Thursday, July 05, 2007

Sustainable education

The most recent issue of the journal Nature has a review (behind a subscription barrier) of a new book: Degrees that Matter: Climate Change and the University by Ann Rappaport & Sarah Hammond Creighton. I have not read the book but some of the information is interesting.

The book documents a 15 year effort by Tufts University that began in 1991 to reduce its energy consumption. From the review:
The central observation from Degrees that Matter is that universities are in a unique position to offer leadership on climate change and carbon emissions through their educational, research and wider roles in society.
The conclusion is a bit disheartening:
The bad news is that despite the intense programme, carbon emissions at Tufts — both net and normalized — seem to have increased over time. The university as a whole has become more energy intensive, with the consequence that it will not meet its Kyoto target. This should, however, be set against other higher-education institutions, where the rate of increase over similar time periods is much greater and the reversal of trends, if at all, much slower. A large part of the increase is due to growing demands from personal equipment.

I assume the "personal equipment" are computers which consume an enormous amount of energy.

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