4 episodes

The climate crisis is the most important challenge facing humanity. We need better ways to help us diagnose and understand the problem, and to build technology in our struggle to preserve the natural stability and resources of this planet for future generations. The open source movement is one answer - it is the key to bringing trusted knowledge, technology and collective action together.
We tell stories of open source coders and makers working on collective, community code projects as part of our struggle to preserve the livelihood of our planet. Listen in!

OSS for Climate Richard Littauer

    • Technology

The climate crisis is the most important challenge facing humanity. We need better ways to help us diagnose and understand the problem, and to build technology in our struggle to preserve the natural stability and resources of this planet for future generations. The open source movement is one answer - it is the key to bringing trusted knowledge, technology and collective action together.
We tell stories of open source coders and makers working on collective, community code projects as part of our struggle to preserve the livelihood of our planet. Listen in!

    Episode 4: Advancing Wind Energy using OSS with Rafael Mudafort

    Episode 4: Advancing Wind Energy using OSS with Rafael Mudafort


    Rafael Mudafort


    Richard Littauer

    Show Notes

    Join us in this episode of "OSS for Climate" as host Richard Littauer chats with Rafael Mudafort, a Senior Researcher in Wind Energy Modeling at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Raphael discusses his work with the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO), the importance of wind energy in combating climate change, and the global reach of their open source software tools. Discover how NREL collaborates with industry and international partners to advance renewable energy technologies and the challenges and benefits of maintaining open source software in the research community. Tune in to learn about the innovative projects and holistic approaches driving the future of wind energy. Press download to hear more!

    [00:01:25] Rafael discusses climate change and the importance of renewable energy like wind energy, and he highlights the security of the energy mix and the risks of relying on a single energy source.

    [00:03:12] Rafael describes the difference between wind modeling for energy and for activities like sailing and emphasizes the specific applications and goals of the DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office.

    [00:06:03] We hear about the DOE’s mandate to complement, not compete in the industry, and how NREL focuses on research and providing accessible software tools.

    [00:07:51] Richard asks about the relationship between NREL, DOE, and Rafael’s work and inquires about the open source nature of their software. Rafael explains the U.S. Department of Energy structure and focus areas, including managing the nuclear stockpile and energy-related research.

    [00:10:42] Rafael explains the funding an iterative research process between DOE and NREL, and that the software produced as part of the research is usually open source and hosted on GitHub under the NREL organization.

    [00:12:03] There’s a discussion on the importance of software as a research product in 2024, especially in wind energy due to the scale of systems.

    [00:15:07] Rafael discusses reviewing papers for JOSS and the importance of metrics for research software engineers, and the tension between the need to produce software for research and the lack of incentives for developing well-documented and accessible tools.

    [00:17:36] Richard asks about community efforts to sustain projects and prevent them from becoming abandoned research ware. Rafael admits community efforts but notes challenges in sustaining projects without DOE funding and finding new funding is crucial for continuation.

    [00:19:20] Rafael explains the value of industry collaborations, often involving researchers within industry. NREL researchers are passionate about impactful work in the wind energy industry.

    [00:22:00] A question comes up on whether it’s easier to work on closed source software with companies or the military. Rafael is not familiar with those policies, but he talks about a project he worked on with Makani.

    [00:24:06] There’s a discussion on the benefits of open source despite the challenges and how it aligns with the NREL’s incentives.

    [00:25:53] Richard inquiries about the international use of open source tools and models developed in the U.S. Rafael confirms that software under the WETO umbrella has a global reach and NREL collaborates with European research organizations. He also highlights the importance of global reach and feedback from international users.

    [00:27:36] Richard discusses usability and accessibility for researchers outside Europe and the U.S. Rafael acknowledges the accessibility challenges due to supercomputer requirements and agrees to consider translations and other accessibility improvements.

