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Medium Essay Archive: June 2022 – March 2023
Multiproject Update for Q3.5 of 2022
Once again, the third quarter blends into the fourth, and my projects have been inching along chaotically. I’ve been behind on updates, so I will share the outputs I’ve hoarded these past few months in bits and pieces from now.
Here are some topics that have been on my mind these past few months.
US Midterm Elections
Participating in election campaigns is a natural extension to environmental advocacy in my opinion, since politics has become increasingly entwined with environmental action. It’s natural that politicians would disagree on what environmental actions the government should take, but in the US, climate change is politicized far beyond that.
The environmental groups I participate in all pivoted to ‘getting out the vote’ (GOTV) efforts to encourage climate-conscious voters to go to the polls this midterm. If you’ve been following the election news, you know it’s been an existential-for-democracy nail-biter, and women and young voters stepped up to the quest. We environmentalists are pretty relieved with the results.
So the lead-up was quite a frenzy for me, writing postcards, phone-banking, making media, and trying to freak out as productively as possible.
I took a much-needed vacation to Scotland and Ireland to visit friends.
I returned refreshed and with plenty of sketches and vacation photographs to make art from. I’m excited to dust off the inks! My library of landscape references was running low.
Organizing my research
For a while now, my research and other notes have been exploding out of my organization systems. I mainly relied on indexes (BuJo style) at the beginning of my notebooks and the occasional spreadsheet to track the writing I produced.
Recently, I’ve gotten on the ‘second brain’ train. (If you haven’t heard, the book Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte has been taking nerd circles by storm. It’s a book about note-taking, and it was very relevant to my situation.)
I made an organization system in an environment called Obsidian. The main advantage of Obsidian is it enables you to link notes together and manages the links when you move or rename files. There’s other handy functionality from plug-ins and add-ons.
So far, I’ve added about 800 notes about various topics in the last few months, and organized them into a loose structure. I think I’ve finally found a system that can keep up with the bouncing-jumping-skipping way that I work.
I think of it as an extension of my notebook index. I effectively made a map to my notes across all notebooks, hard drives, and cloud accounts, so I can cross-reference them.
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So that’s what being going on under the surface! As for the actual projects, I will summarize briefly and post more details soon.
- Research quest: My advocacy goal was to have an op ed accepted (continuing to build on the foundation of comments and letters to the editor). I’ve gotten in the swing of writing and submitting them, with no luck so far. As for reading and blogging, I have some updates to share soon. [Update: Redondo Beach Climate Action]
- Novel: I’ve consolidated my manuscript, and there’s a chunk of editing to do. Somehow, every winter I get a burst of writing productivity [Update: the plan for December]. I’m hoping the pattern will hold in the months ahead! I have some concept art to share as well.
- Art: I’ve been working in digital illustration mostly! Pictures (and a bit of video) coming soon! [Update: picture]
So, there it is. More of a trailer than an actual update, but I’m glad to be back to sharing some writing and art!
Multiproject Update: End of Q2 and Start of Q3 of 2022.
I last made a multiproject update post here, listing my goals for Q2.
I gave myself two extra weeks after Q2 officially ended, because the end of the month was chaotic-good. I went to Portland for the WDS conference in late June, and I had a huge dip in productivity right before it (because I hadn’t traveled in a while and was stressed) and a huge boost in productivity right afterward (because Portland is awesome). When July rolled around, I was still in the thick of my projects and didn’t want to stop work abruptly.
Now that my extended quarter has ended, here is the latest on my big projects:
My reading line up for the quarter included a few big reports:
- The SEC’s proposed climate disclosure rule (March 2022)
- New IPCC report AR6, from three working groups – 1, 2, and 3 (2021-2022). Especially prioritizing Working Group 3, which focuses on Mitigation.
- October 2021 report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) about Curtailing Methane Emissions from Fossil Fuel Operations.
- FTC 2012 Green Guide
Of these, I was able to skim all of them (excluding the working groups 1 and 2 of the IPCC report).
I spent a bunch of time on the SEC climate disclosure because I wanted to write a public comment in support of the rule.
When government agencies propose new rule, they often open a public comment period when we, the public, can share our views on it. They post all the comments they receive publicly on their website.
I’d never done this before, so I followed the guidelines from the Public Comment Project, and squeaked my email in just before their extended deadline of June 17th. I was worried I had bungled the submission because I didn’t see my comment on their public comments page, and I still might have, but according to this article it typically takes a month or two before the comments are posted. So I’ll be keeping my eye on that page to see if I did it right. I definitely want to keep doing these in the future, because it’s an effective way to influence climate policy. (If you want to read my comment, I’ve appended it at the end of this post!)
