ICT4S Chair Steve Easterbrook: Climate change solutions

Easterbrook poses with blow-up globe in empty lecture hall

Steve Easterbook, a professor of computer science, uses computational tools in collaboration with climate scientists (photo by Ryan Perez)

How do we solve the global problem of climate change? With technology, says U of T expert

Steve Easterbrook, a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto, has been collaborating with climate scientists for more than 10 years.

He was studying how large software engineering teams work, when he says it was suggested to him that he look at climate models as examples of large and complex pieces of software.

“I spent a year visiting a number of big climate modelling labs around the world, studying what they do, what kind of software tools they use, and how they build them,” he says. “As a result, I realized that people with a computer science background can do interesting, useful projects in collaboration with climate scientists.”

Yet, a decade later, Easterbook says climate change remains one of the greatest challenges faced by humanity.

“Thirty years ago, we knew enough about climate change to know exactly what the nature of the problem was, and exactly what society ought to do about it,” he says. “In nearly every aspect of our lives we’re using fossil fuel energy and so that means we’ve got to reinvent everything.”

Next month, the Information and Communications Technology for Sustainability (ICT4S) conference will be held at U of T – the first time outside of Europe. Here, researchers, developers and subject experts will look to identify and address sustainability problems and how digital technology can help, using the city of Toronto as a case study for sustainability.

This is an excerpt from an article originally posted in U of T News which includes an interview with Professor Easterbrook.