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Tom Bowman | Wanderlust, Sustainable Living, & Why He Believes in Climate Change
Have you heard the one about the pastor’s son who saw the good, bad, and ugly of religion at an early age? You know, the one where he was encouraged by his family to challenge the status quo and find his own way.
So in this episode of the podcast we’re going to talk about religion. We’re going to talk about relationship. We’re going to talk about wanderlust. We’re going to talk about the climate change issue. Is it real? Is it fake? What we can do to be just stewards of this beautiful planet God gave us, and a whole bunch of other things. Welcome to this week’s Remarkable episode, the Tom Bowman story!
Tom Bowman is an advisor, speaker, and changemaker who believes that the solutions to even the world’s toughest problems are within our grasp. His gift for distilling complex problems and scientific information to their central nugget empowers people to take ownership and act.
As principal of Bowman Change, Inc., Tom works with people and organizations who care deeply about their communities and their world. Bowman’s contributions as a strategic advisor on an Action for Climate Empowerment framework for the United States are helping shape our world’s future. He is author of three books and a change agent in the small business community.
- “Epiphany (\ i-ˈpi-fə-nē ): a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way“ – Merriam-Webster.com
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EPISODE CORE THEMES, KEYWORDS, & MENTIONS:
Theology, Preacher’s kid, Strabismus, Mystic, Buddhist Meditation, global sex trafficking, The Bible, model green city, farmers, Revised standard Edition Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls. religious hypocrisy, exhibition industry, wanderlust, climate science, extinction, eco system, LEAD Certified, air pollution, water pollution, climate action, fossil fuels, coal, oil, natural gas, greenhouse gases, liberal, LED lightings, social animals, North Dakota, California, Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles, Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Clinton, Native Energy, Greensburg Kansas, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Teresa Kerry
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THE NOT-SO-FINE-PRINT DISCLAIMER:
While we are very thankful for all of our guests, please understand that we do not necessarily hold, or endorse the same beliefs, views, and positions that they may have. We respectfully agree to disagree in some areas and thank God for the blessing and privilege of free will.
Full Episode Transcript
Tom Bowman | Wanderlust, Sustainable Living, & Why He Believes in Climate Change
Hello friends. I’m David Pasqualone and welcome to this week’s remarkable episode of the remarkable people podcast, The Tom Bowman story.
This week is unlike any other week. Normally when you have a guest on it’s, someone who from the outside your beliefs line up. Tom. And I have a lot of commonality in our background and a lot of differences, but what’s beautiful is we’re discussing climate change and finding the balance.
[00:01:00] What’s really good for life. What’s really good for humanity. What’s really good for us. And we look at our similarities and we look at our differences and we find a place where they mesh together and you can too. So in this episode, Tom is Sharon, his life’s journey. He’s an author, he’s a successful businessman.
He has degrees in theology as you’re going to see. But most of all, he has a lot of life experiences. The Bronx, the place he is today and as iron sharpens iron. So in the man accountants of his friend, that’s what the Bible says. So hopefully I can bring value to you. Hopefully Tom can bring value to you and hopefully we can bring value to one another.
So in this episode, we’re going to talk about religion. We’re going to talk about relationship. We’re going to talk about wanderlust. We’re going to talk about the climate change issue. Is [00:02:00] it real? Is it fake? What can we do to be just stewards of this beautiful planet? God gave us and a whole bunch of other sayings.
So Tom’s a great guy. We can all learn from him. And I want you to enjoy this episode. So I’m David Pascoe alone. This is the remarkable, pure podcast. If we can help you in any way, please let me know. And now enjoy the Tom Bowman story.
Part 3a INTERVIEW EP75 Tom Bowman Part 1 of 2-1: Hey, Tom, how are you today, brother? Doing great. Good, great. How are you, man? I’m fantastic. And I’m looking forward to our episode. So I was just telling our listeners about you and about your credentials. And now we’re getting into the good part, your story. So at this time, my friend, like our listeners know the format of the show is past present future.
So what use it and go through your story. What made. Tom. And what was your journey like? What were some of the things you had to face and overcome achieve, [00:03:00] but then share with us a practical steps of how you did it. And then we’ll transition into where’s Tom Bowman today and where are you going so we can help you get there.
Sound good. Sounds very good. All right. Then go back. Where were you born at? What time and what was the seat? No, I’m just kidding. Go back as far in your childhood, as you want, where’d you grow up? Where are you from? What was your family like? And let’s start with. Sure. Well, my favorite thing to say is that I was literally born on an August night in a thunderstorm in 1956.
Of course I have no memory of the thunderstorm and it’s irrelevant, but but the fact that it was 1956 is actually kind of significant and we’ll get to that in a second. I was born into a fam I’m a preacher. I was born into a family in which every male child for five generations was an ordained Presbyterian minister until my two brothers and I came along.
And so, and so conversations about religion, spirituality ancient near Eastern [00:04:00] history, the history of, of Christian theology, theological ethics, social issues, and all those things were dinner table conversation in our house. I was technically born in North Dakota, but I’m a California kid. My father was doing an internship there for six months and I was born during that internship.
And something else that I think is a defining feature in a, can only be a defining feature in my own story is that I was born with a really severe case of what’s called strabismus. That’s where one, your eyes don’t point in the same direction. And by the time. 18 months old, I’d had three surgeries to try to straighten them.
So that, so that the hope is that the brain will fuse the images for both eyes and you’ll have normal depth perception just like anybody else. But at least at that time, it didn’t work so well. So I don’t have depth perception I never did. And and that is a whole host [00:05:00] of. Of challenges for our family and for the purse to new hazard.
