—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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536: David Pogue: How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos

December 1, 2021
David Pogue was the New York Times weekly tech columnist from 2000 to 2013. He’s a five-time Emmy winner for his stories on CBS News Sunday Morning, a New York Times bestselling author, a five-time TED speaker, and host of 20 NOVA science specials on PBS. He’s written or cowritten more than 120 books, including dozens in the Missing Manual tech series, which he created in 1999; six books in the For Dummies line (including Macs, Magic, Opera, and Classical Music); two novels (one for middle-schoolers); his three bestselling Pogue’s Basics books of tips and shortcuts (on Tech, Money, and Life); his new how-to guides, iPhone Unlocked and Mac Unlocked; and his 2021 magnum opus, How to Prepare for Climate Change. After graduating summa cum laude from Yale in 1985 with distinction in music, Pogue spent ten years conducting and arranging Broadway musicals in New York. He has won a Loeb Award for journalism, two Webby awards, and an honorary doctorate in music. He lives with his wife Nicki and their blended brood of five spectacular children in Connecticut and San Francisco. For a complete list of Pogue’s columns and videos, and to sign up to get them by email, click here. On Twitter, he’s @pogue; on the web, he’s at www.davidpogue.com. He welcomes civil email exchanges at david@pogueman.com.
David Pogue

536: David Pogue: How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos

Two great reasons to listen to this episode. First, David is a tremendous science communicator. He's experienced, thoughtful, funny, and communicates simply without dumbing down. He's worked with some of the most important sources, like NOVA, the New York Times, TED, CBS Sunday Morning, and more. He's accurate and fun, a rare combination. I think it comes from his passion for knowledge and people.

Second, his book fills an important role. As we start our conversation, neither of us could believe no one had written such an important book. On my side, I focus and changing culture. Most focus on lowering emissions. He agrees on the importance of these things. We also have to respond to the changes we can't stop. We can't change the past. Even if we stop polluting today, we'll feel effects of past behavior for decades, centuries, even millennia.

His book tackles what to do just to continue with life. Losing composure or panicking doesn't help your life or society. How readable is it? I read the over-600-page book in two sittings, though I skipped the parts not relevant to me, like for homeowners, since I live in an apartment building.

I find most books on the environment rehashing what we know already or taking a perspective I disagree with (techno- and market-optimists, for example, though I always hope to be shown something I'm missing). His is a rare book I find valuable and can't believe I didn't think of. I think you'll find the book valuable.

Start with this episode.

Show Notes

535: The best sledding hill in the world, Tommy's Hill in Philadelphia (from my third TEDx talk)

November 28, 2021

NOTE: I recommend watching the video of this episode, not just listening to the audio.

What does the environment mean to you?

We are motivated by what's in our hearts more than facts or numbers so I believe we will act more when we connect with what's in our hearts, which inspires us. The fastest, most effective way to influence governments and corporations is to act ourselves here and now, keep acting, keep learning, and then lead others based on our experience acting.

I also ask most of my podcast guests what the environment means to them. I start my third TEDx talk, Stop Suggesting Small Things. Do Meaningful Things, with my answer by saying how I grew up near the best sledding hill in the world.

I visited for the first time in a long time, took a few pictures, and narrated them. I hope the experiences put you in touch with what you find meaningful in nature.

I couldn't bear in the video to comment how this idyllic appearing spot isn't far from where I got mugged a couple times, my bike stolen, threatened with a wrench in my face by one group of kids and a rock by a couple others demanding my watch, etc. In the beginning of the video I walked past the house of the family that barely escaped Hitler.

And everything in between. It was a childhood of diverse living.

534: Mom, part 2: Opportunity and oppression: race and religion in my childhood

November 27, 2021

I recorded my second conversation with my mom about my childhood and before during the pandemic, in the spring of 2020. Shortly after recording our first conversation, which covered race, George Floyd was murdered. You know the rest. I knew we had spent years as white minorities in India and in a black neighborhood in Philadelphia, at least part time.

I was curious to learn more of the time she would have remembered better. In this episode we talk about being redlined, being the victim of race-based violence and objectifying, as well as the access to opportunity to resources for our skin color. Also friends who narrowly escaped Hitler, why my mom converted from Lutheran to Judaism, and bringing classes of her black students from Chicago in the 1960s to where she grew up in South Dakota, where the students observed that Native Americans had it worse, at least as they saw it.

I've never understood the world people describe me coming from. I'm curious to hear the white experience from suburbs, never having lived as a minority, little crime or violence, never mugged, or whatever it's like. I presume it's no easier for them than anyone else, but it's foreign to me. I think if I learned it, I'd understand what people see in me.

Anyway, my mom took a long time to agree to post this episode. I'm not sure her reasons, but I think America has so polarized talking about race that non-partisan mainstream people fear the consequences from those who benefit from polarizing from even simply sharing their personal experiences. I hope this episode helps defuse.

533: Laura Coe, part 3: The Nature of Love

November 24, 2021

Longtime listeners will remember Laura from episodes 192 and 209, over two years ago. Her book, Emotional Obesity, made a big effect on me, as did her warmth and move from success in tech entrepreneurship to her podcast, The Art of Authenticity. She pursued authenticity in herself and her coaching clients.

We became friends and kept in touch since. She's continued exploring, where it led. As you'll hear in this episode she shared with me where it's led, which she's sharing in three new books, The Nature of Love, The Nature of Self Love, and The Nature of Boundaries, available here. In them she explores and shares about an energy field called Akasha and its access to otherwise unseen wisdom and more.

