Saturday, December 15, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green Or,
Why Robert Doesn't Want To Rap

Mr. B. recently noted the reluctance of OurLeader to comment to the Daily on his position with respect to carbon neutrality on the University of Minnesota campus.

Turns out there was a pretty good reason. A friend has sent a link to this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities: President Robert H. Bruininks has not made a decision about signing yet, though he has received a report on the pros and cons of the pledge from faculty and staff advisers.

Deborah L. Swackhamer, interim director of the university's Institute on the Environment, says she is not sure the university could achieve climate neutrality. More than 70 percent of the university's power comes from coal, she says.

[Apparently this should read 70 percent fossil fuel. Bonzo: 2-1-08]

The commitment also asks colleges to make climate neutrality part of the curriculum, which is not something the president can do. "The president has absolutely no control over the curriculum," which is set by faculty members, Ms. Swackhamer says. "So some of these things he would be promising to do, he can't promise."


So it looks like it will cost a lot of money? Money that we don't have.

The part about the president having no control over the curriculum seems a little lame. Berkeley and many other [~450] schools have signed on. How did the Berkeley president get around the faculty? They don't have a reputation for being pushovers.

From the U of M's website:

An angler pulling a plump walleye from a northern Minnesota lake is probably not thinking about power plants hundreds of miles away. Yet so much mercury from coal-fired plants has found its way into the flesh of walleye and other food fish in the state's lakes, that the Minnesota Department of Health has issued advisories on eating such fish for children and women of childbearing age. That's just one of the connections between our way of life and the quality of our watery environment on the agenda for Tuesday, February 28, when the University's 2006 Great Conversations series gets under way in Ted Mann Concert Hall on the Twin Cities campus. It begins at 7:30 p.m

Tuesday's features Deborah Swackhamer, director of the University's Water Resources Center, and David Schindler, professor of ecology at the University of Alberta and Canada's most prominent freshwater expert. They will talk about how to protect the Great Lakes and other bodies of water for future generations, a mission that both see as urgent.

"The biggest threats are invasive species, climate change, toxic chemical contaminants and their effects, and land use and development," says Swackhamer, who is also a professor of environmental chemistry in the U's School of Public Health. "All of these suffer from a lack of political will to address what science already can address or where science can contribute to a solution."

This conversation promises to be far-reaching and candid, with no watering down of issues [sic].

Talk is remarkably cheap at BigU. This enables Great Conversations (SM) about water with no watering down of issues. Or perhaps someone in the PR office (aka University News Service) just has a great sense of humor?

For not having done the right thing in the past we are now in the position of being perceived as hypocrites on environmental issues.

If I were you, I wouldn't want to rap either, Robert. But I guess that's why you get paid the big bucks.