Michael Boeke

Embarking on My Own Climate journey

19 Oct 2022 by Michael Boeke

I have been aware of climate change and energy issues since childhood, but until recently, it always seemed like a problem for someone else to solve.

My father was deeply affected by the energy crisis of the '70s, and being conscientious about energy use was part of our family life. He was always doing projects like installing insulation in our house and turning down the thermostat. Put on some socks if you're cold!

Sometimes, this felt pretty tedious. Dad would make me line up all the refrigerated items when cleaning up from dinner, so I would only have to open the refrigerator once and thus conserve a little energy. Other times were a lot of fun. We built a solar cooker in his basement workshop and roasted hot dogs on the playground for my 4th-grade class.

These days, I have children of my own. While I certainly cared about environmental issues before I became a parent, there is nothing that brings your values into focus like viewing them through your children's eyes. So, in the last few years, I've become keenly aware of the world my kids will inherit. The energy crisis is history, but the climate crisis looms over their future. Now I'm the dad who turns down the thermostat and yells at the rest of the family to put some socks on (admittedly, I still open the fridge a lot.)

A wooden foot bridge extending into a redwood forest in California's Big Sur. The trees reach high into the air where patches of sky shine through.

My father was a teacher at our local community college, but he found a way to bring his passion for energy to his professional life by creating a course called Energy & Society. He also had a side-hustle consulting with businesses to help them save money by reducing their energy usage.

My own career designing, developing, and managing digital products has been more rewarding than I ever would have imagined as a student. However, I never saw how my professional skills could be applied to solving climate problems. After all, I am not a scientist, engineer, or policy expert. Besides, other people have been making progress on electric cars and solar power without my help, right?

Well...despite our fantastic progress in those areas, it turns out we are still far behind where we need to be in the fight against climate change. Also, I'm discovering that digital technology has a role to play and that most "hard" climate technologies also have a software component. Maybe this is my problem to solve (or at least work on) after all?

So, I'm taking another cue from my dad and exploring how to apply my professional skills to help address the climate crisis, including:

You could say I'm embarking on my own climate journey (to borrow a phrase from Jason Jacobs' influential podcast.) This is unfamiliar territory, and I am deep in learning mode. I've been reading everything I can on climate change, listening to experts on podcasts like Catalyst, and networking with the passionate members of the MCJ Collective. I'm going to chronicle my journey here in the hopes that it might be helpful to others on a similar path.

If you are on a similar journey, are already working in climate tech, or know of a project where I could apply my skills, let's connect! Feel free to shoot me an email or find me on LinkedIn.

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