Environmental leadership resources

August 3, 2018 by Joshua
in Leadership, Nature

earth from space

Here are resources I learn from and return to about joy, discovery, meaning, purpose, community (not doom, gloom, new-age fluff, etc), in no particular order.

I’ll keep adding to it.

I recommend bingeing on all of it.

Leadership and Teamwork

The This Sustainable Life podcast

When people hear my podcast name, they focus on the environment part. I consider leadership incomparably more important. We know what to do. The question is changing our behavior, which is leadership.

I consider my book, Leadership Step by Step, the top resource on learning to lead.

The Spodek Method: Making Meaningful, Sustainable Changes

The Story of Stuff

Main site

Their short movies (my favorite part of the main site and one of my top starting points)

The Story of Plastic (feature length)

Similar style and value on textile waste in Ghana from ABC (Australia): Dead white man’s clothes and the accompanying video.

Similar style and value from the Post Carbon Institute: 300 Years of FOSSIL FUELS in 300 Seconds

Zero Waste

Bea Johnson videos, a big role model since saying I pollute less than other Americans is about the lowest bar possible

Bea’s page and blog

Lauren Singer videos, another role model

Lauren’s page and blog

Rob Greenfield’s page, another role model. An article he wrote: Growing and Foraging 100% of My Food for a Year, his videos.

The Clean Bin Movie and Project

Just Eat It Movie

Life Off Grid (book and movie, also on Kanopy)

Living the Change (also on Kanopy)

Limits to Growth

The 30-year update book

The book synopsis


Tons of videos

My post on recent comparisons with data, with links to original papers

The Limits to Growth at 50: From Scenarios to Unfolding Reality by Richard Heinberg in Resilience.org

Is Global Collapse Imminent?, Graham Turner at the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute compared with data in 2014, 42 years later

I Did a Data Check on the World Model that Forecast Global Collapse, Gaya Herrington, Director, Sustainability Services at KPMG, for her masters thesis at Harvard in sustainability studies compared with data in 2019 (original thesis). Results: the data is consistent with BAU2 and CT, too earlier to distinguish between the two, though both could be ruled out if data differs.

Nature and Humans

Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER), the picture book by Population Institute, Population Media Center, and Foundation for Deep Ecology.

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? by Alan Weisman

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be by J.B. Mackinnon

Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen by James Suzman

The Great Dance, a film of San Bushmen life, a possible view into how we lived for tens to hundreds of thousands of years by Craig and Damon Foster.

Not So Simple: Notes from a Tech-Free Life, by Mark Boyle (his Guardian column and TEDx talk)

How much of Earth’s biomass is affected by humans?, by Greenpeace. (Short answer: 96 percent of mammals are us and our domesticated animals)

Endgame 2050

The myth of aging populations being a problem: Silver tsunami or silver lining? Why we should not fear an ageing population

Birth rates decrease faster from deliberate family planning than without Population Control Policies and Fertility Convergence

Population growth is a Ponzi scheme that governments and corporations fear to address, or rather they accelerate: Is Population Growth a Ponzi Scheme?, Pro-Growth Demographic Dogma, and Too hot for climate change: Limiting population growth (all three by the former director of the United Nations Population Division)

Systems Thinking

Tons of videos

If Japan Can, Why Can’t We?, on W. Edwards Deming’s helping Japan take over industry globally with quality based on respecting and honoring people. My goal: to achieve what Deming did in industry and productivity with culture and stewardship.

My favorite book on the topic, Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows

The book that introduced me to it: The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge

Human and nature dynamics (HANDY): Modeling inequality and use of resources in the collapse or sustainability of societies, Safa Motesharrei Jorge Rivas Eugenia Kalnay

The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education by W. Edwards Deming

Renewable, green, clean energy isn’t renewable, clean, or green and won’t solve our problems

Life after Fossil Fuels:A Reality Check on Alternative Energy, by Alice J. Friedemann (a free download, plus a lot covered in two video interviews with the author: 1 and 2)

Mines, Minerals, and “Green” Energy: A Reality Check, by Mark Mills of the Manhattan Institute. Also The “New Energy Economy”: An Exercise in Magical Thinking and The Hard Math of Minerals. And 41 Inconvenient Truths on the “New Energy Economy”.

Mark Mills’ videos: What’s Wrong with Wind and Solar? and How Much Energy Will the World Need?


Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves by Adam Hochschild

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas

Videos on William Wilberforce

More videos on William Wilberforce

Videos on John Newton

American Experience The Abolitionists Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Connecting our polluting system with the system of slavery

The New Abolitionism: Averting planetary disaster will mean forcing fossil fuel companies to give up at least $10 trillion in wealth, by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in the Nation

The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude, the book, by Andrew Nikiforuk

Andrew Nikiforuk – The Energy of Slaves audio

Andrew Nikiforuk: Energy Slaves and the Fate of Hydrocarbon Culture Nov. 21, 2013 video

Andrew Nikiforuk: Energy Dead-Ends: Green Lies, Climate Change and Chaotic Transitions video

David Suzuki compares oil sands industry to slavery

Voluntary, intentional national-level family planning yielding stability

Family planning success stories from The Overpopulation Project

What proposals will work (most won’t)

The Do The Math blog, by Tom Murphy, one of my favorite sites. It’s accessible. You don’t need to know math, science, or engineering. UPDATE: Tom compiled his blog into a textbook, Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet, by Tom Murphy, for his course for non-science undergraduates. Here’s my review of it. You can download it free here.

