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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

Economic and Ecologic Elucidations
October 31, 2008 - 5:21pm

One of the issues which often raises its head when I speak about sustainability to local groups -- both on the Greenback campus and in the community of Backboro -- is best phrased as "we can't afford to be sustainable." To my mind, "I can't afford it" is, like "I didn't have time", a less confrontational way of saying "it wasn't important enough to me." That being the case, I try to address the objection strategically, not directly. Not "spend the money, dammit!', but "here's why we need to find a way to make it affordable". As of Wednesday, however, there are new resources which will help address the issue -- one for auditory learners, and one for visual/verbal quantitative types.

At the University of Vermont, the issue was addressed in a more head-on fashion on Wednesday afternoon. Localist Bill McKibben (of Middlebury) debated globalist Russell Roberts (of George Mason). The UVM write-up is pretty descriptive of the proceedings, and contains a link which will let you listen to the entire debate. (You can even download it to your ipod for future reference.) It's about an hour long, and well worth the investment of time.

Meanwhile, the inherent link between solving the sustainability crisis and solving the global economic crisis is gaining both political and intellectual currency. Whoever's elected US President will unarguably come out with a plan to solve the latter by creating jobs to address the former, and the Worldwatch Institute has just published a report quantifying the relationships between the two. The summary is free, but the actual report (hardcopy or electronic version) runs $12.95. That price is by no means exorbitant, but I do wish they'd made the digital copy cheaper, if only to provide a disincentive to kill trees. Still, with 60 pages of (mostly quantitative) data, it's likely most purchasers of the electronic version will print it out anyways. (Sigh ...)


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