Monday, October 26, 2009

Running the Numbers

Did you know that the U.S. goes through 106,000 aluminum cans every 30 seconds? I often see facts such as this one employed in the hope of encouraging individuals to live more sustainably. But really, how do you even begin to wrap your head around numbers that big?

Ballard artist Chris Jordan's "Running the Numbers" exhibit, opening this weekend at the Pacific Science Center, presents visuals of this and other unsettling facts about American culture. "Cans Seurat," for example, is a large scale version of Georges Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte" that, upon closer inspection, turns out to be the aforementioned 106,000 aluminum cans. I highly recommend going if you get the chance.

In a similar vein, I've been trying to come up with meaningful ways to talk about Seattle Pacific's environmental impact. After spending considerable amounts of time calculating SPU's carbon footprint, I have a hard time picturing what it means when I say that we emitted 6,232 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) during the 2008-2009 year. So I put pen to paper (okay, finger to calculator) and did some calculations.
Seattle Pacific's 2008-2009 carbon footprint of 6,232 MTCO2e is equivalent to each of the following:
  • 1,141 cars on the road for one year
  • 707,378 gallons of gasoline
  • 14,493 barrels of oil
  • electricity for 864 homes for one year
  • energy for 567 homes for one year
Now if only I had the images to back it up...
A complete accounting of Seattle Pacific's greenhouse gas emissions over the past three years is now posted to the Presidents' Climate Commitment website. Stay tuned for more info on what we're doing to become more sustainable--and how you can help!

No comments:

Post a Comment