This Sustainable Life


647: Kris de Decker, part 1: Low and No Tech Magazine: We believe in progress and technology

Ep. 647
Kris created and runs what I consider one of the top sites online. It has influenced my behavior and expectations to enjoy living more sustainably, including unplugging my fridge, which led to unplugging my apartment, and start seeing that solar and wind aren't sustainable any more, though we could make them more so.I've looked forward to connecting with Kris for years. In our conversation, he shares his transition from reporting on new technologies for others for pay to reporting on technology from the view of improving life and how we keep losing the purpose of technology helping us.He also shares how he lives by the values he writes about, or writes about the values he lives, showing integrity and credibility lacking in most people working on sustainability or technology, also understanding from hands-on experience the systemic effects that Silicon Valley and political types misunderstand nearly every time.Low Tech Magazine: Low-tech Magazine underscores the potential of past and often forgotten technologies and how they can inform sustainable energy practices.Some articles that influenced me or I enjoyed:Vietnam's Low-tech Food System Takes Advantage of Decay (this article led me to unplug my fridge, which led me to unplug my apartment)How Much Energy Do We Need?Fruit Walls: Urban Farming in the 1600sUrban Fish Ponds: Low-tech Sewage Treatment for Towns and CitiesMany moreNo Tech Magazine: We believe in progress and technology

646: Noah Gallagher Shannon, part 1: Uruguay is an environmental role model

Ep. 646
I see our environmental problems and lack of effective solutions as a failure of imagination, as regular listeners of this podcast and readers of my blog know. If we can't imagine a world without pollution, we won't try. We'll resist and push back, which we do. Would-be leaders pollute as much as nearly anyone alive, more than nearly anyone who has ever lived, then say government should force them to change.Role models would help. Part of why I unplug my apartment from the electric grid and continue my process of continual improvement is to show people what's possible since nearly no one else is.Then imagine my pleasant surprise on reading an article in the New York Times, What Does Sustainable Living Look Like? Maybe Like Uruguay, that describes a whole nation moving ahead of the rest, led by a President also moving ahead of the rest. Role models!Noah Gallagher Shannon wrote the piece, met with the President and others in government as well as many people there. I recommend reading the article.Noah and I got so caught up in the conversation, I split it into two pieces. This one starts covering Noah, his profession, what he writes about, and writing this piece. He also talks about his personal motivation in his quest to live more sustainably and the challenge of finding effective leadership. Then we talk about Uruguayan life and culture, the difference between theirs and ours, and how shocked they are about ours.The New York Times article that led me to Noah and learning about Uruguay, their work, and their leadership: What Does Sustainable Living Look Like? Maybe Like Uruguay: No greater challenge faces humanity than reducing emissions without backsliding into preindustrial poverty. One tiny country is leading the way.

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

Ep. 645
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.

644: Janet Allacker, part 1.5: Joy first

Ep. 644
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

Ep. 643
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.Gaya's new book, 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)About the book: Looming environmental and social breaking points, like climate change and massive inequalities, are becoming increasingly apparent and large in scale. In this book, Gaya Herrington puts today’s key societal challenges in perspective. Her analysis, rooted in her research on a 50-year-old model of the world that forecasted the onset of global collapse right around the present time, brings some structure to what otherwise might feel like the overwhelming task of achieving genuine societal sustainability.Herrington's research, first published in 2020 in Yale‘s Journal of Industrial Ecology, went viral after it revealed empirical data tracked closely with the predictions of this world model, which was introduced in the 1972 best seller The Limits to Growth. Her book Five Insights for Avoiding Global Collapse contains an exclusive research update based on 2022 data and is written in a more personable and accessible style than the journal article. Herrington also elaborates more in this book on the many interlinkages between our economic, environmental, and social predicaments, and on what her findings indicate for future global developments.Herington lays out why “business as usual” is not a viable option for global society and identifies the root cause of this unsustainable path. Most importantly, her book teaches us what systemic changes humanity still has time to make to achieve a better tomorrow. A future in which society has transformed beyond the mere avoidance of collapse and is truly thriving.

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

Ep. 639
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.”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.”