Hi. An important transition is underway, happening around the world. I've only recently started to get involved in a more serious manner, namely on a professional level. Ever since Friday for Future took place every week in 2018, the whole mess, dare I say: finally, came much more into focus. (Isn't it amazing, how just one person, Greta, has had such profound impact). The impacts of climate change are growing more pressing by the day. If we want to stand a chance to limit global warming to 1,5°C, we need to reduce our carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and arrive at net-zero emissions by 2050. This is quite a challenge and my plant based diet, renewable energy subscription and taking the bike or bus to travel is a good start (and a necessary one of course) - but in the end this private level this does not scale.
“We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it." –Barack Obama
My personal tipping point was re-reading Jonathan Safran Foers We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast that got me re-calibrating my professional focus for good (pun intended) and try and figure out in more detail what was happening in climate change and how I might be able to help: Any small improvement is great, but an even bigger difference can be achieved by applying sustainability thinking to the business world, as companies have a big impact on the climate and economies of scale come into play. And we, as designers, have a unique power and responsibility to apply sustainability-thinking during the design process. As the British Design Council stated 80% of a product’s environmental impact is determined during the design phase. And beyond idealistic considerations, the economic signs point to a prosperous future as well.
"If you don’t yet work in the industry, but have always cared about climate change as an issue, well, this is your moment to get involved."
But where to start? Where do I see potential to have real impact? Essentially it comes down to a venn diagram of What am I good at? and What work needs doing (know Ayana Elizabeth Johnson?) As digital product consultant developing software products and services for net zero (or Climate Design for short) sounds like a good first place to start.
"The great story of our lives is just beginning." –The Atlantic
The thing is, I sometimes wonder: Is this real or am I not seeing the forest for the trees? How come this topic is not one of the top issues for all governments, all companies and all people? What if I got caught in one of those end-of-the-world-bubbles? "Numerous studies, using diverse methodologies and measures of climate expertise, have quantified the scientific consensus, finding between 90% and 100% agreement on human-caused global warming with multiple studies converging on 97% agreement.
My goal with this journal is to structure and document my journey for myself through this complex topic, to help others on their path and identify potential solutions for us to have positive impact. I am doing this in public, as it is one more way for me to take my declaration to a wider audience (here is another one at Design Declares!). And it might help others to get active as well. Yes, I am looking at you!
Looking into the vast space of sustainability quickly requires to have a solid structure in place to not get overwhelmed by all the insights. One can get lost in the web of complex inter-connected environmental, biological, legal & regulatory, technical and socioeconomic systems involved. So this outlet might change shape over time. It most probably will will niche down on specific topics but what is certain: The journey will continue until this mess is under control.
And it is even more valuable if you join me on the trip!