August 21, 2008

"Professor Who Flew to Deliver Guest Lecture Bills Stanford for Carbon Offset of Travel."

Yeah, that happened. Ha ha.
Ben Shneiderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Maryland at College Park, says he was happy to give a guest lecture at Stanford University this past spring, but he was concerned about the environmental impact of his flight across the country to get there.

So when he submitted his receipts for reimbursement by Stanford’s Symbolic Systems Program, the group that had invited him, he included a charge for a small donation to the Carbonfund.org Foundation to offset the trip’s impact.

“The amount was only $11.33, but the symbolic nature of the Symbolic Systems Lab paying it was very satisfying,” said Mr. Shneiderman in an interview. He said the lab had paid it without question.

He wondered if universities should develop policies to pay such carbon offsets for professors’ travel to make the practice routine. “The principle is that it should be,” he said, since sustainability is such a big issue that higher-education institutions are advocating. “I think it is the right thing to do,” he added.
Why don't all us environmentalists just stop going anywhere? But, failing that, let's all bill Stanford for our environmental sins.

36 comments:

bearbee said...

Is video teleconferencing unknown technology in the world of academia?
Big Foot

The Drill SGT said...

This will go nowhere. why?

Because a large portion of the travel done by professors is supported by grant money or contracts with Federal agencies and they are only going to pay based on what the contract requires and the contracts uniformly invoke the JTR (DoD Joint Travel Regulations) even on civilian agency contracts.

So Universities will have to eat the carbon offset charge and their moral code doesn't stretch to actually having to pay for good karma.

Original Mike said...

Drill Sgt beat me to it. UW RSP would have laughed at the charges.

Actually, they have no sense of humor. They just wouldn't have paid them.

Palladian said...

Ahh, now Indulgences! Our precipitous descent into neo-medievalism continues apace!

Jake said...

What is worse is some college student had to work 200 hours to pay for this professor's travel. Or that student had to take out a $2000 loan.

Original Mike said...

Speaking as an academician, there's an aspect of this story I find cringe-inducing. Do these hypocrites really think they're doing something with these carbon-offset credits? As Ann says, if you really believe this stuff, then DON'T FLY.

Methadras said...

HAHAHAHA!!! Lefties are some of the dumbest people on earth for believing this concocted strain of feel-good bullshit. Go Green! Save the Earth! Give a hoot, don't pollute. Morons.

Peter V. Bella said...

“The amount was only $11.33, but the symbolic nature of the Symbolic Systems Lab paying it was very satisfying,” said Mr. Shneiderman in an interview. He said the lab had paid it without question.”


The symbolic nature of Symbolic Systems- blah, blah, blah. I guess symbolism is going to be the new catch phrase for the global warming folks, since religions rely on symbolism. How do I Know, AlGore told me so!

Richard Dolan said...

Just another slice of life as lived inside the playpen. And exactly how does a "small donation to the Carbonfund.org Foundation ... offset the trip’s impact"? I doubt that they have a giant vacuum cleaner to suck up the extra CO2.

AJ Lynch said...

Richard Dolan asked:

"I doubt that they have a giant vacuum cleaner to suck up the extra CO2."

Actually this a brilliant idea- if you don't plan to patent this, I may do so myself. I see many many gullible but paying customers for a nice little dustbuster-type gadget. Suggest we add a feature that can also scoop up mercury from florescent bulbs. Heh.

Triangle Man said...

AJ, What if we engineer some kind of living organism that could take CO2 and somehow convert it into something non-earth-destroying, or even useful. If we're clever we might even find a way to divert the waste products of the conversion towards good use also.

Carbon foundation my foot. Grow a plant. Just no hostas please, for Professor Althouse's sake.

Triangle Man said...

Speaking of carbon offsets, does anyone know if can I claim credit for the big pile of weeds I pulled this year on my 2008 IRS Form 5579 (Certification of carbon neutrality and carbon balance worksheet)?

AJ Lynch said...

T Man:

I have no idea - most of my my friends claim I am unbalanced.

jimbino said...

Who pays the carbon tax when a woman more than doubles her footprint by delivering a kid?

bearbee said...

T Man:

I have no idea - most of my my friends claim I am unbalanced.


Perhaps a little incentive?

re: IRS and weeds, shouldn't you be planting rather than pulling?

David said...

Well, I think universities should also pay for the old-fashioned kind of indulgences, in order to take care of any sins that the guest lecturer may commit on the trip. If we're going to get medieval, let's really get medieval.

A huge new insurance industry will have to emerge in order to put actuarial estimates on the particular sins that might be committed by a particular person in a particular context.

TMink said...

I operate small ecology systems in my office and at my home. They are fish tanks! I heavily plant mine, and to fertilize them, I INJECT CO2!!!!!

The plants use it up as they grow and they pump up the system's oxygen. So I am my own carbon offset.

Trey

Floridan said...

As much as I enjoy middle school humor, all it would take to understand how the offsets work is to visit the relevant website, where it explains, "Carbonfund.org supports carbon-reducing projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects." So, yes triangle man, they do grow plants.

I would think that the libertarian crowd that haunts this site would approve of this type of offset -- in this no one is forcing anyone to do anything. The professor didn't have to contribute to the offset and Stanford didn't have to reimburse him.

So what's the problem?

Peter V. Bella said...

So what's the problem?


