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    October 30, 2023

    The horror of climate change is here, and labs must do their part

    It was an unusually warm evening in early October. The sun shone brilliantly in the sky, and as I sat outside a pub, sipping a cold pint, I couldn't help but notice the heat. 

    The air was stifling, and sweat glistened on my forehead. This wasn't normal, not for this time of year.

    It wasn’t a one-off, either. The weather had swung from one extreme to another. Just a few months ago, July and August had been marked by incessant gray skies, gloom, and frequent rain. Now, an out-of-place summer sun blazed down on us.

    Erratic weather patterns are warning signs that climate change is rewriting the rules of the game.

    Unusual weather swings aren't the scariest part

    Sudden shifts from a chilly summer plagued by storms to an unseasonable October heatwave are the consequences of a planet in turmoil. They’re a reminder to address climate change with all the seriousness and responsibility it demands.

    Because it doesn’t just stop at erratic weather patterns. As scientists know full well, it’s a complex and far-reaching global issue. It also means melting ice caps, sea-level rise, and more frequent life-threatening natural disasters. These consequences aren’t isolated events, but interconnected threads threatening the well-being of our planet, and all its inhabitants.

    So... is it hopeless?

    Make no mistake: This isn’t a declaration of hopelessness, it's a call to action.

    Climate change’s frightening consequences may seem overwhelming, but the situation isn’t hopeless

    There is a growing global commitment to addressing this crisis through collective efforts, initiatives, and resources that provide hope for a more sustainable future.

    Around the world, governments, organizations, and individuals are taking concrete steps to combat climate change—and scientific research must pave the way. toward evidence-based policies and sustainable practices.

    Your lab could be a good place to start

    Lab spaces occupy a prominent place in real estate portfolios. And with overall laboratory emissions sitting at 5-10 times more carbon emissions than traditional office space, finding ways to adopt sustainable practices can make a real impact.

    Integrating sustainability into lab design and processes can also lower costs, improve workplace experience, and help companies reach carbon-reduction goals.

    How you can do your part today

    As starting from zero can feel a bit daunting, my advice is to start with some quick wins:

    Here are a few examples of where you can begin:

    • Energy efficiency: Optimize lab equipment to reduce energy consumption, use LED lighting, and implement smart thermostat systems.
    • Waste reduction: Reduce, reuse, and recycle materials whenever possible. Implement a sustainable waste management plan.
    • Sustainable procurement: Choose eco-friendly lab supplies, and support vendors with green initiatives.
    • Water conservation: Implement water-saving technologies, such as efficient cooling systems and responsible water use practices.
    • Education and advocacy: Educate lab members on sustainability best practices (there are plenty of free resources available), and advocate for climate action in your scientific community.

    Looking at this list, there might be some things you’re already doing well. And there’ll likely be a (much longer) list of things you’re not doing so well. There’s also a bunch more areas that I haven’t covered here, as everyone’s lab is different. 

    From here, the path you take toward a better, more sustainable future is entirely up to you. There’s no right or wrong way. But starting small always beats doing nothing at all.


    Tag(s): Opinion

    Francesco Nicolini, PhD

    Dr. Francesco Nicolini is a Senior Operations Manager at Synthace, where he leverages over a decade of research and management experience within the academic and biotech sector to ensure seamless operations. In his 2 years at the company, he has been leading on laboratory & facility operations, health and safety, and...

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