Especially when you were because you, you have it from birth, you’re a child, you don’t have the cognitive skills, you have to develop all your you’re developing. Right. And so you don’t have any of that. And I think part of my own journey has been the relentless drive to overcome that in, in a million different ways.
So there’s a, there’s a few things to start with. Yeah. Now growing up in a preacher’s home. How many brothers and sisters did you say you had? Yeah, I have two brothers, no sisters. I’m the middle child. Okay. So two brothers, no sisters. And. Where you, and you said Presbyterian, was it more of a fundamental home where it was in fact quite the opposite?
My father was a mystic. Really, and he was very ecumenical. [00:06:00] His father, my grandfather ran a theological college in India for 16 years and wrote something like 30 scholarly books. He was, he was one of the guys who did archeology and linguistic analysis to try to get to the history of the gospels and who wrote them.
And, you know, the, it was called at the time. It was called the in scholarly circles, the quest for the historical Jesus. So my grandfather was all about. And my father was a scholar. He was a college professor professionally, and he, he did he was the university chaplain at various times where he worked and did weddings, funerals, and guest sermons.
But he, he wasn’t a church minister most of his life, but, but it was, it defined it as fuck. Of course, you know, that’s not a professional. It’s not just a job you go to and come home from. Let’s put that. Yeah, no, not at all. So what was the worldview is like, did you grow up believing in God, believing in the Bible or was there [00:07:00] questions with that?
What was your background there? So, yes we grew up in a, in a household where, you know, we. Yeah, I like it like any Christian household, really, in a sense. But relentlessly questioning. And, and as kids we ask questions all the time, you know, what are the miracle stories? What, what really happened?
And the kind of questions kids would ask. And my father introduced introduced us to the writing the story of Mahatma Gandhi and in India, who was the. Major figure in India at the time that he was there growing up. He, he, and this was the time of the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement.
The 1960s was a time of real, real cultural change and questioning and upheaval. And my father was very open to it and he was liberal enough that, that, that [00:08:00] he felt friction between the establishment of the Presbyterian church and, and his, his views. All the time. So he introduced us to the writings of the Catholic mystic Thomas Merton.
I won, we were in high school introduced us to the writings of Zen teachers. And Buddhist teachers when we were in high school and college and he was as a college professor, he was a very small school and he was sort of a one man religion department. So he taught everything. He taught ancient languages.
He taught world religions. He taught ethics, he taught philosophy. And so it was sort of a house, a household of scholars and questioners. I think it would be a better way to just. So when you were growing up, would you, did you have an everyday childhood? Was there anything like, wow, like this was really tough or this is something that I learned to overcome because of our environment or [00:09:00] was it pretty much an ordinary childhood?
Huh. Well, I was growing up, growing up in a preacher’s home. There’s usually a lot of pressure on the kids and I know a lot of my friends, they joke around, you know, and they’d say I’m a PK and I’m like, what’s a DK. And they’re like, most people say it’s a preacher’s kid, but my friend who’s going to be a preacher.
He said I was a plumber’s kid. You know, like there’s always jokes about the preacher’s kids and you wanted to be a preacher’s kid. Most people don’t want to be a preacher’s kid. So what was it? Like, don’t do it. But, but yeah. So, so when I was so my father was in seminary in Marin county, just north of San Francisco when I was very small.
And when I went into first grade, we, he got his first teaching job at a college in a small farming town in Michigan. And when we, I distinctly remember when we arrived in town and my parents were looking for a house. One of the other, I guess, was the chairman of the religion department in that [00:10:00] college invited us our family to dinner.
And he actually, he warned my dad be careful. The Presbyterian congregation just ran the Presbyterian minister out of town for, for being too liberal. And we had come from California, which is a very liberal state. By comparison. No, no. And so, and so there was, there was a sense always that we were supposed to be the model.
And that we were supposed to be on, on good, bad behavior. And when you know, the other side of that coin though, is that when you grow up in a small town, in that era, in the, in the sixties kids could roam anything. You know, that’s one of the best things about it is that there was no sense that that parents had to watch over you for your safety.
And, and it being a small town, it’s on the edge of the river and it’s on the edge of nature and, and there was. Stuff to explore, but there was, [00:11:00] I honestly, I chafed at the, at the conservative vibe and at of, at the role of being expected to be, I mean, I th I felt the tension in my parents that they that they had to be, their reputations had to be preserved because of, because we were preacher’s family.
We moved back to California and I didn’t really experience that any longer. And my, that my father made some bold decisions. I remember coming home from Sunday school one morning. In elementary school, my older brother was probably in seventh grade and he said, what the S my dad, what’s the difference between the stories we’re learning about in Sunday school and fairy tales.
And I think this was a really wise decision on my father’s part. He said, you know, Because really most Sunday school teachers don’t go through a lot of training, you know, especially in a small town, [00:12:00] you said, I think we’re going to stop going to Sunday school. And when you guys get older and can, can appreciate religion on your own terms.
That’s, that’s when you should really confront it and, and figure. What role it plays in your own lives. That’s a pretty remarkable thing to happen. And so when we came to California, I mean, that was really the end of going to church for me was that moment. And we went to a church a little bit in California and when I was in junior high, but not much.
And and yet we had spiritual, we had religious education all the time in my household, you know, And I’m really glad it never ended. And in fact I sort of confronted the family business at one point and got a master’s degree in religious studies in social ethics at a time when I was living in a Buddhist meditation center in Los Angeles and doing Buddhist practice this every day.
