Three ideas for bearing witness to the climate emergency

Image showing Boscaslte harbour, which experienced in 2004 the most extreme weather event ever seen in the UK, according to HR Wallingford.

A year on from declarations of climate emergency in the construction industry I am looking for ways to carry on emphasising the scale of the problem and the scale of the action we need to take. I feel that behind these bold declarations of emergency we are no closer to seeing the system-wide changes that we need and are instead focusing on smaller details.

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#16 Bengt Cousins-Jenvey – How to save a million tonnes of carbon – shownotes

Bengt Cousins-Jenvey podcast - how to save a million tonnes of carbon

Bengt is a consultant and ‘re-designer’, working in sustainability and circular design in the built environment. This year we are working together to create training in response to the climate emergency. In this interview I ask Bengt about his big question: what single thing can you do to save a million tonnes of carbon. Exploring this question we get into:

  • High-level strategies for accounting for carbon that help avoid getting stuck in the detail.
  • Using culture-change models to guide organisations as they respond to declaring a climate emergency.
  • Thinking frameworks that help consultants engage with the businesses they are supporting.

Listen on Apple Podcasts , Sticher or by download here

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The Lighthouse: film review + engineering notes

Eiffel Over review of film The Lighhouse

I just went to see The Lighthouse, an enjoyably gothic story of the descent into madness of two lighthouse keepers. I loved the visual design of this film – black and white and square, with high-contrast shots of machinary and bleak landscapes. And there is a haunting, almost mechanical soundtrack, which recalls for me Johnny Greenwood’s soundtrack for There Will Be Blood.

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In praise of Aix-en-Provence TGV

I am speeding north on a train from Aix-en-Provence TGV and reflecting on what it is I like so much about this station. It sits on the southern section of the high-speed line from Paris to Marseilles. The original line built in the 1970s went as far as Lyon. In the 1990s, as part of President Mitterand’s ‘grand projets’ the line way extended to the Marseille.

The extension feels like an unapologeticly bold statement of the importance of high-speed rail. All the stations and many of the bridges have a monumental quality to them. No doubt the line was built with huge controversy – it seems to pay little reverence to the villages and countrysides it blasts through other than to say this is a piece of national infrastructure to be proud of.

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On traffic

Drivers, please don’t complain about the traffic: you are the traffic

Broadbent, O. (2019). Internal monologue everytime I hear a driver complain about the traffic. Bristol.

A reminder about the imminent climate catastrophe and how we should educate engineers to prepare for it

[The following text is adapted from the after-dinner speech I gave at the University of Edinburgh Engineering Faculty’s away day. It was originally titled ‘How problem-based learning can save the world and make you happy too’. But I have renamed it ‘A reminder about the imminent climate catastrophe and how we should educate engineers to prepare for it’]

Tonight’s engagement is my first since I took a summer sabbatical, which I planned to use to work on a book. Those plans changed in my first week away when I got involved in the Extinction Rebellion summer uprising in Bristol. That experience of direct action and the reaction it caused prompted me to read much more about climate breakdown, models for political change, the implications of societal collapse, the role of engineers to help minimise impacts and deal with upheaval in our own communities and the role of the people that teach engineers.

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