One of the greatest threats to our future society and economy is global warming. Universities researchers are now an increasingly significant contributor to CO2 emissions because of the demand for new cyberinfrastructure equipment, which is essential to the future of scientific discovery. As a result, some universities and R&E networks are exploring new types of computational and network architectures that not only benefit e-science but also reduce CO2 emissions. Optical high-speed research networks and distributed zero-carbon cyberinfrastructure data centers with network virtualization, web services, and grids will be a critical component of this architecture.
These developments can create new revenue opportunities for R&E networks and their associated universities through carbon offset trading. Universities and R&E networks can also help countries achieve national carbon reduction strategies by pioneering programs in green commerce to encourage students and faculty to reduce their personal carbon footprint through carbon credits by offering free e-products (e.g., e-textbooks, e-music, and off-campus broadband) as a reward mechanism to those who reduce their personal CO2 output in other activities. Such rewards or credits may be more effective than carbon taxes in modifying consumer behavior.