Saturday, February 03, 2007

American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment

Greenland has been busy gearing up and helping out with the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (PCC). This is an exciting initiative galvanizing college & university presidents in the US and Canada to commit their institutions to the goal of climate neutrality. We hope to have 200 institutions sign the commitment by June 2007, and at least 1,000 by 2009.

Working closely with Second Nature, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and ecoAmerica, Greenland is facilitating the process of making the commitment for Presidents and others at their institutions.

To date 54 institutions have made the commitment and 34 have agreed to join the Leadership Circle. Members of the Leadership Circle will assist in recruiting more signatories, and will send out an invitation to over 4,000 institutions.

Higher Education is a key leverage point in the move towards a sustainable society for many reasons. First, they are large institutions, and as such, like most organizations today, emit a lot of greenhouse gases, both directly and indirectly. Also, in the US it is $320 billion per year industry, which means it is a potentially market-moving force. When these institutions make the commitment, and put their purchasing power towards more sustainable alternatives, this will bring down the costs of these technologies for everyone.

More importantly, research institutions use this commitment to leverage new innovations, create new solutions, and put into practice many of the theoretical ideas that are already being explored.

But it is on the educational side that I think this initiative has the most potential. The problems around greenhouse gas emissions, and unsustainability more generally require transdiciplinary learning create solutions and move towards a sustainable society. By infusing these ideas into the curriculum at higher education institutions, where our best and brightest can dig into them, we give ourselves hope that the next generation of societal leaders will be able to carry on and improve upon the good work that has been done to date in the effort to create a sustainable society.

The framework for strategic sustainable development is designed to facilitate transdisciplinary learning and co-creation of solutions across sectors, industries and specializations. Hopefully, the PCC is another early step in the process of breaking through the thick walls of disciplinary compartmentalization, so we have a better chance of understanding one another and the root causes of unsustainability in an increasingly complex world.

Check out more about the Presidents Climate Commitment here:

For more info on sustainability in education (mostly higher education), check out the expanded list of links and resources to the right under “Sustainabiilty Education”. Stay going.

Nothing new here, but a good run through of the before & after images of glaciers, coast lines, etc... set to a great tune:

Friday, February 02, 2007


The 4th assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released today, and the results are unsurprising. This is in part because the drafts of the report have been released, so there’s not much new in there. The major points are that the global scientific consensus can now unanimously agree that global warming is “very likely” (read: about 90% certain) caused by humans. And that global warming can be linked to stronger storms, like Katrina. There is also some controversy over sea-level rising, as many scientists say the amount the report predicts for rising sea levels is very low, especially in the face of new developments just within the last year concerning glacial and icecap melting (the cut off for data in the report was December 2005).

Here are a few articles on the report:

The Gazette




Guardian (“skeptics” paying for reports)

The science behind the basic mechanisms (the ‘trunk & branches) of global warming and climate change have been well understood for quite a while now. So, while these reports might be useful in sparking some meaningful policy – they really represent just a detailed analysis “in the leaves” of things we know already. In that way they are a bit of a distraction. A way to delay meaningful action until we “get more evidence.” It’s not the best use of our time, energy, money and intellect, particularly when there are so many profitable, inspiring, and equitable solutions out there. Remember that this is a consensus document among scientists, who are naturally skeptical and cautious – by their very method. Finding consensus amongst the leaves of detail is very difficult, and inevitably results in watered-down, cautious statements. So the fact that this report is so strong in its wording about the threats of global warming, further solidifies what is obvious to so many of us.

Stay going.