—Systemic change begins with personal transformation—

482: Florida’s Condo Collapse, Doom Psychology, and Our Environment

2021-07-01

Here is the article prompting this episode: Majority of Florida condo board quit in 2019 as squabbling residents dragged out plans for repairs Here are the notes I read from: Read article about collapse and will read some parts. Everyone has long viewed Titanic as metaphor for man’s hubris over nature. But long enough ago we dismiss. Scale is off. We believe we’re passed those problems from another age. Listen to these quotes. Opening: “The president of the board of the Florida condominium that collapsed last week resigned in 2019, partly in frustration over what she saw as the sluggish response to an engineer’s report that identified major structural damage the previous year.” “Despite increasingly dire warnings from the board, many condo owners balked at paying for the extensive improvements, which ballooned in price from about $9 million to more than $15 million over the past three years as the building continued to deteriorate” Imagine someone had said lives were at stake. People would have rolled their eyes at the blatant attempt to overdramatize. People miss from the story of the boy who cried wolf that the wolf came. In our case, imagine the wolf came every time yet the townspeople ignored its damage. The response to pandemics fueled by our overpopulation, overtraveling, factory farming, and encroaching on wildlife territory in cases like ebola with returning to normal—that is, the culture that created it. Articles on record temperatures in Canada aren’t followed up by stopping what everyone knows is causing the problem. “The engineer, Frank P. Morabito, found “major structural damage” to a concrete slab below the pool deck, caused by a flaw that limited water drainage, according to the 2018 review” “A resident told The Post that minutes before Champlain Towers South came down, she noticed that a section of the pool deck and a street-level parking area had collapsed into the parking garage below. Experts have said the collapse appeared to involve a failure at the lowest levels of the building or in the parking garage beneath it.” As recently as April, residents appeared divided over the repairs — with dozens signing a letter that questioned the details of the proposed spending and asked the board to consider a lower assessment. “We cannot afford an assessment that doubles the amount of the maintenance dues currently being paid,” “But what may have looked to Prieto like a running start soon became a slow walk.” ““A lot of this work could have been done or planned for in years gone by. But this is where we are now,” current board president Joan Wodnicki told condo owners in a letter on April 9, 2021, which warned damage to the structure's concrete support system was accelerating.” “Her warnings to homeowners about the urgent need for repairs had gone on for months. “I want you to know that the numbers we are hearing so far are much higher than the original Morabito estimate,” she wrote on Oct. 23, 2020. “However, the project is also much larger . . . The concrete damage is more extensive than it was when first looked at in 2018, and prices have gone up.”” “The pandemic appeared to exacerbate tensions in the building. A March 2020 note to homeowners said the board had adopted a new rule: “No Owner, resident or guest may be verbally or physically abusive or otherwise engage in conduct that is offensive, threatening or harassing to any other Owner, resident or guest.”” Beyond metaphor. Clear problem, well-understood, easily resolved. Expensive, yes, but not compared to destruction and loss of large fraction of population. Instead of acting, squabbling. Maybe you believe, in the face of temperatures breaking records every year, plastic choking oceans, and you’ve read the headlines, that our behavior isn’t responsible. In that case, via con dios. There’s no point in our talking. But if you have the slightest inkling that our behavior, driven by our role models, beliefs, stories, images, systems, and so on, our culture has to change to avert collapse including the deaths of a large part of our population, like billions of people, which will affect you and people you care about, do the parallels with this collapse and death of a large fraction of the population suggest that your resistance to acting with everything you’ve got may be slowing things more than you think? I don’t say act individually and then stop. Act and then use what you learn to lead others. Their building problem is like our environment problem. The science is clear. We lack leadership. Leaders act, not point fingers. Only by acting themselves can they lead others. “in a September 2019 resignation letter. “This pattern has repeated itself over and over, ego battles, undermining the roles of fellow board members, circulation of gossip and mistruths. I am not presenting a very pretty picture of the functioning of our board and many before us, but it describes a board that works very hard but cannot for the reasons above accomplish the goals we set out to accomplish.””

475: We Can Dance Around Environmental Problems All We Want. We Eventually Reach Overpopulation and Overconsumption

