Sunday Brunch: the binary chasm
(Image by geralt on Pixabay)

Sunday Brunch: the binary chasm

Hydrogen is good.
Hydrogen economy
is good for all things.

Hydrogen is bad.
Dangerous. Inefficient.
It's bad for all things.


Back in February Steven wrote a Deep Dive highlighting how the ESG and sustainability debate has been oversimplified to the point where organisations have inadvertently over-promised and under-delivered πŸ‘‡πŸΎ

The ESG debate is becoming to simplistic
W have oversimplified the sustainability & ESG finance debate to the point where we have inadvertently over promised (& under delivered).

Both Steven and I have spent much of our careers trying to make the complex real world simpler and more understandable.

In Steven's case it was first in earthquake engineering and then in the finance world trying to reduce complicated investment cases down to the few really important things that we needed to understand.

At Morgan Stanley as a sector specialist covering the global media and technology sectors, and then later running a quantitative team, I had to convey sometimes complex topics in a clear and concise way such that my clients (both internal and external) understood the topic just enough to make decisions appropriate for their role.

It's been drummed into all of us over the years that simple is best, that it helps people understand what it is you are trying to get across. Hence the frequent requirement that the pitch has to 'fit on one page', the 'three bullet point' rule, and the 'can you explain the investment case in under 1 minute?' axiom in finance.

We still think that is true but even so find ourselves saying that we need to make things a bit more complicated. Why?

Arguments have become binary.

This seems to be especially true in sustainability. You either have this viewpoint or that viewpoint. You either think X is good or X is bad. You are my friend or my enemy. How have we ended up here?

Here are my three bullet points:

  • There is more content than individuals can manage - we're gonna need more Tom Cruises.
  • Attention spans have been forced increasingly shorter - the squeeze from the 'digital printing press'.
  • Nuance has been discarded in favour of absolutes - the binary chasm.

Let's start with the inexorable growth in content generation.

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We're gonna need more Tom Cruises

We all know that modern technology has enabled us to create vast amounts of content. But just how much? I own an iPhone 12 mini with 64GB memory.

How many of my phones do you think you would need to store all of the content produced on average globally in just one day?

Would you believe it’s 4 billion. 4 billion of my iPhones to store the content produced in just one day.

If you stacked those phones flat against each other like books on a book shelf, they would stretch 29,715 km. That is far enough to go from London to Auckland to Hong Kong to Seoul and still have more than 160 km to spare.

At the time of writing I am looking forward to seeing the latest Mission Impossible film (I am a fan of the franchise) at the cinema staring Tom Cruise. He is reportedly 1.72 metres tall. So you would need almost 17.5 million Tom Cruises lying head-to-toe to complete the same journey. That's a Netherlands worth of Tom Cruises!

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