Jim Merkel Update

I normally resist making fun of idiotic stories in the Daily Dartmouth, but today’s story on “sustainability director” Jim Merkel takes foolishness and lunacy to a whole new level.

“After being hired last February as the College’s first sustainability director, Merkel said he has spent his time since starting work last June by listening to students’ and administrators’ concerns. He has 11 projects in the works, he said, but none have been completed.”

Merkel said that basic resource consumption at Dartmouth is very high by global standards, and that Dartmouth students consume somewhere between five and six times more energy than the average person on the planet.

So more than a year later, and we’ve paid Jim Merkel to do, well, nothing. But don’t worry, he’s been listening. And he also figured out that Dartmouth students use a tad bit more energy than your average Third World hut-dweller. So what, then, are his ideas?

Merkel also proposes converting Homeplate into a waste-free dining facility.

“Just imagine if you took [all of] your meals there and by the end of the day you didn’t throw out any garbage,” Merkel said. “Just imagine that in one day, as a person here at Dartmouth, you didn’t need a garbage can, you didn’t even need a recycling bin.”

The experiment would include cloth napkins and washable take-out containers, which students would have to pay a deposit to use. A wide variety of self-serve drinks would also be offered and drinks in disposable containers would be eliminated, he said.

The prototype also calls for Homeplate to serve less beef because it has a more severe impact on the environment than does chicken. More organic and local foods would also be served and the ecological impact of each meal would be stated on the menus.

Great. We’ll all eat organic chicken. That’ll solve things. And students will wash and re-use their own take-out containers. That will also work marvelously, I’m sure. After all, the Big Green Bikes have been a smashing success. Anything else, Jim?

Merkel said he thinks that his appointment is just the beginning of a major movement for Dartmouth. He compared his job to Harvard’s sustainibilty [sic] program, the Harvard Green Campus Initiative, which started with one person and now counts 13 employees.

“Hiring me is the first step in starting the conversation,” Merkel said. “In the end it needs to be quite a large-scale program with quite a lot of people working.”

Ah, here’s the real answer — we need to hire more Jim Merkels! So once we have 13 people telling us to eat organic chicken in a re-usable take-out container, we’ll achieve environmental nirvana. Brilliant.