Leadership and the Environment
305: The greatest danger from covid-19 would be not learning from it
My notes that I read from for this episode:
Greatest danger is not to learn from it.
Starting story: Preparing to launch on 9/11. While nothing on scale of victims, first responders, and those who fought, but went from 8 digit to limbo. Within two years squeezed out. Gave up following Einstein and Newton to outdoor advertising that I didn't even like. Now no way forward, backward, or anything. Lost trust in people. Closer to mom and other entrepreneurs with similar disaster.
We feel everything shutting down. Huge unknown. Will things restart? How many will suffer? How many will die? What will happen to health care system? Have I bought enough to eat? Will I become infected? If so, how badly? Will I accidentally infect others?
Images of China, Italy, Korea show fuller shut down ahead.
Other nation's results show divide in effectiveness with if they faced SARS, MERS, and related situations.
Nothing compares with experience.
We've seen in America back-to-back 500-year storms, fires, and floods. My home of New York City has seen a hurricane, not nearly the country's severest.
We know more is to come.
We lack relevant leadership experience.
I don't see a silver lining to lower pollution if it comes through suffering and death.
If any silver lining -- that given predictions for generations that neglecting our humility to the environment by dominating instead of stewarding it would lead to sea level rise, unbreathable air, famine, pestilence, and more, we can expect more -- and however bad this problem, it may give us training for future disasters.
Our greatest danger in responding to covid is not to learn how to handle a population far beyond the Earth's ability to sustain or regenerate. Because we could learn what nations hit by SARS learned.
We've been fortunate enough so far to face mostly localized disasters at different times. Here is one of our first global ones. The US could come together to help victims of Katrina, Paradise CA fires, and so on.
We've helped foreign communities -- however imperfectly?
What will happen when two or three disasters happen? Four?
Today's answer is that we don't know and have no basis to answer.
But we could learn now. Not a silver lining for people in Italy or Iran and probably the US who are turned away from hospital care.
Nor did I know what I would do on September 12. The fallout had barely begun. My life is far better for what I learned over what comfort and convenience I lost.
Learned leadership and how to teach it, over a decade now. Students and clients apply it from the West Bank, to Silicon Valley, to the nation's least advantaged communities.
Five years ago began my journey to serious meaningful environmental action. It began simply, challenging myself to go a week buying no packaged food. Learned to cook from scratch, found delicious, faster, cheaper, more accessible (Saturday cooked in Bronx at invitation from single mom in food desert to show her community what I'd learned).
Mindset shift to expect acting on environmental values to improve life. So when I learned flying NY-LA r/t warmed the globe a year of driving, I challenged myself to go a year without flying.
March 23 begins my fifth year of what I expected deprivation, sacrifice, obligation, chore, but turned out joy, connection, and community.
I threw out my garbage once in 2019, 2018, 2017. Pure life improvement amid 90% reduction according to online calculators.
I've spoken to about 1,000 people on my podcast and life about not flying. About 998 said impossible.
Suddenly many not flying. It's always been a matter of motivation and imagination.
One flight brings you to distant loved one or job opportunity. Flying in general separates to where you have to fly. More flying means less time with family and less control over career and is a sign of privilege that letting go of improves life.
My mom texted me she couldn't see me last week. We don't know if my niece's Bat Mitzvah later this month will happen. Our family is closer, not more distant, despite the physical distance.
We can learn from this. It will get worse before it gets better. Maybe it will just be a worse flu season. It probably won't become like the 1918 flu coming off WWI or the Black Plague, but they danger isn't how sick you get, it's how society handles it.
Let's learn as much as we can.