First off, let me thank Paul Haeder for his extended comment on a recent post. My heart is definitely in synch with the position he expresses, although my head is convinced that trying to sell sustainability by direct frontal assault won't work (indeed, hasn't worked). And expanding on that heart-vs-head thing . .
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April 25, 2012
April 24, 2012
In a recent post, David Roberts describes the downside of being reasonable during discussions about ecological sustainability and climate change. His main point is that in order to win (effectively, if not technically), all that unreasoning climate denialists have to do is to refuse to budge regardless of the evidence and logic against their position. Eventually, any reasonable person gets to the point of walking away or dismissing them as stupid or agreeing to disagree. Any of those leaves them as the last combatant in the arena, such that the last man standing wins by default.
April 23, 2012
Last week, I happened to pick up an old issue of National Geographic Magazine. The cover story was on Ireland which, at the time of publication, was ramping itself up into "Celtic Tiger" mode. The writer was focusing on how the increase in industrial, commercial and financial activity was affecting more traditional social values. The phrase that caught my attention was him wondering "what more efficient nations do will all the time they're so busy saving."
April 12, 2012
First, let me respond to David's request by posting a digital version of the hand-drawn sketch which is the working version of my current model of sustainability:
April 9, 2012
For a while now, I've been struggling with the concept of sustainability. (That's not good, since moving the campus and the institution in a sustainable direction is what Greenback U is paying me to do.) When I first got started in this job, I had a clear idea of what sustainability entailed. The problem was global warming/climate change. The solution was greenhouse gas reduction. The job was to move Greenback towards lower and lower GHG emissions, so that it (and hundreds of its closest friends) could serve as models for the rest of Western Civilization. But over the past five years or so, I've qualified and modified that understanding to the point that, at present, it seems to me that GHG emissions are but one aspect of the sustainability mess we're in, and probably not the one to emphasize.
April 2, 2012
Years ago, I was talking to a man -- call him "Randy" -- who made his money selling mortgages. First, Randy's company originated them -- lent money to residential buyers so they could purchase their dream homes. Then he sold them to a consolidator who pooled many mortgages and used them as collateral for the issuance of securities. The difference between this man's behavior and the behaviors that led -- in large part -- to the crash of 2008 was that Randy took a moderately long view of his business.
March 28, 2012
According to a recent study by the city of Copenhagen, Denmark, if you ride your bike for a mile you contribute about 42 cents to the overall economy. By contrast, each mile you drive your car costs society about 20 cents. Combine the two, and driving has a net social cost of about 62 cents per mile compared to bicycling.
March 22, 2012
My evolving vision of a sustainable campus in a sustainable city includes university-connected mixed-use space around the campus edge(s). Key advantages of such space include minimizing the need for travel as well as making provision of energy-efficient travel/transit options far easier.
March 19, 2012
Of late, I've been thinking a lot about how campuses and their surrounding communities interrelate in ways that affect the sustainability (or lack thereof) of both.
March 18, 2012
Say the word "scope" to a campus sustainability wonk, and a specific frame of reference immediately takes over. "Scope 1 vs. Scope 2 vs. Scope 3." The demarcation comes from greenhouse gas accounting or, more precisely, inventorying.