So [00:13:00] what I’m saying is that that has been a, a formative. Part of my life, but I’m not a organization, man. Like a lot of kids, if I can go to church, I feel kind of queasy. And, and, you know, saying things like the, the nicey and creed, I can’t help, but question it. And so I can’t say, I believe it. That, that Jesus is the only incarnation of divinity in the world ever.
You know, it just historically. And analytically at a time when there were, when the population of the entire world is about the same as the population of the United States today. And people lived in small communities that were isolated from one another and their only transportation was donkey or walking or in some places, horseback.
The idea that there is no access to spirituality outside of one [00:14:00] location in the world, that just doesn’t make sense to me. So. So anyway. Yeah, there’s a lot. You can tell I’m a person who questions stuff. Yeah. And I mean, the Bible says to study, to show myself approved a Workman unto God, rightly divine the word of truth.
So asking questions and seeking and digging is a good thing. It’s biblical. Yes. No. What about where was your mom during your upbringing? Because you haven’t mentioned her at all. Was she in the. Yes, she was, she, she grew up in a family where the her father was a high school math professor, the teacher, but also the, the choir director for their church and her mother taught music cut or getting piano out of her house and was also the organist for the church.
So she grew up in in that kind of a household too. And my parents met in college when they were both music. And my mother was singing in churches as a soloist. That’s how she [00:15:00] got her scholarship in fact, to go to college. So shows she was a homemaker until my brothers and I were finishing college.
And then she went back to college to finish her degree. She, she had only been to college for three years when she married my father and she became a psychotherapist as a, as a career after her kids had. So you guys, your mom, your dad, you and your brother, you’re all surrounded, like you said, by theology and religion and questions, but where did you land on it now?
Like when you read the Bible now as an adult, do you see it as the word of God? Or do you still have questions? A really interesting question. And I, and I I’ll be honest. So, well, that’s what we want. I know it was a discussion. Yeah. So a couple of things to say, number one, I, I don’t read it. And I don’t read other religious texts very much.
I did in graduate school. [00:16:00] But reading is really uncomfortable. Just physiologically really uncomfortable for me. That’s part of what I was born with. So and, and so I read, I’ve read a ton of books about climate change. I’ve read a ton of papers, a ton of science, a ton of other stuff that I do in the course of my work.
And of course our w our work lives now are dominated by email. And so there’s a lot of reading. And, and by the end of the day, I’m often just done with, with trying to physical. Track the text in a book and I just, just don’t do it anymore. You know? And so I read when my, when my professional reading level is low and I have capacity to do it, but I wear out.
But that’s not really the core of your question. I don’t think your core, your question is what I think of it. And I am still a practitioner of Buddhist meditation and [00:17:00] And I am still a spiritual seeker. I know a lot about the history of the, of the, of the writing of the Bible and the assembling of the Bible. And and it is AP. It is a history. You know, it was created over a long period of time, you know, centuries. And, and my father, my grandfather was on the translation committee for the revised standard version of the new Testament.
And you know when you work with committee, You may compromises you, you make interpretations when you translate from one language to another, you interpret what you’re reading. Inevitably. When people write things down, they’re interpreting their experiences or the experiences that they heard about from others.
Then when you go from an oral tradition to a written tradition, then there’s even more interpretation. So I really see it [00:18:00] in that context. I all religious texts are exist in those kinds of contexts. There they are human attempts to capture and express something really profound that, that, that occurred.
You know, there’s, there are historical events there and there are teachings there that are really important. And but I don’t take it. Okay. So when you, so from learning and seeing that and seeing on the other side, you said the American standard version, which version was your dad working on? My grandfather.
It was a revised standard version, standard version, revised one that I grew up with. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, what’s hard because there’s so many versions of the Bible and, you know, The original Bible is written in Hebrew, Greek Aramaic. So bring it to these languages, languages, [00:19:00] what all of those languages, those languages in there.
Interpreted into others. And you know, so we have an English version, but then people make to make money, not God, not the right church, but people will change that version 50 times so they can make money off it. And the Bible actually warns about that. So taking it was a revised standard version. Was that taken from the original Hebrew Aramaic and translated into English?
Or did they go English to English? I think they went well. They hired a bunch of scholars to do it. Who had ancient language, you know, ancient pry from the original texts. You’re thinking. Yeah. Ah, yeah. I mean the king James was the dominant version at the time. And and so the revised standard version was meant to be more readable and and somewhat less poetic considered king James [00:20:00] does a highly poetic version.
Yeah, I love it. That’s what I use to this day. I, it slows me down because it is older English and it helps me to really think and process through what I’m reading. So I’m a big king James fan, like in the sense of that version of the Bible, but not king James himself. He was actually a terrible human from what I’ve read.
But yeah, so that’s interesting that your grandfather was actually part of that revised standard to do. Yeah. And there was at the time, I mean, my grandfather’s, my grandfather’s career was spent reviewing, you know, the discoveries from market biblical archeology and from, you know, the, all the digs in the middle east to dig up ancient cities and, and the dead sea scrolls had been found in the course of his career.
And, you know, the translation of those or the studies of those which included other gospel. [00:21:00] That didn’t make it into the Bible and some of, and some early versions of gospels that informed some of the gospels that are. You know, that did make it to the Bible. I mean the history that I understand and I’m not an expert in it, but the history I understand is that mark is probably the oldest of the gospels in terms of being written.
