Last week we introduced you to the (first) Green Ranger: Stephanie Almeida, who took up CFM’s challenge to explore the environmental impact of museum conferences. She’s attending the Western Museums Association meeting in San Diego this week with CFM founding director Elizabeth Merritt (whose air passage across the continent generated more than a ton of CO2). Watch for updates here and on the WMA blog.
To help Stephanie and other museum professionals concerned about their carbon impact, we’ve gathered some background material and resources. This is a highly selective list, so please feel free to send us additional links.
Context: The best way to get a handle on the welter of data related to climate change is through graphics, so here are more than a dozen (the website in this link has a slightly naughty name, but completely safe for work). The blog “What’s Up With That?” even has a World Climate Widget you can add to your website or iPhone.
Carbon calculators: Carbon Fund and American Forests offer tools for calculating the size of your carbon impact (whether travelling or just sitting at home). Both sites have very good explanations of the underlying assumptions behind the calculations — and opportunities to purchase carbon offsets.
Should you be skeptical? The Christian Science Monitor tackles the “Top 10 green living myths” at http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2009/05/13/the-top-10-green-living-myths/. Two of the myths deserve closer attention: “if you want to help alleviate global warming, plant trees” and “local food is always greener.”
Plant a tree? Back in 2003, “Straight Dope” columnist Cecil Adams pondered the question “How many trees should I plant to balance my yearly CO2 output?” (His conclusion: “Getting a handle on greenhouse gases is complicated, and we’d be foolish to think we’ve got it all figured out.”) Just this month, the Washington Post reported that the “Use of Forests as Carbon Offsets Fails to Impress In First Big Trial.” One of the article’s main sources: a recent Greenpeace report that “questions the premise of using forest conservation overseas to compensate for U.S. pollution.”
Eat local? Locavores offer many reasons for eating local foodstuffs, not just the environmental cost of the “food miles” between producers and dinner plates. In an unlikely piece of corporate sponsorship, Hellmann’s, the mayonnaise folks, have become active supporters of the eat local movement in Canada. The right-leaning National Post counters that “the ‘food mile’ perspective severely distorts the environmental impacts of agricultural production.” For a more nuanced view that tries to “balance [global] economic development priorities with an environmental agenda,” visit the World Resources Institute
Contributed by Phil Katz, Assistant Director, Research, American Association of Museums