climate change

Ethnography Taught Me to Fight Climate Change. But to Have Impact at Scale, Ethnography too Must Change   

photo of a piece of public art made of green computer components
by MELISSA GREGG, Intel In the spring of 2019 I met Klara, a fashion blogger based in Malmö with a growing reputation in sustainable design. Klara was a classic millennial of the type I had been studying for years: ambitious, anxious, confident and concerned about her future job security. In the course of a long interview about her laptop routines, she worried about depending so much on devices. She was one of several participants in different parts of the world who were cynical about tech companies’ constant push to sell new products. She had high standards for quality, but didn’t think there were enough products available that focused on sustainability. Rather than feel guilty about buying something that compromised her brand, Klara was considering making her next computer purchase second-hand. Several months later, the research complete and the presentations over, I am listening to another young woman from Sweden, Greta Thunberg. “This is all wrong,” she was saying on stage at the United Nations Climate Summit: “I shouldn’t...

Agency and the Climate Emergency

EPIC2019 Panel, Providence, Rhode Island Moderator: DAN LOCKTON, Director of the Imaginaries Lab & Chair of Design Studies, Carnegie Mellon University Panelists: MAKALÉ FABER CULLEN, Urban Soils Fellow, Anthropocene, Urban Soils Institute GYORGYI GALIK, Lead Advisor, Architecture and Built Environment Team, Design Council; Royal College of Art MIKE YOUNGBLOOD, Principal, Youngblood Group What are ethnographers’ roles in dealing with catastrophic climate crisis? Should we be exploring people’s experiences of change, trying to use our insights to help drive individual and collective action at scale through organizations, or helping civil society deal with the consequences? In this diverse set of presentations, panelists share ethnographic and design approaches to climate that engage communities, products, policy, artists, activists, and more. They examine tensions, responsibilities, and value that ethnographic practice can bring to one of the biggest issues for our collective futures....

What Is Going on with the Weather? Reflections on Gaps Between Data and Experience

by HANNAH KNOX, University College London If it’s summer in your part of the world (or even if it’s winter), you’ve probably been feeling the heat. On 5 July, Ouargla, Algeria recorded 51.3°C (124.3°F), the highest temperature ever reported in Africa. A few days later, Areni, Armenia hit a record 42.6°C (108.7°F), and on 17 July, Badufuss in Norway topped its charts at 33.5°C (92.3°F). Perhaps most disturbing were reports of people collapsing in the fields in Japan, where high humidity exacerbated record-breaking temperatures of over 40°C (104°F). Japan declared a natural disaster, a designation normally reserved for earthquakes and tsunamis.1 “Something is going on” – people feel – “but what?” Of course, climate scientists have been beating their drums for decades, pushing out papers, reports, and campaigns about the risks of anthropogenic climate change. But dramatic and even deadly weather events are, it turns out, rather effective at opening opportunities for speaking about climate change across...