COP26-themed Zoomposium 2: 1 September 2021

Published: 26 August 2021

Prof Ana BASIRI:'Time To Go On A Digital Diet: How Clean is Our Digital Lifestyle?' Dr Esther PAPIES:‘The Psychology of How (not) to Describe Plant-based Foods’ Prof Wim VANDERBAUWHEDE: ‘Towards zero-carbon computing: the need for low carbon and sustainable computing’

Watch COP26-themed Zoomposium 2 (Passcode: 5j=BGpR!)


‘Time To Go On A Digital Diet: How Clean is Our Digital Lifestyle?’

Prof Ana Basiri, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences

The invisibility of digital data has misled many to assume it does not have carbon footprint. However, if the internet was a country, it would be the fifth or sixth biggest energy consumer in the world, responsible for the equivalent of green gas emission of all air traffic in the world. Join me to hear some suggestions for going on a greener and sustainable digital lifestyle diet. Let's see how we can save ~16500 tonnes of CO2 in a year by sending just one fewer “thank you” email or have a short drive to a shop and rent DVDs instead of streaming videos! 


‘The Psychology of How (not) to Describe Plant-based Foods

Dr Esther Papies, School of Psychology

Food is responsible for ca. 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from livestock, although this provides only a small percentage of global calories. To keep the planet inhabitable, Western consumers need to strongly reduce meat consumption and eat plant-based foods instead.  How can behavioural science support this shift? Our research shows that plant-based foods are often presented in less enticing ways than meat-based foods on food packages and social media, which can hamper the transition to sustainable diets.  Communicating about plant-based foods with reference to sensory and social features can increase their appeal, especially for more frequent meat consumers.


‘Towards zero-carbon computing: the need for low carbon and sustainable computing’

Prof Wim Vanderbauwhede, School of Computing Science

The problem: Emissions from computing are projected to rise steeply. By 2040 they will constitute half of the emissions budget for < 2°C warming. This is entirely unsustainable. The emissions from production of computing devices far exceed the emissions from operating them. Therefore we must extend the useful life of our computing devices.

The solution: We need to start treating computational resources as finite and precious, to be utilised only when necessary, and as effectively as possible. We need frugal computing: achieving the same results for less energy.

The vision: Imagine we can extend the life of our devices and even increase their capabilities without increasing energy consumption. Meanwhile, we develop the future technologies, designed for energy efficiency and long life. Every cycle will last longer, until finally we'll have computing resources that last forever and hardly use any energy.


First published: 26 August 2021