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Re-writing History At Minnesota

Or, How Green Is My Power Plant?


The information above was obtained from Carma, Carbon Monitoring for Action.

From the Carma web-site:

CARMA is meant to be a repository of the best available information on power sector carbon emissions. Our policy is to correct any errors or omissions if suggested revisions are verified by an independent third party.

I was surprised that some people in the university administration involved with green practices were unaware of Carma. Now that they know about it, I hope that if the above data is incorrect that they will inform Carma of any errors so that necessary corrections can be made.

[NOTE: Corrections have been made below (2-1-08). Professor Swackhamer apparently misspoke to the Chronicle.]

Mr. B. has previously noted the University administration's propensity to re-write history.

"Remember when the geniuses tore down the poor old decrepit - on campus - Memorial Stadium and replaced it with something they now admit was even worse...the downtown Metrodome? And now we're going to replace the downtown Metrodome with? Twin City Federal Stadium, which of course will be right back on campus near... "the old Memorial Stadium location."

"Which goes to show that if you wait long enough as a U of M administrator, people will eventually forget your past sins and you can feel free to re-write history. (I was a very strong supporter of the new Science Classroom Building. There is no conflict between teaching and research. I am for stature rather than ratings. I strongly support General College. I strongly support a higher minority enrollment. General College must go. I am against re-engineering. I am for Kotter's Eight-Stage Process of Creating Change. This is a land grant institution.)"

To which we can now add: "We're green, despite the fact that our power plant is 98% fired by fossil fuel. Now turn off those lights!"

This green claim appeared today in the Daily:

January 28, 2008

By Vice President Kathleen O’Brien and Professor Deborah Swackhamer

'Green' is in - and always has been

We can all be proud that the University was green before it became fashionable and has set an example for others to follow.

Green is getting a large amount of press these days, and organizations everywhere are touting their green credentials. Achieving substantive results remains a major challenge, especially for large institutions and systems, and requires participation from students, staff and faculty alike.

But we can all be proud that the University was green before it became fashionable.

Vice President of University Services Kathleen O'Brien oversees sustainability efforts across the University. Professor Deborah Swackhamer is currently interim director of the University's Institute on the Environment. Together they will lead the new Sustainability Goals and Outcomes Committee.

Eagle-eyed readers will recall that Professor Swackhamer has previously appeared on the Periodic Table.

Regular readers will also recall that OurLeader was at first reluctant to embrace the green monster.

See for example: "It's Not Easy Being Green Or, Why Robert Doesn't Want To Rap."

But he has apparently decided to do the right thing and sign on to the fight against global warming. I wonder how he got around the little problem(s) raised in December by Professor Swackhamer?

-----The following paragraph, originally from the Chronicle of Higher Education, contains an error---------------

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.

The last sentence should read: "More than 70 percent of the university's power comes from fossil fuel, she says."

-------------------------see above--------------------------------------------

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."

Why weren't these matters mentioned by O'Brien and Swackhamer in today's ode to the U's supposedly going prematurely green. "We can all be proud that the university was green before it was fashionable and has set an example for others to follow." Does that include the power plant VP O'Brien and Professor Swackhamer? Don't you feel that this important issue should have been pointed out in any discussion of the University's supposedly setting an example for others? To quote Professor Swackhamer again from the U's own website:

"The biggest threats are invasive species, climate change, toxic chemical contaminants and their effects, and land use and development." and "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."

Also from this same site:

"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."

Under the circumstances, I think today's essay was, at the least, misleading.