NYU pollutes “undeniably . . . head and shoulders above the rest”

November 20, 2018 by Joshua
in Education, Nature

One thing about nature. It doesn’t react only to the consequences of your actions that you like. It reacts to all of them, including the ones you don’t like.

Take greenhouse gas emissions. You might like doing something that pollutes and emits greenhouse gases. You might wish that your activity didn’t pollute, make the world unclean and impure, undue your intent to steward the environment, or hurt others, but if it does, your wish doesn’t change that you aren’t stewarding the environment, you are polluting, you are making the world unclean and impure, and you are hurting others.

This passage just arrived in an email from NYU:

One of NYU’s great strengths—where we undeniably stand head and shoulders above the rest—is that we’re able to facilitate a global educational experience for so many of our students. Just last week it was revealed that for the fourth year in a row, NYU sent more students to study abroad and hosted more international students than any other university in the United States. Our study-abroad rate is at an all-time high of 46 percent, and it’s my goal to get that figure to 65 percent in the coming years.

NYU pollutes undeniably head and shoulders above the rest

I looked up NYU’s student population: 60,000 students.

I’m not sure how far each student travels. Abroad from New York City means most students travel at least as far as Paris, some as far as China and Australia. I chose Abu Dhabi as a guess for the average distance, which I plugged into the emissions calculator at myclimate.org.

I assumed all students flew coach, probably conservative for NYU students. The emissions per round trip flight was 4.3 tons.

I also assumed each student took 2 round trip flights per year.

Multiplying the numbers, I calculated that the NYU student community contributes

237,360 tons of CO2 from flying alone.

Meeting its goal of 65% overseas means a goal of

342,853 tons of CO2 from flying alone.

aviation airplane pollution

The Paris Agreement

The 4.3 tons per round trip flight I assumed is more than double the 2.0 tons per person that the IPCC recommends for all uses. Flying round trip to Lisbon, Portugal—one of the closest international cities—contributes 2.0 tons per person.

Mexico City would only contribute 1.3 tons, but I doubt many students are flying there, and I bet most students going there would return more than once. Shanghai contributes 4.7 tons per student per round trip flight, Sydney 6.6.

In other words, NYU is promoting each student violate the intent of the Paris Agreement.

NYU and Donald Trump agree on climate policy

In yet other words, NYU pulled out of the intent of the Paris Agreement before Trump did. I remember on his election many students chanting, “Not my president,” but at least in this area, he represents NYU’s population’s behavior.

NYU and Trump both seem to agree on Paris, at least in that they don’t believe they should follow it.

Full-time faculty

NYU has 7,861 full-time faculty and many more adjuncts and other non-full-time faculty. 46% of them traveling overseas, assuming coach (probably overly conservative), twice a year (probably overly conservative), an average distance of Abu Dhabi, means another

31,098 tons of CO2 from flying alone.

Adjuncts and other employees contribute more.

What an environmental disaster, to say nothing of its community’s greenhouse gas emissions from heating, domestic travel, and so on. You should see the dumpsters its students fill with garbage when they move out, to say nothing of the faculty’s and other staff’s waste all the time.

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