Schools In for Summer? Changing Academic Schedule May Cut Emissions

Just how much people are willing to sacrifice in the effort to cut global warming is a subject of perennial and heated debate here at TreeHugger. From calls to ‘ban the bulb’ to proposals for cigarette-style warnings on foreign holidays, there is no doubt that there are some tensions in balancing personal choice versus the common good. We’ll be very interested to see how UK academics will react to reports about a new discussion paper that claims they should be prepared to give up their long summers in the interests of energy efficiency. This from the Guardian:

…they say it is "surprising" that in the northern hemisphere university labs and lecture theatres are used most intensively during the cold winter months.

"If there were to be serious reductions in carbon emissions from university buildings, one major way of doing this would be to reduce the use of buildings during the darker colder months of the year, and increase their use during the lighter and warmer months," they say, admitting this would be controversial with academic staff who have always seen the summer as a time for research.

Home working to cut back on commuting and the car parking policies of institutions - "often a cause of great concern to staff members," they note with considerable understatement - are also raised.

While staying closed in the winter might help reduce an institutions emissions, however, we can't help thinking that there would be an awful lot of professors and students turning up their tthermostats at home. Maybe not the most holistic sollution we've ever seen...

Other aspects of the status quo that are brought into question by this paper are the busy travel and conference schedules of leading academics, and the over reliance by many universities on revenue from foreign students.

Image credit: Just The Funny Improv Comedy

:: International Higher Education and Research Conference::via The Guardian::

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