Leadership and the Environment

Share

266: Thoughts on my MAGA interview

Ep. 266

My notes I read from for this post:


Yesterday I posted my interview on a site that strongly supports Donald Trump. I do not. Yet I described it as one of my favorite interviews. What gives?

The conversation prompted thoughts on environment and politics. Read my post on the conversation and listen to the conversation for context. For more context, the guy who hosted, Rob, his profile says "Vote Red To Save America!" on Twitter, where he describes himself as "The Conservative Black Cowboy." In videos, he wears a Make America Great Again hat. Doing these things openly in New York City may only mean you're looking for a response, but I think it also means genuine, strong feelings.

I read that he genuinely and authentically wanted to know about me, my history, and my actions -- not to attack or criticize but because he saw in me something he hadn't before but that he liked. His site criticized others as dupes for scientists looking to save their money among other what I would call attacks on climate activists, but he seemed to hold back from saying there were no environmental problems.

I read that he was looking for a voice and story worth listening to. I may have misread him. As one person, he doesn't represent the right or Trump supporters in general, but I don't think I misread that a lot of people like him would welcome

How unwelcome I felt in a blazer and collared shirt at the climate march. I suspect I impacted the environment less than most but felt unwelcome until I spoke with a friend. I don't remember the details and may have misread so can't say for sure. Even so, I consider people dressed for business the ones the crowd should have felt most comfortable since they influence so much that pollutes. Instead, it felt like there was a leftist political machine that seized on an issue to empower themselves and beat the others. That view treats others as if they want to pollute as primary goal. But no one wants to pollute as primary goal. Everyone on the left I've met pollutes more than I do. Should I conclude they pollute as a primary goal? No, they haven't figured out how to reduce their pollution yet so they keep polluting. In the meantime, they enrich themselves at the expense of others helpless to defend themselves. Just like people on the right.

If I say people on the left don't care, they would say they do and something along the lines that you have to break some eggs to make an omelet and I just don't understand them. Were I to keep pushing, they'd get angry, say I don't understand them, and disengage. My ability to influence or lead them would drop through the floor.

I wouldn't understand that they do care. They do want clean air, land, and water. If I understand that they care and find ways to help, they'll follow, which I do on my podcast in hundreds of conversations.

Well, people on the left say people on the right don't care, but don't afford that they would say they do and something along the lines that you have to break some eggs to make an omelet. People on the right conclude those on the left just don't understand them. Those on the left keep pushing, getting everyone else angry, to say I don't understand them, and disengage. Their ability to influence or lead drops through the floor.

Centuries of systems and beliefs make it difficult to live sustainably, as do uncertainties and risks. Plus our population makes it impossible, as far as I can tell, for humans to live sustainably. We all want to act. The most anyone can do is as much as we can. I find the most effective way to help people do as much as they can is through listening, understanding, and supporting.

Frankly, I suspect that when the right turns their ship around and embraces environmental action, which will happen faster the more the left stops treating it as a political weapon, they wouldn't surprise me if they achieved more.

Posts:

More Episodes

2/24/2020

294: Population: How Much Is Too Much?

Ep. 294
What is Earth's carrying capacity? Why is it important?Many ask how we will feed 10 billion people. Mathematician way of asking is if we can feed so many and if so how. Maybe we can't.First, don't want to know. While it depends on many assumptions that aren't hard or measurable numbers, like standard of living, distribution of resources, and technology, we can say it's maximum misery per person.How do we narrow it down? Could ask resources per person and how much resources Earth can provide. Limits to Growth projects how much planet would sustain from a systems perspective including history and how we live our values.I prefer a historical perspective I learned from Alan Weisman based on the Haber-Bosch process, which enabled artificial fertilizer. Before artificial fertilizer, limitations on fixing nitrogen to grow food suggest Earth could sustain about 2 billion, enough to create Einstein and Mozart. Want people like Jesus, Buddha, Laozi, and Aristotle? We needed only a few hundred million to create them.If we're over the planet's carrying capacity, especially by factor of 3 or 4, strategy isn't to ask how to feed 10 billion but if we can lower the population before processes like famine, disease, loss of critical resources, war, and so on do it for us.I couldn't answer except in ways where the cure was worse than the disease, but the history of Thailand's Mechai Viravaidya's leading a nation-scale cultural shift from 7 babies per woman to 1.5, voluntarily, peacefully, leading to abundance, prosperity, and stability changed everything for me.Mechai's success makes lowering the population plausible and fun. The limitations of growing food without artificial fertilizer make it necessary to avoid famine and other natural disasters. These two factors clarify our priority, it seems to me.Mechai Viravaidya's TEDx talkMy episode 279: Role model and global leader Mechai Viravaidya
2/20/2020

293: Alan Weisman: My Greatest Source of Environmental Hope

Ep. 293
Alan Weisman's book Countdown changed my strategy to the environment. It ranks among the top most influential works I've read, watched, or come across, up there with Limits to Growth.Why? Because when you look at environmental issues enough, and it shouldn't take too long these days, population always rises to the top as one of the top issues. Many people today hear about projections that the population will level off around 10 billion. Actually, the ones I see project that the population will keep growing exponentially then, just slower than now.If you only look at one issue---only climate, only deforestation, or only extinctions---they seem possibly solvable, but they're all linked. Solving several at once---say meeting power needs while the economy falls apart and food becomes scarce---looks impossible.Also, since nothing deliberate limits population growth, we're lucky if it levels off. We aren't choosing where to level it off and 10 billion looks three to five times what the Earth can sustain. Cultural changes could promote more growth. Many populations are promoting maximum growth today---very powerful religions and autocratic rulers for example.I don't want to rely on luck for our species' survival. Besides, my research into what Earth can sustain says that we're over the limit. If we're heading toward a cliff, simply maintaining our speed and not accelerating doesn't stop us. We have to decelerate.Despite the convergence of all these issues, for years I held back from talking about population. People don't like others meddling in their personal lives. I don't want the government in my bedroom. People overwhelmingly associate population talk with China's one child policy, eugenics, and Nazis. I did too. I didn't see how I could improve a situation by suggesting to avoid misery later through misery now.Still, I knew some cultures---island nations that lived centuries or longer, for example, or the bushmen in southern Africa whose archeological record went back hundreds of thousands of years---kept their populations level, so they must have developed some mechanism.In some past episode of this podcast, with Jared Angaza, for example, I pondered aloud how to find out how they did it, though it may have come up when I was a guest on his podcast. I could only wonder what worked but couldn't promote what I didn't know.Countdown changed all that. Alan found and reported on numerous examples in today's world of cultures lowering their birth rates without coercion, without top-down government authority, voluntarily, desired by all participants, leading to abundance, prosperity, peace, and stability, the opposite of where overpopulation takes us.Countdown tells stories of 21 places, some promoting growth and results aren't pretty and some where they've lowered birth rates and they're remarkably pleasant, even prosperous and stable. He talks about the top ones in this episode.We have tough times ahead of us. One change simplifies everything---a smaller population achieved voluntarily, peacefully, joyfully. Alan has researched firsthand more than almost anyone. He has more than enough reason to despair if he wanted to. If he's not, I conclude that everything he's found nets out to say we can do this.Family planning, education, and contraception seem technologies and practices that can work more than carbon sequestration, solar planes, and everything else. They're cheap, they're available, they make sex more fun, they've overcome cultural resistance outside the gates of the Vatican!Read his books and Limits to Growth.I'll do my best to bring him back.Past episodes I based on Alan's books258: The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman251: Let's make overpopulation only a finance issue250: Why talk about birthrate and population so much?248: Countdown, a book I recommend by Alan Weisman