—Systemic change begins with personal change—

(Formerly Leadership and the Environment)

Community, support, vision, stories, role Models, experience.

Leadership turns feeling alone and complacent into action.

We bring leaders to the environment to share what works. Less facts, figures, and gloom. More stories, reflection, self-awareness, connection, support, and community.

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645: Hamilton Souther, part 1: Living Among the Matsés in the Peruvian Amazon

November 28, 2022
Hamilton Souther is a CEO, Master Shaman of visionary plant medicines and founder of Blue Morpho Shamanic Ayahuasca and Sacred Plant Retreat Center in the Peruvian Amazon. Over the last 12 years, Hamilton has meticulously studied and mapped modern mental illnesses to help thousands of his clients from around the world with depression, anxiety, drug addiction, and PTSD. Hamilton focuses his work on Universal Spiritual Philosophy. He is bilingual in English and Spanish, has a Bachelors degree in Anthropology, and has studied shamanism in California, Cusco, and the Amazon. Hamilton was given the title of Master Shaman by Alberto Torres Davila and Julio Llerena Pinedo after completing an apprenticeship under Alberto and Julio. He guides ceremonies and leads shamanic workshops, in which he shares Universal Spiritual Philosophy.
Hamilton Souther

645: Hamilton Souther, part 1: Living Among the Matsés in the Peruvian Amazon

Suggest to people in our culture that we consider not growing the GDP nonstop and most react with fear at what they see as the inevitability of recession leading to depression leading to the tax base declining, infrastructure crumbling, hospitals closing, mothers dying in childbirth, thirty become old age, and reverting to the Stone Age.

Yet there remain many cultures that don't buy into our culture at all. Despite our culture invading their lands, what many of us consider the pinnacle of human culture, they choose theirs, and not out of ignorance. They know our culture.

If our culture is so great, with electric vehicles, fruit flown overnight around the world, and iPhones, why do they resist it?

If we believe we have so much, why do we keep taking their land?

Hamilton lived among the Matsés in the Peruvian Amazon for 4.5 years. He shares how he arrived there, how they took him in and trained him to be a shaman, and what differences and similarities he saw there compared to here. We talked a bit about ayahuasca, but as I see one of our greatest challenges is to learn to live sustainably, and electric vehicles move don't help, I was more interested in what I and we can learn from people who still leave things better than they found them.

Hamilton shares about how they live and the interface with a westerner who lived with them not as a tourist. I found his experience and education fascinating and accessible. Expect more episodes with Hamilton to come.

Janet Allacker, part 1.5: Joy first

November 19, 2022

In our second conversation, Janet reveals that she did part of her commitment, but found traveling not by car took longer than she expected and didn't do it often.

At one point in this conversation, she shares she felt she had to reduce pollution. I point out I didn't say she had to reduce pollution. I invited her to manifest emotions she liked.

Our society burdens us with thinking we have to ACT BIG! SCALE! SOLVE GLOBAL PROBLEMS!, which create obstacles to starting and prime us to expect it takes work and sacrifice. Environmentalists create that burden as much as anyone. Yet nature is a joy!

The Spodek Method aims at first at the modest effect of leading someone to act on intrinsic motivation, which makes acting meaningful and purposeful. I contend the fastest, most effective way to act big, scale, and solve global problems is to start where you can, engage intrinsically, and keep going.

After the Spodek Method's mindset shift comes the process of continual improvement, which I distinguish from lots of people doing small things. It's leading to where you enjoy it so you want to keep improving so you do big things because doing them improves your life, so you do more. Big things that spread out of joy, fun, and freedom scale.

You'll hear Janet reset her feelings of obligation---extrinsic motivation---in favor of intrinsic motivation to continue joyfully.

She also asked me many questions about what I'm doing and following up many episodes she's listened to.

643: Gaya Herrington, part 3: Five Insights for Avoiding Global Collapse

November 15, 2022

At the end of our second conversation, Gaya was finishing her book, leaving KPMG, and soon starting at Schneider Electric. The book just came out, Five Insights for Avoiding Global Collapse: What a 50-Year-Old Model of the World Taught Me About a Way Forward for Us Today (a free download), and she's worked at Schneider a while.