2021-06-16

Here are the notes I read from: Have you ever tasted an heirloom tomato so delicious it was almost a religious experience? I used to think people who complained about supermarket tomatoes sounded full of themselves. How different can they taste? Then I tasted heirloom tomatoes with so much flavor, I couldn’t believe my taste buds. The next time I ate a mainstream tomato it felt like eating wet cotton. Do you know what they used to call heirloom tomatoes? They used to call heirloom tomatoes tomatoes. Our post-industrial values of growth, efficiency, externalizing costs, comfort, convenience, and extraction turned something divine into something available year-round at an affordable price but a fall from grace to say the least. In the way that my rare sips of scotch today give me more appreciation of spirits than the larger quantities I drank of beer in college despite drinking less alcohol, my net appreciation of tomatoes is greater now, despite spending less overall on them and only eating them in season. I mention this contrast for context. Every day we read headlines about environmental problems. Deforestation, sea level rise, plastic in our bloodstreams, forever chemicals crossing the placenta, lead lowering our IQs. We can dance around environmental problems all we want. We eventually reach overpopulation and overconsumption. Everyone thinks reducing population means killing people and reducing consumption means reverting to the stone age. More like switching from binge drinking cheap beer or eating industrial tomatoes to appreciating scotch or experiencing preindustrial tomatoes. Mainstream views, and, no offense but likely yours, are wrong on alternatives to both. They associate reducing overpopulation with the One Child Policy and eugenics, and the authoritarian, inhumane, and inhuman practices they led to including forced sterilization, forced abortions, and more. They associate reducing overconsumption with deprivation and sacrifice. We associate buying things with happiness and quality of life, so less must mean unhappiness and lower quality of life. If we don’t grow the GDP, people will lose jobs, we won’t be able to maintain our infrastructure, hospitals will close, mothers will die in childbirth, and 35 will be old age. Do you want to return to the stone age, Josh? Is that what you want? But the alternative to overpopulation is lowering the birth rate, which many nations have done through purely voluntary, non-coercive means, mainly education, access to contraception, and the freedom to choose their family size themselves—the opposite of the One Child Policy or eugenics. These policies throughout the world brought health, longevity, stability, prosperity though voluntary means—the opposite of mainstream expectations. Frankly I thought that way too and couldn't talk about it until I learned of it happening all over the world. Until then, I thought if the cure is worse than the disease, I’ll take the disease. The last place I want the government is in the bedroom. As it turns out, globally, the government is in the bedroom, promoting larger families based on disproved economic myths, trying to coerce people into larger families. Over hundreds of thousands of years, humans have kept our population at replacement. The past few centuries since stumbling onto fossil fuels are the aberration that we’ve born into, erroneously seeing as normal. For the two to three hundred thousand years of human existence before agriculture, our ancestors lived longer, healthier lives than the past ten thousand years until living memory. And now we’re making ourselves sicker and dying earlier than our parents. People associate consumption with quality of life. More stuff can improve life if you’re on the cusp. People you know imagine themselves cousins with such people eking out a living, as if they are like cousins or siblings. On the contrary, you and people you know are likely benefiting from their suffering and contributing to it. They are if they're using single-use plastic, flying, heating their homes too much in winter and cooling them too much in the summer. The alternative is joy etc. You and I aren’t on the margin. We have so much stuff, advertisers spend billions to make as want more because it doesn’t improve our lives. Since Earth's carrying capacity without fossil fuels is, as best I can tell, about two billion, leveling off our population doesn’t move us away from the population collapsing. The solution is to copy what many people around the world have done—to choose to reduce birth rate globally to well below replacement and to consume less. If you heard classism, nationalism, sexism, or racism in anything I’ve said, you stuck it in yourself. Such preconceived notions aren’t helping anyone. Reducing consumption and number of children in rich nations are easier physically, but people here are so entitled and spoiled that in our minds we think it's harder. We’ve lost the sense that technology has made us more dependent on it and less resilient. So we need to restore our culture—that is, role models, beliefs, images, stories—to historical ones including stewardship and Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You. Nobody wants to be displaced from their land or have their air, land, and water poisoned. I've reduced my consumption and waste from average American by over ninety percent, all improving my quality life. I have no kids, though I could still have one and be below replacement level. I doubt I'll have one because I couldn't look my child in the eye knowing what world is in store for him or her. Yes, if you’re a parent, I’m improving your kids’ future, possibly more than you. Yeah, I said it. If you're like most people, facts, figures, logic, and instruction, however simple and sensical, won't influence your behavior. You'll change when about five people in your life do. So here are my changes: I haven’t flown since 2016 by choice I take two years to fill a load of trash I’ve picked up litter daily since 2017 My monthly electric charges have been below $1.95 this year I buy mostly local produce year-round, including winter. The major exception being dried beans, which I buy from bulk and are my main staple. Last ate meat in 1990, vegan a big chunk of that time I lead global leaders to change so I’m not acting alone, but working to change systems and culture Now you know one person who lived like the average American, thought individual action wouldn’t make a difference, but voluntarily chose to live more simply and loved the results so much I’ll never return and only wish I’d acted sooner. Like you, I felt I needed to fly to make a living. My family is scattered around the world. Nothing about the change for me was any easier than for you, no matter how unique you consider yourself. So knowing my change, you're about twenty percent of the way to changing. Look for others and you'll change sooner. The number one predictor of someone installing solar on their homes is how many neighbors did already. Same with habits in eating, drinking, smoking, voting, and many other areas. What about efficiency and decoupling? Aren't we reducing consumption and waste while increasing GDP? This is a quantitative case. Before doing the numbers, you could imagine it going either way. After doing the numbers, decoupling is a myth. Actually, more a scam, like recycling plastic and carbon offsets. We want to believe so we can cling to our old ways, but once you see the effects are the oppositive of your fantasies, it becomes overwhelmingly clear. If you make a polluting system more efficient, you pollute more efficiently. We have been sold scam after scam by polluters. I doubt they mean harm, any more than an individual does when ordering takeout or flying. Systems often work differently than we expect, so they sound like they could work. The numbers matter. They don’t. Here are some of the scams: The hydrogen economy Future generations will solve what we messed up Recycling The closed loop economy How we'll feed 10 billion people by 2050 Net zero Carbon neutral Electrify everything Mars Fission Fusion Decoupling Demographic transitions Carbon offsets Geoengineering They all sound like they’ll work. Asbestos worked. So did leaded gasoline and marketing cigarettes to children. Then we learned they killed people and we stopped them. You probably suspected deep inside that carbon offsets were too good to be true. When you look at the systemic effects, they increase the problem. Same with fusion and all the others I listed. I have a PhD in physics, an MBA, and I’ve studied this stuff. Nobody wishes it worked more than I. I expected it would work as much as anyone. But they all accelerate the problems. To clarify: several of these actions could work as tactics within a strategy of lowering birth rate and consumption, but not as strategies themselves. In practice, as a culture we do the opposite of the first term in "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle," while taking false refuge in the third, accelerating Earth's degradation while feeling good about ourselves. We live the pattern in most of the points above, increasing our damage while telling ourselves the scam trend is helping. Don’t believe me? Look at the numbers. Contact me for sources. The indicators of our lowering Earth's ability to sustain life are all increasing, especially CO2, plastic, deforestation, extinctions, and forever chemicals like PFOA. For generations we’ve known we were impacting too much and said later generations will fix it while buying into the latest scam trend to keep from the obvious. The tragedy is that the scams weren’t improving their quality of life. Research shows hunters and gatherers have higher qualities of life than most industrialized people outside the elite few percent. They all promote thinking “not me, not now, someone else, some other time.” They all fail to change our pollution. When you hear them, expect them to lead you to think palliative thoughts: “Despite all the problems, you aren’t responsible, your pollution doesn’t count, keep buying, keep consuming, keep flying. Don’t change.” These scams accelerate our lowering Earth’s ability to sustain life. Only two things work: fewer kids, less consumption and its resulting less production. If you want to pollute less, you have to change the system. Changing parts of a system won't do it. You need to change the system's values and goals from material growth to enjoying what you have and personal growth, from externalizing costs to taking responsibility for affecting others, from extraction to humility toward nature and honoring it, from comfort and convenience to the satisfaction of a job well done, and from efficiency to resilience. These new values aren’t new. They’re more fundamental for most of us but lost amid the advertising-driven craving. Leaders change cultures’ values. You can choose to lead and act first. I can tell you from my experience and seeing others that you will love the change. Instead of loss, you'll save money and time, connect with your values, connect with nature. I’m not talking returning to the stone age. The opposite. As I mentioned, heirloom tomatoes used to be called tomatoes. We can return to quality without losing modernity. We're seeing modern life decrease health, prosperity, and longevity. Eighty percent overweight and obese, millions dying from breathing air, tens of millions addicted to drugs, social media, Twinkies, and Doritos. My changes restore and increase health, prosperity, and longevity. Earth will host fewer people at a time, but more humans over the long future. Only they won’t barely survive in a poisoned, overheated hellhole. My route leads to us living happier with a bit less stuff, better food, closer to family, less flying and shipping but more appreciation of our world and selves. What's so great about ten billion anyway? If we have to level off, why not a sustainable number? Two billion was more than enough to create Einstein and Mozart. A few hundred million produced Buddha, Jesus, Aristotle, Laozi, Muhammad, and the pyramids. We're overcrowded. A Buddha or Jesus today born to a favela might never realize his or her potential. We can change that outcome. Most people focus on “one little thing you can do for the environment” or telling people how dire the situation. I won’t stop them, but they base their work on extrinsic motivation, often coercion ending up making people feel guilt and shame. I work with intrinsic motivation that is already inside you and unique to everyone. I don’t care if the first thing you do is big or small. I care that you care because if you do, you’ll find it meaningful. You’ll do it again. You’ll influence others. If you want to stop someone from doing something, a great way is to judge their first attempt. I do the opposite. I support after first listening. I’ve taught many people what they’re now calling The Spodek Method to find your intrinsic motivation to act on the environment. You'll find when you do you want to act more. When you act for your reasons, you'll find meaning and purpose, independent of magnitude, and you'll want to act again. Soon enough you'll influence people around you. The biggest change you can make is to lead others. It multiplies any other effect. To lead others you must first lead yourself. The Spodek Method does so. After you've led yourself, lead others with the Spodek Method. My next book will teach it, as will upcoming courses. Or you can listen to me teaching it to one of my podcast guests, Jonathan Hardesty. I’ll put the link in the show notes. If you go to his third conversation with me you’ll hear me describe step-by-step how to motivate someone to share and act on their environmental values to create joy, freedom, fun, community, connection, meaning, and purpose. You can lead others through the method and they can lead you. You’ll love the experience and all it leads to. Leading others and teaching them to lead yet more others and to teach them to lead will transform culture. We’ll restore the bounty of nature, where industrial tomatoes are a sad memory of humanity’s brief addiction to craving and tomatoes are tomatoes, unspeakably delicious.

