Monthly Archives: September 2008

Understanding Climate Change: New Podcast

The Library welcomed physicist Dr. Jan Hessler to our library on September 24th as he presented Understanding Climate Change. This presentation was the opening program for the 2008-2009 One Book, One College program on Elizabeth Royte’s book Garbage Land.You can download that audio from Dr. Hessler’s presentation in iTunes or you can Listen to MP3: Understanding Climate Change.To listen to all of the library’s past events, visit our Library Event Podcast page.

Recycling Signs at ISU

I was at Illinois State University’s Library on Friday for a meeting with a few librarians.  One thing I noticed was a number of small signs in washrooms & kitchen areas near towel dispensers.  I snapped this photo with my phone.  This is a simple idea that keep sustainability in a visitor’s mind at the point where they can actually make a decision to make a wise sign at ISA

A quest for carbon neutrality…easier promised than done

Today’s issue of Inside HigherEd has a story about the challenges of reaching Carbon Neutrality. The article, In Quest for Carbon Neutrality, Late out of the Gate, focuses on the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in which college and university presidents have promised to take their schools to a carbon neutral status.

Participating schools were supposed to have a plan submitted by last week (Sept 15, 2008, actually), but only half of the schools actually submitted their plans. Many schools are having trouble compiling their carbon emission levels. The schools are finding ways to make their emissions comparable across schools, but this is much easier said than done. Here’s a piece of the article that highlights some of the challenges:

In completing the baseline inventories, colleges were asked to, at a minimum, estimate emissions based on the on-site combustion of fossil fuels, electricity consumption, student, faculty and staff commuting, and institution-funded air travel. Some went above and beyond, calculating inventories for a series of years rather than the single year required, and including emissions from solid waste disposal or study abroad in their analyses. Many, but not all, attached detailed narratives.

To the degree that total carbon dioxide emissions can be normalized across universities, they’re broken down by emissions per 1,000 square feet and emissions per full-time enrollment.

Without better metrics for normalizing the data, the organizers of the commitment strongly discourage making comparisons across universities for ranking purposes, both because of variations across institutions (including accidents of location — differing heating needs in colder versus milder climates, for example, and the degree to which regional electricity producers rely on renewable energy sources versus coal), and also because of differences in methodologies and boundaries (what was and wasn’t included in the various university inventories).

You can read the full article here: In Quest for Carbon Neutrality, Late out of the Gate.

How the Web Can Help You Fight Greenwashing

This article from Business Week was forwarded to me. I thought it was worth sharing.—————– How the Web Can Help You Fight GreenwashingDubious marketing claims about environmental benefits are rankling many consumers. Two sites aim to give you the straight dope by Katie FehrenbacherThere’s been a wave of green goods crashing over our heads in recent months. But how confident are you really that the eco-friendly toothpaste (shampoo, notebook, chair, etc.) you bought was green enough to justify that much more of your hard-earned wages? Turns out the green marketing noise level has gotten so high, it’s ticking people off. Earlier this year, for example, Britain’s Advertising Standards Agency noted that in 2007 it received more than four times as many complaints about ads touting green claims than it did in 2006.So where can one find some green peace of mind? The Web, of course. A growing number of Web sites have started to emerge to help consumers sort through the (green) BS…(read more)

GreenFile Database Added to the Library Web site

We are happy to announce that the library has added the GreenFILE database to our online information resources.  This can be accessed at our online database page (look under G on the list).   You need to enter your name and barcode found on your student ID to access this from home.  This database provides a range of new resources that focus on sustainability and environmental issues.  For instance, here is a link to a review from BioCycle magazine of Garbage Land: NAVIGATING THE HOUSEHOLD WASTE STREAM.  Here is the official description of this database fromEBSCO: EBSCO proudly offers GreenFILE, a freely accessible research database focusing on the relationship between human beings and the environment, with well-researched but accessible information on topics ranging from global warming to recycling to alternate fuel sources and beyond. Comprised of scholarly and general interest titles, as well as government documents and reports, GreenFILE offers a unique perspective on the positive and negative ways humans affect the ecology.