We talk about the book, how the world has tracked two of the Limits to Growth simulations, and how working at Schneider is.

The book treats how to respond to a complex, systemic problem, which is different from how to respond to a simple, linear problem. I consider the advice right on, rare to find, even among environmentalists. To change a system, some of the best levers are its goals and values. Don't change them and you retain the system you're trying to change, which most people are doing.

Gaya's views are a breath of fresh air that give direction for people who want to lead to act.

642: Listener Questions 03: Fermentation and my dream job

November 11, 2022

In this episode I answer:

  • Have you tried making home made yoghurt from plant milk and friendly bacteria. I guess you'd want non packaged options like make from almonds or coconut although home made soya milk is possible with some work. (Using my yoghurt maker is one way I've tried to reduce packaging). Likewise have you tried making vegan cheese?


  • If you didn't work at NYU what would be your dream job?

641: Listener Questions, volume 02: What Motivates Me To Care?

November 6, 2022

Here is the listener's question this time:

Where do you think your concern and consideration for others comes from? Is it mostly nature or nurture? (E.g. influence from up bringing). I'm thinking about your social conscience about how your pollution or lack of it has an impact on those you've never met. I like to think I care about others but the truth is I continue to do things like drive to modern jive because it suits me even though it contributes to damage for others.

640: Mark Mills, part 2: Low cost, high availability energy creates wealth

October 31, 2022

Mark and I share more highly researched, thoughtful conversation on human welfare and the environment. We see things differently, but I consider our conversations the type we should have more of. This session we cover

  • The book Limits to Growth as well as the concepts underlying limits to growth
  • Earth's carrying capacity
  • How much wealth is consumed by food and fuel, now and historically, and how much it's dropped
  • How the low cost and high availability of energy has allowed us to devote more money for other things, inventions, and life improvements
  • What is pollution?
and plenty more.

639: Bruce Robertson and Milad Mousavian: Carbon Capture and Storage Is Not a Climate Solution

October 26, 2022

I learned of Bruce and Milad's Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) report, The Carbon Capture Crux – Lessons Learned, with fascination since I held out for carbon capture to be one of the major potential solutions to climate change. Though climate is only one of the many environmental problems risking civilization, it's one of the big ones.

I contacted them to learn what could work or not. Many projections take for granted that today's unproven technologies will work in time to help, but our wanting them to work doesn't mean they will.

In our conversation, we talked about their findings and what they meant. Sadly, the results aren't pretty. As they said “as a solution to tackling catastrophic rising emissions in its current framework however, CCS is not a climate solution.”

Some highlights from the report:

They studied 13 flagship large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS)/carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) projects in the natural gas, industrial and power sectors in terms of their history, economics and performance. These projects account for around 55% of the total current operational capacity worldwide.

They found seven of the thirteen projects underperformed, two failed, and one was mothballed.

"CCS technology has been going for 50 years and many projects have failed and continued to fail, with only a handful working. Many international bodies and national governments are relying on carbon capture in the fossil fuel sector to get to Net Zero, and it simply won’t work. Although some indication it might have a role to play in hard-to-abate sectors such as cement, fertilisers and steel, overall results indicate a financial, technical and emissions-reduction framework that continues to overstate and underperform.”

The study found that Shute Creek in the U.S. underperformed its carbon capture capacity by around 36% over its lifetime, Boundary Dam in Canada by about 50%, and the Gorgon project off the coast of Western Australia by about 50% over its first five-year period.

“The two most successful projects are in the gas processing sector – Sleipner and Snøhvit in Norway. This is mostly due to the country’s unique regulatory environment for oil and gas companies,” said Robertson. “Governments globally are looking for quick solutions to the current energy and ongoing climate crisis, but unwittingly latching onto CCS as a fix is problematic.”

Last week the Australian government approved two new massive offshore greenhouse gas storage areas, saying CCS “has a vital role to play to help Australia meet its net zero targets. Australia is ideally placed to become a world leader in this emerging industry”. 

