Here’s a very sketchy first second draft for a workshop proposal for the fall. I welcome all comments on this, together with volunteers to be on the organising team. Is this a good title for the workshop? Is the abstract looking good? What should I change?

Update: I’ve jazzed up and rearranged the list of topics, in response to Steffen’s comment to get a better balance between research likely to impact SE itself, vs. research likely to impact other fields.

The First International Workshop on Software Research and Climate Change (WSRCC-1)

In conjunction with: <http://onward-conference.org/> Onward Conference 2009 and <http://www.oopsla.org/oopsla2009/> Oopsla 2009

Workshop website: <http://www.cs.toronto.edu/wsrcc>

ABSTRACT

This workshop will explore the contributions that software research can make to the challenge of climate change. Climate change is likely to be the defining issue of the 21st Century. Recent studies indicate that climate change is accelerating, confirming the most pessimistic of scenarios identified by climate scientists. Our current use of fossil fuels commit the world to around 2°C average temperature rise during this century, and, unless urgent and drastic cuts are made, further heating is likely to trigger any of a number of climate change tipping points. The results will be a dramatic reduction of food production and water supplies, more extreme weather events, the spread of disease, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and mass extinctions. We are faced with the twin challenges of mitigation (avoiding the worst climate change effects by rapidly transitioning the world to a low-carbon economy) and adaptation (re-engineering the infrastructure of modern society so that we can survive and flourish on a hotter planet).

These challenges are global in nature, and pervade all aspects of society. To address them, we will need researchers, engineers, policymakers, and educators from many different disciplines to come the the table and ask what they can contribute. There are both short term challenges (such as how to deploy, as rapidly as possible, existing technology to produce renewable energy; how to design government policies and international treaties to bring greenhouse gas emissions under control) and long term challenges (such as how to complete the transition to a global carbon-neutral society by the latter half of this century). In nearly all these challenges, software has a major role to play as a critical enabling technology.

So, for the software research community, we can frame the challenge as follows: How can we, as experts in software technology, and as the creators of future software tools and techniques, apply our particular knowledge and experience to the challenge of climate change? How can we understand and exploit the particular intellectual assets of our community — our ability to:

  • think computationally;
  • understand and model complex inter-related systems;
  • build useful abstractions and problem decompositions;
  • manage and evolve large-scale socio-technical design efforts;
  • build the information systems and knowledge management tools that empower effective decision-making;
  • develop and verify complex control systems on which we now depend;
  • create user-friendly and task-appropriate interfaces to complex information and communication infrastructures.

In short, how can we apply our research strengths to make significant contributions to the problems of mitigation and adaptation of climate change?

This workshop will be the first in a series, intended to develop a community of researchers actively engaged in this challenge, and to flesh out a detailed research agenda that leverages existing research ideas and capabilities. Therefore we welcome any kind of response to this challenge statement.

WORKSHOP TOPICS

We welcome the active participation of software researchers and practitioners interested in any aspect of this challenge. The participants will themselves determine the scope and thrusts of this workshop, so this list of suggested topics is intended to act only as a starting point:

  • requirements analysis for complex global change problems;
  • integrating sustainability into software system design;
  • green IT, including power-aware computing and automated energy management;
  • developing control systems to create smart energy grids and improve energy conservation;
  • developing information systems to support urban planning, transport policies, green buildings, etc.;
  • software tools for open collaborative science, especially across scientific disciplines;
  • design patterns for successful emissions reduction strategies;
  • social networking tools to support rapid action and knowledge sharing among communities;
  • educational software for hands-on computational science;
  • knowledge management and decision support tools for designing and implementing climate change policies;
  • tools and techniques to accelerate the development and validation of earth system models by climate scientists;
  • data sharing and data management of large scientific datasets;
  • tools for creating and sharing visualizations of climate change data;
  • (more…?)

SUBMISSIONS AND PARTICIPATION

Our intent is to create a lively, interactive discussion, to foster brainstorming and community building. Registration will be open to all. However, we strongly encourage participants to submit (one or more) brief (1-page) responses to the challenge statement, either as:

  • Descriptions of existing research projects relevant to the challenge statement (preferably with pointers to published papers and/or online resources);
  • Position papers outlining potential research projects.

Be creative and forward-thinking in these proposals: think of the future, and think big!

There will be no formal publication of proceedings. Instead we will circulate all submitted papers to participants in advance of the workshop, via the workshop website, and invite participants to revise/update/embellish their contributions in response to everyone else’s contributions. Our plan is to write a post-workshop report, which will draw on both the submitted papers and the discussions during the workshop. This report will lay out a suggested agenda for both short-term and long-term research in response to the challenge, and act as a roadmap for subsequent workshops and funding proposals.

IMPORTANT DATES

Position paper submission deadline: September 25th, 2009

Workshop on Software Research and Climate Change: October 25th or 26th,  2009

WORKSHOP ORGANIZERS

+TBD

6 Comments

  1. Okay, first question. What works better as a title for the workshop:

    Climate Change Informatics (CCI)
    Software Research and Climate Change (SRCC)
    Software Engineering and Climate Change (SECC)
    Global Change as a Software Grand Challenge (GCSGC)

    etc…?

  2. More suggested titles with better acronyms (from Jonathan):

    Software Technology and Climate Change: Advancing Tomorrow’s Outcomes (STACC:ATO).
    [If pronounced in staccato, it's onomatopoetic AND self-referential! Thus, STACC:ATO workshop.]

    Assembly on Climate/Technology (ACT).
    Since “workshop” would be redundant, a typical conversation might go like this: “What are you doing on Saturday for Onward?” “I’m going to ACT.”

    Computer Research Involving Climate Change Issues (CRICCI – pronounced “crikey!”)

  3. Adrian Schroeter

    What do you think about GreenSE for Green Software Engineering?

  4. Hmm. GreenSE is nice and snappy. The “GreenIT” label is getting used a lot for work on reducing the environmental footprint of computing (e.g. through lower power machines), which I think works well.
    I was trying to avoid the “green” label, because it’s getting overused in the media.

  5. Adrian Schroeter

    I get your point green really is a bit overused lately, then what about ECo for Ecology Computing or something along those lines.

  6. My favourite so far is:
    Workshop on Climate Change Informatics (WoCCI, pronounced wookie, with the obvious mascot)

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