Feed on

Now they are coming for the paper towels on campus.

The Auxiliary committee wants to install hand dryers in the Sue B and Residential Quad bathrooms to eliminate the need for paper towels in the bathrooms to make residential life less wasteful

In addition, check out one of the comments about what freshmen students are being taught about “Fair Trade = Sustainable.” They take talking points, completely devoid of analysis, and “sell” that to new freshmen as “bible.” Incredibly, they even tell you the language is verbatim from an interest group that supports Fair Trade. No need to discuss analogies here, they are rather obvious. Pretty bold for a group of people that regularly puts together pieces in the ad hominem style asking “where people got their funding from” when putting out research on various controversial topics.

I love this entire idea (check out the advertisement on the page). The U of R is “outsourcing” Environmental education to incoming freshmen. Indeed, the freshmen need not have any real knowledge of environmental issues or economics, and in a matter of a few hours of training, we’ll unleash them to “educate” the entire U of R community. I wonder, do they pay those freshmen a fair wage? And think about what the cheap influx of low-paid workers is doing to the lives of us poor university employees who now are at risk because the teaching we could have been doing has been taken away by the reserve army of EcoReps.

Look a little deeper into the language of the Fair Trade Association too pasted in a comment.  Aside from the stunning lack of curiosity about whether the economics or environmental impact is right, which we’ve long since understood is not the purpose of these programs, let’s reconsider the “lesson” about “fair trade.”

“Support fair trade, rather than free trade. One must come to realize that when the worldwide trade increased, corporations continued their normal business tactics. This means that in poorer countries – where people have little say in how the goods they produce are distributed – corporations decide as to how much they pay their workers. To be able to make the most profit they keep the wages low and prices high. This also means that the food is produced quickly and cheaply, which often means unsustainably.”

1. Universities are, too, corporations.

2. All entities, from the nicest non-profits to the most cut-throat profit seeking megafirms, determine (nominally) what their workers are paid. But of course, we wouldn’t want to have an adult discussion about what keeps wages from falling and what puts limits on wages in all countries. Let’s say nothing about other opportunities workers have and let’s say nothing about worker productivity. Let’s say nothing about broken institutions. Even U of R to be able to make profits, and IT DOES, keeps wages low and prices high. Or do we wish to argue that U of R is a bargain?

3. What does it mean to say that workers have little say in how the goods they produce are distributed? That’s the point in not making things for yourself. Do I have any say in how the “goods” I produce for the U of R are distributed? Should I?

4. “Food is produced quickly and cheaply.” Oh, so what we are saying, what we are teaching young college students, is that feeding the world’s most horrifically poor people is evil – because that’s what cheap food does. And not needing 90% of the world’s poor to work on farms is not a human rights disaster? Of course getting people off the farms enables higher living standards, better health, better environmental conditions and more. But let’s not examine environmental and economic history on this, let’s just say it.

We all look forward to the research demonstrating that the goals of the committees above are truly sustainable. My favorite is the paper towel ban (so, ban bags, ban bottles, ban mini-fridges, now we are wanting to ban paper towels …) – if you examine the “classic” MIT life-cycle study, you will see that even the environmental benefits are small and depend on a sizable number of assumptions, but of course we do care a little about student convenience, or does that not matter? Or … what about the epidemiological studies on dryers versus paper?*** I seem to recall that paper towels were MUCH better for preventing the spread of communicable disease – which poses, I would argue, a much more sizable threat to student and planet well-being than the “GWF” of paper towels. But just as cheap food doesn’t seem to matter, neither does the health of the students. Well, maybe the goal is to have the students actually TURN green …


*** The linked study is well known. And it is done by the obviously unscientific Mayo Clinic. But … I’ve read that funds for the study come from within the paper towel industry, so let’s all in the name of “sciency goodness” ignore it. After all, we would NEVER want to promote anything said by an industry group, EVEN IF they ask “unbiased” scientists to actually conduct the study. It’s pretty darn incredible. Completely unsubstantiated and regularly recycled talking points about the horrors of trade are taught as “science” when they come from an anti-free-trade association, and we pay no attention at all to peer-reviewed major scientific works when we are educating our students. And it’s worse than this. It’s not just that we are indoctrinating our students with fairy tales and make-believe analysis, but then they are being told, supported and encouraged to spread the word about it – it’s the 21st Century version of Jesus’ disciples.

The final irony, and one I simply cannot shake, is to consider the typical reaction to learning that the Mayo study obtained funding from “the paper industry.” Aren’t we always told by the green-talitarians that they really are not green-talitarians? Aren’t we told that they just want more research done. That they want to truly know what is best for the environment? Take the arguments against frackers as an illustration. They regularly include condemnation that “the gas industry” does not study the effects of fracking and so on. So … when we see the paper industry commission a study to examine the health impacts of paper towels versus air dryers, do you think we will see articles celebrating this? If you asked a green-talitarian to comment on the study, how many seconds would pass before they would dismiss it because it was funded by industry.

And, finally, while we are on THAT point … I want to see all of the sciency-good people out there rethink their argument that industry-based research cannot be trusted. ALL research is supported by industry. And by the 1%. Where do you think the public money for non-industry research comes from, the tooth fairy? And all of those industries have hoardes of lobbyists too. And of course our sciency-good congresspeople are purely dispassionate scientific supporters… it’s turtles all the way down folks.



2 Responses to “The Green-talitarian Navel Gazers are at It Again”

  1. Harry says:

    If they really want to save money and the world, why not just take the paper towels out and make the students take a towel to the dorm bathroom? A dorm bathroom is not a Rest Stop convenience on I-81.

    If it is a coed dorm, the progressive thing to do would be to have a vote on whether the girls or boys clean up after whom, how often the towels are cleaned, etc.

    • Harry says:

      Better yet, the student environmental police should decide who uses the towels where, toilet paper quotas, hot water usage, hygiene standards. If showers are best from the top down, why not the management of dorm bathrooms?

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