And it’s three to 500 years after the time of Jesus that is written down. So there’s already an oral tradition forming and people’s interpretations for farming. And then the the gospel of John, apparently it was written in the context. Greek philosophy to try to marry the two together and to express the gospel in a form that would make sense within the context of Greek philosophy.
And so it’s different. And the end, you know, to me, the, the amazing thing about something like the Bible is that expresses the, the [00:22:00] variety of human concern for. Or religion for spirituality for all, for these, you know, these ultimate questions, like where do we come from? Who are we? Where do we go? Well, how do we live?
And it’s it’s if you look at it that way, it’s a really, I mean, to me, it’s a really rich bunch of materials. I, I confess to you though, that being a preacher’s kid gives me a certain discomfort with the whole enterprise. You know I grew up watching the hypocrisy of Sunday mornings when, when people who are naughty all week act pious on Sunday, you know?
And, and so the, and I really do appreciate that. Some people find. Genuine and fellowship in a congregation and that, and that would be really meaningful, but I don’t feel like I belong when I’m in this context. [00:23:00] I don’t know if that’s personal. I know a lot of other people who feel the same way who are deeply religious people, but, but feel that way about being in a congregation.
I’m certainly one of them, but I don’t begrudge anybody else having a completely different experience of it, you know? I have a good friend who converted. He was raised in a Jewish household. He was a religion professor for awhile. And he converted to Christianity. And to him, it is incredibly Amy even considered going to seminary and, and going into the Episcopal priesthood.
He didn’t do it ultimately. And I think that he agrees it was not the right job for him, but the role for him, but. And he, and I talk about it and his, his experience of Christianity is an instance, Christian institutions is so different from mine and it’s just as valid, you know, it’s great, but it wouldn’t work for me.
Yeah. And I think that’s important for our listeners to recognize [00:24:00] you know, what Tom experienced and what I experienced and what you experienced, what everybody experiences is. However God doesn’t change. God stays the same it’s man, that screws everything up. So like you were saying on Sundays, Tom, you saw hypocrisy.
That’s our God’s fault. That’s our fault. And we need to be accountable for that. And that’s, you know, who did Jesus flip out on in the Bible? Constantly? Not the center. It was the hypocrite. It was the scribe, the fairs, the people are trying to look good. So when we get disgruntled and upset, With people like that today, it’s righteous, anger.
I mean, you know, we don’t want to be angry and sin, it says be angry and sin not, but yeah, it’s super, super sad to see where you should have that fellowship and you should have that purity within the church walls. And then you see those people, like they’re cussing people out and lying, stealing [00:25:00] cheating Monday through Saturday and on Sunday they’re like acting all nice and address.
Yeah, that just, you want to slap him in the head and Christian there’s that? And that’s the nature of being a preacher. I think that’s the nature of being in a small, small farm town. I think that’s not uncommon. I mean, if you, if you found a bunch of people who were raised in my circumstances, they might have very similar things to say.
I don’t know. But I, you know, as kids we would ask, well, who’s God, what’s. And, and I remember my father, I did some reading of a theologian named Paul Tillich, who was very in fashion in the seventies, probably sixties and seventies. And he defined God as the ground of being as, as, as that, which allows being to come into existence.
And in a sense, I mean, that’s a very non. Personal definition, right? It’s like a, it’s almost like a scientific definition. [00:26:00] And you can’t argue with it. The, all of the interpretations of deity in all of the world’s religions are, are I’m in the old Testament even says that you can’t see the face of God.
Right? You can’t, you can’t do it. And there’s, that’s part of the human condition. Our perceptions of reality are limited by our apparatus, our brains, our senses, our capacity, our attitudes, our, but even our ability to know. And so a great deal of humility is called for and I, I remember having a conversation with my father.
I don’t know if this will be challenging for your listeners or not, but I, I was working a lot on. Issues climate change issues. And then I was, I did I just looked up estimates of global population human population from, you know, deep in the past from the time [00:27:00] that people started settling down and building communities and doing agriculture, which was about 10,000, 10, 14,000 years ago until today.
And, and you realize when you do that, that, like I said earlier, that Communities that had different religious views were isolated from one another. I mean, it was usually a day’s walk or a days, you know, a day’s journey to get from community to community news traveled slowly. But there was, there were trade routes.
There was the silk route where people exchanged ideas and, and all of that. And today we live in a world of almost 8 billion people with internet and instant communication and constant communication and confrontation between people who have very different traditions, all over the world, traditions of every kind.
And, and I asked my dad one day when I, when I was in graduate school, I was after I was out of graduate school. I asked him [00:28:00] ha is there a, a thread in modern theological things? That says, that takes this into account and says that the way we talk about Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism or whatever it is, is conditioned grows out of a tradition where we were isolated.
And so we could be right, and others could be wrong or, or their views have, you know, kind of had nothing to do with ours. And there’s something kind of. Let’s say tribalistic in that, right? Because you’re a member of our community, or you’re not a member of our community, but when a world, this crowded does that still make sense?
Because we’re all people, we’re all children of God to use that expression. How do we, how do we live our religious lives in a context where Whereas sort of, does [00:29:00] that make sense to me anymore? That there are, that, that we separate from others that we build boundaries between ourselves and others? Does that make sense?
Yes, absolutely. I had unmute my mic, so I was listening. No, it makes sense. The thing is with worldviews and with how we each grew up. Like for instance, like, do you believe the world is crowded now? Like you believe we live in a crowded world? Well, it’s far more crowded than it’s ever been by pipe miles.
