• Question: does your work harm the environment?

    Asked by ibbyb to Jarv, John, Ken, Vicky on 21 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Vicky Young

      Vicky Young answered on 21 Mar 2012:


      My work doesn’t really harm the environment in any way. I use some toxic chemicals but these are disposed of in a way that protects the environment. We are not aloud to pour anything toxic down the sink!

    • Photo: Jarvist Moore Frost

      Jarvist Moore Frost answered on 21 Mar 2012:

      Mmm, well, my work is directed towards helping the environment. But of course, in the short term my actual day to day research has an environmental impact! We use a fair few nasty chemicals, and consume a lot of energy.

      Like Vicky, all our chemicals are correctly disposed of (expensively!) so that they do not harm the environment. They all get separated + shipped away to specialist companies, who I believe mainly react them to render them inert and then store them or burn them (carefully!). But even if that doesn’t actively harm the environment, there’s still some sort of environmental cost.

      Of course, I also use a lot of energy, particularly with calculations on big super computers. I know that the super computer at college is actually used to heat the building during the winter, which is pretty efficient! But still I am using power that is mainly going to be derived from fossil fuels, resulting in more carbon in the air, while my work is aimed to reduce carbon emissions!
      And that’s before I even start travelling long distances + catching aeroplanes for work!

      I can only hope that in the long term, my work produces an overall benefit.

    • Photo: John Prytherch

      John Prytherch answered on 21 Mar 2012:

      Good answer by Jarvist. My work is similar to his, it doesn’t directly affect the environment. My research is ultimately focussed on heling us protect and understand the environment we live in.

      However, many things we do in life, such as travel, have a cost on the environment. This is also true for the travel I do with my job, particularly on research ships which can be very fuel hungry and can cause a lot of carbon emissions and pollution. So you have to decide whether you think what you are doing is worth the cost.