People have been openly sharing data about the environment for over 150 years – thanks to Samuel Morse’s invention of the telegraph in the mid-1800s, information, or “forecasts”, about weather fronts were wired across the country to warn people of storms heading their way.
Today, one of the biggest problems our society faces is climate change and the rapidly deteriorating environment and there are those that believe that the problem will be fixed (at least in part) by new technologies. Open source software continues to play a critical role in the development of new technologies and so it is surprising to read that there is a relative lack of open source projects relating to the environment and sustainability, as discussed in the Open Source in Environmental Sustainability Report by T Augspurger, E Malliaraki and J Hopkins published in 2023 (Report) and as documented in the Open Sustainable Technology project (and associated database) they launched with the protontypes community (Project).
The Report identified that at least half of environmental sustainability open source projects on Github were in data-rich fields, for example climate science and energy system modelling. From a technical perspective, the Report also found that the most popular coding languages were Python and R, which suggests that projects are focussing on analysis of large datasets and general statistical analysis.