Week 1 — Topic Areas

After getting to know each other’s working styles goals for the project, we each discussed topic areas related to decarbonization that interested us. These areas included:

  • The unseen environmental impact of AI
  • The destructive mining for metals used in electronic devices
  • Sustainable food systems
  • Personal cap and trade policies — such as those used in India
  • Shifting toward less harmful refrigerants in household appliances
  • More sustainable/recyclable scientific equipment
  • Addressing climate anxiety
  • Accelerating adoption of electric appliances
  • Improving knowledge around electric appliances versus gas powered ones
  • Assisting with public action on civic sustainability goals

With these topic areas enumerated, we discussed as a group and settled on four that interested us all. We each selected on topic to explore further and agreed to independently research that area.

  • Illustrating the climate impact of IoT devices (Devika)
  • Personal cap and trade policies (Kate)
  • Reducing climate anxiety (Jamie)
  • Accelerating adoption of electronic appliances (Jonah)

Going into class on Monday, we each prepared an overview of our chosen topic area to present to one another. An image of these slides is below.

Following these short presentation of our research findings we began looking for areas of similarity and difference in our areas of interest. We quickly realized that we were more interested in individual or small-group decision-making than larger scale decisions at the municipal, state, or national level. Another area of shared interest was the investigating the hidden environmental impact of personal technologies, such as smart home devices. We thought it might be interesting to explore how these devices have environmental impact that stretches far beyond the role they play in our home.

We were also all intrigued by the idea of climate anxiety. Since a serious level of climate change is an inevitably at this point, how might our design help people manage feelings of depression and fatalism around decarbonization? Many people around the world are also contending with other forms of emotional distress from the lived experience of a climate disaster. Any design for the future needs to contend with feelings of climate anxiety and/or trauma from destructive climate events. This struck us as a potential transversal theme in our project, a theme that could be present in all of our work.

Speaking with Peter helped us to settle on the idea of looking at the home as our point of intervention, and the social rituals that surround it. Instead of focusing on a technological or policy change that will accelerate us on the path to decarbonization, we wanted to look at the social rituals that occur at home, and that we all take part in: eating, sleeping, cleaning, relaxing, socializing etc. How might we target these rituals in a way that (1) emphasizes emotional wellness in a changing climate.; and (2) encourages small behavioral toward more sustainability, conservation, and a reduced carbon-footprint.

Going into the territory mapping process, we want to focus on these rituals that surround home life and who are the main actors, outside stakeholders, and dominant interests are. We anticipate that it may be more difficult to create a territory map when customs in the home can differ on a case-by-case basis, but we nonetheless look forward to the challenge.

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