Over the last few years I've grown increasingly concerned about the overwhelmingly complex set of intersecting problems broadly referred to as "the Climate Crisis". When I first started my career, I was content to simply donate a few dollars to environmental groups and vote for politicians who at least expressed concern about things like greenhouse emissions to feel like I was "doing my part" to help avert disaster. As my concerns grew, I expanded my sense of "doing my part" to include things like: donating to think tanks that do not accept corporate funding (which seems to explain why they're able to publish reports/proposals like this), volunteering for political campaigns, organizing car pools, buying local, etc.
But one thing I have never done is grapple with the question, "What role can bioinformaticians play in averting or at least mitigating the Climate Crisis?" Off the top of my head, I can name two research areas where our skills might be helpful:
Biofuels (which might reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted, I guess?)
Weather-Resistant Crops (which might help stabilize societies besieged by extreme weather events)
I'm sure there are many other areas of bioinformatics research that might prove important to dealing with the Climate Crisis so please respond with any thoughts/links/ideas relating to that. Obviously, part of my rationale for posting this is because I am considering a career change so I would be particularly interested in anything that a cancer researcher might easily transition into.
Also, I feel it is extremely important for people like us (scientifically and technologically literate) to think critically about and discuss the myriad and complex issues that make up this crisis in hopes that doing so might make us better positioned to help deal with it. Here's a few questions that I would really like to get this communities' thoughts on:
What are the incentive structures that impede governments, businesses and institutions from taking more aggressive actions to reduce greenhouse emissions?
Which countries/regions are most at risk of becoming uninhabitable and where are the resulting "climate refugees" most likely to seek asylum?
What technologies and proposed solutions actually have potential to alleviate the causes of the Climate Crisis and which ones are misguided and/or scams?
What else can people with a bioinformatician's skill set do to help avert disaster?
Since this post is very open-ended in the responses it invites, I humbly suggest that posting "Answers" that address just one of the various issues I've raised might help make the reply threads easier to read if people responding to the same issue later on post their thoughts as a reply-to-the-answer rather than a reply-to-the-original-post.