Today, March 20, 2012, many OBTS members are feeling the effects of climate change. Here in Boston we are having June weather in March. In the Western mountains, snow packs have changed drastically from 2011. In the Midwest the number of tornadoes has been setting records. Sure, scientists cannot attribute any particular weather event to global warming; measuring natural phenomena in real time is just too hard for that. Yet, as we experience them in the moment, many of us now believe that the recent weather anomalies are at best unusual . And sometimes we experience our lovely warm day with apprehension, as a harbinger of change we do not understand, control, or predict. We begin to understand that with exceptional climate changes, global sustainability is at risk.
So it is not surprising that this year Program Coordinator Ken Rhee chose sustainability as the OBTC conference theme. Or that the OBTS board voted recently to give you a choice about whether to buy a conference t-shirt. (This year I will be sporting an oldie but goodie.)
And what about our collective carbon footprint? Curious about this, I made a couple of simple calculations. First I checked the carbon impact of my own flights between Boston and Buffalo. At http://www.terrapass.com/carbon-footprint-calculator I figured out that I will be flying round-trip 788 miles, and injecting 412 pounds of Co2 into the atmosphere. (Were I to take the train, I would inject 331 pounds.) I can offset this—for example, by contributing to Terrapass projects that capture methane or promote clean energy—for $5.95 per 1000 pounds. Then, using higher math, I figured that if 250 of us do approximately the same thing, collectively we emit 103,000 pounds (51.5 tons) of CO2, and at $5.95 per thousand pounds, we can offset this for about $600. Of course, I am simplifying a lot here and not accounting for all the carbon costs I and we incur. But isn’t this an interesting beginning to a sustainability conversation for future OBTC’s?
In the face of climate change, we all hope to dig deep and find resilience…resilience in ourselves, in our families, and in the young people we teach. One way to start building that resilience in our own arena would be to make teaching global sustainability—not only operational sustainability—a requirement in every business school. See you at Brock!
For a thoughtful examination of carbon offset practices see:
Elizabeth Rosenthal, Paying more for flights eases guilt, not emissions. The New York Times, November 17, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/science/earth/18offset.html
What does a ton of CO2 look like?
For more on 2012 snowpacks:
For more on 2012 tornadoes: