Sustainability in Astronomy — Interview with Leonard Burtscher

In this interview, one of the founding members of A4E, Leonard Burtscher shares his views on the organization’s mission and the vital importance of understanding the carbon footprint of astronomical research. In this context, the formation and mission of ‘Astronomers for Planet Earth’ (A4E), an organization that aims to address the environmental impacts of astronomy and advocate sustainability in this field, is discussed throughout the interview. Presenting the carbon footprint of astronomy research through various scientific articles written or co-authored by A4E members, Leo describes A4E as “The climate voice in astronomy as well as the astronomy voice in the climate movement.” Because A4E promotes collaboration and collective action among astronomers to combat the climate crisis and protect the planet for future generations while at the same time sharing our unique astronomical perspective with society. In the interview, Leo emphasizes that astronomy is contributing a lot to scientific advancement, but raises questions about sustainability due to its environmental impact, and underlines that A4E was established to mobilize astronomers around the world to address the climate crisis and reduce the carbon footprint of astronomical research. An organization that emphasizes the unique perspective offered by astronomy in understanding Earth’s position in the universe and the need to protect it, A4E’s efforts include calculating and reducing flight emissions, advocating sustainable practices in astronomy institutions, and participating in outreach activities to spread awareness of the urgency of the climate crisis as well as share our cosmic perspective on Earth as our only home.