Leadership and the Environment


040: Which is easier, freeing slaves or not using disposable bottles?

Ep. 40

Which is easier, for a slave owner to free his or her slaves or for you to stop using disposable water bottles and food packaging, flying around the world, turning down the thermostat and wearing a sweater in the winter, and so on?

If you had slaves, would you free them?

I think most people would say it's a lot easier to avoid plastic than to free slaves, but they would also say they would free their slaves -- at least when no one can check. But they don't act environmentally.

If you believe you would make the difficult choices hypothetically, will you also make the easier choices here and now?

More Episodes


415: Marion Nestle, conversation 2: Let's Ask Marion

Ep. 415
Food started me on this journey. If it's not a major source of joy, community, and connection, the opportunity is there to make it so.Marion Nestle does it. She returned after recently launching her book Let's Ask Marion, which I consider her most accessible. I read What To Eat, around 500 pages, and loved it, but Let's Ask Marion is under 200, with quick chapters, though still comprehensive in covering her most important topics.Our conversation covers background not in the book of her and her co-author, Kerry Trueman, who researched the questions, asked them, and planned with Marion the book's structure and content.Since her first appearance on this podcast, I sat in on her class at NYU---one of the benefits of teaching there myself---so got to know her work and history in more depth. She helped found the field of food research. I was glad to get some of that personal touch at the end---the plants Marion grows and her attitude to them.She wrote in the book that her top consideration about food is that it's delicious. It's personal. We can grow it. I hope that connection to our food came out in our conversation and that we can increase it.Most Americans seem to view food, exercise, and the environment with horror, sources of guilt, shame, confusion, and uncertainty. Marion lives the opposite. I think I do too. Knowing all about food and our food systems may seem like work, but it leads to delicious joy, community, and connection.

414: Nir Eyal, part 2: He committed to avoiding flying before the pandemic

Ep. 414
We covered two main points: how I inspired him and how he inspired me. If I'm not too presumptuous to say I inspired him, that is, the first part is about his choosing not to fly. Several months into the pandemic at the time, we were all used to not flying, but when he committed, before the pandemic, most people I talked to called not flying impossible.Some backstory: Nir emailed me about 24 hours after our first conversation to say he had already substituted one flight with speaking remotely. In this episode, he shares about how he made it happen.Then we get into a back and forth about technology. We agreed on some and disagreed on other parts. Then I switched to what he inspired me on: barefoot running. When most people say barefoot running, they mean minimal shoe. Nir was the first person I met who ran without shoes. Finally I had a role model who ran in Manhattan without shoes. I had been emailed with him between conversations about it. Finally I could share with him. He shared how he got started, what motivated him.I'm sorry the technology conversation probably sounded annoying. On the one hand it's annoying for everyone, on the other, what do you do when you disagree on something? Not talk about it? Avoiding the conflict doesn't resolve it. It leaves it to fester. That's fine on issues that don't matter, but the air we breathe, water we drink, and soil we eat from matter. I hope to run with him when he gets back so New York can see two old men running barefoot together, laughing.We can not talk about it and just let the ballot box decide. As far as the environment goes, we saw how that worked out in 2016.I closed the episode with a plug based on the couple stories about famous, successful people inspiring me to physical, emotional, and intellectual fitness and life improvement. If you want to bring into your peer group the most amazing people you can think of, start a new branch of Leadership and the Environment. Since we recorded, several branches have started, coming from Sweden, England, Italy, and soon Japan.I will train you in the basics of starting a podcast and the elite skills of connecting with people you only dreamed of.The guy who started Leadership and the Environment Sweden just reported back to me how his third guest was an important government official from his home town and she is putting him in touch with a Parliament member. It happens that fast.If you want to start LatE Acting, LatE Silicon Valley, LatE Hip Hop, LatE Sports, or any field, contact me. I'll train you, you'll meet the people of your dreams, lead them to contribute to a legacy of stewardship, and they'll thank you. It takes some effort, but anyone can do it.

413: Michael Moss, part 1.5: Maybe that was the addiction speaking

Ep. 413
Michael wrote me the morning before we scheduled this conversation to say he ended up spending more time on the screen when he intended less. He wondered if we should skip it. Longtime listeners may remember similar results with guests Jim Harshaw and Caspar Craven.I told him I'm not looking for a Disney version implying that acting sustainable was easy. I believe listeners engage more with hearing the challenges than perfection, though it would mean him sounding human. He magnanimously agreed. So we'll get to hear his challenges.As it happens, his next book is called Hooked: Food, Free Will, and How the Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions, which overlaps with getting hooked on screen time. We ended up with some sneak preview of the book and how it relates to polluting behavior, especially Michael's challenge.We describe a parallel between changing eating habits and sustainability habits came across, as well as the techniques doof industries use to establish habits that help them, however unhealthy for you or damaging to Earth's ability to sustain life and human society. Since they work to get past your defenses, often with children too young to have developed defenses, I would call them insidious or creepy, like a tick creeping slowly past your defenses.The challenge in changing these habits, from one perspective, is to create new neural pathways. We focus on the objects of our craving and the craving, but looking past our craving to seeing that we are training ourselves and the feelings of withdrawal will pass seems to make iteasier.