ACS Philadelphia 2008: Board

The meeting is in full swing, and here in the city of brotherly love, beshorted chemists can be spotted all over the place. Quite a sight for the uninitiated, I can assure you.

I wandered into the ACS board meeting this morning, which also includes bigwigs from other international chemical societies today. It was an open meeting, I didn’t gatecrash. I got there in time to hear a discussion about what the ACS can do to be more sustainable.

This huge meeting with 15,000 participants (and, bizarrely 25,000 hotel rooms booked), will take its toll on the city – not only because the poor Philadelphians have to play host to these many thousand scientists, but in terms of an environmental impact. Massive rooms need to be serviced, shuttle buses fuelled, conference programmes printed etc etc etc. This is clearly something the ACS feels bad about. Madeleine Jacobs, board member, did point out that the meeting is in some ways a hostage to the city in which it is held. But I was amused to hear talk of virtual meetings as a solution. I am sure they were talking about smaller division and board meetings, because I think the internet would buckle and break if it had to play host to all this chemistry all at once.

But it is an intriguing concept. Will big meetings like this become obsolete as sustainability becomes more relevant to more people?

[NOTE – I am also posting these blog entries and more on the Nature News blog – In the field]