[Numpy-discussion] Proposal to add clause to license prohibiting use by oil and gas extraction companies

Ilhan Polat ilhanpolat at gmail.com
Thu Jul 2 06:33:46 EDT 2020

Ralf basically wrote the email that I was about the send in a much more
structured way so thanks for that. I'd like to mention also that oil&gas
industry practically cannot be cornered by these restrictions. So even the
cause is very noble and I wholeheartedly agree, forcing this type of
exclusions only will make their hand stronger in going to other commercial
software (they can really afford even acquiring whole companies) and
forcing their employees using it and finally boomeranging back to the
reduction of the potential contributors to open source who would have
otherwise contributed back just because they liked it (like most of us did
back in the day). For example, Shell and Intel are corporate level
collaborators. Should we ban also usage of MKL? Of course not, because this
is not about driving Shell and others to software starvation but actually
forcing them to take concrete steps towards the climate crisis. This is not
to say we are desperate, quite the contrary, however this strategy seems
dire against the possible outcomes.

I really would like to take a more concrete approach that Ralf outlined.
Again, it is not a crusade against commercial software, I truly think all
have different shoes to fill in. However, making the switch from commercial
software to open source as smooth as possible would actually emit the
message that we are not bound to conglomerate structures to achieve noble
goals. Thus this would make a bolder statement as far as what software can
manage to display. Signal processing can make fuel consumption notebooks,
stats can display bicycle usage results and their impact etc. Again it is a
mentality that we are trying to build so it shouldn't be up to the level of
annoyance so that everyone can hop on the bandwagon.

On Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 12:14 PM Ralf Gommers <ralf.gommers at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 10:58 AM Juan Nunez-Iglesias <jni at fastmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Hi everyone,
>> If you live in Australia, this has been a rough year to think about
>> climate change. After the hottest and driest year on record, over 20% of
>> the forest surface area of the south east was burned in the bushfires.
>> Although I was hundreds of kilometres from the nearest fire, the air
>> quality was rated as hazardous for several days in my city. This brought
>> home for me two points.
>> One, that "4ºC" is not about taking off a jumper and going to the beach
>> more often, but actually represents a complete transformation of our
>> planet. 4ºC is what separates us from the last ice age, so we can expect
>> our planet in 80 years to be as unrecognisable from today as today is from
>> the ice age.
>> Two, that climate change is already with us, and we can't just continue
>> to ignore the problem and enjoy whatever years of climate peace we thought
>> we had left. Greta has it right, we are running out of time and absolutely
>> drastic action is needed.
>> All this is a prelude to add my voice to everyone who has already said
>> that *messing with the NumPy license is absolutely *not* the drastic
>> action needed*, and will be counter-productive, as many have noted.
>> Having said this, I'm happy that the community is getting involved and
>> getting active and coming up with creative ideas to do their part. If
>> someone wants to start a "Pythonistas for Climate Action" user group, I'll
>> be the first to join. I had planned to give a lightning talk in the vein of
>> the above at SciPy, which, and believe me that I hate to hate on my
>> favourite conference, recently loudly thanked Shell [1] for being a
>> platinum sponsor. (Not to mention that Enthought derives about a third of
>> its income from fossil fuel companies.) Unfortunately and for obvious
>> reasons I won't make it to SciPy after all, but again, I'm happy to see the
>> community rising.
>> Perhaps this is derailing the discussion, but, anyone up for a "Python
>> for Climate Action" BoF at the conference? I can probably make the
>> late-afternoon BoFs given the time difference.
> Thanks for this Juan. I don't think it's derailing the discussion.
> Thinking about things we *can* do that may have a positive influence on the
> climate emergency we're in, or the state of the world in general, are valid
> and probably the most productive turn this conversation can take. Changing
> the NumPy license isn't feasible, because of many of the pragmatic reasons
> already pointed out. That said, the "NumPy is just a tool" point of view is
> fairly naive; I think we do have a responsibility to at least think about
> the wider issues and possibly make some changes.
> One thing I have been thinking about recently is the educational material
> and high level documentation we produce. When we use data sources or write
> tutorials, we can incorporate data and examples related to climate issues,
> social issues, ethics in ML/AI, etc.
> Another thing to think about is: what do we, NumPy maintainers and
> contributors, choose to spend our time on? Not each issue/PR opened
> deserves our time equally - we're (almost) all volunteers after all. A PR
> that for example improves the classroom experience of teaching NumPy may be
> prioritized over a PR that helps fix an issue for <insert big corp
> framework that's not contributing back in any way>.
> I'd be interested to hear if others back thought about this before or have
> any ideas.
> Cheers,
> Ralf
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