Yes. Yeah. I mean, and even unsustainably that, you know, the, there has never been a human pie. I mean, the first time there was a billion people in the world was that about the year 1800 that’s only 200 years ago. And now there’s almost eight. So when I was a little kid and the population reached about 3 billion and a guy [00:30:00] wrote a book called the population bomb.
And, and the, I heard my parents talking about, I just, somehow it stuck with me that, that the world is overcrowded and we won’t be able to feed everyone and and all of that. And, and yet we have. But we’re doing it in ways that are over overtaxing, our water supplies, overtaxing, our energy supplies. You know, we’re doing a lot of environmental harm.
That’s gonna, that’s going to lead to famine and, and conflict and mass migration and all that kind of stuff. If we don’t, if we don’t clean up our act and it’s because we live lifestyles that were based on that, not having anywhere near this many people, and now we have. Now, I mean, I did some work for scientists, a number of years ago about infectious diseases.
And here we are in a pandemic, right? That isn’t over the COVID-19 pandemic. And one of the things they say is that now people move around the world so quickly on airplanes [00:31:00] and they, and they pass through these hubs where they’re in an airport with people from everywhere else, diseases can go everywhere in the world.
And they do, right? So that’s another way of saying we’re, we’re, we’re all in, we’re all in everything together now. Like never bore. And, and I think that needs to change. Yeah, and I think that’s an important, I mean, definitely technology has changed and definitely the processing of information has changed.
Like right now we’re in two different locations talking real time with no hesitation. It’s amazing. Right? Exactly. And then when you get to the physical travel, you know, there’s jets, it can take you across the continents, the ocean, and two, three hours now it’s, it’s remarkable. Yeah. So we’re definitely living in a different world, but the question [00:32:00] is, is that just the natural process and, and is it something that we need to be concerned about?
So that’s where I want to ask you. So you have. A Christian worldview. It was definitely liberal. And your, your parents, you know, they gave you the ability to question things and to see different aspects of, you know, history and humanity and religion. How did that play into where you are today?
Part 3b INTERVIEW EP75 Tom Bowman Part 2 of 2: So I think the big takeaways from that are, are several. One is that I have a real sense of, of calling about being about doing work that is in service to people.
And and the climate work is, is, is kind of what that’s all about in my world. I have a real sense of, of of distrust for my own position of sort of humility about that because [00:33:00] one of the things lessons I learned constantly is there’s more to learn. There’s, there’s, there’s a lot, we don’t know there’s a lot.
We don’t see And, and the, the constant questioning, but, but a big part of my upbringing also was stories of India. And the fact that my grandfather had lived in India for 16 years, he lived in Japan for a year. He lived in Scotland for a year. He lived in the Philippines for a year before I ever met him, you know, as a baby, as a child in California.
And it, it sort of cemented in me a need to experience the world and other worldviews and to and to always understand whatever worldview I have in the context that there are many worldviews that are equally valid. And I, I really didn’t. I don’t put much stock in my own worldview. When I was at that living at the Buddhist meditation center, the [00:34:00] teacher was an American Buddhist monk who had been raised Jewish and went to Japan as a, to work on his PhD.
And amongst wouldn’t let him into the monastery to study unless he became a monk and he, so he ordained and, and so he was a really brilliant and still is a really brilliant sort of translator of that tradition for Americans. And and there, I will never forget a group conversation at a, at a retreat when someone, a philosophy professor has to don’t you have ideas.
And he said, of course I have ideas. I just don’t believe any of them. And I think that’s really brilliant. I think that’s really profound that th that everything that we hold to as ideas. As tenants, as concepts as axioms are provisional. And if you, if you treat them [00:35:00] that way, it’s very liberating.
And it allows in my experience, it allows for connections with other people to be more, more easy and more genuine, more sort of person to person and not filtered by whether we share the same philosophy, the same ideology or not. You don’t really care if I share the same ideology with someone, you know, Yeah, no.
Let me ask you a question. We kind of skipped a little bit. I want to make sure we hit it. So you went from, you know, 16, 18, 20 years within the home, and then we’re getting into your life work where you’re at now. What happened between that phase? Like what did your path look like? Yeah, so I went to a college that was an experiment in college called Johnston college as part of the university of Redlands in Southern California, which is it was sort of a conservative Baptist liberal arts school.
My father taught it was one of the founding faculty at Johnson and Johnson was a school that was experimenting with different [00:36:00] models of education and there, they were trying to teach people how to learn so that you’d be alive. Student, essentially in your life, which was really good. And the faculty and students ran the affairs of the college with the except exception of the financial stuff and the legal stuff together.
Everyone was on a first name basis. We had community meetings once a week. We had committees that you could join Wednesdays where governance day, there were no grades, it was all narrative evaluation. So you wrote a self evaluation of your performance in the class. You wrote an evaluation of the professor’s work that professor wrote an evaluation of you and your file is your list.
Of your, your transcript is your evaluations. You write, you wrote contracts for the classes that you took that would describe negotiate what you were going to do. You wrote a contract for your major, your graduation contract, it’s called, that was approved by a committee of faculty members and other [00:37:00] students who had their graduation contracts on file.
And you went through a contract review to, to be allowed to graduate. And what this did is it created a real entrepreneurial sense of you take ownership of what you do. You know, you couldn’t, you couldn’t check the boxes. Cause there were no boxes to check, you know? And it works for some people really well and it doesn’t work at all for other people.
And it worked really well for me. So I got a degree from there and fine art and but I, I mentioned earlier that I had this. You know, I’m sorta dyslexic. I don’t have depth perception and, and I can’t read out loud with any reliability because when I’m reading out loud, it just stops. The process just stops.
