11/9/2019

Sprint #2: Focus Focus

Wow, it feels really bad to drag the research phase for more than two weeks.

In the previous week, my research result focused on the individual actions one could take However, I found it challenging to write a clear problem statement. I reflected on the past two weeks, and I think the expert research was conducted with a lack of intention. The conversations helped me understand the issue of climate change in general, but I kept beating around the bush without finding the right problem space.

At the end of last week, I turned to look at the article that inspired me to examine the intersection of critical thinking and climate change: We Might Be Reaching ‘Peak Indifference’ on Climate Change. I decided to turn my attention back to how we as individuals understand climate change and the impact of our actions.

Bret Victor’s What Can I Technologist Do about Climate Change? explained the problem well:

Imagine a concerned citizen who does a web search for “what can I do about climate change”. The top two results as I write this are the EPA’s What You Can Do and the David Suzuki Foundation’s Top 10 ways you can stop climate change. […] These are lists of proverbs. Little action items, mostly dequantified, entirely decontextualized. How significant is it to “eat wisely” and “trim your waste”? How does it compare to other sources of harm? How does it fit into the big picture? How many people would have to participate in order for there to be appreciable impact? How do you know that these aren’t token actions to assauge guilt?

Even though I wouldn’t call myself a technologist, I wholeheartedly agree with what he wrote here. It’s a vicious feedback loop.

  1. The scale of climate change prevents us from understanding it.
  2. Our inability to evaluate impact of actions prevents us from understanding climate change.

I have forced myself to start brainstorming on connecting specific actions one takes to carbon emissions of the world.

Hope I could run a third sprint this semester!