But happily, many people here are working hard to challenge that aspect of Cambridge culture. So, in the spirit of leaving on a positive note, I'm going to write a bit about that.
Fortunately, many individuals and institutions recognise this, and one of them is this institution. The University of Cambridge reckons it is responsible for 240,000kg of CO2e annually, which is the equivalent of taking just over 23 consecutive round-the-world flights. But this figure is only an estimate for emissions by the University - its departments etc - and doesn't account for its 31 colleges.
Each and every college has its own carbon footprint, created by its energy and water usage, its building repairs and construction, its food and drink consumption, the travel undertaken by its members, and by the places it chooses to invest its money.
Last term, I went to hear Andrew Balmford speak on how the staff, students and fellows of Clare College have worked together to reduce their carbon footprint. It was inspiring and thought-provoking.
He gave a few practical examples of how Clare College has done this, and these were overwhelmingly low-intervention and high-impact. For example, minor changes to heating schedules (heaters now come on only in the mornings and evenings) and bin placements (recycling bins are in more prominent, accessible locations) meant that a great deal of money was saved on gas bills and waste collection.
The effort that it takes a Cambridge college to manage and support this cast of characters is immense. And this effort is reflected in their carbon footprint: Smart management decisions can be adopted and adapted to make a college more sustainable. In many cases, these are minor decisions - 'nudges' - with an amplified impact.
The lessons that can be learnt from attempting to make a college more sustainable are relevant to us all - not only for the small elite who run Cambridge colleges, but for individuals and businesses alike looking to reduce their carbon footprint.