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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.

Inventory vs. reality
April 4, 2008 - 1:04pm

It's April 4, about two weeks into what the calendarists recognize as Spring. The snow is gone everywhere but on the north slopes, and we're deep into mud season. The Canada geese arrived, in significant numbers, more than a month ago, yet the standing water (ponds, lakes) is still pretty much frozen over. March forgot the part about "going out like a lamb" -- strong frontal systems, with gale-force winds (or so it seems) go through once or twice a week, at least.

Not necessarily what folks might associate with a warming climate, but consistent with the idea that the planet uses storm systems to cool itself, and logical enough if one remembers that the ice which still covers ponds and lakes in April never got thick enough or strong enough to drive out on -- not even in January and February.

In that context, I was speaking with an engineer who works at a local manufacturing company. It's a pretty green company (for the industry it's in), using mostly recycled material as input and minimizing its use of energy per unit of product. He's a pretty quantitative sort of a fellow -- likes to measure just about everything, and without much respect for management decisions not based on getting the numbers ("doing the homework").

I was somewhat surprised, then, when he told me to stop worrying about inventorying GHG emissions and just to get Greenback U moving forward on reducing them. "You may not know how many tons you're emitting, but you know where the emissions are coming from, so get to work!" My friend pointed out that, without regard to what our emissions total was, it was more than zero (which is what we're committed to achieving), and so we knew what direction we need to move in.

Of course, he's a hunter, and an ice fisherman. He's a pretty conservative guy, but he pays attention to the weather, and notices long-term trends. More immediately, he didn't get out on the lake at all, this winter.


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