The various tasks that fall to me as Greenback U's sustainability administrator bring me into contact with an increasingly broad range of folks across campus. To start with, completing our greenhouse gas inventory caused me to contact offices and individuals who had (and in some cases, didn't have) useful bases of data (not necessarily in electronic form) about energy consumed on campus.
Most Recent Articles
December 17, 2008
December 16, 2008
When it comes to reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions, some of the best-intentioned changes have poor results. 'Getting sustainable' requires more than just good intentions and a grasp of the intuitively obvious; it requires systemic analysis. Two cases in point:
December 14, 2008
When I was a lad, I read a piece in a magazine, a book, I don't remember where. It talked about how small inputs at points of great leverage could overwhelm much larger efforts. Actually, it talked about how, if you grasp a broom by the corn-straw end and try to guide the tip of the broomstick into the opening of an empty jar, it's easy to do. Unless someone standing near the jar decides to stop you -- which they can easily do using only a single finger.
December 12, 2008
Three recent events of which to take note. Each of them signals a step in the right direction, so be not discouraged if the pace seems yet inadequate.
December 10, 2008
The sustainability crisis, the economic crisis, the fact that the US Chamber of Commerce (among other bad actors) is trying to sell the only political leadership we've got on the idea that the economic crisis means that we shouldn't have to deal with the sustainabilty crisis (when just the opposite is more like the truth) ... all of these are indicators of just how deeply systemic our real problems are, and how much we need to reinvent our systems and our paradigms to get out of the mess we're in.
December 9, 2008
As the title implies, this is reading for everybody. I don't care whether you're concerned about issues of sustainability, national security, economic prosperity or the fiasco which is the Bowl Championship Series. You need to read this. Everybody you know needs to read this. Everybody they know needs to read this.
December 5, 2008
So, I'm reading Daphne Wysham's pretty good article on Foreign Policy in Focus, about the costs ... errr ... investment opportunities inherent in global society's need to mitigate greenhouse gasses. And I'm saying to myself, how can we frame this as a growth industry? If what the world needs now is better climate, why can't providing that be the kind of economic engine that addressing the world's other needs (transportation, communication, nutrition, destruction) has always been?
December 2, 2008
No, I'm not thinking about backing up to parallel park (do drivers know how to do that any more?), although my topic is auto-related. I was reading an article in New Scientist magazine (available online, but by subscription only I'm afraid). It spoke about the hydrogen economy -- or the lack of the one which had been predicted -- and mentioned Arnold Swarzenegger's seemingly futile aspiration for a "hydrogen highway" with 200 hydrogen refueling stations. (To date, California has 5.)
December 1, 2008
One of the most frequent topics when sustainability wonks get together, in person or online, is "greenwashing". Greenwashing -- the design and production of products which can be marketed as contributing to sustainability, but which in practice change little or nothing for the better -- is a frequent practice and an even more frequent accusation. Would switching to product X, or service Y, or process Z really reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Are the benefits real? Is the approach well-intentioned but fundamentally flawed?
November 26, 2008
Last summer, executives at three of Japan's largest banks decreed that all their offices would be cooled only to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. It's part of a nationwide initiative called "Cool Biz", whereby businesses compete for customer loyalty by demonstrating leadership in greenhouse gas reduction. Salarymen have reportedly made a significant sacrifice of social status by going to work tie-less as a result.