G. Rendell

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November 9, 2008
To save gas, money and GHG emissions, a number of us from the Backboro area shared a ride to AASHE 2008. Specific jobs differed, but everyone was concerned in some way with campus sustainability. That's why it struck me as odd when, while we were driving through a particularly commercially dense portion of Virginia (I-95, a bit south of Washington DC), someone in the car remarked on how much they'd love to live in an area like that. You know, with any store you wanted, so you could just go out and buy what you needed.
November 7, 2008
Greenback U is located in the northeastern quadrant of the lower 48. Raleigh, NC is in the southeast quadrant. And Raleigh is where this year's AASHE conference is taking place, so I guess it's not just the Dow that's headed south. It will be a pretty full schedule -- pre-conference workshops on Sunday, opening plenaries Sunday evening, sessions from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on Monday, then again from 8:00 a.m. until about 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. I'm already looking forward to getting back to work, so I can get some rest!
November 6, 2008
Lost among the stories about the ongoing election, NPR's "Day to Day" program on Tuesday carried a bit about a really interesting fungus, recently discovered. The discoverer, Dr. Gary Strobel of Montana State, described the organism as an endophyte -- an entity that lives within plants -- and its most interesting property (at least to my ears) as the fact that it puts out a liquid which is directly usable as a fully satisfactory diesel fuel.
November 5, 2008
Officially, it's not yet over. Effectively, it ended past my bedtime. But even at the relatively early hour that a farmer retires, the outcome was obvious. Obama might only take a modest majority of the popular vote, but the electoral count was going to be pretty one-sided. This morning, my good half told me about the speeches I'd missed. I went online and watched them. Each candidate, to my eyes and ears, gave the best speech of his campaign. (My wife said that if McCain had campaigned in the same tone as he conceded, he'd have won the election. She could be right.)
October 31, 2008
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".
October 30, 2008
Doing a greenhouse gas inventory for a college or university involves crunching a lot of numbers. Activities which generate emissions, factors for calculating the emissions generated, forcings to translate other gases into CO2 based on global warming effect, lots of stuff. The tool Greenback used to prepare its baseline inventory was the defacto standard of such things -- Clear Air - Cool Planet's Campus Carbon Calculator.
October 29, 2008
First, the bad news. (And I guess the bad news could be good news, if you look at it a little bit sideways.) The bad news is that the green movement is now spawning Kitty Kelly-style exposes with a definite Ann Coulter twist.
October 24, 2008
I just received my electronic copy of the Rocky Mountain Institute's Solutions newsletter. It contains an article by Cameron Burns about a study of successful campus greening strategies, the results of which will be published next spring (don't you just love the lag time involved in publishing academic studies -- by the time the data gets into print, it's nearly obsolete).
October 22, 2008
So, when all is said and done, what matters is getting Greenback to a position of sustainability. We need to get out of the habit of taking more (of anything) than we put back. We need to learn how to stop creating wastes we don't resorb. We need to get out of what the cyberneticians call "positive feedback loops" because, after a while, the feedback doesn't seem all that positive. We need to find, and model, and pass on to our students a sense of balance, of equilibrium, of stability.
October 17, 2008
First, a word of clarification about the title. "Plotting the course" was a phrase that first popped into my alleged mind in reference to preparing a campus carbon neutrality plan. But then, I realized that such would only lead to confusion. I might think of a carbon neutrality plan as a "course of action", but (somehow) the term "course" brings other images to most minds on campus. So, bowing to the inevitable, lets think of "course" as a unit of curriculum.

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