International conferences have a considerable environmental impact, mostly due to the international flights they entail. We estimate that Middleware 2011 will cause an equivalent to more than 124 tons of CO2 emissions.
Inspired by other great examples such as Eurosys 2008 in Glasgow, we decided to offset the above emissions by planting native woodland in the Sintra-Cascais natural park, located 40 km from Lisbon. By executive decision of our Local Arrangements Chair, in the sunny morning of November 26, a brigade of intrepid volunteers from the Distributed Systems Group was brought together to plant around 50 new trees.
During their expected lifespan, the new trees will absorb as much CO2 as the total CO2 emissions produced by the international flight round trips of all Middleware participants. The planting was supported by through the non-commercial Oxigénio program, which will also ensure the subsequent management of the new trees for some decades.
We hope our initiative will help inspire other big meetings in our community to take their environmental impact into account, placing their efforts in reducing and offseting such impact.