June 10, 2020

Antoine Amarilli a.k.a a3nm

Estimating carbon footprints: what is 1 ton of CO2e?

I just posted an article on the blog of the TCS4F initiative about how to understand the carbon footprint of various kinds of activities. You can read it here: Estimating carbon footprints: what is 1 ton of CO2e?.

Writing this kind of posts is a bit hard for me, because I'm certainly not an expert on climate change, so I don't feel very legitimate and hope that what I am saying there is realistic. Still, I hope that doing my own statistics is better than being completely in the dark. Anyway, reading about all this was the occasion to discover many surprising things about my own footprint, which can help me focus my efforts on the right areas. Personally here were the surprisingly high numbers, based on figures from the post:

  • The plane trips I take (most of which are for work) probably have a carbon footprint which is greater that all my other sources of emissions combined: several tons of CO2e per year, if not dozens of tons1. So this was the main take away: the number one area on which I should work is on travelling less to distant places : avoiding a transcontinental plane trip saves tons of CO2e emissions.
  • The carbon footprint of heating my flat (collective heating) is already about 1.2 tons of CO2e per year. Probably a bit less overall than the footprint of the food I eat, but certainly not negligible, even though I don't think much about it and have little control over it...
  • In a sense, the few Bitcoin transactions I have done last year may have ended up corresponding to several hundred kilos of CO2e on their own. I would never have guessed.
  • Not using a car probably allows me to save around one ton of CO2e per year in emissions from fuel for my commute, and several additional tons in terms of not having to produce the car.

And here were the surprisingly low numbers:

  • Avoiding meat only saves around 600 kg CO2e per year. Not negligible if everyone does it, but certainly small compared to the impact of a single long plane trip. Also, the food to avoid most is unquestionably beef, and avoiding non-local food (e.g., bananas) is certainly not worth it (see this study). So I'm still onboard with reducing my meat consumption, but transgressing every now and then isn't probably so much of a deal.
  • The carbon footprint in France is really low, thanks to the predominant use of nuclear power (not to mention other environmental costs, of course), so my total consumption of around 1800 kWh per year only represents around 18 kg CO2e.
  • Likewise, I was surprised to see that the estimated CO2e footprint of producing a mobile phone is only around 80 kg CO2e, and producing a T-shirt is only around 7 kg CO2e. Again, this says nothing of other environmental costs, but it is lower than I would have expected. I'm still not a fan of buying new hardware just for the sake of it, but apparently it's not such a huge deal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

I encourage you to read the post, which can hopefully give you a better idea of how your activities are producing CO2e, and what's the best way to help by reducing your emissions. And of course I'd be delighted to hear back if you have questions or comments about the results.

  1. I even went as far as trying to list all flights I took in my life, which wasn't so hard (took about an hour, if I didn't forget any). There are 125 flights, amounting to a total of 408 thousand kilometers, i.e., going over the world 10 times in total, or a bit over a one-way trip to the moon (!). This probably represents around a hundred tons of CO2e which is commensurate to a total sustainable lifetime carbon budget, except I'm only 30... One surprising point was that over half of this total is consumed by the 20 longest flights, so the biggest culprit is really long transcontinental trips. 

  2. In fact, I am a proud subscriber of Enercoop (in French), which means that in a sense I am already offsetting the footprint of my electricity consumption. 

by a3nm at June 10, 2020 04:17 PM

May 18, 2020

Antoine Amarilli a.k.a a3nm

No free view? No review!

I have blogged last month about my commitments for open access. Now, with Antonin Delpeuch and the CAPSH association, we are taking this to the next level and launching an initiative: No free view? No review!.

The idea is to give researchers a simple way to publicly say that they no longer want to review for closed-access conferences or journals, or prefer not to do it (we have kept the wording pretty open too). My hope is that will help show that many researchers support open-access, and get them to change their reviewing habits, which are easier to change than publishing habits.

So if you are interested, you can sign the pledge, advertise it on your webpage to stop closed-access reviewing requests, and spread the word around you!

Oh, and for another take on open-access and academia's flaws, last weekend I was thinking about that question: what if academia were an open-source project? And inspired by this, I wrote some contributing guidelines for computer science research. I hope this is fun to read — it certainly was fun to write. :)

by a3nm at May 18, 2020 06:33 PM

April 12, 2020

Antoine Amarilli a.k.a a3nm

Open access: my policy and my hopes

I care a lot about academic research papers being publicly available for free on the Internet, aka open access. In addition to describing this in my list of problems with academia, I recently wrote two things about open access:

