My professor for my Sustainability class is an interesting guy. I don’t think tree-hugger quite captures the essence of this man. More accurately, this guy wants to have sex with a Pine. Seriously, the amount of green propaganda permeating the class is horrifying. Don’t get me wrong; I support going green as a concept. Growing up in a fairly environmentally conscious family, I can claim to be a lifetime supporter of environmentally friendly behavior. But as you grow up, most people learn to temper that idealism with a pinch of reality. This guy has gone the other way. It’s like watching the KKK of green energy.
The level of academic dishonesty and outright deceit that takes place in this class is shocking. These links are a couple articles we were to read for the class, feel free to peruse them yourselves. While I agree with the basic concepts behind these, the examples they present as fact range from missing the point (of course using very expensive alloys will allow you to reduce the weight of the car and increase it’s fuel efficiency: it’s also going to drive the price out of the range of most consumers), to not understanding how a technology works (kinetic breaking returns in hybrid cars are not even close to 100% efficient, and even if they were would not account for a 100% return on the amount of battery power spent: using nothing but the fuel efficiency of a vehicle to determine it’s net efficiency demonstrates either a total lack of understanding of how hybrids work or a willingness to tell baldfaced lies to argue your point), or just flat out dishonestly (power pulled off the grid and power used are not even close to the same thing: ignoring the no doubt significant draws of power from your office equipment and not accounting for the solar power you generate is horrifically misleading).
In class we get such gems as: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.” This is quite true! Of course, it immediately followed him presenting the class with a variety of “facts”. These facts included a claim that scientists have no idea what chemicals in our food, water, clothing, etc do. That’s just a flat out lie: new substances undergo rigorous safety tests, often lasting decades before being introduced to market. (Note: I am not claiming that unforeseen side effects have never cropped up, nor that toxins cannot cause serious problems. The claim being refuted is that “science” as a big tinfoil hat conspiracy collective has no idea what their products do.) Then he went on to claim that all these chemical unknowns are causing pretty much every bad thing that’s happened to humans in the past 50 years. Alzheimer’s, peanut allergies, obesity, whatever. The peanut allergies was particularly awesome, here’s the example he used. Some past student of his claimed she believed her allergy was genetic, since her cousin also had it. None of her parents did though, and thus our darling professor tells the class that “doesn’t sound much like genetics to me!” Really? Go pass Bio101.
But there’s more! All classes have homework, and our first one was to take this quiz. It’s a fun little thing that gives you your annual savings in US dollars, along with the amount you reduce your carbon waste, in pounds. Where it gets less fun is when you realize that the site ignores any costs for installation of the tons of new devices that will be more energy efficient. Sure, if you change every bulb in your house to florecent, get double or triple pane glass replacements for all your windows, and buy a new refrigerator you’ll save some money. And how much did you spend getting all of that? Not only are the item costs not included in your savings (and the amount of carbon used to produce them!), but there’s not even a mention of them: “These are the average savings you’ll have once the cost of the new purchases are null” or something would have been nice. Then of course there’s all the “average household” stuff they throw out, and the mysterious undocumented calculations they use to get your raw carbon emissions. Now, I do have to give them credit for at least putting up the numeric values they used for the averages. I couldn’t (read: didn’t feel like taking the time to) find credible articles on a lot of the household waste items, so I can’t speak for those numbers, but I did look up their car emission claims. The site lists the average MPG of a vehicle as 20.3. Okay, so where did they get that? Turns out there have been what look to be quite through studies done by the EPA. At the very least they cite their sources here. But, wouldn’t it be better to have two entries for trucks and cars, since their average fuel efficiency is significantly different (17.6 vs 22.1)? That’s sketchy, but overall I’d accept is and just remind people that the results are going to very inaccurate because of it. But then you look at where they got these numbers from. In an acceptably large study, they measured the fuel efficiency of trucks and cars, some of which were over 25 years old. Great, so that’s a bit questionable, as of course older cars are going to skew your statistics into the realm of inefficiency, but at least they adjusted for population. Then they average the emissions for cars/trucks over a year. Here however, they exclude cars over 25 years old, because they claim that they are driven significantly less. No shit, convenient when you take the much worse efficiency into your data but throw out the related much less driven data. That, my friends, is what we call dishonestly.
Now, under more normal circumstances, I would just occasionally rant about this hack of a professor to some friends and that would be that. But the fact that he’s a professor makes me feel the need to do something more. Something is seriously wrong when we can’t even trust our teachers at the highest levels of education to be academically honest. According to him, this guy has taught this class to over ten-thousand students. That’s ten-thousand people that have been subjected to a bombardment of misinformation and lies, most of whom probably believed it because he’s got a PhD in front of his name. Even if they don’t care about the subject, they are still accepting this as fact, and then will later spread it to other people, and the ignorance will abound. This kind of crap needs to be fought wherever it is found.