Action and research as a double step
Under the tree I am in the final stages editing my PhD. I’d started it from a deep dissatisfaction about my own and our society’s assumptions. There are many such pieces but an obvious one is ‘we always act in our own financial interests’. When it comes to climate change, and many other things, there’s abundant evidence we don’t. That’s true individually as well as collectively—for you and I as well as businesses.
These two concepts, action and research are intertwined and interdependent
I got into my doctoral research for more effective action. The profound conundrums I was encountering in my work and life defied the ways in which I could make sense of the world.
One example. I was part of a winning bid, in an Australian national competition, to deliver the Adelaide Solar City. A part of this was helping businesses to save money, increase profits and cut power use. With millions of dollars of funding to do this a lot of industrial outreach was underway.
At one site it’s a simple offer. It is clear straightforward measures are capable of reducing power use by $30k a month. Those measures and our subsidized help to implement them and work out the details will cost $90k. The business has more than enough resources to undertake the work yet we could not persuade them. Over a quarter of a million dollars could have been banked within a year.
This is not an isolated example. Moreover, the same is true for research. We have powerful knowledge in many areas. I helped a major multinational corporation. Its data center manager had undertaken a thorough review, analysis and systematic assessment to avoid substantial extra investment in power lines. Computers need electricity, produce heat and require cooling. The more there is of each of those the larger the supply infrastructure needs to be. Break the cycle and thousands of dollars of extra substations and power lines can be offset.
It was a beautiful business case with deep analysis. The whole effort went nowhere.