Blog Days 4 and 5

So, Monday night I got the parentals, both former hacks, to proof read an article about the interesting comments of a renewables engineer. They did this with aplomb, and I sent the thing off.
Tuesday 4th

Walked around the park again (5 laps, this time with three logs in the backpack) and then got on with more ‘grunt’ work on the thesis.  Good news then followed – the editor of reneweconomy said yes to running the piece.  Kept gruntworking on the thesis, then cycled in to meet my very smart and kind friend Heather Smith.  A good chinwag ensued about the state of play with renewables in South Australia.  Anyone who tells you that I then went to the Oxfam bookshop on Hutt Street and bought, for two bucks in toto the following

  • Vance Palmer, National Portraits: 25 Australian Lives
  • Nevil Shute, Requiem for a Wren
  • Frank Hardy, But the Dead are Many
  • Blanche d’Alpuget, Turtle Beach
  • Fred Pearce, Green Warriors

And, for $3.50, Best Australian Political Writing 09

is making an outrageous allegation, as the wife used to say.

Then I got on a train. Not quite the right train, it turned out, and thus had some extra cycling and navigating of suburban cul-de-sacs to do, before arriving at the site of an old car factory which is being repurposed (palimpsests, eh?) for the next economy.  An hour and a half of thesis reading followed by a two-part tour.  The building was 11 hectares, now reduced to 8.  There will be mixed used, student accommodation, better transport links etc.  The tour guide was understandably cagey on when the site might finally have 6,000 employees, but that’s the (aspirational) target.  The other tour guide, showing us around the other half of the building was much more blunt, and pointed out a series of decisions/actions which undercut the general green patina.

The point of the evening though was the hosting of a ‘conversation’ about sustainable buildings and the circular economy.  Hmmm.  If you only schedule an hour, then having a late start, a long lead in and then five (rather than the three advertised) speakers, means that there ain’t gonna be much conversation, now is there?

I stuck my hand up first, because I had to be on the (last) train out at 7.10.  A two header, offering speakers the chance to pick either the easy or hard one.  Easy one – “how is circular economy anything new, compared to typical make-do and mend, traditional ‘conserver’ economies.”  Hard one- “where is the sense of urgency, I heard nothing about changing the rules of the game. We’ve lost the reef, the arctic, the Antarctic is going…”

One chap chose the hard one and said yes, economic growth can’t continue.  Another person answered a totally different question. The author of a report on the Circular Economy went for the hard one and the answer is worth relating and commenting on.  In precis – yes, accepting the scale of the problem.  But Rachel Carson predicted doom, Ozone people predicted doom, didn’t happen. Therefore we need to work ‘with’ business to get anything done, can’t go around scaring people.

Hmm.  Actually, Carson offered possibilities, then action followed. Ditto on Ozone- if we had kept spewing CFCs up, then there would have been real trouble.  But beyond this historical inaccuracy, there is the point that it cuts both ways. “We” have been sucking up to business since the 70s, and where has it got us other  than [redacted on legal advice].  Where is the step change? Where is the game changing? Because on current trajectories, we are toast.

So, had to walk out during the  answer from a panellist, which was awkward, but there’s a podcast apparently… Train then cycle home, more grunt work.

Weds 5th

Walk around park again, scribbling on my thesis – first empirical chapter.  Then work at home.  Then went to this event in the city centre.  It was rather good. Home via shops (there’s only so long you can use an airline provided toothbrush).  Was supposed to be going to a community energy event with Heather, but I stuffed up the address, she couldn’t find me, so had to head on.  Pretty groggy though (a bit of jetlag) and probably good I wasn’t there (snoring in the front row a bad look).  So, a bit more grunt work on the thesis, and to bed…

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