Getting to Green
An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.
February 26, 2009 - 2:21pm
While we're on the subject of visual presentation of information, I just want to point out that part of the reason I'm psyched about being able to map greenhouse gas emissions geographically is because (let's be honest here) there isn't currently an effective visual image of climate disruption.
February 25, 2009 - 4:42pm
Conventional wisdom has it that 70% of the information received from a message is based on how the messenger looks, 20% on how the messenger sounds, and only 10% on what the messenger says. I'm sure those numbers are accurate, because they've been cited by Eddie Izzard in public presentations, and if he's not an expert, who is?
February 23, 2009 - 2:36pm
A while back, I said it would be a bad idea to bail out the auto companies. I noted that (1) they had neither expertise nor apparent plans to build the cars America -- and the world -- needs, (2) the loans they were asking for at the time were probably just a first installment, and (3) even on the basis of just the first installment amounts, it would be cheaper to buy them outright. Since then, the situation has changed – and by “changed” I don’t mean “improved” in any sense.
February 18, 2009 - 5:09pm
I was speaking recently with a representative of Greenback U's dining services. My intent (predictably) was to move them towards changing their menus and practices, with an eye towards emitting less greenhouse gas. This is a conversation we have periodically, and it pretty much always comes out the same. They do purchase locally when they can, they do push fruits and vegetables as much as possible, they do operate as energy efficiently as possible. They want to do the right thing.
February 15, 2009 - 9:55pm
I like to buy my wife flowers when it's cold out. Not on Valentine's Day -- I'm too cheap to pay twice as much as the same flowers would cost me a week earlier or a week later -- but a few times each year, and for no apparent reason. (It's not altruism, it's enlightened self-interest.) And not during the summer. During the summer, she can grow her own flowers. And does. (Self-interest includes not competing with the family gardener.)
February 12, 2009 - 9:35pm
Today is, as we've all been informed ad nauseum, the 200th anniversary of the births of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.
February 11, 2009 - 6:27pm
Greenback U has a lot of recycling containers on campus. Many are for paper only, some are for paper and cans/bottles/plastics in a single stream, and some are for paper and cans (etc.) separately. In addition, we have specialty recycling/disposal containers for batteries, for aerosol cans, for corrugated cardboard. If I get my way, we'll have a couple of specialty recycling containers for cell phones.
February 9, 2009 - 5:48pm
As the economy has gone into the crapper, so has the market for most recyclable materials. It just doesn't pay to ship tons of used cardboard, or even steel, across the Pacific to use in making new products (and the packaging for new products) when sales are down across the board. Plants are closing. Even the Japanese car companies are showing annual losses. And -- this just in -- the current recession is already the worst in terms of job losses since WWII, and there's no sign that it's hit bottom yet.
February 6, 2009 - 6:17am
One of the tactics Greenback would like to use to decrease our carbon footprint in the short term is to replace our existing (largely unremarkable) fleet of campus vehicles with ones which are more fuel-efficient. Long-term, we'd like to get away from fossil-fueled vehicles entirely, but at the moment that's hardly practical.
February 2, 2009 - 9:50pm
Like every other college and university in the country -- probably the world -- Greenback is pinching pennies. Hard. Discretionary purchases are out, deferrable maintenance is deferred, raises are even more illusory than usual. Hiring is generally frozen ( de facto if not de jure), but there are a few exceptions. Filling key faculty vacancies is one of them. And Greenback's lack of a professor of sustainable engineering is considered a key vacancy.