A reality check on renewables – David MacKay, a Caltech-trained Oxford physicist, simply and accessibly illustrates how much energy we use.

Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air, MacKay’s incredible book (and free download) describing in more depth how much energy we use and what we can do about it.

Pulling Back The Curtain On The Energy Transition Tale, by Megan K. Seibert and William E. Rees of the Real Green New Deal Project, compiles what we would need to convert from fossil fuels. Devastating if you thought we could live as we do today, just without pollution. Liberating if you want to live in harmony with nature and other people. Here’s a peer-reviewed version of the paper: Through the Eye of a Needle: An Eco-Heterodox Perspective on the Renewable Energy Transition.

Renewables aren’t that renewable or sustainable: Renewable Energy Paradox: Solar Panels and Their Toxic Waste and Wind turbines are one of the poster boys of the renewables industry, but are they completely green?.

The Myth that Efficiency Helps

Among other conclusions of a 2016 MIT study into Jevons’ paradox, also known as the Khazzoom-­‐Brooks postulate, backfire, and rebound effect, concluded in every case they looked at that efficiency increased pollution: In each of 57 cases examined, the particular combinations of demand elasticity and technical performance rate improvement are not consistent with dematerialization.” Their paper: A Simple Extension of Dematerialization Theory: Incorporation of Technical Progress and the Rebound Effect.

The Myth that Growth Helps

The Nobel Prize for Climate Catastrophe

Is Decoupling GDP Growth from Environmental Impact Possible?

The decoupling delusion: rethinking growth and sustainability

Beyond GDP: Measuring and achieving global genuine progress (Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) peaked in 1978, falling since)

Capitalism and the Curse of Energy Efficiency

Can Economic Growth Last?

The Hope at the Heart of the Apocalyptic Climate Change Report

Why Growth Can’t Be Green

Clean energy won’t save us — only a new economic system can

The Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy

Tons of videos

3-page overview on overpopulation by Bill Ryerson of Population Media Center

How Is the Oil Industry Like the Slave Industry?

Andrew Nikiforuk on his book The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude: audio interview, 2013 in-person presentation.

Why you should recycle less by avoiding buying recyclables

Bea Johnson’s TEDx talk

National Geographic: 91% of plastic isn’t recycled

Canadian Broadcasting’s Marketplace:

PBS: The Plastic Problem

Human behavior promotes pandemics

Human behavior promotes pandemics

Low Tech Solutions

Low Tech Magazine, one of my favorite sites. Exiting the current system doesn’t mean the stone age. Black and white thinking like that comes from inexperience

Examples where improving efficiency creates greater pollution and waste

The simple way this Japanese town has become nearly zero-waste (video version)

Slow food, Slow life, Minimalism

Slow Food International

Slow Food US

Find a Community Supported Agriculture program near you (What’s a CSA and why should I do one?)

Mark Boyle‘s Life Without Technology series in the Guardian

The Day the World Stopped Shopping, by J. B. Mackinnon on consumerism and disconnecting from it

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, by Joshua Becker

Flying less

Flying Less: Reducing Academia’s Carbon Footprint

Greenwashing Fact Sheet Series from Stay Grounded: What the aviation industry tells you and what they DON’T tell you

Calculate Your Impact

A pollution calculator for flying and driving

Find your global footprint (here’s mine)


The True Cost movie

A video showing the disaster of where our “donated” clothes go

Tons of related videos


Nutritionfacts.org, Dr. Gregor’s newsletter is one of the few I subscribe to and I watch many of his videos

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead trailer

Me showing the results of avoiding packaged food and food with fiber removed

Angus Barbieri fasted for 382 days

How I Saved My Kids From Sugar

Carbon offsets are a scam (so is Carbon Capture and Sequestration)

My post Know the 2 carbon cycles and don’t confuse them. is the best starting point.

An Even More Inconvenient Truth: Why Carbon Credits For Forest Preservation May Be Worse Than Nothing (Propublica)

Why Carbon Credits and Offsets Will Not Work (Forest Ecology Network)

Our stance on carbon offsetting: A distracting justification (Responsible Travel)

Is a Popular Carbon-Offset Method Just a Lot of Hot Air? (Scientific American)

A complete guide to carbon offsetting (The Guardian, excerpting The Rough Guide to Green Living)

Most Carbon Capture programs failed and it’s not a young, burgeoning field poised for success.


Industrial Strength Denial

Fish and Water

Coming soon.


Why Our Food is So Dependent on Oil

Interview with author Raj Patel about the Green Revolution’s social consequences

Interview with Food Tank co-founder Danielle Nierenberg about the Green Revolution’s environmental impact

Conversation with former Oxfam America president Ray Offenheiser about the historical context of Norman Borlaug’s work

The Pollinators (on Kanopy)


Public Trust Feature Film | The Fight for America’s Public Lands



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2 responses on “Environmental leadership resources

  1. Pingback: The environment has losing stories. » Joshua Spodek

  2. Pingback: The book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, freedom, ingenuity, progress, and more. » Joshua Spodek

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