Sustainability Research – Days 4, 5, 6 – Bigger Bites

Here is an update on my sustainability reading project! I’ve shuffled things around a bit, since things did not go according to plan. More on that later.

Here’s where I left off. In the last update, I’d skimmed all the documents I planned to read as a part of this project (or at least the ones I hadn’t read before). My plan from there was to start off with the two shorter posts on the list: the Supply Chain Transparency article and the post about COP26 initiatives.

Small Bites

So, I started off with the supply chain transparency article.

About halfway through, I got antsy. Reading a two-page article didn’t feel like doing anything.

I’m used to the research process feeling a bit more substantive. So I moseyed over to Google Scholar and found a more recent (and long) survey article on supply chain transparency for ‘background research’, and read the two articles together. I wrote one of my Research Dispatch posts about it here.

That, right there, was a bit of foreshadowing of what was ahead. I was supposedly starting with the easy part, but I had to make it difficult so it would ‘feel right’.

Next up was supposed to be the COP26 post. It was even shorter. I read about half before I started fidgeting and fussing again.

Something didn’t feel right or satisfying about it. Breaking a tiny post into even smaller bites to do every day didn’t make sense, and yet I was procrastinating too much to finish it in one session. Soooo… I went in the other direction.

The New Plan

I thought my next step was going to be to chip away at the detailed reading of the longer articles, bit by bit – maybe a few sections per day. It sounds like a sensible way of working. But it turns out I don’t enjoy that at all.

I find it more satisfying to make a bunch of progress at once. Sort of analogous to how I eat chocolate. Or strawberries. I’d rather fill my face with goodies and suffuse my tastebuds all at once than enjoy small flavorful nibbles. Anyway.

Starting easy didn’t work? Fine.

I grabbed the two longest and densest reports instead, the Emissions Gap Report (EGR) and the Aviation Action Plan (AAP).

Small sessions weren’t fun? Cool. Instead, I spent a bunch of hours reading both of them on the same day.

I finished reading and taking notes on the AAP, and I’m a little less than halfway through the EGR.

And honestly, I’m excited. Cramming a lot of information gets my brain cells firing and making connections.

And I can see a path to getting all my reading done. I just need a chunk of hours and a few pots of coffee. I don’t need to worry about getting into the right mindset every day.

Coming Up

As of now, I’m on track to finishing the ‘reading’ part of the reading project a week late. At least I’ve learned something about my research style. Always helps to know how you work, especially if it’s a bit eccentric.

The next bottleneck is sharing the results. I’m working on writing up my notes on my Research Dispatch blog over on Medium.

I’m noticing I get stuck here too because I feel pressure to ‘finish’ with the subject – say everything I have to say and share everything I learned from a given report so that I don’t ever have to revisit it. But that’s not possible, and worse, it makes for massively dense and unreadable blog posts. If people wanted that, they could just read the report too.

Instead, I’m organizing my notes and making them easy to revisit. It’s inevitable that I’ll come back to them because there’s always more to say.

Currently, I’m working on the Research Dispatch post on the AAP. I’m also splitting the EGR post into chapters and writing about each one separately. So, keep an eye out for those in the upcoming weeks.

Meanwhile, Out in the Real World

Some more interesting reports came out in the last few weeks, which I’m looking forward to digging into after I’m through with this batch.

  • SEC climate disclosure: The SEC is proposing a rule where publicly traded companies need to disclose what risks they experience due to climate change, and what their greenhouse gas emissions are. I’m more excited about the latter part, because it should do a lot to combat greenwashing (companies making themselves sound greener than they are).
  • A new report came out from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a part of the UN), titled Climate Change 2022: ImpactsAdaptation and Vulnerability.
    • Here’s what the introduction says: “This report recognizes the interdependence of climate, ecosystems and biodiversity […], and human societies […] and integrates knowledge more strongly across the natural, ecological, social and economic sciences than earlier IPCC assessments.”

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