Leadership and the Environment

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176: The folly of chasing efficiency

Ep. 176

Silicon Valley, governments, and lots of people are pushing for efficiency. I do too, but only after changing systemic beliefs and goals.

The greatest cause of global warming would have looked like the greenest clean energy innovation ever: the Watt steam engine. It led to our environmental problems today more than anything else.

We'd be fools to think today's green clean energy will do any different. Changing beliefs and goals will create results, not ignorantly continuing the patterns that got us here, thinking we're different.

Efficiency is different than reducing total waste. An LED will never compete with simply turning off the light. If you thought, but the light enables things, that belief, especially if you reflexively believe that the alternative to technology is the stone age, is the cause of global warming and our other environmental problems because it drives continuing the behavior that got us here.

What I'm saying won't change that belief. In my experience few things change belief, rarely facts, figures, doom, gloom, guilt, shame. Definitely not continuing what you're doing. What does? New experiences and community.

I'm not going to get into leadership and what influences motivations, emotions, beliefs, and behavior, but I'll tell you that if we don't change our behavior and beliefs, if we could magically return CO2 levels to pre-industrial revolution, we'd be back here pretty quickly.

And our behavior for centuries has been to make things more efficient, ignoring total waste, which we've increased. Almost nobody wants to consider consuming and producing less, despite reduce, reuse, recycle starting with reduce.

Folks, when people say that not acting now means we'll have to act more later to keep the earth able to maintain a population and society something like ours, they mean it. And people have been saying that for generations. If you believe efficiency only will make a difference, you aren't changing at all. You're doing exactly what got us here.

Change would be to reduce.


Here's one of the papers I alluded to. Quoting the paper:

we find that higher energy efficiency increased rather than reduced energy use, because lower capital cost enhanced energy use by more than the increase in energy cost reduced it. This casts strong doubts on the view that energy-saving technological change has lowered fossil energy use.

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396: Margaret Klein Salamon, part 2: Political or Personal or Political and Personal

Ep. 396
My goal in this podcast is to bring leaders from many fields and share what made them effective. I believe sustainability and stewardship would benefit from learning more effective leadership. A goal with each guest is to feature them. Everyone is unique. Everyone brings something we can learn from.Sometimes I don't achieve my goal. Sometimes a guest and I end up talking at cross purposes, which I think happened this time, meaning I didn't do justice to the guest. This time I started off exploring Margaret's views and experiences but part way through misunderstanding arose and I don't think I gave Margaret the chance to shine that she deserved. I apologize to her. I hope I didn't distract from her work. You'll hear at the beginning how her book led me to reflect, introspect, and act so I recommend it.If I messed up, I welcome constructive criticism. I hope she looks all the better for the conversation even if I don't. I hope you, the listener, enjoy hearing the conversation and get value from each of our perspectives. I think I captured the two purposes at the end---that I had trouble seeing her view that getting distracted from political change would not achieve the effects we need to turn things around and that she didn't see my view that personal action augments the political, not distracts.I hope each of us surprises the other by succeeding more in ways the other couldn't have conceived of, illuminating the other's world and expanding the other's view to where each of us becomes more effective than we would have otherwise.