will review the current status of US astronomy's environmental footprint and policies, share resources and strategies for reducing that footprint, discuss techniques to educate the public about climate change and related issues, and plan future Committee activities.
215th AAS Meeting, Washington DC, January 2010
Sustainable Energy, the Environment & Astronomy: Education and Action
Thursday, 7 January, 2010
Joseph Romm (Center for American Progress), Phil Marshall (KIPAC, Stanford), Doug Simons (Gemini Observatory), Paul Kalas (U Berkeley), Greg Doppmann (NOAO Tucson), Roger Angel (Steward Observatory/REhnu)
Global climate change is arguably the most pressing scientific, social and ethical issue of our time. Astronomy represents only a fraction of the total human carbon emissions, but astronomers have a great potential, and therefore perhaps a great responsibility, to educate themselves and the public on this issue. In addition, the average per capita carbon emissions of professional astronomers are not small, and our profession can do much to reduce its energy consumption and maximize the cost-benefit ratio of our work. The focus of this splinter meeting will be energy conservation and education as it relates to professional astronomy and outreach. Keynote speaker is climate science and policy expert Dr. Joe Romm.