471: 12 Sustainability Leadership Lessons Unplugging My Fridge for 6.5 Months Taught Me

2021-06-09

Isn’t a refrigerator essential? Isn’t life with them better? I thought so. I’ll quote my mom from my podcast to illustrate where I came from: I grew up where it was easily ninety degrees every single day. In fact, where I worked, the store if it got ninety degrees outside we got to close the store and go home because it was that unsafe. To me, air conditioning was wonderful. And to my mom and my grandmother, not having to use ice box refrigerators was great. I really appreciate all of that today and I understand that we’ve gone overboard with air conditioning. It’s really bad for the environment and one should learn how to get along with these temperatures. But Josh, it was really hot in South Dakota. Unless you had really, really good screens, when you opened the windows you were covered with mosquito bites. I don’t want to revisit that at all ever. I am willing to use fans and cut out a lot of air conditioning but to me it means giving up a lot that made my life a lot better. I didn’t have much but what I had was good. It seems to me like you’re asking me—not you personally—but we’re saying stop doing these things that brought joy. I’m not excessive. Her experience is no air conditioning bad, air conditioning good. No fridge bad, fridge good. Most of us share the experience and belief. It’s our culture. As long as we don’t challenge our beliefs and culture, we’re stuck polluting. We’ll keep sleepwalking into an uninhabitable Earth. But people lived without refrigeration for hundreds of thousands of years. Were they all miserable all the time? Other cultures always look odd until we get them. Changing Culture from Polluting to Stewarding To change American and global culture to embrace stewardship and pollute less, not thinking it means deprivation, sacrifice, burden, and chore, but joy, fun, freedom, connection, community, meaning, and purpose, a leader needs experience in three areas: Leading people Science Living the values he or she proposes others adopt Most people have one or two. I know of almost no one with all three. Many scientists, educators, and journalists know science, but not how to lead. They spread facts, figures, and instruction, where rarely lead people to change. Many leaders don’t know science so they promote ideas that sound nice but don’t work. Even among people who lead and know science—a rare combination—few to none have tried to live sustainably. Sadly and unintentionally, they present solutions as abstract at best, more often as something even they don’t want but we have to. I’ve Been to the Mountain Top and Seen the Promised Land I don’t avoid packaged food and flying to deprive myself, nor because I believe my contributions divided by 7.8 billion round off to more than zero. I do it on a personal level to live by my values and not pollute. But from a sustainability leadership perspective, I do it to learn what living sustainably means and what the transition requires. Changing a lifestyle isn’t a matter of new technology or instruction. It takes new role models, beliefs, stories, images, support, community, and things like that. The challenge of building muscle at the gym isn’t know what weights to lift. It’s how to go when you don’t feel like it or your friends discourage you, handling injuries or slow progress, diet, sleep, great coaching, and so on. In Martin Luther King speak, to reach the promised land, you have to climb the mountain, which few people want to do first. They don’t see the value. Someone has to go first and show it can be done. A few will follow. Then it becomes mainstream. Why I Unplugged My Fridge I recorded a podcast episode that goes into more depth, but the biggest reason I tried the experiment is that renewable power sources are intermittent. Could I live so if the power went down I didn’t suffer? Making grids have more uptime costs money, reduces energy security, and requires highly polluting peaker plants and nuclear. We’re on a treadmill of every time we enable our grid to provide more power and uptime, we use it all up. We started browning out power grids with air conditioning in the 1940s. Since then we built them to much greater capacity, but we see brownouts as much as ever. We keep making ourselves dependent at tremendous cost and insecurity for marginal benefit. That’s our choice. What if we made ourselves resilient? What if, like most of the world, we could handle the power going down more? We’d save money, increase energy security, and could get by with only renewables, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Renewable Electricity Futures Study. Imagine! We could live on only solar and wind by spending less money. A major hurdle is refrigerators. Making our culture resilient to them could save us money, make us resilient, and enable us to switch to renewables. Can we live in the modern world without them? Before I unplugged mine the first time, in December 2019, I doubted I could make it a day or two. I made it three months! The next time I tried, last November, I made it over six and a half months! What I learned Living Without a Fridge for Six and a Half Months Face problem, then solve it. Don’t try to solve it in the abstract. It’s easier to figure out how to preserve food when your food is going to go bad if you don’t than to imagine what you’d do hypothetically. Then your imagination comes up with more possibilities than would arise, paralyzing you from acting. We connect with other cuisines more by living in our own culture than visiting others. February and March in New York mean parsnips, beets, potatoes, and mostly root vegetables plus the greens I fermented or sprouted. What sounds subtractive actually makes the process constructive and creative. How do I make what I have taste good? This restriction connects me more with other cultures because their cuisines emerged from that constraint. We may use different vegetables, but we connect culturally. Now I see visiting another culture for a weekend or even a few months more like visiting a zoo. We also undermine our own culture. Most tourist places have restaurants from everywhere. We’re turning once-unique cultures into a global mesh with decreasing distinction. Cooking local moves in the other direction. Less tech means more connection. Less technology forces me to learn what to do from family, friends, and people with similar goals, like authors and people who make videos. This exercise connected me with people. It revealed that technology generally separates us more than connects us. Of course, exceptions exist. Fermentation and sprouting are easy and fun. Before this experience, fermentation sounded scary, dangerous, and hard. I didn’t think about sprouting at all. Now I see fermentation as how civilization began and quick and easy, producing rich and complex flavors. I can do it simply now, basically chopping vegetables, adding salt, mixing them, and putting them in a jar. I started with sauerkraut and vinegar and moved to chutneys, kvass, and fermenting random vegetables and fruit to keep them edible. Bean sprouts took less time and effort at pennies a pound. The exercise was about resilience more than power. Few things are more repellent than neediness and entitlement. Do you know anyone you like more for their neediness? Well, needing a fridge is needy. Our technologies are supposed to make us more capable but are making us more dependent and needy. Whole fruits and vegetables last longer than I expected. Before this exercise, I thought packaging extended the lives of things, but fruits and vegetables, especially root vegetables, stay fresh a long time. Cabbage, beets, potatoes, and winter vegetables can stay fresh weeks to months without special treatment, longer with fermentation. A lot of packaged stuff starts going bad soon after opening. Some of it never decomposes because it contains no nutrition to attract microbiota that would eat it. Living by a value anew makes me want to solve more, like going off-grid. Since I started by thinking this challenge was beyond my abilities, I considered it a goal, and a stretch at that. As the weather warmed, I expected every week to be as far as I could go. Then March led to April. I kept expanding my skills to ferment and keep things fresh otherwise, which led to May, which led to June. The more I learned the more I saw I could do more. For example, seeing monthly electric charges on my bill of $1.70, $1.70, and $1.40 got me wondering how low I could go. Could I go off the electric grid for months at a time? I don’t yet know, but the question prompted me to start researching and experimenting with living on solar. I’m seeing if I can disconnect from Con Ed next time. Stay tuned. We’re freaking spoiled and entitled. American culture and the cultures of most peer countries make us dependent, spoiled, and entitled, insensitive and dismissive of people we know we’re hurting. Most people who are spoiled and entitled don’t know it. No one said no to them and they prefer keeping it that way. But I think we all know they’d prefer not to be spoiled if they knew. We are spoiled. We don’t want anyone denying us our fleeting indulgences either, but expand our horizons and we’ll stop being so entitled. In the middle of my experiment, the New York Times posted When One Fridge Is Not Enough, which started: “For many Americans, a second fridge—and sometimes a third—is another member of the family” with pictures of giant refrigerators filled with expensive, unhealthy, needless doof. Member of the family? What happened to us? Everyone wants to protect elderly and helpless, not thinking through that you can adjust for them. Common first reactions to hearing what I’m doing begin with, “You can do it because you’re privileged,” though not with questions to learn if I am or not. Something about me leads people to conclude that I must be privileged and out of touch with the lives of others. In any case, of course people range in their dependence on refrigerators and other technology. That some people need more doesn’t mean we can’t change for everyone else, nor should it stop us from thinking and discussing the possibilities. Freedom is opposite of neediness. The more I needed a fridge, the less freedom I had. I don’t mean political freedom. I mean mental, emotional, and physical freedom. Needing a fridge means dependence. Not needing one opens the world to where and what I can eat. The key word in “dependence on foreign oil” isn’t ‘foreign.’ It’s ‘dependence.’ Pundits talks about our dependence on foreign oil as if needing it from another country makes America unstable. On the contrary, the dependence is the main problem. Wherever it comes from, neediness means people can control us. When has desperation improved your life? Sustainability isn’t a goal or target but skills that once you start you find more. Speaking of commitments to pollute less, I picked up the following pattern from my podcast guests: guests who had already acted in stewardship the most tended to come up fastest with new things they could do. People who hadn’t done much tended to give up or push back. They’d say they already drove an electric car and avoided bottled water, ask (rhetorically) what more could they do, and declare themselves one of the good guys and stop thinking about it. Future generations will recoil in horror at our choosing comfort and convenience that contributes to ten thousand years of degrading Earth’s ability to sustain life. We wantonly create suffering by compartmentalizing activities we think will improve our lives from the pollution they cause. I’m describing a social, emotional problem. Technology rarely solves social and emotional problems Solving our social and emotional problems will not likely come from more tech. More often it will come from less, which helps us learn our values and act on them. Learn Resilience Like Learning to Raise a Child How does one learn to raise a child? You can learn all you want before the child is born, but giving birth is where the learning begins. All the hypothetical becomes real and counts. If we want to lower emissions, building more solar and wind is nice. I’m glad we’re doing it, but we’re using more than we need. Shutting down fossil fuel-based energy will transition us faster. Of course, plan for the helpless so their lights don’t go out. But face the problem to solve it. Analyzing and planning more than we have keep delaying and confusing. Let’s give birth to the baby. When we face actual problems, entrepreneurs will innovate the solutions to them. Not economists publishing papers on their imaginations. Create new markets. Use different metrics than GDP. Baker’s Dozen Here’s a baker’s dozen lesson 13. Turning on fridge felt gross. I plugged it in at last because today hit 90F (32C) and yesterday began my summer CSA, meaning many fresh leafy greens that would wilt in the heat. I unplugged it November 22, expecting to last to March and made it to June instead. Next time I’ll start earlier to get month or two extra. Maybe October or September. Maybe I’ll try sooner.

