3rd International Workshop on Software Research and Climate Change

at European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming (ECOOP) 2011

Lancaster, UK

Date: July 25, 2011

Venu: George Fox Building, Lecture Theatre 4

Overview and Motivation:

This workshop explores 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. It is now clear that the world is committed to around 2 degrees C average temperature rise during this century.  

It is also widely believed that unless urgent and drastic cuts in fossil fuels use 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, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and mass extinction of all life forms. Today 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 humanity 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 to 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 of 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 leverage 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 third in a series, following on from WSRCC-1 held at OOPSLA/Onward! In October 2009 and WSRCC-2 held at ICSE 2010. Our goal is 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.