- This is simply very, very impressive and illustrates how online journalism can differentiate itself:
- “Play UK prime minister and set the policy on energy, transport and other sectors and measure the carbon emissions generated.”
Jon Snow on journalism and 'the ash cloud':
"As a journalist, as a parent, as a human, I felt hopelessly unprepared for this.
And now we wonder whether the right decisions are being made. Does the ash damage, as the most recent Met Office flights suggests? Or is it exaggerated, as KLM, Lufthansa, and BA test flights suggest?
In short, does anyone know anything of which they speak? Or should we trust “them” when they say the safest option is to ban flights from Stockholm to Athens? And if we do trust “them”, should we trust them when they eventually tell us that flight does not prejudice our collective futures?
Amid this collective ignorance, we journalists must impart facts to a fact hungry populace. I can remember no “natural event” to rival it. Far more is understood of earthquakes, tsunamis and the rest. Think of the money we spent on the “terror threat”. How much have we spent on the “volcanic ash” threat?"
We finally convinced the School to introduce recycling bins in our part of the University! Well, trialling it at least – one floor of the building initially and then the rest of the School if it works out. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?
Well, my immediate feeling was: great! But this is negligible compared to how much we could be doing!
So I fired off an email to colleagues suggesting we should consider a more encompassing green strategy for reducing our overall impact on the environment – including reducing paper waste from our day-to-day routines (especially meetings!), reducing carbon footprint of travel, reducing energy consumption and switching to green electricity.
This appears to have gone down well with several positive responses – Paul Denison even pointing to the excellent work already having been done by the University in the previous year. In his own words:
SAM [School of Arts and Media] initiated a university wide discussion last year under the banner of ‘sustees‘. A symposium was held and week-long series of talks and activities held. The university is now looking to incorporate sustainability into its corporate responsibility statement and I have been part of this consultation. We have also developed a new programme in sustainable design which is hoping to recruit this year.
What also followed was a string of suggestions as to what we could do – three specifically about removing paper from our workflows:
Clearly then the solution to removing paper from academics’ workflow appears, at least in the above examples, to be the use of electronic resources – one way or another. Thus my question is this: will this ‘paperless’ office actually pollute more or less? That is, what is the net benefit (indeed if any) in environmental impact of replacing paper with electronic resources?
Some issues to consider:
These points might appear as if they are going to have a miniscule impact, but just as each single sheet of paper has a minimal impact on its own, it is the cumulative volume of each usage that causes a problem.
Of course, there are other practical advantages and disadvantages by moving away from paper – deserving of a blog post in their own right. However, my concern here is that we must not immediately assume that just because we can remove one problem (the arguably wasteful use of paper), we are necessarily free from the larger impact of this problem (environmental impact, or if you like carbon footprint, of academia).Indeed any strategy that considers the reduction in wasteful use of paper should simultaneously consider how to minimise the impact of the electronic resources that replaces this – for instance by reducing the need for repeatedly accessing information, by streamlining procedures that rely on this information, and (perhaps most obviously) move to using renewable energy sources to support this increased use in electricity.
Please feel free to offer your thoughts and comments below – the above is just my stream of consciousness on the issue. I particularly welcome any feedback on research that compares the environmental impact of paper use versus electronic resources. I’m sure there is a threshold where one becomes more environmentally friendly than the other, but would love to know what it is!