470: Sustainable Activities: I’m learning singing (my mortifying “before” recording)

2021-06-06

The average American watches 5 hours of TV per day. Many fly or drive around for fun. If we want to pollute less, will we lose the ability to enjoy ourselves? I've written before how Vincent Stanley's commitment to turn off his computer Friday mornings and Nicola Pirulli's walking me through The Spodek Method led to me turning off all my electronics and practicing singing daily. Since starting, I've missed a couple days, but have loved the results. Until recently I only sang songs, nothing attempting to learn, just to enjoy. Now I'm moving to voice exercises. I resisted doing them partly because I need to use my computer to play the recordings so decided to relax that constraint the days I practice my exercises. I expect that doing them enough will improve my singing. For now, here is the "before" version of my practicing beginner voice exercises. When I listened after, I was mortified at my inexperienced voice. I have a long way to go. But I expect that practice will make perfect, or better, and it will be hard to imagine I sounded like this. It begins with a story I think you'll like. Listen the exercises at your own risk, but I recommend turning off your power and seeing what you find to replace screens and burning fossil fuels. You'll be bored, maybe mortified, but it's not what you give up. It's what you replace it with.

469: The Science Book of the Decade: Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet, by Tom Murphy

2021-06-03

I didn’t think of how small my building’s elevators were when I bought a sofa after moving into my current apartment. It didn’t fit. The deliverymen tried to bring it up the stairs too. They made the first landing, but couldn’t make the turn to go up the next flight. They had to take it back. I ended up paying a $300 restocking fee plus big tips for the deliverymen’s extra efforts. Plus I lost weeks with no sofa. Now I know my home’s limits. Living within them is no problem when I know them, only when I didn’t. A few minutes of measurement and geometry could have saved me that trouble and improved my life. Can homo sapiens’ elevator, also known as Earth, fit us all in? As with my sofa, maybe a bit of calculation is worth saving the trouble of finding out if our sofa can fit. We’re past the point of eyeballing it. Our sofa is civilization and billions of lives. I doubt even those who study sustainability most can answer Important questions like Can fusion save us? Will it? What works between solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal, and other options? What doesn’t? Why not? What unintended side-effects are we missing? Do we risk losing civilization? If so, how great is the risk? If we take the gloves off, can geoengineering and other last-ditch efforts work? How hard will saving it be? What do we have to do to make it? These questions have answers, whether we find them out or not. There are a lot of books on the environment. I’ve read a lot of them. Most just describe our situation and what will happen if we don’t fix it. Some talk about what we can do, but they don’t help us understand. They don’t describe the patterns, just the results or instruction. We have to trust the writer. We’ve all heard to eat less meat. How much less? Will all the things they tell us to do solve the problems? How can I tell? What if I don’t eat less meat? Between eating meat or not, why can’t I see any difference in the world? Should I bother trying or just enjoy life to the max? We’re just told the problems and what to do. Maybe school should have taught us but it didn’t. After decades of poor science education, few teachers know how to teach science. They spout facts and instruction. Most analysis and activism is done without context or knowing nature’s patterns, based on feelings. Some envision a world of 10 billion thriving, others a collapse well before. Sustainability leadership is my life passion and frankly I don’t find most resources on the environment useful or readable. From the IPCC report Greta Thunberg gave to Congress to An Inconvenient Truth to articles suggesting “one little thing you can do for the environment,” they describe results and tell us what to do. They don’t help us understand beyond “coral reefs are bleaching” and oversimplifications like “CO2 acts like a blanket.” We have to take their word things like biodiversity is good and pollution is bad. Even knowing all the data doesn’t tell us the patterns. Will buying an electric vehicle matter? Does flying matter? How much? Enough to save lives? How can I tell, or do I have to take your word for it? Most of all, what about when they clash with other values? What if someone else says jobs or energy security is more important? Is there conflict? If so, how do we resolve it? What if we don’t want to emit greenhouse gases but our mother is sick, flying distance away? Or we feel our job depends on it? What about someone else saying the economy depends on my buying more stuff? Only knowing data but not patterns, we can’t think or decide for ourselves. We throw up our hands. For generations we’ve said we’d act and in fact we have, yet we keep lowering Earth’s capacity to sustain life and society. Could our ignorance be causing our attempts at solutions to augment the problems? Might our current attempts at solutions be exacerbating the problems. Are we on a road to hell paved with good intentions? A New Hope Tom Murphy’s new book, Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet, changes all that. It empowers us to understand, think, and act for ourselves. Murphy earned his PhD at Caltech and teaches at UC San Diego. A decade ago he started the Do The Math blog, where he did more than answer the questions above. He showed how he found the answer so you can too, so you can think for yourself. I called it the best site on the internet (tied with Low Tech Magazine). Murphy’s sofa-doesn’t-fit-in-the-elevator moment came in 2006, shortly after moving to San Diego, considering the value of his home. He wrote: I pored over articles on the matter, and found two camps. One camp provided rafts of alarming quantitative analysis of the peril: sub-prime lending, soaring price-to-income ratios, unprecedented unaffordability by average families, vulnerability to any weakness in other sectors. The other camp said that the housing market was manifesting a new normal, that San Diego’s universal appeal would prevent a price drop, that scary lending practices were easily skirted by re-financing before interest payments ballooned. I chose to go with the quantitative analysis over the hand-wavy platitude-based set of beliefs, and am glad that I did. He sold at the height of the market. On seeing the success of applying quantitative analysis over hand-wavy platitude-based opinion to life, instead of moving to finance like many physicists, he applied it to the environment. He saw hand-wavy platitude-based beliefs and couldn’t stand it. He began applying physics to how we create energy, population, and so on in Do the Math. To the chagrin of his dedicated audience, since 2015, he posted only once. He told me on one of his appearances on my podcast that he had answered the most important questions so didn’t have more to