I'd never heard of Akasha either. As you'll hear, Laura acknowledges her current work lies out of the mainstream and said I didn't have to bring her on if I didn't want. Of course, I'm bringing a longtime guest and friend back. From my perspective, trying to view everyone's perception of the supernatural with an open mind, I'm as curious about her views and perspective as someone's about a mainstream religion. As you'll hear, she shared her teaching with me before this episode and I valued that experience.

I'm glad she shared her work with me and I'm happy to share it with you.

532: Michael Lenox, part 3: How to Decarbonize the Global Economy by 2050

November 22, 2021

At last, a conversation with a knowledgeable economist!

Longtime listeners remember Michael here after his last book. He just published a new one, The Decarbonization Imperative: Transforming the Global Economy by 2050. His book and our conversation cover why should we go to net zero by 2050, is it possible, and, if so, how?

We agree on the mission of dramatically cutting emissions and most strategies to achieve it. We disagree on the relative importance of some strategies and measures. Listen to hear our respective views, healthy agreement, and healthy disagreement.

531: Scott White, part 1: The Founder/CEO of an Energy Company on Sustainability

November 18, 2021

Scott White, Founder/CEO of an energy company, helped achieve this podcast's two top goals:

  1. To bring leaders to share and act on their environmental values, from any area, but especially polluting fields
  2. To help change culture from expecting sustainability is a chore or burden to expecting joy, lightness, freedom, and reward. Both happened in this episode.

On the second, you'll hear when I invite Scott to act, he had something in mind (he knows This Sustainable Life!). It sounded extrinsically motivated so I asked if it connected with the values he had just shared. As we spoke, more personal things emerged. Do you hear a different level of interest and depth of motivation for his second task? Does it sound intrinsic and more motivating?

I heard between the two commitments the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic, between leadership and management. Most of what passes for motivating people on sustainability in the media sounds to me more like coercion, implying people don't want to do it.

On the first goal, Scott is the CEO/Founder of a company that sells fossil fuels. He chose to change his company. I haven't evaluated the effectiveness of his change. Plenty of companies and people, even with the most sincere intentions, mean to reduce pollution but don't. I'm only looking at him for leading his organization. How hard is the change? How easy? What does it take? How can we motivate more people and organizations polluting less?

One lesson: companies want to follow consumer demand. If they don't hear it from you, they don't know to act. It helps no one for consumers to stay silent about their interest to pollute less. Communicate your interest so power companies can hear.

He's taking risks and trying. He sounds like a role model.

I would have liked more emphasis on reducing use. Nothing keeps fossil fuels in the ground like not taking them out in the first place. Here's my last electric bill:

$1.44 for the customer charge. The rest is fixed fees I can't do much about. On life values, I'm as healthy and happy as anyone I know. I couldn't have imagined lowering this much, but now it's normal. Since systemic change begins with personal change, this change allows me to help others achieve it.

If a power company had helped, I could have lowered long ago. Could IGS help consumers and businesses live healthily and happily consuming less, like most of the rest of the world? Are power companies motivated to help consumers reduce consumption? How many Americans realize that less power will improve their lives?

While I'm at it, here's my evolving footprint compared to the U.S. and world.

I see power companies as able to influence consumer behavior. Is it in any of their interests to motivate people using less? A lot less? If so, how?

530: Cassiano Laureano, part 2: Burpees for the body, bonzai tree for the heart and mind

November 16, 2021

Cassiano's first episode led to more listener comments than most. People loved his enthusiasm. I find guys who know martial arts tend to speak with a security. The opposite of insecure or desperate. So I think people found him accessible and engaging.

I think you'll find him more so this episode. Of course, we talk a bit about his world record for burpees. As you can tell from this episode's title, he fulfilled his commitment by buying a bonzai tree. He loved it! He shares his experience buying it, caring for it, and designing it, or grooming it. I'm not sure the right word.

Sadly, I lost the video of the tree, but you can hear him describing it. You may remember from his first episode that he saw a missing connection to nature for humans in cities. I think you'll agree that the tree's value and effect on Cassiano transcends just something he takes care of. We talk about values and how to enjoy life.

529: Katie Redford, part 2: No distractions. Keeping oil in the ground.

November 15, 2021

I see exactly two highest priorities for material goals to restore Earth's ability to sustain life. One is keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Down there it's safe. Above ground, it's poison and deadly. However clear and straightforward, almost no one focuses on this simple, effective, attainable goal.

Katie does. Our first conversation was just starting when we had to stop. We mostly talked that time about her past, groundbreaking work. In this episode we talk about her present work with pipelines in the U.S., their disproportionate effects on communities based on class, race, and more, and her work on them.

You can hear her passion in every sentence. I felt connected with someone so devoted and passionate, not waiting for others to act. This episode will rouse even the complacent among you.

(The second priotity is outside the scope of Katie and my conversation: returning global population to a level Earth can sustain through voluntary, noncoercive means such as practiced at national levels by several nations all others could emulate.)

528: Don't Bother With Stewardship. It Makes Your Life Worse. Especially If You're American.

November 9, 2021

I've meant to record this episode for a while, as the idea of saying "fuck it," not trying, forgetting about the future and my effect on others, and enjoying what our society offers seems everyone else's choice.

So I'm going full snarky. A rare unedited episode, starting from these minimal notes:

Reasons not to care

  • Money
  • Clothes
  • Travel
  • Understanding
  • Disgust, can look away
  • Disposability
  • Kids: was going to say I couldn't look them in the eye
  • Sales and marketing
  • Get credit anyway
  • Showers
  • Cars
  • Eat anything
  • Community
  • Society is for you

Reasons to care

  • Help other people you don't know and aren't born
  • Animals

Why I can't not care

  • I lack the privilege of scientific ignorance

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