Dear candidates, thanks for running for the board!
Here’s a fairly broad question for you: what do you think of the Foundation’s response to the climate crisis, and what do you think it should do going forward?
While the Foundation can’t directly determine the technical direction for the GNOME project, it can monitor and determine its own climate impact, and it can provide guidelines for official events to follow.
There was some discussion around the climate crisis after the previous elections, and at GUADEC, but it seems to have been overtaken by more immediate events.
Thanks in advance for your responses
That’s an excellent question.
Climate change is an issue that should concern all segments of society, including communities like ours.
Reducing our carbon emissions should be one of our top priorities. Although the board doesn’t dictate the technical decisions that could be made towards putting development time into making our software consume less power, we can definitely advocate for that. Besides, the foundation employes people that help manage our server infrastructure. Therefore I see here an opportunity for us to look for technical solutions to reduce the power consumption of the servers we use for hosting our websites, tarballs, CI, etc…
My interest in making our community more diverse can also contribute to this effort since we could push for smaller local conferences instead of big gatherings which require community members to travel long distances often by plane. Besides, I believe we should “put our money where our mouth is” by prioritizing less polluting transportation methods when sponsoring trips with the Travel Committee even when these are more expensive than the more polluting methods.
Estimating our current carbon footprint doesn’t seem trivial, but we should look into setting timely goals for us to keep track of our progress at reducing the overall emissions of our community. Creating a CO2 budget for conferences and limiting the attendance to it seems like something we can do.
Addressing the climate crisis is a great way to start mitigating the risks we might face in the future.
As an open-source community, we should start using our online platforms and events to raise awareness on how technology impacts climate change focusing on local or regional impacts. For example, encouraging talks relating to technology and climate crisis and being careful about swags choices at official events, joining the world to celebrate events that draw attention to environmental protection, for instance, Earth Day celebrated on the 22nd of April every year is a good platform for us to talk about how as a community we are contributing to the cause.
We should add conference guidelines on GNOME wiki to help decrease the generation of greenhouse gases at events either local or regional for example, creating customized signpost designs on waste reduction and recycling to be placed at strategic event locations. These designs can be added as downloadable resources required to plan an event in any part of the world.
The foundation employees, volunteers, and board members can begin to deliberate how to introduce clean energy as an option to hosting applications on infrastructures that consume much power and other resources that impact our environment negatively. We can achieve this by looking at ways to cut down our methane emissions and carbon footprints through the use of renewable energies. The input of the foundation’s infrastructure team can drive this process more efficiently.
Over the years, the climate crisis becomes either overwhelmingly challenging or abstract enough that it is easy to ignore. This is why as a free software community we should consider driving an opensource project that would support environmentalism. The project should allow for input from contributors from diverse communities, developers, designers, and writers. It can either be an initiative or an opensource application.
As a candidate in this year’s board of directors election at a season where the community is pushing for more contributors from other parts of the world and with the possibility of smaller events across these locations, I believe this is a good time for us as a foundation to start discussing possible changes in the event’s guidelines that will reflect our consciousness to climate crisis and looking at possible avenues to form a synergy with renewable energy organizations in the planning of our events.
Thanks @Reginadata and @felipeborges for your responses. Any other candidates want to share their thoughts?
Felipe and Regina gave such great answers, it’s difficult for me to add to them. I do think we should be looking at more regional events (for various reasons), but these may not have a substantial impact on our travel-related emissions if we fly key people to those events anyway, and there’s certainly value in sending people to regional events. We could consider requiring rail for funded travel, in places where that’s feasible. And we should absolutely be thinking about the environmental impact of whatever bits of plastic swag we’re handing out.
One of the interesting things to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it’s forced us as a community, both GNOME and the greater free software community, to finally work out ways of holding remote conferences and limiting travel. Towards that end, I’m actually part of the conference planning team helping to work out these details. While not under ideal circumstances, progress is being made to see these events through remotely, and I don’t suspect that knowledge and momentum will change even once the pandemic lets up.
What I mean is that I fully expect future GNOME conferences, meetings, and hackfests to benefit greatly from the infrastructure being formed in the past few months to accommodate remote events, like GUADEC 2020 and GNOME.Asia 2020. This should only serve to improve our remote attendance and allow for better participation for individuals that can make trans-continental trips that readily.
So beyond small measures, like promoting train travel, decreasing flights, clustering conferences nearby in time and geography, 2020 may be the year that we finally nail down remote conferencing as a true possibility for future years. I can only image that this will correlate to much lower carbon emissions stemming from GNOME related business significantly, with the added benefit of greater outreach and accessibility for our events. So it really is a win<->win, even though the catalyst for such change was so devastating and globally debilitating.