write. But he wasn’t done. The blog was an unorganized string of posts. He taught a course to non-science undergraduates on the subject, called Energy and the Environment. He used the course to compile his posts, polish them, and make a self-contained comprehensive book. As far as I know, the only one like it, possibly because mathematics is the language of nature, so equations abound, but he explains them, so people who haven’t taken science or math classes since high school can follow. Showing the math means we don’t have to take his word for it. We can do the math too and think, judge, and act for ourselves. No matter our politics, age, industry, etc, we can access this book equally. The environment involves many branches of science, including physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, systems, and more, as well as fields including engineering, history, politics, philosophy, and more. Murphy brings them together like no other resource I’ve found. Many will shy away from devoting the time that the gravity of our environmental situation demands, but for enabling and empowering every reader to understand, think, judge, and act for themselves, I consider Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet the science book of the decade. I’ve read and watched a lot of books, videos, and articles. For reference, I consider Sustainability Without the Hot Air by Caltech-trained Cambridge physicist David MacKay the science book of the previous decade, and Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, the science book of the decade before that, by Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, and Jørgen Randers. (A video of David MacKay after his book led me to avoid flying, not as a burden but to increase my enjoyment of nature and connection to humans.) Read these three books, and you understand our environment. But wait, there’s more. Murphy has acted on his findings in his personal life. He didn’t just use an electric car or unplug appliances before doing so was cool, he measured his results and shared how doing so affected his relationships with his wife, peers, and students. He shares his life and profession. This book doesn’t teach raw information, it shares a lifestyle. I’m not saying the book is easy, only that I find it the most valuable book or resource on the most important area humans have faced as a species, and I’ve read and watched many. Murphy’s book is glorious. He writes about the wonder of nature, our genius in harnessing it, its limitations, and our folly at not measuring the sofa before trying to jam it into the elevator, or believing the self-serving interests suggesting a “new normal” without justification. The math is accessible to a non-science undergraduate. To someone with a PhD in physics like me, it is a symphony—pure joy when you understand it, even more when your study it. Beethoven didn’t write his Ninth for one hearing. Yo-Yo Ma has to study pieces and even with my PhD, I have to take time to understand its equations and application. I learn each time I read Murphy. You will too. The payoff is worth it for aesthetic pleasure alone. There are practical benefits to understanding the patterns: unlike Beethoven, the fates of civilization and millions of species, including our own, depend on our understanding and behavior. Learning math and physics here is like learning biology and chemistry when you start gardening or sports. You don’t need to start with anything. You won’t reach your potential, but you won’t get injured either. You’ll learn by doing. Any gardener will soon learn about species and seasons. Lifting weights taught me anatomy and diet. Sailing will teach you tides and fluid dynamics. Math doesn’t give answers. It doesn’t have values. People Do. Humans have values. What we consider good, bad, right, and wrong stands outside math and science. Euclid derived all of Euclidean geometry from five axioms but he had to start with them. Likewise, math lets you get from your values to what to do but it doesn’t tell you your values. Engineers often think math tells you answers. They promote nuclear power for not emitting CO2 or electric vehicles because they are more efficient, but do our deepest values include avoiding CO2 emissions and efficiency? Murphy describes how nuclear fission and fusion work, their hurdles to implementation, and so on, but then treats the science and technology as only the starting point to decide their value. Most analyses and people confronted with waste and pollution see more efficient sources and less polluting sources as the solution. Obviously, they pollute less, right? Not so fast. You have to do the math. What patterns have we followed before? If we follow them again, what will happen? People familiar with systems may expect systems to behave differently than their elements alone. Murphy does the math and suggests clean fission and fusion would compound our problems. Don’t believe him? You can do the math yourself, but if you just feel confident based on hopes, dreams, and fantasies, you’ll benefit most from his book. Most science books tell you results of experiment or predict some outcome based on some model. The IPCC reports, for example, tell you our best understanding of our climate measurements and where, given our patterns, we’ll end up or could end up if we change our behavior. The results show lots of numbers. They do math but they don’t enable you to do math. Books like the Uninhabitable Earth describe such predictions in prose, again not enabling you to do math. Who Should Read It After generations of this nation denigrating science, math, nature, and education of them, I’m under no preconceptions of how popular this book will become. People feel guilty thinking and talking about the environment when their responsibility comes into play. Still, everyone can understand it. You’ll love it when you work through it. Every policymaker, CEO, and media programmer will benefit their audiences from knowing this book. Even if leaders don’t read it enough to understand it, this book enables them to have on staff or retainer someone who understands the math from doing it. That leader can choose not to talk in equations. He or she may even wave his or her hands and speak in platitudes, but can start from understanding, not ignorance. Why You’ll Love the Math I wrote how mathematics is the language of nature and that Murphy’s book is a symphony. The video below of a master class will illustrate what I mean (and put a big smile on your face, there are more of his videos here). Ben Zander is a conductor, musical director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and bestselling author. He speaks sometimes in English but other times through the piano. Because music is the language of music. Zander can’t communicate in English the sound and meaning of music where a few notes on the piano communicate everything. https://youtu.be/b2S-OjTb4nU As music communicates music, equations describe nature. I know people more fluent in music will hear more than I do from Zander, but I love what I hear and value hearing what I can. You will gain as much reading Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet. Enjoy the book! Here is a video Tom and some peers made of the book: https://youtu.be/2fbOWhJy7So