    [00:29:19] Rafael details his current project on holistic modeling of WETO-supported software which is publicly available on GitHub, and he also mentions contributing to opensustain.tech and using CHAOSS metrics to assess communi

    • 38 min
    Episode 3: Climate Solutions through Open Source Insights with Koen Hufkens

    Episode 3: Climate Solutions through Open Source Insights with Koen Hufkens


    Koen Hufkens


    Richard Littauer

    Show Notes

    In the inaugural episode of the OSS Climate Podcast, host Richard Littauer chats with our first guest, Koen Hufkens, the founder of BlueGreen Labs. They talk about the use of open source tools to address climate change issues, the role of community science, and the responsibility of open source maintainers towards their users. Koen also discusses the challenges of maintaining open source software, the impact of the European Union’s Cyber Resiliency Act on small-scale developers like him and highlights the importance of contributing to a solution for the current climate crisis. Whether you’re a seasoned developer, an enthusiast, or simply curious about the role of technology in environmentalism, tune in to gain insights from experts at the frontline of climate action and open source innovation.

    [00:00:43] Richard introduces the very first guest of this podcast, Koen Hufkens, founder of BlueGreen Labs.

    [00:01:44] Koen describes BlueGreen Labs as a data-driven consultancy focusing on climate change issues using open source software.

    [00:02:32] Koen explains his preference for open source efficiency and reproducibility, aiding both his future self and the broader community. He reveals BlueGreen Labs consists of himself and his partner, focusing on the maintenance and development of open source packages.

    [00:05:25] Richard is curious in what packages Koen uses in terms of open source tooling, and Koen mentions he mainly uses the R language and occasionally Python for statistics and machine learning and appreciates the supportive R community for feedback.

    [00:08:23] Richard inquires about the sense of purpose in open source work related to climate change, and Koen tells us he views himself as a maintainer and contributor to solutions for the climate crisis, maintaining software to facilitate more science.

    [00:11:17] Richard talks about the intrinsic motivations for open source and its alignment with being a climate scientist. Koen agrees there’s a political component to open source, linking it to contributing to solutions for the climate crisis, and discusses the motivations and responsibilities involved.

    [00:15:09] Koen explains a project he led transcribing climate data from the central Congo basin, involving community scientists. This project aimed to use machine learning, with community scientists helping to create a training set for transcription validation, and he discusses the value of involving community scientists.

    [00:18:32] What’s difficult about using open source and using it for community science? Well, Koen finds community engagement the most challenging aspect, citing the difficulty of sustaining large projects in academia due to turnover and the need for continuity.

    [00:22:00] Richard asks if Koen finds a lack of research infrastructure in his consultancy work outside academia. Koen mentions that accessibility is improving, but gaps still exist where academia doesn’t meet specific needs, leading him to develop his own software solutions.

    [00:24:18] Koen suggests that maintainers have a long-term responsibility, ideally for a decade, to their community to avoid negatively impacting others’ research, and he commends communities likes rOpenSci and pyOpenSci, which help maintain projects when original authors can’t.

    [00:27:23] Koen reflects on the overlap between his philosophical approach and practical experiences where open source tools have failed due to lack of maintenance, leading him to create his own solutions.

    [00:29:34] You can find Koen’s work online through the BlueGreen Labs website and GitHub, where tools and tutorials are available.

    [00:30:33] Koen mentions reading about the Cyber Resiliency Act in the EU and its implications for open source developers’ duty of care and liability, highlighting the tension between legal responsibilities and community service.


    [00:02:40] “I use

    • 36 min
    Episode 2: Max Jones on Carbon Plan

    Episode 2: Max Jones on Carbon Plan


    Max Jones


    Richard Littauer

    Show Notes

    In this episode of Open Source for Climate, host Richard welcomes guest Max Jones, a data scientist and open source software developer who works at Carbon Plan. Max discusses the importance of open source in bringing about effective climate action, the role of Carbon Plan in building accessible data products and tools, and how being a nonprofit is advantageous for open source development. The conversation also touches on funding models for open source projects in nonprofits, including support from individual donors, grants, and collaboration with governmental and private entities like NASA and Microsoft. Additionally, Max shares insights into the development of tools for better visualization of climate data, the impact of open source on climate action, and the challenges of ensuring software and data accessibility and reproducibility. Press download now to hear more!

    [00:00:53] Richard outlines Max’s background in open source software development focused on climate action, including his leadership role at Carbon Plan.

    [00:01:34] Max discusses the mission of Carbon Plan, emphasizing the importance of transparency and accessibility in climate solutions.

    [00:02:26] Max describes his role in leading open source initiatives at Carbon Plan.

    [00:03:23] The conversation shifts to the practical aspects of running a non-profit focused on open source projects, including funding mechanisms such as grants from NASA.