  • A personal open access policy clarifying why I believe in open access, and which steps I am taking to promote it, in particular by refusing to review for closed-access conferences and journals. I have started to follow this policy since I was recruited as a tenured academic in August 2016, after having put up with the broken academic publishing system for several years during my PhD. Yet, it took me three and a half years of hesitation and discussion with my colleagues before I was comfortable enough to take a public stand on this. I hope posting this policy online will help colleagues understand my stance (in particular understand why I won't help them with reviewing for closed-access conferences), and that it will inspire other acts of disobedience against the statu quo.
  • A blogpost on the Database Theory Blog, co-written with Pierre Senellart. This is open access advocacy of a different kind, where we explain what would be possible in the saner world where the corpus of scientific papers were downloadable just like the Wikimedia datasets, or this impromptu mirror of LIPIcs papers that we prepared just because we could. Sadly, as we explain, this valuable resource cannot exist yet because it is currently hidden behind paywalls for historical reasons. It is our responsibility as researchers to move away from this model to unlock everything that should be possible with our research.

by a3nm at April 12, 2020 02:28 PM

April 11, 2020

Antoine Amarilli a.k.a a3nm

How to estimate your conference's carbon footprint

I have written an attempt at a guide about how to measure the carbon footprint of a scientific conference (or other event). This is largely inspired by the computation of the carbon footprint of the AGU 2019 Fall Meeting, and also by our experience computing the carbon footprint of SWERC 2019–2020.

This blogpost is published on the blog of the TCS4F initiative, an attempt by theoretical computer scientists to reduce the carbon footprint of our activities and help mitigate the climate crisis. I'm involved in the initiative (mostly as an author of blog posts, for now) and I have signed their manifesto: I encourage you to do the same if you agree with taking action on this important issue!

In any case, head here to read the blog post!

by a3nm at April 11, 2020 07:28 PM

February 01, 2020

Nicolas Dandrimont a.k.a olasd

DebConf Video team sprint (and stuff) @ MiniDebCamp FOSDEM 2020

Over the three days of the MiniDebCamp at FOSDEM, members of the DebConf Video team, and their friends, have assembled to participate in a sprint.

MiniDebCamp @ FOSDEM 2020

I’ve been (very pleasantly!) surprised by the number of people present at the MiniDebCamp, as well as the variety of topics they were working on. A great atmosphere, the welcoming environment provided by the HSBXL, and the low-key organization were something that I think other event organizers can get inspiration from: just get a room, and basic amenities (power, tables, seats, heating), and this will turn into a successful event!

Debian hackers at the HSBXLBusy Debian hackers at the Brussels Hackerspace

On to what the Video Team members (and their friends!) did:


Jonathan spent time setting up the Debian PeerTube instance to accept videos, as well as adapting our video upload scripts, which feed from our video metadata repository as well as our main video archive, to upload our videos to PeerTube.


My primary contribution to the Video Team sprint was bringing our team hardware from Paris for others to play with. I had a conversation with tzafrir to review the video team list of requirements for DebConf 2020, and I helped phls to get up to speed on our ansible setup.

Most of my time at the MiniDebCamp was actually spent getting a local test setup for piuparts.d.o running, so I can be more confident making changes to Debian’s piuparts infrastructure, which I’ve adopted a few weeks ago, without breaking it too much (considering that piuparts is in the critical path for testing migration, bugs can become very noisy very quickly).


Paulo spent time to get up to speed on our ansible setup; His goal was to become more confident setting up video recording and streaming for the upcoming MiniDebConf in Maceió at the end of March. He used this opportunity to re-master our MiniDebConf video mixing/recording PC under Buster, and using our current (post-DebConf19) ansible playbooks.


Stefano worked on our NeTV2, a recent Open Hardware, FPGA-based HDMI device by bunnie that the Video Team acquired a few months ago. He worked, with the help of Tim from TimVideos, as well as others, on getting up to speed on the FPGA toolchain the board uses, and trying to get the recently developed PCI-e capture feature to work.

…and friends of the Video Team!

Doing a sprint in a “shared” context is an opportunity to get more collaboration going. I’ve been quite happy to see that Tim Ansell and folks from antmicro decided to join the MiniDebCamp to work on improving the cool open hardware video projects that we’re either currently or looking forward to using!

Team-wide conversations

Other members of the team (h01ger, ivodd, nattie, tzafrir, urbec, …) were present during the event. While most of spent their time was spent working on their other respective areas of interest (in no particular order, the organization of DebConf 2020, Release Team work, Reproducible Builds, …), they contributed to various video team-related conversations during the sprint.

For instance, we’ve discussed the setup for DebConf2020, and we’ve brainstormed on a list of prospective hardware purchases, to try to make shipping our hardware to upcoming events in Europe and elsewhere easier.

Now that we’re all at FOSDEM, we’ll surely come across some interesting topics for discussion!


Many thanks to the folks at HSBXL for hosting us, to Holger Levsen from following through with organizing the MiniDebCamp, to Kyle Robbertze for setting up the Video Sprint in the first place, even if he could not join us (we miss you paddatrapper!), and to the many donors and sponsors of the Debian project! Holding these sprints would be impossible without your support.

by olasd at February 01, 2020 12:41 PM