464: Resilience: Six months with the fridge unplugged

2021-05-21

Here are the notes I read from for this episode: 6 months with fridge unplugged Mom's advice, her fridge 2 articles: Vietnam and power grid safety Extreme? Extreme fun 200,000 years "Heirloom tomatoes" used to be "tomatoes" Connect with people Off grid in Manhattan? Solar battery Why LeBron practices free throws To become world class you have to practice the basics Otherwise you don't know what you're talking about and lose credibility

461: 24 Hours With No Electrical Power (After)

2021-05-16

My notes I read from: What I did Kathryn Garcia in Washington Square Park Farmers market (compost, oregano) Ride to Brooklyn Grain de Sail sail boat Visit with friend Calisthenics by candlelight Wake up, no clock Think, reflect, calm Meet to pick up garbage Notes on no power 29 to 30 hours since recording last episode, 26 with circuit breaker for apartment disconnected Less of a big deal than I expected, though the fridge already being off probably lessened effect Temptation Time Darkness Light Outdoors Eating Calm, relaxed My values

460: 24 Hours With No Electrical Power (Before)

2021-05-15

Here are the notes I read from for this post: I posted the other day an exercise to think about going twenty-four hours without using electrical power. To clarify, that exercise was to think about it. I don’t think many people would do it. Even orthodox Jews leave their refrigerators plugged in, as well as clocks. The meters to their homes would register power being used. I’m talking about the meter reading zero. They often leave lights on. Personal choices may mean some don’t use any power. I don’t know Amish, who might do it, or people in societies without power. I spoke to someone who lives where her power drops for days at a time, but she says everyone gets in their cars, which use spark plugs, to go places to charge their phones and use the internet. I don’t know anyone who lives off the grid. Even during the blackout in 2003 and after Hurricane Sandy, I still used battery power. My ten-day meditation retreats and two two-week trips to North Korea still used plenty of electrical power each day. Here’s that post: Exercise: Imagine a Day Without Using Electric Power You know me. If it’s possible, I’d prefer to try than speculate. People talk too much and live too little. As I’m recording now, I’m looking at my circuit breaker for the apartment. I have a call after posting this. After that call, I’ll flip the circuit to cut off power to the apartment and turn off my phone and computer. Not just sleep mode, but power off. I won’t go so far as to disconnect the batteries, which I think would be symbolic. I’m scheduled to meet a friend at Union Square at the farmers market, where I’ll drop off my compost. We’re also scheduled to ride bikes to Brooklyn. I got an email from Grain de Sail, a company that built a sailboat to transport goods across the Atlantic, mainly coffee and chocolate eastbound and wine westbound. So I have some off-the-grid activities. My next obligation is about twenty-four hours later, which is to meet my city councilman organized group that picks up litter together tomorrow at 11:30am. Otherwise, I have to figure out what to do with my time that I’m used to filling with internet or writing on my computer. I have plenty of scrap paper to write on and a book to work on. I know I write differently when disconnected from the internet. I’m curious if I’ll write differently if that much more disconnected. I haven’t written much by hand in a while. I had thought to borrow some books from the library to help prepare, but the one near me is closed for the pandemic. I’ve been reading and listening to books online from the library during the pandemic, but I don’t need books. Maybe I’ll go outside more. I have a feeling I’ll go to sleep early since I won’t know the time. I won’t go to another building, like a bookstore, to read by its lights. My building has lights in the hallway and stairway. I was thinking of closing my eyes there to avoid using those lights, but I’ll make exceptions for them. The library’s clock tower has a clock. I think I’ll avoid using it so I don’t know how I’ll tell time. I’ll probably go to the park early with things to write and just be there when the rest of the group to pick up trash shows up, though it will probably be over twenty-four hours from now. It occurs to me now that going outside at night will make it impossible to avoid street lights. I don’t know the phase of the moon in case a full moon could in principle light my way. I guess I’ll stay inside. Come to think of it, I have some old candles I never use. I’ll probably go to sleep when it gets dark and wake up when it gets light, around 5am. I also have a sidcha to make my bed, cross the room, and turn off the alarm within sixty seconds of it going off. I haven’t missed it since starting, though occasionally a second or two late, so maybe I should say sixty-five seconds. With my phone off, it won’t go off tomorrow morning. I’ll probably get up and make the bed within sixty seconds of waking up and cross the room anyway. Walk/don’t walk signs and stoplights I’ll use while riding. While walking I’ll try to avoid looking at them and go by people’s behavior. Other than that, maybe I’ll go for walks or a run. I’m not sure, but people lived without electrical power for hundreds of thousands of years and many people go without it today. I see no reason why technology designed to help us should make us less capable. We’re a pretty needy, dependent, entitled, spoiled society. This is an exercise in resilience, freedom, and deliberate choice.

