Cognitive Science Society Grove

The Cognitive Science Society is pleased to announce the establishment of the CogSci Grove

Sharing our work at conferences is an essential part of what we do, and the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society serves this important purpose for our community. Feedback from our members consistently emphasises the Cognitive Science Society conference as a highlight of the academic year. Yet more than ever members also are conscious of the environmental costs of their professional activities. The aim of the CogSci Grove is to mobilise academics to offset their carbon emissions.

The CogSci Grove is based in Scotland under the auspices of Trees for Life. The Cognitive Science Society chose this organisation and location for two main reasons. First, the ability to verify trees are actually being planted. Trees for Life is a charitable organisation in Scotland, and there is clear accounting of their activities. Moreover, sites can be visited for inspection. Second, we wish to minimise the social costs of afforestation in developing countries. Afforestation in developing countries often has little direct economic benefit to local people. Given the economically vulnerable circumstances, it can also lead to neglect or worse cutting of trees. There can also be a lack of clear land ownership structures. Therefore, the CogSci Grove in Scotland is sustainable and ethically sound. Special thanks to the charity “All Things Small and Green” and Professor Gabriel Waksman (UCL and Birkbeck) for their generous assistance in starting the CogSci Grove.

You can contribute to the CogSci Grove. For every £6 you donate, a tree will be planted in the Scottish Highlands on your behalf. Your tree(s) will help to rewild the Caledonian Forest, a rich habitat found only in the Scottish Highlands. It will be a sapling grown from locally collected seed and will be one of a number of species, such as Scots pine, willow, birch, rowan, hazel, alder, holly, aspen and bird cherry. Your tree will be planted at Dundreggan, an estate near Loch Ness in beautiful Glenmoriston. The rich diversity of wildlife habitats at Dundreggan includes ancient Caledonian pinewoods and superb birch and juniper woodlands. With mires, wetlands and wildflower meadows, Dundreggan is a haven for wildlife. Over 4,000 species have been discovered there, with some found nowhere else in the UK. Your sapling will be planted alongside other young, native trees, transforming open hillsides into healthy young woodland, rich in wildlife such as red squirrel, black grouse, capercaillie, wood ants and twinflower. Once the trees reach maturity, natural regeneration will go on to create the wild forests of the future for generations to enjoy.

Powering the Virtual CogSci 2020 Conference

For CogSci 2020, we have estimated the electricity required for the virtual conference to be approximately 1,200 attendees using a desktop computer to take part in the scheduled 7 hours of program over 3 days. The average power consumption of a desktop computer is 200 W/hour. This leads to an energy consumption of (1200 people) x (21 hours) x (200 W/hour) = 5,040 kW. An approximate average carbon consumption among the countries that make up the bulk of our attendees is ~1 pound of carbon dioxide per kW. If we assume a single tree offsets around 27 pounds of carbon in a year, then to offset the virtual CogSci 2020 conference, we should plant (5040 lbs CO2) / 27 = 187 trees which would cost £1116. This does not take into consideration electricity consumption to power cloud-based hosting as that information is not available to us. To cover approximate additional costs, this year the Cognitive Science Society will make a contribution of £1800 British pounds to plant 300 trees in the CogSci Grove.

If you would also like to contribute to the CogSci Grove you can do that when you register for the conference, or directly by clicking here