In 2017, I was sitting on a flight back from Asia, reflecting on another scientific meeting that fell far short of expectations. The costs of the trip were high, in terms of time away from my four children (7 days), cost (over $3,000), and carbon dioxide (almost 2 metric tons). At that moment, I resolved to fly less in the future. At the time, I didn’t know how much less, as it seemed quite daunting to opt out of “required” scientific meetings and honorific talks. So I started small, opting to take an overnight bus back from one meeting. The next thing I knew, I was loathe to book a meeting that would require a cross-country flight. Then I declined a major international fully-paid invited talk (I mean, who does that?) Something funny happened – the more I said “no” to flying, the more I wanted to stop flying altogether. That remains an aspiration rather than a reality, but I reduced my air travel by 75% from 2017 to 2018, and have pledged to fly fewer than 25,000 miles per year. I must fit the odd scientific meeting or invited talk, as well as family travel to my visit my husband’s family in Italy, into that modest budget. It has forced some incredibly tough choices, and some tough conversations with my colleagues and my family alike. Some understand my position, and some do not. As I settle into my new normal of flying less, I have turned my attention to advocating for more virtual and remote attendance options at scientific gatherings. It is heartening to work alongside others who share my distaste for frequent flying, as we push for institutional change. In a 2050 world, I know scientists will not be flying as much as they do — it is inconsistent with a stable climate. Now, how can we make that a reality in 2025? Let’s work together for change, and support each other along the way.
Our group’s mission is to uncover the mechanisms of global climate change, both natural and anthropogenic, in order to inform projections of future climate change. We focus primarily on the generation of new high-resolution records of past tropical Pacific climate variability from corals and cave stalagmites, with an emphasis on the last decades to centuries. Through the thoughtful combination of climate models and data, we seek to characterize natural climate variability in this region and identify climate trends that are associated with anthropogenic climate change.