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These are not quantitative matters.” This was going to be a long post. But I think enough information will be conveyed by the question, “OK, fine, I agree. But WHICH particular things, and WHY those particular things?” Enjoy your day.

15 Responses to “Some Things Are Just Too Important to Put a Number On”

  1. J Storrs Hall says:

    “In fact, the bench did not fall under the University’s payback policy spelled out in the Council’s report. Its value was assessed from a different angle, as a promotional tool that demonstrates the University’s commitment to sustainability.”

    I.e. “We did something ridiculously unsustainable as a symbol of sustainability.” Much like the gears on this page: http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/whoops.htm

  2. wintercow20 says:

    “In fact, the bench did not fall under the University’s payback policy spelled out in the Council’s report. Its value was assessed from a different angle, as a promotional tool that demonstrates the University’s commitment to sustainability.”

    And you’d probably not be shocked to hear that this is not likely true either. A few kids just thought it would be cool to buy it, the school spends over $1 million per week on facilities, it was “only” $11,500, and so it was purchased, just like you and I toss in an extra pack of gum when we are at the gas station on a long road trip.

  3. sherlock says:

    I was going to comment on that exact quote J Storrs. Assuming that it’s true, there’s only 2 possibilites.

    1. The University knows it’s not “sustainable” but thinks everyone else is ignorant to the costs of the bench. So they believe they can just can just stick a sustainable sticker on it. This is what some people may call “lying” or at the very least “deceiving”.

    2. The University had no idea that the bench was not “environmently friendly” which shows general lack of competence.

    Pick one U of R.

  4. sherlock says:

    I also enjoyed:

    “In the end, sustainability is about what we value, what kind of world we want to live in, and what responsibility we feel toward the generations who will follow us. These are not quantitative matters.”

    But they are “A-” matters!

    “The College Sustainability Report Card, the only comparative evaluation of campus and endowment sustainability activities at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, gives the University an “A-“.

  5. chuck martel says:

    You just don’t get it. The bench is SYMBOLIC. It’s the substantiation of the abstractions that we value, kind of like the Stars and Stripes or the Statue of Liberty. You can’t just have a concept of sustainability, and even concrete sustainability must have a physical dimension that’s available for inspection and admiration. Just as the residents of Moscow could gaze on a heroic statue of Lenin and know that it represented their ideals even more than the failing factory in the Urals, so too do the scholars at Rochester see the solar bench and realize that it represents their deep commitment to Mother Earth, a commitment that simply isn’t sufficiently demonstrated by low volume flush toilets or the banning of plastic water bottles.

  6. Dan says:

    I thought that it was a pretty fair response, as good as you might hope for, at least. They won’t issue a massive mea culpa, but they represented your arguments well, linked to your post, and admitted that the benefits will never match the costs.

    If nothing else, you’re going to make them just a little bit more hesitant to put up projects like this in the future.

  7. Rod says:

    I want to gag whenever someone cites a letter grade in order to paper over garden variety failure. Steven Chu gave himself an A- the other day for his performance as Secretary of Energy, and then Republicans who disagree with Dr. Chu gave him an F. In both cases, it’s a figurative rhetorical device that’s no longer clever.

    When I was a teacher, one of my fellow English teachers once tossed his students’ final exams down the staircase leading to his apartment and gave A’s to the ones that landed at the bottom and F’s to the ones that landed at the top. That’s plainly dishonest and irresponsible, but so too is the grading done by teachers who don’t know good work from bad and who fail to make that difference clear to students. Those teachers tend to give out grades that won’t be challenged by the students who then don’t know what real A work is.

  8. […] Comments « Some Things Are Just Too Important to Put a Number On […]

  9. mark says:

    i love the terrible three-way venn diagram, i chuckled heartily when i read it closely

  10. Harry says:

    For most of us, spending $12,000 on anything is serious business. When you are spending other people’s money, it is different.

    How the U of R spends its money should not be my business, if it were truly a private institution, exept they have dug a canal that connects with the river of government money. As Rizzo says, it is like buying a pack of gum at the gas station on a road trip, but I would add that the road trip is paid for someone else, and therefore it is easy to be reckless about money.

    I did note on the site schedule there is going to be a lecture by an expert journalist on fracking. Any bets on how this will turn out?

  11. Alex says:

    I don’t think it’s the waste of resources on brand-building that bothers Rizzo; if it were, he would necessarily have been much more upset about UR Parking driving around in far-more-expensive Lexus hybrid SUVs. I think it’s the idea that people will consider something a symbol of environmentalism when it’s actually environmentally harmful. It’s like we cast a statue of blindfolded Justice with stolen gold, and everyone was too busy patting themselves on the back over our justice-loving justness to notice that we had bankrupted the cause we ostensibly symbolized.
    “What do you mean we don’t care about justice? Didn’t you see the statue?”

  12. Harry says:

    Alex, good point. I do not want to hazard a guess about what is in the unpredictable mind of Dr. Rizzo. After all, we read his blog because he is original.

    Yes, the solar picnic table is an example of hyprocy; it wasted time and money, and the university did it for silly reasons, and people have gotten needlessly defensive about it. The more serious they get about it, a solar picnic table obscured by clouds and snow, the better fodder Rizzo has to illustrate more important points about how the world works.

    Perhaps the faithful will gather on a sunny day and plug in their IPads and drink Dasani, whoops, tap water in cups with the university president and show solidarity. Maybe the president will lead the group into the library and talk about scholarship.

  13. Harry says:

    Hypocrisy. Mea culpa. Rizzo knows I do not correct his spelling in public[sic].

  14. Alex says:

    The school should change its motto to:
    Viridiora! Ever Greener!

    Don’t worry.. I’ll keep my mouth shut.

  15. Harry says:

    Shame on you, Alex, for keeping your mouth shut, unless you want to be a lowly cricket. I have enjoyed your ideas. We as readers feed on Rizzo’s ideas, which seldomly are half-baked. I wish more people would have the courage to advance any idea engaging Rizzo or the rest of us. Most of us hesitate before launching a stupid attack, which would be blocked by Perfesser Rizzo the architect of theunbrokenwindow.

    I liked your wry suggestion.

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