Getting to Green
An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.
October 22, 2012 - 5:13pm
I spent last week getting to, attending, and then getting back from this year's AASHE conference in Los Angeles. As I headed west, I had planned to post pretty much every day, giving my reactions to things I'd experienced at the conference. But as reality overcame expectation, I found I didn't really have anything to say on a daily basis. Indeed, it took me a while to form an opinion on the conference which -- like all conferences everywhere, it seems -- offered some interesting moments within a generally unremarkable context.
October 8, 2012 - 11:45am
It must suck to be that guy in the commercial. The commercial which (until we're inevitably humbled by an even more extreme example) seems the ultimate expression of "you are what you buy" materialism. In fact, it goes beyond "you are what you buy", to attain previously unscaled heights of "you are how you buy", and "you are how much you buy".
October 4, 2012 - 4:59pm
OK, I'm prejudiced. I don't much care for factory-raised meat (or produce, for that matter). That's one of the reasons why I have a big freezer in the garage. (Chest type. Energy efficient. In the unheated garage so that five months out of the year it uses almost no electricity at all.)
September 27, 2012 - 2:41pm
I was talking to an administrative director at Greenback recently. He's a pretty good guy, and he wants to help the U out with the "whole sustainability thing", but to his mind a large portion of that boils down to "recycle more". What I really wanted to say was "no, recycle less! Recycling more is the least good of the non-bad options!" It would just have confused (and probably irritated him), so I held back.
September 13, 2012 - 3:46pm
Lots of what sustainability administrators do is administrative/operational. Most of the rest is strategic (as noted previously). But what I've noticed is that what I'm working on -- or at least the level of abstraction that I'm working on -- affects how I communicate with folks. It's not absolutely determinative, but it's a major influence. My alleged mind requires time and effort to shift between the pragmatic and the abstract.
September 10, 2012 - 4:19pm
After talking to dozens (perhaps hundreds) of sustainability staff on a wide range of campuses, I've come to the conclusion that almost all of them fall into one of two categories: either they're administrators or they're strategists. (OK, that's a gross over-generalization, but when have I let a little thing like that stop me?)
September 6, 2012 - 2:33pm
Last week I wrote about a table of figures I find highly interesting, and earlier this week I found a way to publish the table itself. At first glance, the numbers bring into question the almost universally supposed efficiency of modern agricultural practices and -- especially for those of us with active imaginations -- perhaps the supposed efficiency of modern industrial methods in general.
September 4, 2012 - 6:18am
Due to technical difficulties beyond my control, my previous post about a table of energy inputs and outputs for various forms of food production contained description and discussion, but not the table itself. If you're reading this, those difficulties have been resolved.
August 30, 2012 - 3:56pm
. . . is small and visually unimpressive. At the moment, it's in my living room. On an end table beside my favorite chair. It's table 3.1 in Chapter 3 of Ecological Economics: An Introduction by Michael Common and Sigrid Stagl. (It's written as a college-level textbook. Greenback's library didn't have it, but the Backboro public library did. Go figure.)
August 27, 2012 - 5:14pm
Yesterday, I posed (and pointed to an answer for) the question I've used to stop many an economist dead in his/her tracks. But I shouldn't pick on economists (at least not on this count). Most people in most professional concentrations are readily stymied if asked to justify or explain what they do in terms of first principles. Sustainability folk are no different. Ask "what's sustainability for?" or some variant thereon. Then prepare to ignore a certain amount of stammering and nervous weight-shifting.