The last few weeks have been a string of sustainability conferences. While, in general, they have been excellent, there's still some rough edges so I can't resist poking some fun at them.
Q: What is the GHG emissions to make and ship a nylon briefcase or a canvas bag?
A: I don't know, but I've got 4 new ones with conference names on them if anyone needs one.
Q: If I emit 1 ton of CO2 traveling to an environmental conference, can I really offset it for $5?
A: According to the Chicago Climate Exchange you can (actually it's about $4.25), which defies all logic that I can apply to it (I believe their CO2 prices are absurdly low). Actually, carbon credits and offsets are the hottest topic at these conferences. Look for some upcoming posts where I try to tease things apart a little bit. In the meantime, here's a good discussion of offsets on Worldchanging.
Q: Didn't anyone read Marshall McLuhan?
A: Clearly some people missed his famous "The Media is the Message" pitch. About once a conference I get a 20 or 30 page glossy brochure, printed on non-recycled paper with inks that ensure that it won't be easily recycled in the future. These generally have 2 or 3 net pages of text and the rest is really cool nature pictures. You may be doing really good work, but its hard for me to take you seriously when that's how you choose to deliver your environmental message.
Q: What's a good target energy usage for an office employee?
A: I actually don't know right now. While lots of companies are making public commitments, few are actually willing to talk about the real details of where they're at. This seems like a simple question, but the lack of transparency makes it not so. Again, watch this space - more coming on this.
Q: At the current rate of growth, are sustainability conferences sustainable?
A: No comment :-)