Ideas for 10th European openmod workshop in autumn 2019

openmod will celebrate its 5th birthday and hold its 10th European workshop in autumn 2019.

Time to start thinking how we could celebrate with an extra special event!

Ideas:

  • An extra-big workshop with 200+ people
  • Showcase the big open energy successes (OPSD, renewables.ninja, SciGrid, etc.)
  • Big effort to get people outside Europe to participate
  • More institutional guests, data providers, etc.

Location-wise, the first workshop was in Berlin, so there’s a nice symmetry in holding it in Berlin again. Everybody loves Berlin.

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Well, in the spirit of what I guess many of us are “really” working on (decarbonisation), how about going for broke with a nearly carbon-neutral (NCN) conference? Also speaks to the most general ideal of “openness” of course… (For more background link goodness, maybe check: “We need to talk about aviation…”…)

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I really like the idea! Are there any good open-source cross-platform tools for self-made recordings, or guides how to do it? Slides with an audio recording guiding you through them would be sufficient. I love these lectures on optimal power flow:

The nearly carbon‑neutral conference (NCNC) concept outlined by Ken Hiltner (2018) offers several clear advantages: outreach and inclusion, no need to ration attendance, and less carbon. I would suggest one modification to the arrangements Ken described: the Q&A might be best conducted using online chat rather than shuttle email and limited to say two days rather than extended over several days or weeks.

In which case, this community should consider establishing a private Mattermost server (MIT license server‑side and analogous to Slack) and a private Nextcloud server (AGPL‑3.0 license), the latter for persistent presentations, associated documents, and any online collaborative editing. Both services run client‑side using current web‑browsers (including Firefox) so the local admin overhead is zero. Mattermost also offers dedicated clients (Apache‑2.0 license) for those who prefer instead to run local apps on mobile devices and laptops (Linux included).

On air travel more generally, Marks (2019), despite the upbeat title of the article, makes very similar points to @bmcm in his November 2018 blog. The airline industry (through CORSIA) has finally opted for voluntary financial offsetting for post‑2020 emissions growth as its flagship response to our climate emergency. Such measures are totally inadequate under current carbon pricing and derelict in terms of burden sharing. Better also would be a moratorium on new public-financed climate damaging infrastructure like airports until comprehensive, realistic, and fair solutions can be determined and agreed.

References

Hiltner, Ken (2018). A nearly carbon-neutral conference model — White paper/practical guide. Ken Hiltner website. Santa Barbara, California, USA.

Marks, Paul (2 January 2019). Our addiction to flying is ruining the climate, but it doesn’t have to. New Scientist. London, United Kingdom. Print title: Green sky thinking. Paywalled.

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“Are there any good open-source cross-platform tools for self-made recordings…”?

For what it’s worth, I use SimpleScreenRecorder as my cheap (free!) and cheerful (GNU General Public License) screencast recording tool. Here’s an example talk I recorded last year (shameless plug): Where is the low carbon [sic] energy vision Ireland needs to mitigate climate change? But it is linux only - not cross-platform. So other tool suggestions would be more than welcome!

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Great suggestions from @robbie.morrison: very innovative and exciting. This sounds like it really could be something worth trying in earnest!

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Following up on robbie’s comment, I wonder whether the format could be further adapted, e.g. by combining an “online conference” with voice recording (for people like me, that appreciate an a bit more personal and direct interaction), an online chat or “votes” (to allow simultaneous feedback without line overload), and subsequent chat-forum (for those in different time-zones)? … To increase personal interaction, researchers from the same city could also gather in the same place and dial in together (at least for the keynote sessions)… exchange on learnings from the talks over lunch etc…
During the last calls regarding the COST Grant application, I used https://www.freeconferencecall.com/de/ch, which worked quite well, and also allows screen sharing, conference recording and up to 1k participants. But recommendations on other tools are also welcome :-).

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The Danish Energy Agency (DEA) modeling section has offered to present their efforts to encourage greater openness in energy modeling and analysis at an upcoming openmod workshop. Please message me off‑forum for details because I am reluctant to place staff contact information on this forum.

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that’s a nice idea. That will be great.

More background on the theme of academic air travel. Wynes et al (2019) investigate whether curbing academic air travel is indeed career‑limiting:

We found no relationship between air travel emissions and metrics of academic productivity including hIa (h‑index adjusted for academic age and discipline). There was, however, a relationship between emissions and salary that remains significant even when controlling for seniority.

Oxford university professor Jonathan Wolff (2019), writing in The Guardian on the same issue, opined:

We must apply the three Rs to plane travel: replace if possible, reduce to the essential, and refine to make it worthwhile.

And also:

But for conferences or talks to students the point is not the keynote speech, but the keynote speaker — having them around to talk to more researchers or to students in the break, and to comment on other presentations. If you want just to see a senior academic on video, check out YouTube.

I’m not convinced that that kind of chatting cannot be done online, especially in the age of webinars and video conferencing. not to mention mailing lists and forums. For myself, I’ve meet significant people online, one example being the late James Kay through the ecol‑econ newsgroup.

Just in case you need to benchmark your own aviation footprint, Neate (2019) reports, citing Gössling (2019):

Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and world’s second‑richest man, took 59 flights in 2017 travelling more than 200 000 miles, according to the study by academics at Lund University. The report estimated that Gates’ private jet travel, which he has described as his “guilty pleasure”, emitted about 1600 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That compares to a global average of less than five tonnes per person.

References

Gössling, Stefan (1 November 2019). “Celebrities, air travel, and social norms”. Annals of Tourism Research. 79: 102775. ISSN 0160-7383. doi:10.1016/j.annals.2019.102775. Paywalled.

Neate, Rupert (27 October 2019). “Super-rich fuelling growing demand for private jets, report finds”. The Guardian. London, United Kingdom. ISSN 0261-3077.

Wolff, Jonathan (29 October 2019). “What hypocrisy, I think guiltily, as I jet off to academic conferences far and wide”. The Guardian. London, United Kingdom. ISSN 0261-3077. Jonathan Wolff is Blavatnik professor of public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

Wynes, Seth, Simon D Donner, Steuart Tannason, and Noni Nabors (20 July 2019). “Academic air travel has a limited influence on professional success”. Journal of Cleaner Production. 226: 959–967. ISSN 0959-6526. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.04.109. Paywalled.

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