OK so you're asking about steady-state electricity consumption of a process that's idling? I would bet that it's still lower for a more energy-efficient language, but let's say purely for the sake of argument that they're both at parity, let's say (e.g.) 0. Now what happens when they both do one unit of work, e.g. one data science job? Suppose you're comparing C and Python. C is indexed at 1 by Table 4, and Python at 75.88. So even ignoring runtime, the Python version is 75 times more power-hungry than the baseline C. And this is for any given job.
> a faster language will just encourage a researcher to submit more jobs.
Sure, that's a behavioural issue. It's not a technical issue so I can't give you a technical solution to that one. Wider roads will lead to more traffic over time. What people will need to realize is that if they're doing science, shooting jobs at the server and 'seeing what sticks' is not a great way to do it. Ideally they should put in place processes that require an experimental design–hypothesis, test criteria, acceptance/rejection level, etc.–to be able to run these kinds of jobs.
> if using the interpreted language saved even one minute of developer time, it was a net win for the carbon emissions of the program
I don't understand, what does a developer's time/carbon emission have to do with the runtime energy efficiency of a program? They are two different things.
Sure, but they don't, and perhaps that's a much bigger issue than interpreted vs. compiled languages - either for research workloads or for commercial workloads. People start startups all the time that end up failing, traveling to attract investors, flying people out to interview them, keeping the lights on all night, heading to an air-conditioned home and getting some sleep as the sun is rising, etc. instead of working quietly at a 40-hour-a-week job. What's the emissions cost of that?
> I don't understand, what does a developer's time/carbon emission have to do with the runtime energy efficiency of a program? They are two different things.
This matters most obviously for research workloads. If the goal of your project is "Figure out whether this protein works in this way" or "Find the correlation between these two stocks" or "See which demographic responded to our ads most often," then the cost of that project (in any sense - time, money, energy emissions) is both the cost of developing the program you're going to run and actually running it. This is probably most obvious with time: it is absolutely not worth switching from an O(n^2) algorithm to an O(n) one if that shaves two hours off the execution time and it takes you three hours to write the better algorithm (assuming the code doesn't get reused, of course, but in many real-world scenarios, the better algorithm takes days or weeks and it shaves seconds or minutes off the execution time). Development time and runtime are two different things - for instance, you can't measure development time in big-O notation in a sensible way - but they're definitely both time.