So I was really struggling with what can I do as a profession? I, you know, the, it seemed like a lot of opera options were, were [00:38:00] unavailable. Anything that involved a ton of reading wasn’t going to work. And I, I moved at that point into Los Angeles through a connection with my younger brother to the international Buddhist meditation center, which was founded by a Vietnamese Zen master, who and, and it was a really fascinating place because there were people from every Asian country, every Asian tradition, there were sort of aging hippies.
There, there were really serious students of, of Buddhism and meditation. And it also kind of served as a processing, a landing place for an awful lot of Vietnamese refugees. After the end of the, of the Vietnam war, I was in the last lottery for the Vietnam draft. They didn’t take any of us, but I just remember the anxiety that filled our lives that we could be drafted, you know?[00:39:00]
And so it was a transfer transformative experience in a lot of ways. The meditation practice and teaching was transformational. So was the cock cross-cultural living with people from Asian con a bunch of Asian countries every day was really transformational. And it was in that context that I went to graduate school in religion and decided a master’s degree was plenty.
It just, wasn’t gonna work for me to turn it into a profession and, and I didn’t really want to do it, but I. I want it to learn what my family was all about. And and that was really helpful. And when I got out of that process, I kind of stumbled accidentally into an industry that I ended up working in for a long time.
The exhibition industry, I answered an ad and it was from a small husband and wife owned boutique design office that did museum exhibits [00:40:00] science museum exhibits, mainly but cultural exhibits too. And it, it, it was kind of remarkable. It was incredibly creative. These teams were incredibly creative, every day was different.
Which I really liked. It brought together my, I had done construction work. It brought together my skills and construction and, and experience with that with the kind of intellectual work I had done in graduate school with, with art, a version of art. And it was really cool. And so I worked there for about six, six or eight months, and I moved to San Francisco and, and worked in a exhibit house.
There there’s a whole industry of companies that build trade show exhibits. And these are, these are shops, they’re basically wood and metal shops and you walk in in the morning and there’s nothing. And you walk out and there’s this incredible, beautiful, complex display with things that are in [00:41:00] motion and lighting systems and, and gorgeous finishes and interesting sculptural shapes.
And I did that for a few months. And then I was, I was asked to join a design firm that in Pasadena, California, back here in Southern California, that, that they had really high-end trade show programs and marketing programs. And and because of that, and I think this is the really, really cool part of it.
I will. On the road for most of the year in Asia, on the air show, circuit setting up exhibits. I was in, in Jakarta for about six weeks in Indonesia, which is an incredibly impoverished city where you see millions of people living on the street and they’re getting their water out of the river, which is this slow moving muddy river at that point.
And it’s also their bathroom, you know? And and there are your taxi cab stops and, and two dozen young boys are surrounding with their hands out asking for anything. [00:42:00] And you’re there at the behest of American corporations that are putting you up in the Hilton and the other Hyatt, you know, the super fancy places where where you check in and they know your name already, and the people who clean your room, know your name already, and you walk to the restaurant and the, and the maitre D knows your name already.
You know, it’s, it’s, it’s this heady world of being from the, from the developed world, from the pinnacle of the developed world, being treated like almost a God. And and being surrounded by people who have literally nothing. And I, I had so many experiences there that were kind of shattering, you know, of holy cow, what is my place in the world?
You know I spent an equally long period of time in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, which is a Muslim country that has also has a large Chinese population. And I’m working with local carpenters who don’t speak English and I don’t [00:43:00] speak Malay or Chinese. And so we’re communicating without across a language barrier.
While I was there, they executed two. To the government executed two Australian tourists who had been caught with marijuana and they were, they were being executed for drug offense. That’s those really strict. And for somebody who grown up in the United States, these were really different experiences.
And then I was in Korea in Seoul where you walk to the sort of outdoor public market. And I mean, whenever I get to the city, I just walk the city. First thing I did was walk the city. And this market where you, you find things like an entire hog head on a platter that you can buy, you know, and and this kind of teaming, we would say unhygienic teaming, crowded bizarre, bizarre, like, like really the bazaars of ancient [00:44:00] times, you know, still exist today in Asia and much of the world.
And so I was immersed in that for a year. I w I spent six weeks that year with an American Buddhist monk friend, traveling in Taiwan on a vacation. And we visited monasteries all over Taiwan and traveled and spent. We were immersed in, in Taiwan culture for that whole time. So this was just I mean, it was fulfilling my wanderlust and my curiosity about what my grandfather’s life.
It must’ve been in my father’s young life. Must’ve been like, but it was also sort of blowing my mind about our position as the wealthiest society in the world, the biggest consumers in the world, the nation that throws its weight around more than any other. And, and as a moral question, where do I, what do I do?
What do I fit? You know? And then you come home. To a culture [00:45:00] where everybody understands the same mediums and they get your jokes. And, and it’s all very comfortable because it’s so familiar and the pressures, the economic pressures of life in America are, are what we respond to. And you’re completely removed now from those direct experiences with Pete with real poverty.
And I mean, the sex trade is common over there because there is so much poverty and the moral, like the moral choices become really complex. What, what is the most compassionate thing I do in this circumstance? You know And the, and the, and it’s complicated. It’s really complicated. So, so I had all that experience.
There was that like when the sex trade people have buried their head in the sand, and this has been around since the beginning of time, sadly, but what year are you referring to where you’re watching the activity? Yeah, so that [00:46:00] was 1986 in, in Asia. And there was a night when the trucking company, the shipping company that moved freight from show to show in and out of the countries, took a group of us out to dinner.
