A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

University Common Room Claptrap No. 1: 'The Sustainability Committee Rep'.....

Scene: The Common Room, around 11.00 am, at Savonarola de Monbiot University, Frisby-on-Trent:

Dr. Jolyon Petrus [JP], Professor of Oenological Anthropology, encounters his former PhD student, Dr. Pandora Pamina-Postlethwaite (PP)...

JP: "Pandora, how nice to see you? How's that old postdoc going? Like a coffee, by the way?"

PP: "No thanks, Jolyon - the Common Room Committee still hasn't got round to fair trade yet, I fear. But do feel free to have one yourself. And, yes, great thanks. I'm off on Thursday to Papua New Guinea to do some more research."

JP: "Really? I thought you had just been made postdoc rep on the new Sustainability Sub-Committee, or whatever they call it? Should you be flying out there? Not a good example to us unreconstructed oldies, surely?"

PP: "Oh! I'm not doing this lightly, Jolyon. We have a very large form that you have to fill in to ensure that your research trip is really, really worthwhile. I'm going to link with a lost tribe of headhunters to assess their possible contribution to future holistic medicine, and so the Committee felt that this was vital in a dangerous, globalising world order."

JP (brow furrowed): "Sounds fair enough. Hm! Has anybody been turned down yet, by the way?"

PP: "Well, no... but it has made people think about their global emissions and all that."

JP: "I only ask because I suppose I'll have to do one when I go off to Tuscany again - got some great work underway on the ontology of Chianti."

PP: "I'm afraid so, Jolyon. Still it shouldn't be a problem for you."

JP: "When are you back from New Guinea, then?"

PP: "In two months time - boringly, I have a seminar to give in November, and a couple of MA classes."

JP: "Well! You must come round and have dinner with Justine and me when you get back. Tell us all the gory head-hunting details."

PP: "That would be lovely, Jolyon - but I have first to go to that big Conference in California. I'm presenting a poster on 'The genus Usnea in post-partum magic: a critical assessment of Bumcleister's Theory of Medical Holism.' Are you going?"

JP: "No. It's a drag, but I've got to fly out to my sister's wedding in Australia. Got a remarkably cheap flight, by the way."

PP: "Oh! How splendid! I hope it goes well. Help! Is that the time? Sorry, Jolyon, must dash. We have a special meeting of the Sustainability Comittee at 11.30 on the new car park. We want to get people to share on a daily basis coming in from Cambridge and Oxford, and its going to be really difficult for me doing only one day a week here, and at very odd hours. Hope to see you and Justine soon. Ciao for now..."

Philip, and believe you me this is hardly a parody at all. There is more environmental twaddle spun in a University common room than wickets from Warnie himself! A very strong coffee!

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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