Here are a few things I think are worth sharing:
Challenger: The Final Flight (Netflix 4-part docuseries, 2020)
This mini-doc is an in-depth account of the circumstances that led to the Challenger disaster in 1986. For me, it proved a helpful way to revisit the disaster for a third time and, importantly, via a slightly different lens. The first time I studied the Challenger was in college as an engineering student and we focused on the fact that the O-ring design was carried over from the Apollo program without a proper re-design specific to the Space Shuttle. So, effectively, it was a suboptimal barrier that was doomed to fail eventually, given the shear forces, temperature extremes, and nature of the solid fuel. The second time I studied the Challenger was when I worked at the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and there it was through the lens of culture and the obligation to dissent. The mid-level engineers at Morton Thiokol, the company that built the solid rocket boosters, had very clear concerns about the exact situation that eventually unfolded–a very cold weather launch–yet their concerns were overruled by some in senior management, especially at NASA, right up to the day of the fateful voyage. And yet here in this documentary, I was able to study this tragic story for a third time. While this documentary also focused on the latter point (the former point was not mentioned, actually), they highlighted something I had not understood before, a third factor that doomed the Challenger: political pressure and the unintended consequences it can have.
(Here’s a good review of the docuseries from The Ringer.)
Addressing climate change in a post-pandemic world (McKinsey Quarterly, April 7th, 2020)
Until I read this article I had not really seen the ways in which studying COVID (or other pandemics) could offer a lens through which we could also think about climate change. And while we’re on that topic, my interest in understanding both climate science and its implications on both mitigated and unmitigated life is huge. What I want to do is what I always do on topics I need to learn more on—bring it to the podcast. For this topic, I want to have several viewpoints. First, I want two views on the projections of where the climate will be without mitigation and (more importantly) what the implications will be. Second, I would like to have two discussions with people offering different views for the best strategy to mitigate. Suggestions greatly appreciated.