And, and what, I didn’t know when I said, of course we’ll go is they took us to a bar where the guy gives a signal. And every one of us white males from the first world had a local woman sitting on our lap instantly. Boom. And the expectation is that we were going to take them all home. I just felt so uncomfortable with that, that I just gave her some money and said, no, you know, at the end, as we were leaving and we left and there was the, the walkway in and out the parking areas to get between there.
And our taxi was just jammed with young men. And we, I mean, it was a pressed shoulders shoulder. It felt really, really [00:47:00] uncomfortable. And, and I thought I’d done the right thing. And one of the, the, the shipping company guy said, you know, last night that woman, you didn’t take back to the hotel, she has no place to go for the night and that I had no idea.
Right. And you realize just how, how how powerful poverty is in bending, how people live and, and in contrast just how wealthy we are. I mean, We are wealthy beyond anyone’s wildest dreams in the history of the world pretty much. And to me that means we have a huge obligation to the rest of the world.
Yeah, absolutely. And people in the United States who are living on the front lines in low, and I, when I lived at the international Buddhist meditation center, this was the collision of the Hispanic neighborhoods and the black neighborhoods and the Vietnamese neighborhoods. And [00:48:00] nobody had any money.
Your battery got stolen out of your car every few months and you’d go to the used battery store and spend 15 bucks and put another battery in your car and you go to recycling your neighbor’s batteries, you know, and, and you got attacked on the street. Occasionally I was attacked once by a guy who was on drugs and.
And I realized, and in the summers, in Los Angeles, at that time in the middle of the flatlands of Los Angeles, in those poor areas, it’s hot, it’s smoggy, it’s relentless, nobody has air conditioning and you realize that most people have no way out. They can’t earn their way out. They’re not going to get jobs.
They don’t have the educations they’re stuck. And so it just raises the question, what is my place in the, in this world, in, in a very, very direct way. Right. And in a very non in it, in a way that doesn’t fit neatly into any boxes I was raised with. It’s just, it’s just the reality you’re in. Yeah. And a couple of quick things going [00:49:00] back to the sex trade.
I mean, I know you don’t advocate the sex industry and I don’t advocate the sex industry for sure. But growing up in such a privileged society in America We act and have the opinion that, oh, this doesn’t really happen. Or it only happens in really bad places. But the sad reality is like, you know, you’ve got the Jeffrey Epstein’s and the Clintons and all these people who are going through their little private islands, raping children, and it’s it’s in America.
You just have these scumbags who have a lot of money hiding it. But the fact is it’s not even that hidden people just aren’t looking. And like you said, in that culture, if that girl went with somebody as part of her motivation, she’d had a place to sleep, even though it was a terrible circumstance. So it’s a global issue and we definitely, definitely, definitely need to address it and do what we can to change it.
And like you said, you were trying to change it and help and give her money. [00:50:00] And yet you’re like, you know, now looking back, you’d be like, okay, well, come back to my place. You, you, you sleep on the bed, I’ll sleep on the couch and not touch it. So it’s just a, what do you do? You know? And it’s like well, what it tells you is that what it told me is that in the desperation leads to all kinds of solutions, right?
I mean, imagine they say that in, in cities, like Sao Paulo, the biggest city, one of the biggest cities in the world where the slums are endless and, and, you know, there is an underground economy there. That people use to survive. That’s that’s below the level of the official economy. And when I lived in, in central Los Angeles in the eighties, there was a sort of a underground economy there too.
It’s everywhere. And, and so there’s a combination of things that we’re talking about. There is sort of the moral depravity of people who are in positions of power to take advantage of [00:51:00] someone else. That’s the part that we all know is horrendous, but there’s another part of it too, which is that, that is that the, the, the drive to survive leads to all kinds of things.
Are not considered morally repugnant in that context, by the people who will live there and are doing it. There’s a, I read some really wonderful novels by again, guy named John Burdette and the, the character in the novel is a sleuth. He’s a, he’s a cop who’s solving murders and stuff in Thailand in Bangkok and he’s Tai, his mother runs a bar, she’s a prostitute or a former prostitute.
And all of this is just the, the Amelia you, you know, she’s she’s a good person. She’s a wonderful person. There’s no sense that there’s, that she’s doing something she shouldn’t do by being a [00:52:00] prostitute because that’s the local economy. And, and the great thing about reading those books is that it, it has a way of, of sort of teaching us that our, our sort of dogmatic morality.
Is really conditioned by where we sit in the world and the privilege that we have in this life that other people don’t have. And when you don’t have that privilege, then, then where you draw the lines between what’s moral and immoral changes. And, and I’ve seen it a lot. I, you know, I’ve, I’ve lived in those contexts enough to, to really get it, to understand it and, and not to be judgmental about it.
It’s easy to be judgmental of guys like Epstein, you know, who was caught human traffickers and, you know, people who are exploiting others. [00:53:00] Yeah. Throw the book at them. But, but the people who are on the other side of it, who, who live in a world where this is the opportunity that you have that’s a whole different ball game.
And Yeah. That’s I guess that’s what I can say about it. No, no. And I think that’s a good there’s people who, man, there’s a song. You never know what it’s like to be in somebody else’s shoes, you know? And there’s people who are born on the street or people who were born in like in a normal American home and then they get into drugs and then it brings into a bad place.
