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Why We Argue About Climate Change, challenges conventional thinking on the power of disruptive technology

11 Sep 2013

The NSW Treasurer, Mike Baird, has launched a new book by Business School lecturer, Eric Knight. Titled Why We Argue About Climate Change, it has been described as "a challenging and exciting" new way of thinking about the most divisive issue in politics today.

Why We Argue About Climate Change, Dr Knight's second book, tackles the obstacles to developing and delivering new technological inventions to market.

"Technology is not only radically changing private enterprise┬┐┬┐ from media, mobile communication, and online retail," Dr Knight said at the launch. "It is also empowering individuals to exercise more choice over basic public services like education, health care, and energy."

Dr Knight is the Business School's most recent hire as Senior Lecturer in Innovation and Management. A Rhodes Scholar, he advised ASX100 companies across the economy in mining, retail, healthcare and media in his previous role at the Boston Consulting Group.

His latest book draws on his consulting experience and provides insights into a new program of work he is developing through the Business School in innovation, management, new business builds and product design thinking.

"More than ever before, we need to empower a generation of young Australians to start their own businesses." Dr Knight said. "In particular, new digital businesses will help us diversify our industrial base, and let Australian entrepreneurs play on the world's stage in a big way."

Knight points to digital technology as a transformative way of positively disrupting both the private and public sectors. He gives the example of the Ambient Orb: a desktop device which glows red during high demand times in the electricity grid, and glows green at low demand times.

By using simple data visualisation as a way of projecting information to homes and offices, it shapes how people interact with basic services with the result of dramatically shifting the demand curve for energy.

"Using digital to surface information brings more transparency to public services. That transparency drives accountability and, in turn, better effectiveness. We don't just want the Ambient Orb of energy. We want the Ambient Orb of healthcare, the Ambient Orb of education and so on," he said.

Dr Knight's first book, Reframe: how we solve the world's trickiest problems, was greeted with high praise by critics. "Knight is an accomplished writer, not just logical and lucid but also consistently interesting and challenging," said Melbourne's Age newspaper, while Sydney's Sun Herald described the book as, "A lucid, wide-ranging argument for counter-intuitive thinking."

"An original and vital contribution to understanding politics," said Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist.

Prominent public figure and businessman, David Gonski, concluded that, "Not only is it well written and entertaining, but Reframe turns conventional thinking on its head and leaves one asking, what if?"

Why We Argue About Climate Change has been published by Black Inc as part of a series dedicated to big, ground-breaking ideas. Other authors include Australian politicians, academics, and policymakers such as Andrew Leigh MP and Professor Ross Garnaut.

Dr Knight's latest work can be purchased online at Black Inc Publishing and at bookstores.