    [00:05:01] Max explains one of their projects that involve tools for visualizing large-scale climate data to assist cities in planning and decision-making. He mentions how these tools are designed to be accessible to both scientists and the general public.

    [00:06:16] There’s a discussion about community engagement with their tools, noting that while many people reach out with questions or feature requests, there have been few contributions in terms of pull requests.

    [00:06:56] Max reflects on a collaboration with the Washington Post using their tools to inform public understanding of climate projections.

    [00:08:40] Max discusses the broader use of the tools by various agencies and the importance of transparency for reproducibility in research.

    [00:09:27] Max emphasizes the importance of reproducibility in open source projects across academia, industry, and the non-profit sector, and he acknowledges the challenges in ensuring that external users can engage with and reproduce their computational workflows.

    [00:10:59] The conversation shares insights into building a community around open source projects, particularly through involvement with the Pangeo project, which supports reproducibility and scalability in earth science workflows.

    [00:12:11] Max talks about the importance of finding common needs across different fields to promote broader collaboration and integration and mentions the Zarr project.

    [00:13:54] We hear about the size of the team at Carbon Plan which includes various roles.

    [00:14:31] Richard inquires about the funding landscape for open source projects at Carbon Plan. Max mentions the initial funding received through collaborations with NASA and Microsoft. He emphasizes the importance of ongoing government and agency support for both new tools and the maintenance of existing software.

    [00:15:54] Max talks about contributing back to open source communities, highlighting the practice of reporting bugs and engaging with upstream dependencies to improve tools.

    [00:16:41] The necessity of open source for transparency in climate solutions is discussed, contrasting with closed source companies that sell proprietary products to governments. Max argues for the importance of open source in ensuring accountability and better outcomes in climate solutions.

    [00:18:10] Max discusses the broader aspects of open resources, such as leveraging open standards, data, and hardware. He mentions collaborating with other or

    • 27 min
    Episode 1: OSS for Climate with hosts Richard Littauer and Tobias Augspurger

    Episode 1: OSS for Climate with hosts Richard Littauer and Tobias Augspurger


    Richard Littauer | Tobias Augspurger

    Show Notes

    The Open Source Software for Climate podcast, hosted by Richard Littauer and Tobias Augspurger, embarks on a journey within the Sustain ecosystem focusing on the intersection of open source software (OSS) and climate change efforts. This new podcast aims to explore how the open source community can contribute to environmental sustainability and tackle climate change issues. Tobias introduces his project, OpenSustain.tech, a curated list and report of open source projects related to climate change and environmental sustainability, created after extensive research and ecosystem analysis. Also, the podcast will feature interviews with individuals actively working on open source projects that impact the environment, discussing their experiences, the sustainability of their projects, and how open source transparently address climate change. Richard and Tobias emphasize the importance of transparency, trust, and the role of open source in proving the reality of climate change, hoping to extend the dialogue beyond the open source community. Please tune in for future episodes with special guests!

    [00:00:32] Richard explains the purpose of the podcast and the new direction towards climate issues are discussed.

    [00:01:22] Tobias introduces his project OpenSustain.tech, explains his perspective of his project on open source for climate action, and the creation of Climate Triage based on collected data.

    [00:02:38] Tobias explains Climate Triage, Richard discusses the intersection of open source and climate, and Tobias clarifies the criteria for selecting projects that have a direct impact on climate or environmental sustainability.

    [00:04:38] Richard mentions the community behind OpenSustain.tech and Climate Triage and explains the goal of the podcast is to highlight individuals working on open source climate projects and the broader aim to support sustainability and proactive action against climate change.

    [00:05:40] We end with Tobias mentioning the importance of open source in creating transparency and trust in climate change information, stresses how open source methodology helps establish trust in climate change data, and he hopes to spread the message of open source as a solution for climate change beyond the open source community.


    OSS for Climate Podcast
    SustainOSS Mastodon
    Sustain OSS BlueSky
    SustainOSS LinkedIn
    Richard Littauer Socials
    Tobias Augspurger LinkedIn
    Open Sustainable Technology
    Climate Triage


    Produced by Richard Littauer
    Edited by Paul M. Bahr at Peachtree Sound
    Show notes by DeAnn Bahr Peachtree Sound

    • 7 min

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