However, Robertson says, carbon capture technology is not new and is not a climate solution. “As our report shows, CCS has been around for decades, mostly serving the oil industry through enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Around 80–90% of all captured carbon in the gas sector is used for EOR, which itself leads to more CO2 emissions.” 

About three-quarters of the CO2 captured annually by multi-billion-dollar CCUS facilities, roughly 28 million tonnes (MT) out of 39MT total capture capacity globally, is reinjected and sequestered in oil fields to push more oil out of the ground. The International Energy Agency says annual carbon capture capacity needs to increase to 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2by 2030 to align with a net zero by 2050 pathway. “In addition to being wildly unrealistic as a climate solution, based on historical trajectories, much of this captured carbon will be used for enhanced oil recovery,” says Robertson.

History shows CCS projects have major financial and technological risks. Close to 90% of proposed CCS capacity in the power sector has failed at implementation stage or was suspended early — including Petra Nova and the Kemper coal gasification power plant in the U.S. Further, most projects have failed to operate at their theoretically designed capturing rates. As a result, the 90% emission reduction target generally claimed by the industry has been unreachable in practice. 

Finding suitable storage sites and keeping it there is also a major challenge—the trapped CO2 underground needs monitoring for centuries to ensure it does not come back to the atmosphere. The report identifies interim considerations for CCS projects if no alternative solutions to emissions reduction are found.

  • Safe storage locations must be identified, and a long-term monitoring plan and compensation mechanism in case of failure developed.
  • The CCS project must not promote enhanced oil recovery.
  • To avoid project liability being handed over to taxpayers, as is currently the situation with Gorgon, large oil and gas companies mainly benefiting from CCS at their gas developments must be liable for any failure/leakage and monitoring costs of CCS projects, specifically if they get subsidies, grants and tax credits for capturing the carbon. 
  • It must not be used by governments to greenlight or extend the life of any type of fossil fuel asset as a climate solution.

Robertson says more research could be done on CCS applications in industries where emissions are hard to abate such as, cement, as an interim partial solution to meeting net zero targets. “As a solution to tackling catastrophic rising emissions in its current framework however, CCS is not a climate solution.”

638: Mat Johnson: Exploring and Expressing Identity

October 23, 2022

Longtime listeners know I spent some formative years in some rough neighborhoods in Philadelphia. In researching them for my upcoming book, I discovered the many-award-winning book Loving Day by Mat Johnson took place largely a block from where I lived. His Wikipedia page showed he went to grade school with my stepbrother and stepsister.

I read and loved Loving Day, which not only described my neighborhood, it explored it through race, which I was looking to understand, and it was raw and vulnerable, which I struggle to create in my writing. It opens: "In the ghetto there is a mansion, and it is my father's house." That house was a block from my home.

Loving Day led me to read his books Pym, Incognegro, and Incognegro Renaissance, all of which I enjoyed, comprising most of the fiction I've read lately. I invited him to this podcast to explore all these topics. Since he teaches writing at the graduate level and has written so much, he shared more than I had hoped for, to my pleasant surprise.

I think of this episode as less about the environment and more personal to me and my history, but his experience in creative expression and teaching will make it valuable to all.

637: Holly Whitaker: Overcoming Addiction, Embracing Freedom

October 20, 2022

I read Holly's book because I see us as a society and individuals addicted to what pollution brings. What can we learn from someone who overcame a different addiction?

Holly's book is the opposite of a downer. It's spirited, researched, personal, and engaging. She reveals with infectious anger how society profited at wrecking her life, telling her poison was normal and good. Most of all, she shares how before stopping her addiction she thought sobriety looked impossible to achieve and boring if she did, but after sobriety, she loved life beyond what she could have imagined and beyond what an addiction-based society conditioned her to expect.

We live in a society built on addiction. We created it. Almost every sentence in her book applies directly to our addictions to what pollution brings: flying, social media, fashion, and so on, all lowering our quality of life, controlling us, hiding from us reality and how joyful life can be.

In our conversation we talk about the forces around us hell-bent on addicting us, creating craving and emotion to lock us in and keep us coming back. She agrees on how her experience applies to pollution.

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