For the other three reports, I’m mostly stashing them away as references for future blogging. I’m still formulating what I want to say about them. I’m sure the FTC Green Guide will feature heavily in a planned deep dive into the subject of greenwashing.
The rest of my research lineup consisted of:
- UNEP Six Sector Solution
- Inconspicuous Consumption by Tatiana Schlossberg
- Speed and Scale by John Doerr
- Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- Web Survey (of useful websites for climate and sustainability data)
I mades some good headway into the first and last of these, and they will fit into a YouTube series I’m working on. So, once more, I’m stashing them away for when I need them. The middle three are books, and unfortunately, I didn’t get to them at all. I’m looking forward to some cozy reading time, so I’m rolling those into this quarter.
In the two research quests I’ve done so far, I organized the quest by the reports. I read each as thoroughly as I could and blogged about them. This was a pretty good way of working. I wanted to be thorough and feel like I knew what I was talking about. But it was also kind of a slow and lumbering process.
Going forward, I might shake up the research quest format a bit, so I can respond more quickly to current events. More on that soon.
YA fantasy novel
In the fiction world, I had two goals. One was to finish the ‘long draft’ of my YA fantasy novel by pasting into the main manuscript scenes that I’d written in various note-taking apps. I’m about halfway through this task, so I might give myself another couple of days to get this done before I set myself a new goal.
My second goal was to finish sharing my novel’s (real-world) backstory, so that you’d be all caught up when I started sharing real-time writing updates. I did manage to catch up to the start of this year by adding two new installments to the story. One more installment should get us to the present day.
Art and Painting
This is the one category where I crushed my goals, which were:
- To upload my recent watercolors and vector art into galleries in my Painting category.
- To make vector drawings of all the plants (and fruit and vegetables) in my house.
The Painting category of this blog is all the way up-to-date, and the vector drawings of plants are here, where you can download them in the form of a PDF booklet if you like. And you can watch the ‘making-of’ videos here, if you like drawing videos.
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It’s been an intense quarter and a very, very mixed bag. I feel good about my progress, but also a need to adapt how I work, because there is a need for rapid action in preparation for the US midterm election.
How about you? Did you have any projects planned for last quarter, and do you have any planned for this one?
The comment I submitted to the SEC (A few years ago, I used to sound this formal in my writing all the time! Can you imagine?):
To whom it may concern,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors.
I am Deepti Kannapan, an aerospace engineer with an Engineering Design background. I have a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
I strongly support this new rule, and welcome the prospect of clearer and more standardized climate-related information from companies whose disclosures have, thus far, been opaque and overly self-congratulatory.
I consider climate risk to be related to a measure of a registrant’s unused opportunities for GHG mitigation. For example, a company in a relatively easy-to-decarbonize industry that fails to take decarbonization efforts may face more customer backlash (and risk) than a company in a hard-to-decarbonize industry that makes use of best available practices. (Even though the latter company may have higher emissions overall.)
I believe the proposed disclosures will provide useful information for making those comparisons. However, I have two comments:
1. Regarding the Request for Comment #111, I think GHG intensity should be specified per unit of production, broken out by product category. I would consider a company with higher GHG intensity (than its peer companies) in a particular product category to have higher risk.
For example, for a company that produces both physical products and web services, I would compare its GHG intensity for physical products with other companies that produce those products, and compare its GHG intensity for web products with other web companies.
Comparing the aggregate GHG intensity across all product categories may not accurately reflect which company has more unused opportunities for GHG mitigation, since products and industries vary widely in their difficulty to decarbonize.
2. In addition to GHG intensity, I would like to know how dependent a registrant’s business model is on high sales volumes and wasteful design practices like planned obsolescence. A company that produces products with shorter life cycles and (resultant) higher sales volumes than its competition (such as ‘fast fashion’ or cheap electronic products) has more unused opportunities for GHG mitigation, even if its GHG intensity may be lower.
However, I would consider this company to have higher climate risk, since its business model may not be viable under future regulation or market pressure to pivot to more durable products. For this reason, I would suggest that a measure of product durability be added to the disclosure.
Please see below for relevant literature.
M.S. Mechanical Engineering, UC Santa Barbara,
B. Tech and M. Tech Engineering Design, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
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Bibliography:– Rivera, Julio L., and Amrine Lallmahomed. “Environmental implications of planned obsolescence and product lifetime: a literature review.” International Journal of Sustainable Engineering 9.2 (2016): 119-129.
– Peters, Greg, Mengyu Li, and Manfred Lenzen. “The need to decelerate fast fashion in a hot climate-A global sustainability perspective on the garment industry.” Journal of cleaner production 295 (2021): 126390.