It’s nuts! BTW, reforestation? Planting trees that use carbon as the building block of life to emit CO2, which supposedly is going to cause Armageddon very soon does not sound like a good trade off to me. Just say’n, ya know.

Pogo said...

And here we see the professor pretending to care about global warming, and the university pretending to do something about it.

This magical thinking seems at first to be a modern superstition, like knocking on wood or throwing salt used to be. But no.

If all of Stanford’s Symbolic Systems Program committed suicide as their contribution to carbon offsetting, I'd think they really beleived this shit. But such a weak effort -especially because done by proxy- suggests this is simply the tribute environmentalist vice pays to eco-virtue.

AJ Lynch said...

Floridian:

Let's put the humor aside for a moment.

What amount of carbon was generated by the idealistic professor to make a donation of $11.33? And for carbonfund.org to process his donation?

Let's see- he wrote the check, put it on his expense report, someone at Stanford reviewed the expenses, raised his or her eyebrows at the expense item, he mailed the donation check, the post office delivered it, they received the check, deposited it, prepared a thank you note for the donation and on and on and on.

Seems like a big to-do over a little dumb thing if you ask me. A less than meaningful gesture whioh is what liberals do best.

AllenS said...

If you think back to the time Godzilla was kicking the crap out of the Japanese, there was nobody worried about CO2. Maybe we need something to go around and breath fire to eliminate CO2.

That's way more better than the vacuum concept.

blake said...

AJL--

That's an interesting angle on what is well-beaten and long-extinct equine.

How much carbon was emitted in getting the money to the carbon cops?

Revenant said...

Planting trees that use carbon as the building block of life to emit CO2

Plants don't emit CO2; they take in CO2 and emit oxygen. They only "emit" CO2 when they decay. A permanent increase in the amount of vegetation on Earth should, indeed, permanently reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Of course, there won't be any such permanent increase, so that's a pipe dream.

AJ Lynch said...

Blake:

And now we are using energy to comment on it. Heh.

PatCA said...

"Pay a sawbuck, save the world."

rhhardin said...

Carbon offset is a printing technique involving eucalyptus leaves instead of copper plates.

blake said...

AJ--

And now we are using energy to comment on it. Heh.

Whoa. I think you just blew my mind there.

All this talking about global warming increases global warming!

Ahhh!

The call is coming from inside the house!

Fen said...

"Carbonfund.org supports carbon-reducing projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects." So, yes triangle man, they do grow plants.

Yes we do. You can even invest via paypal... c/o Fen. Act now and we'll throw in this handy carbon vacuum for $19.95

Operators are standing by.

PatCA said...

If everybody will chip in a total of a couple of grand a month, I promise to cut my energy consumption by 90%!

I will lie on the couch reading and napping all day rather than fighting the traffic, using precious gasoline, and causing traffic slowdowns by going to work.

Peter V. Bella said...

Look, the only way to reduce your carbon foot print is to die. So if you are so concerned, just kill yourself. Why would you give good money to a conman website.

OOPS, just got an idea. Gotta go and start my own carbon nonsense site to collect the big bucks.

Methadras said...

AJ Lynch said...

Actually this a brilliant idea- if you don't plan to patent this, I may do so myself. I see many many gullible but paying customers for a nice little dustbuster-type gadget. Suggest we add a feature that can also scoop up mercury from florescent bulbs. Heh.


They already make them. They are called brand new cars. Most modern vehicles emit less NOx, CO, CO2, & VOC's than they take in. If you own a vehicle from 1995 on up and keep it in good working order, you basically have a CO2 scrubber on 4 wheels. The newer cars today emit so little already, I'm amazed that the government doesn't subsidize them as green. Shit, Subaru alone markets their cars as being green, earth friendly, mother-nature saving gadgets made by the almighty himself because they are made with 'Love'. [sigh]

Methadras said...

AJ Lynch said...

Floridian:

Let's put the humor aside for a moment.

What amount of carbon was generated by the idealistic professor to make a donation of $11.33? And for carbonfund.org to process his donation?

Let's see- he wrote the check, put it on his expense report, someone at Stanford reviewed the expenses, raised his or her eyebrows at the expense item, he mailed the donation check, the post office delivered it, they received the check, deposited it, prepared a thank you note for the donation and on and on and on.

Seems like a big to-do over a little dumb thing if you ask me. A less than meaningful gesture whioh is what liberals do best.


So does this mean that road to hell being paved with good intentions will require a carbon offset? Dear God, is nothing sacred anymore?

Methadras said...

Revenant said...

Planting trees that use carbon as the building block of life to emit CO2

Plants don't emit CO2; they take in CO2 and emit oxygen. They only "emit" CO2 when they decay. A permanent increase in the amount of vegetation on Earth should, indeed, permanently reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Of course, there won't be any such permanent increase, so that's a pipe dream.


When photosynthesis doesn't occur (at nighttime) said plants release CO2 during their respiration. Although they do take more CO2 during photosynthesis than they emit during respiration.

Methadras said...

Fen said...

"Carbonfund.org supports carbon-reducing projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects." So, yes triangle man, they do grow plants.

Yes we do. You can even invest via paypal... c/o Fen. Act now and we'll throw in this handy carbon vacuum for $19.95

Operators are standing by.


Fuck you Billy Mays!!!

blake said...

Although they do take more CO2 during photosynthesis than they emit during respiration.

Oh, is that why they say the thick forests in the upper parts of Canada actually contribute more carbon to the air than they absorb? Long winters?