Going green noble but full of misconceptions

By By Drew Conrad

By Drew Conrad

T he newest School of Business Building, the California budget crisis, and “green” methods of transportation are three players on the sustainability scene. All three appear to be unrelated, but a closer look reveals that common threads run through them.

In their recently released book, Time to Eat the Dog?: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, an architecture professor at Auckland University in New Zealand Brenda Vale and her husband, Robert Vale, crunch numbers and shine light on some of Hollywood’s deepest, greenest secrets. For example, according to the math, an individual with a dog and a Prius has a larger “carbon footprint” than an individual who has no pet and drives an SUV. The impact on the environment of maintaining a canine is larger than the impact of a gas-guzzling SUV. Additionally, the book said per passenger-kilometer, a full Boeing 747 has more energy efficiency than a bicyclist. Sure, bicyclists don’t emit a lot of pollution or use fossil fuels, but they do eat and shower after their ride, sending that carbon footprint skyrocketing.

Surprisingly, the Vales are not Earth-hating Republicans8212;they are environmentalists and experts on the topic of sustainability. Although the Vales’ book does raise some eyebrows, it also shows that there are a lot of myths and misinformation in the green culture.

The people of California are witnesses to great debates and misinformation on the topic of offshore oil drilling. Some in the green movement would like to paint the picture that if drilling is legal, the oceans will instantly become polluted and mass extinction of marine life will occur. In reality, offshore oil drilling would not only benefit North American ocean waters, it would generate revenue and jobs in bankrupt California.

California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, has been trying for years to pass laws that allow offshore drilling.

“A bill I wrote would have opened up the first new offshore oil lease in 40 years, would have generated $1.8 billion in oil royalty revenue over 14 years and created 450 jobs,” DeVore said. “This represents less than 20 percent of the known reserves in state waters (three miles and in). Locally produced oil offsets imports from foreign lands that must be tankered in from the other side of the world from nations with lower environmental standards than California.” Unfortunately for Californians and Americans, DeVore’s bill has yet to be passed.

The sustainability question has come up as the School of Business plans the new building that will replace the demolished Madsen Building. The School of Business seeks to build it to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. The main impact this will have on students and faculty is power-outlet availability. The original plans for the building called for only one power outlet per faculty office and a reduced number of outlets in classrooms. A compromise was reached and now faculty offices will get two outlets per office and classrooms will have 60 percent coverage. Business students must learn to manage modern computer technology to be competitive after graduation. Adequate access to power outlets will keep laptop batteries full and other essential machines and technologies running. The success of the School of Business will depend on its ability to provide students with the best possible and most convenient facilities.

Personally, I believe in being a good steward of our planet. I believe in smart and efficient energy production and consumption. I hope those on the extreme side of the green movement will take a step back and realize the consequences of their actions and ideas. As the Vales point out, many of their ideas and actions ought to be reconsidered. California’s shores will not die if offshore drilling is legal; fish and marine life will live on while jobs are created. The School of Business must recognize that education, convenience and the well-being of students and faculty are more important than a LEED certification. Going green is a great idea, but human life should always be the top priority. Energy is one of the most important issues facing us today, and it is my desire that the debate be approached with a rational mind and common sense.

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