458: The Spodek Method: How to Lead Someone to Act Joyfully Sustainably

2021-05-12

I’ve taught a half-dozen people the technique I use in this podcast---the hosts of the other branches of the This Sustainable Life podcast. They started calling it The Spodek Method, so now I do too. It's enabled me to reach amazing people, many of global renown, who enjoy the experience. It doesn't alone solve all the world's problems, but it works. The Spodek Method leads a person to share and act on environmental values. You can do it too with communities you’d like to join. You would contribute to a mission of changing culture from seeing stewardship and sustainability as a burden, chore, deprivation, and sacrifice to wanting to do it based on experience, expecting joy, fun, freedom, community, connecting, meaning and value. Why learn The Spodek Method? Before After Deprivation Joy Sacrifice Fun Chore Freedom Burden Community Connection Meaning Purpose If you would like to lead your community, try it. If you’d like to grow yourself, have others do it on you. This episode presents my teaching Jonathan Hardesty The Spodek Method during our second conversation. No planning. It happened spontaneously because we had a great rapport, he loved his experience, and was interested in leading a community craving leadership on sustainability instead of being told what to do. If you want to start a podcast branch and join the family, contact me. It takes practice, but once you start, you’ll love the experience, the team, and being changing culture. Think about the people you’d like to meet most in the world. The Spodek Method enables you to lead them in a way they enjoy and invite you into your life.

452: Book Update #1

2021-04-18

Here are the notes I read this episode from: Started thinking of book when I worked on initiative but put in background, expecting podcast to improve That's been the case. Started getting serious about a year ago. You may have noticed a lot of guests with backgrounds in abolition: Eric Metaxas, Adam Hochschild, Manisha Sinha, Andres Resendez, Richard Rothstein (more on racial injustice) That's because abolition became major issue, then George Floyd amplified issue So spent months talking with people and figuring out approach. Everyone said, “Josh, you could cure cancer, but if it touches on these things people will think you're trying to use someone else's issue.” or they'd say “You couldn't possibly understand, or at least people will think you can't” or they'd say “Some things you just don't talk about or compare because they're in another category.” So I went with people who devoted their lives to these issues and learned a ton. Next step: started writing outline, then text, revised three times. Started a writing workshop. Kicked writing into overdrive. Wrote a few thousand words a day, reached 45,000 words plus a proposal and very positive reviews from people who read. It's also why I haven't posted as much to podcast. Focusing on writing and editing. Still, felt out on a limb. No one has read the full manuscript but some people have highly praised the proposal, including a NY Times bestselling author whose book you might know, who said it was one of the best he'd read. So I'm confident I'll get a publishing deal. I understand from when you sign to books in readers' hands about a year. But finish writing after six months, so will start promoting then. What is is about? Partly my views on sustainability. Whom it's for, core message, promise to reader Exercises to walk you through enjoying living sustainably, becoming a steward, then how to lead others. Not about facts, for reader. Everyone says it's like nothing they've read but very important. Anyone interested in helping promote mission book is a part of, contact me. I'd love help reviewing and editing it. I hope I covered top line. If curious, let me know what more I can share. Side effects: shoulders and forearms hurt. Some back pain. Eye fatigue But more than satisfied with result so far. Helped me clarify a lot of my thoughts and how to present them. I hope and expect this book to be of historical value. Builds on everything here.

446: Wondering how you can make a difference? Action begets action.

2021-03-15

I noticed a trend among podcast guests that the people who have already acted the most on sustainability find new things fastest. By contrast, people who do less say they're already doing all they can, or at least all they can think of. That's backward, or would be if you thought there were a limited number of things you could do. The so-called experts who themselves haven't acted promote big, Earth-saving projects which of course I support, but they end up knowing only big, complex things. Most people can't think of what to do when they want to. That the people doing the most find more to do fastest suggests the more we act the more we want to act, the more we know what we can do, the more we enjoy nature. How big or small you start matters less than if you enjoy it. If you enjoy it, you'll keep acting and eventually reach big. You'll also share with others. Big acts that we share add up.

443: Nobody understands what’s so bad with climate change

2021-03-03

Here are my notes I read from for this episode It hit me recently that nearly nobody knows what's so bad about climate change. I've started asking people and nobody knows. Actually, of the dozens I've asked, one knew, though it took prompting for her to say it. Everyone gets sea level rise, biodiversity, loss of coral reefs. I'll grant we have to move cities. But I'll respond that after some loss, we'd rebuild, which could create meaning. I'll grant more and bigger hurricanes, but I'll respond that we'll learn to build hurricane-proof buildings. Katrina's losses in lives and property, while tragic, are nothing compared to the material gains. Most people see fossil fuels brought billions out of poverty, longevity, prosperity. That trade seems worth it. You've maybe read books like The Uninhabitable Earth or ones describing the hellscape we may turn the Earth into, but most people see science and technology able to fix those problems. We'll live underground or undersea. To describe the problem I have to retell a story regular listeners have heard before. My friend Kevin and the elk. Climate change means looking back doesn't work and the collapse increases. I'll describe the problem in simple terms. It may sound moralistic or ethical, but I'll just state it like if I drop something it will fall. The sun rose this morning in the east and set this evening in the west. Dogs growl. Cats purr. And climate change would result in billions of people dying. This result is why I devote myself to changing course. My podcast is practice leading people. I plan to use my book to help lead more people and to launch big-time to reach the most influential people in society. Business people should get this most. They know how markets can drop in recessions and that companies can have to downsize. They know the pain. The problem with them is that they think, "well, we recover from recessions." They don't distinguish between people losing jobs and people losing lives. So I don't agree with the trade with Katrina, because we don't only lose thousands of lives. But as long as people see that as the loss, climate change doesn't look so bad to them. It looks bad to me.

439: How to Fix Texas

2021-02-17

Here are the notes I read from for this episode How to fix Texas Just got off conference call a Texas attendee couldn't attend because her power was out. There are helpless people suffering. I empathize with them and feel compassion. I support helping them. If we want to prevent future suffering, we have to look at systems. That's not ignoring present pain or loss. It's preventing future pain and loss. In that call, one person had been in touch with the Texas person. She told us of ice forming inside her house and other problems. The present attendees lamented each mention of a problem as if she were suffering some horrible hardship. For tens of thousands of years, humans have lived without power including in the cold, including sudden, unexpected cold. Is it not obvious that what we call technology and innovation has made us dependent, needy, and the opposite of resilient? I'll repeat that people in hospitals, homeless, elderly, and others have always needed extra help and they do today. Nothing of what I'm saying suggests neglecting them. But she also talked about our Texas friend tweeting. However spotty, she has the internet. Let's talk systems. NYTimes headline: A Glimpse of America’s Future: Climate Change Means Trouble for Power Grids: Systems are designed to handle spikes in demand, but the wild and unpredictable weather linked to global warming will very likely push grids beyond their limits. While the proximal reasons may be technical, the systemic cause is our dual focuses on meeting demand no matter what and growth but not focusing on resilience. The result is that when demand is always met, we grow (population and consumption) until we hit problems like this. Then we build more capacity. It costs a lot to go from 99.99% uptime to 99.999%, but we do it every time. The savings to go from 99.99% uptime to 99.9% is also huge. Most of the world does fine with under 99% and we could too if we built our systems and lives to handle power going down sometimes, even unpredictably. Hospitals, elderly, etc would need special treatment. The rest of us could reduce our needs and learn from how people lived all the time for hundreds of thousands of years. We'd save tons of money, live healthier, and pollute a lot less. We'd learn to treat nature with a bit more humility and respect. Listen to my episode on why I unplugged my fridge. I didn't do it because I expected my power savings would amount to anything divided by 7.8 billion. I did it because other cultures as well as humans for hundreds of thousands of years thrived without power. While some disasters, like Vesuvius erupting, we can't defend ourselves against, we can prepare for cold without polluting. My main results for unplugging my fridge? More delicious food from increasing my skills and experience preparing it. Saving money. Increasing my freedom, decreasing my neediness. Again, repeating my compassion for helpless people in pain now, whose rescue and support I support in the moment, I suggest seeing this weather as impetus to make your life more resilient, less needy, to support a power grid more resilient and less brittle but, and a culture not so entitled, spoiled, dependent and needy that its answer to everything is something polluting more, deepening that entitlement and being spoiled. If you can't live without power dropping for a few days even in terrible weather, and you aren't someone that lions would have eaten in previous eras, you're part of the problem. Fix yourself without drawing more power and polluting everyone else's world. If your society suffers from the only way it handles problems is to use more power, polluting more, leading to suffering from by people who aren't polluting so much, which for Americans means the entire rest of the world outside Saudi Arabia and its oil producing peers and maybe some insanely rich tax havens in the Caribbean, fix your society. Changing culture and systems begins with changing values. In this case from coddling, spoiling, externalizing costs, and ignoring others' suffering to resilience and freedom.

