Most of my low-carbon lifestyle is admittedly enforced on me by my student budget. I have no kids, bicycle to work, and share a house with roommates. What dominates my carbon footprint is the flights I take—I’ll be hitting frequent flyer status this year thanks to traveling for conferences, talks, and workshops (not to mention those flights to see my family during the holidays—even being unmarried doesn’t get me out of visiting in-laws overseas). This is a bittersweet moment for a climate scientist—my professional success gives me an opportunity to impact the world with my science, but is hurting the planet and leaving future generations with a mess that will outlive me.
There’s no silver bullet to fixing climate change, but I think scientists and science enthusiasts can start with ourselves. My solution? Replace one flight with a train ride. Repeat every year.
Two years ago, I replaced one flight with a train ride. The next year, I did it again. Only, I ended up taking two train rides instead. This year, I started convincing other people to do it with me. It’s not always cheaper, but I’ve been finding that it’s also not always more expensive, especially if you book way in advance or super last minute.
I’m a PhD student at Johns Hopkins University studying urban climate. My thesis research looks at quantifying urban temperature variability and heat waves, but I’ve been known to dabble in projects on regional hydrology, the climate impacts of aerosols, and North African precipitation. I also run Baltimore Open Air, an urban monitoring network measuring air quality in Baltimore, Maryland.