Between writers: The importance of persistence

— Ngoc Dinh

We sat over brunch one Saturday morning for a chat about what we did on the blog this year, and why we should consistently continue the work.

Ngoc (N): I think throughout our second year running the blog, the climate has shifted slightly from a more informative approach to more opinion articles. What do you think?

Anh (A): That seems natural to me. Initially, we wrote down what we learned on the subject of climate change and biodiversity loss, and based on that we developed our opinions afterwards. 

N: Regarding the Future Generations series, our major series this year, are you happy about it?

A: Yes, I’m pretty happy since I got to have interesting discussions with many people on our common interests (climate change, biodiversity loss…). This also aligns with one of my activities at work. In April 2022, I co-created a podcast called “Draw me a desirable future” in which we interviewed experts and industrial players on their vision for a more desirable future for the next generations. These are two different platforms, with different formats (one is written interviews and the other a podcast), but the core idea is quite similar. 

N: I also appreciate the chance to discuss this topic with other people. We see more perspectives from different sectors, covering different aspects and creating a more diverse atmosphere for the blog. What are some topics that you would like to address next? 

A: Definitely biodiversity. This has finally become a big topic this year. COP15 is happening in Montreal while we talk, and COP27 also emphasized the urgency and importance of fighting against biodiversity loss, concluding that protecting biodiversity is protecting the Paris Agreement. The questions I would like to examine next will be: what are the roles of industries and companies in this? What are the recommendations for policy-makers? etc.

N: We have published 40 articles, what now? 

A: The most important thing for me is maintaining this engagement level. Let’s say a beginning runner can run for 5 kilometres on the first day. His goal for the next day is not to run 10 kilometres – but to keep running for 5 kilometres every day until it becomes his second nature, then moving on. Likewise, I want to keep writing 20 articles per year and be proud of each piece.

N: If you are a reader of Waste is a Failure of Design, what would be the one key takeaway from the blog? 

A: That there are many points of view regarding the topic of environment and sustainability. There are no entirely right or wrong ones, it is not so binary. It is important to keep our minds open to suggestions and debates. 

N: When we started, we would like to inform more people of less-waste, sustainable models that might not be much discussed or popular enough. I think we continued to do that this year, through opinion pieces in which we talk to people who are actually working on such models. In the far future, I hope we keep heading towards these two goals. 

You also mentioned previously that you wanted people to talk about these matters (climate change and biodiversity loss) more. What do you mean by “talk”, how should it be talked about, and by whom? 

A: I don’t know about other countries, but now if you watch French television, say, the TF1 channel, you can see that we talk daily about inflation, purchasing power, unemployment etc. All of those economic matters are important, but there are more long-term problems that affect the life and livelihoods of people that we never seem to discuss enough. We don’t talk enough about how crop yields decrease yearly due to rising global temperatures. We don’t talk about overfishing: how the whole marine ecosystem is being destroyed on a daily basis, and how millions of people living along the coast of France will be affected. What I mean by “talking more” is simply this: an additional 5-minute section on the news, in mainstream media, on such matters.

Of course, I am aware that this is easier said than done, since climate change is a very technical, complicated and global matter, and biodiversity loss is complex and local (You cannot assess the diversity level of an ecosystem on a global scale; you can only assess a region or a country). As for journalists and policymakers of our generation and those that come before, they do not receive (enough or at all) training to understand such complex problems. If you do not understand a problem, it is natural that you tend not to talk about it. 

N: This leads us to another point: the role of education in climate change. I think it is also a global matter that we can’t just briefly cover in a chat, but to talk about one thing about education on climate change, what should be done immediately? 

A: Our generations were not taught much at school about environmental issues since it was not regarded as such an urgent problem back then (10-15 years ago). But for the younger generations, for example, my nieces and nephews of 2 to 10 years old, stories about climate change and pollution have become evident and much talked about. Those environmental problems, unfortunately, have become norms that they grow up with. 

Thus, I think what’s urgent now is that people of our generation and those that came before, who are currently responsible for making policies and in charge of businesses, need to be trained on these matters. For example, in June 2022, French newly-elected or re-elected ministers took a training course on climate change with 35 renowned experts. 

N: Yes, I agree that policymakers must be the most well-informed on the issues. In general, we now have a lot of educational resources in schools, informal training programmes…

Back to the point of climate change on mass media, this is the era of social media. What do you think about the presence of information about climate change and biodiversity loss on this platform? 

A: To me, social media is a very personal space, in which we stay in our own bubble. Personally in my bubble, I see a lot of cool, informative content, but I cannot speak for others.

N: Well we can see that content on social media is quickly spread and easy to access. But the information is personalised based on algorithms, so there is a possibility that people will not see information about matters out of their interest. 

All in all, each medium has its blind spot. The idea is to continue to spread well-checked information on a variety of platforms so that these existential issues are accessible to everyone. 

A: Indeed. Hence the existence of Waste is a Failure of Design! 🙂

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