438: Avoiding Creating Garbage, Advanced Edition

2021-02-13

When they hear I take two years to fill a load of trash, people ask how I do it, what's in my trash. In this episode I share a couple stories from last week of facing things entering my life that would result in my having to take responsibility for trash---acquiring a new cell phone and acquiring bagged food. I've done things like these processes enough to know that they result in joy, community, and connection. It may sound like too much effort or annoying. Regarding too much effort, I put the stories in context of how much people put effort and time into TV and gyms, which my practiced lead to saving time and money, resulting in plenty to spare. Regarding annoying, I used to think so, but you'll hear that my interactions as they happen, not how you might erroneously imagine, result in more understanding. Some day our culture will prevent things like these interactions happening. We'll look at single-use packaging how we look at asbestos.

436: You’re right, it’s not fair!

2021-02-07

The notes I read from for this episode: It's not fair! Back from picking up litter Forecast, a few inches of snow Just want coffee, not to dispose. Ancestors could Just want to travel, not pollute. Don't want to think about others all the time Just want to relax Tons of trash from last snow Asked cafe to ask people not to litter around trash Not our responsibility, city, customers Someone else, some other time, never me, never now Yet improves life So no, it's not fair. Others got to do without thinking what if we do, we hurt others, people far away But any parent knows responsibility improves, stewardship If we live by their values, tragic If we live by values of cultures that have endured, joy, community, connection So no, it's not fair, but what will you do about it What will you do about your contribution? Not zero. Lament? Take responsibility? Live in past? Create future?

431: I sang every day for two months, unplugged (still going)

2021-01-20

What do you do if you use less power? No social media? No listening to music? No TV? Sound like a fate worse than death? Inspired by guests on my podcast who find amazing activities to live by their environmental values, I committed to turning off all my electronics to sing every day. I've almost never sung in my life beyond Happy Birthday and The Star Spangled Banner so I'm mortified to play my remedial results live, but I love it. I know I'll keep going so today's recording isn't the end. I recorded singing a couple songs at the beginning. to record I opened the laptop, all other times I sang with the power off. At night I had to open the door to the hallway to read the words with my apartment lights out until I started singing outside during my daily walks picking up litter. So far I've spent zero dollars. The first two weeks I sang fifteen minutes a day. Later I shifted to at least one song, so a few minutes a day. Today's episode starts with my describing the experience and a few stories, then with neither pride nor shame, I play the "before" recording, then the "after." The track listing: Before 14:42 The Beatles, Across the Universe 19:30 The Beatles, While My Guitar Gently Weeps After 22:40 The Beatles, Across the Universe 26:28 The Beatles, While My Guitar Gently Weeps 28:44 John Denver, I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane 31:26 Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi 33:01 Spandau Ballet, True 36:12 The Cure, Pictures of You 38:54 Earth, Wind, and Fire, September 42:19 Woody Guthrie, This Land Is Your Land

429: What about jobs?

2021-01-17

"What about jobs?" people often ask to counter proposals to constrain some activity. Today's episode answers. Here are the notes I read from: What about jobs? People out of work drain on society, not so happy Store near me that sells trinkets Of any value? I'd prefer a hug, shoulder rub, or make me dinner Many stages to make: plastic from oil, factory to make, transportation, store clerk Factory, put near landfill What about trucks and boats? Better to drive and sail around in circles Absurd, but actually better world paying to do worthless work with more hugs, shoulder rubs, and home-made dinners, oil in ground, people not displaced, skies clearer Classic historical case of buggy whips If legislated, people wouldn't die. People out of work now clamor to work. People love to serve. I don't know where people's faith in entrepreneurship goes. Constraints breed creativity. Need problem to exist to solve it. If you wait for planned jobs to exist before demand, will never happen. If you keep going in counterproductive industries, we'll destroy Earth's ability to sustain life and society. Economists are incredibly wrong in this area, especially free-market, Ayn Rand types. I'm studying Edwards Deming. Japan: government and industry post WWII did what would be anticompetitive in U.S., but transformed nation and world, more happiness and products, no shortage of competition. Have you seen pictures of Sao Paolo before and after banning billboards. So I'm pretty sure that if we outlawed just producing dioxins and PFOS and carcinogens and created some jobs programs to teach Initiative, which would be enough, or something better if you know, as other nations without our addiction problems do, we'd improve the world by everyone's standards, including the free-market, Ayn Rand types. I think at the root is a belief that people want to be lazy. I just don't see it in at least 99%. If last 1% say 5% scare you, are you really going to let your fears of 5% of people drive economic policy to ecological ruin? I would much rather have shoulder-rubs, dinner made for me, or to make dinner for her, hugs, and what entrepreneurs come up with than destroyed planet. Remember, all those trinkets mean extracting oil for materials, to drive factories, truck, boats, etc to deliver, $1.6B to haul away.

426: Why unplug?

2021-01-01

I'm in my second month since I unplugged my fridge. Why unplug it? Not because I think its power makes anything more than a negligible difference. This episode describes why. Here are my notes I read from: The other two reasons I unplug the fridge. The first was after reading Vietnam and much of the world ferments, I was curious to learn fermentation. Second is reading how much backup power a grid needs to maintain perfect uptime. Resilience. Each bit after 99% costs a lot more. Alternatively, 95% requires almost no backup. Third is to learn and grow myself. Neediness and entitlement, especially to things that hurt others and nobody needed for hundreds of thousands of years, doesn't make me better person. Do you know anyone spoiled? Do you describe them as "You know what I love about Kate? She's spoiled and acts entitled."

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