Or maybe they don’t do anything wrong. And they’re kidnapped or, I mean, like you said, different cultures, different economies. Yeah. I definitely don’t want it. I definitely don’t want to make someone feel horrible for their survival. But I [00:54:00] definitely do want to help them find a better way. And we definitely do want to stop these bastards who are enslaving people and who are harming people and doing it just for money and abuse.
So I think we’re on the same page there, but let’s transition this into that same. Definitely subjective background. I mean, your childhood was subjective. You don’t want a flexibility in your thinking your college education was much different than the majority of the world, not just America. You had a subjective, you know, you went to the Buddhist monastery, so you definitely have had exposure to different cultures and different the ologies in different environments and all of that has culminated to where you are today, where you chose climate change as your life’s purpose.
So explain to the audience what climate change is and what you believe and where you’re going. [00:55:00] Because I think we discussed before. I’m not even sure, like I definitely personally believe in being an adjuster to everything God’s given us. And I believe in making sure that we do our best to take care of what we’ve been blessed with.
But I think you and I might have different perspectives on it. So I definitely want to hear and understand what you believe in why and share that with our audience. So what do you believe in regards to climate change and where are you going? Let me let me start by By turning something you said on its head, you said that I chose climate as my life’s work now.
And climate chose me. And I mean this in a really particular way. So in the early two thousands, I had done a lot of work in the exhibit design world for our electric utility companies. A lot of the electric utility companies have energy education centers where they, they train their customers, but they mostly train architects, building engineers, [00:56:00] transportation, engineers, and others, how to incorporate energy efficiency into their professions because you know, the energy we don’t need is the cheapest new form of energy.
So there are in California, there are mandates for them to do it, but, but it happens in Chicago. It worked on one in Dayton, Ohio. They’re all over the they’re all over the United States. So I knew a lot about. I had a background in telling technical and scientific kinds of stories through exhibits. And I was hired to by the national academy of sciences, which is an honor society chartered by Abraham Lincoln to advise the Congress and the white house on matters to science, engineering, and medicine that affect public policy.
So Congress or the white house will ask the national Academy’s question and, and they will, they will without they, they assemble volunteers who are members of who were, you know, you’ve done significant work to be, [00:57:00] to be inducted into the national academy of sciences as a really, really big deal. And so they do independent work, then all those NRC reports, all those national research council reports on everything you can imagine whenever you hear about one of those, that’s the national academies that doesn’t.
So they wanted to do a science museum. And the first exhibit they want to open with was climate science back in 2003, in 2004, when no one had ever done that before. And so I learned climate science from some of the nation’s most preeminent scholars of the ancient climate and climate modeling and recent observations and atmospheric chemistry and physics and biology.
And I had a really, really brilliant mentor who was the science officer at the museum who, who I was basically getting a an independence. In climate science from some of the best minds in the country, and that’s a really rare thing [00:58:00] and who gets that right. But I had to learn it in order to interpret it in an exhibit for the rest of us who aren’t scientists.
And so I read a climate textbook and I read a bunch of papers and, and, and had long question, answer sessions with them. And in the end there are projections about where our climate is headed according to the climate models. And they looked pretty ridiculous and scary. And I re I remember asking him the science officer curator.
What’s your attitude about this? And because I had never confronted an exhibit topic that scared me before about the future and my design partner. And I’ve talked about it a lot and his answer was, well, thank goodness. We have time to figure this out, cause humanity isn’t going to do anything so unwise as to utterly disrupt the climate system because the climate system is the one thing we all depend on.
It’s the rain patterns, it’s the [00:59:00] temperature patterns, the snowfall patterns, you know, it’s our productivity of our, of our agriculture system. It’s, it’s the biodiversity in our forests and swamp lands and coastal wetlands that depend on those conditions. Persisting. And so forth. So, and so I went back to my normal job and this kind of hung around in the back of my mind.
And I did other projects until 2006 when I was contacted by the Birch aquarium, which is part of the Scripps institution of oceanography in San Diego, California. And it’s it’s another earth system science research facility, and they have a public facing aquarium where they, where they present kind of the results of the scientific work done by scripts.
And I was sitting it just imagine this scene is aquariums on a bluff overlooking LA Jolla Cove, which is, I. Piece of Southern California beach property. [01:00:00] Okay. Looking out at the Pacific and it’s floor to ceiling windows, and they always have the guests sit on the side of the table where you’re looking at the windows at how the beautiful, the Pacific ocean is that day.
And I, and I it’s just idyllic. Right? And we’re talking the science advisor and I are curator and I are talking and I said, you know, something, they told me at the national academy stuck with me. They said P pay attention to the oceans because the oceans are like a giant flywheel. They can absorb so much heat before temperatures start to rise that once temperatures start rising in the ocean, we’re committed to a changing climate for 500 to a thousand.
I think about that. That’s a big, big deal, right? So if you measure warming temperatures in seawater, it means that the climate is going to continue to change for a long time. And she just blindly says, oh well, we’re part of this project that has robotic floats [01:01:00] in every ocean in the world. And we’ve already measured warming in every ocean in the world to a depth of a thousand meters, 3000 feet.
Think of how much water that is, that has warmed up. And then, and this is a, I had a moment of genuine epiphany, you know, which Webster’s defines as a sudden intuitive insight into reality. If something, the hackles went up on the back of my neck, I start, I could hardly breathe. It felt like there was a predator crawling up behind me.
You know, I literally turned around and I looked at the wall because it felt so real. And that was a moment in which all of the. Suffering and the tragic implications of climate change sort of hit home at all at once in an intuitive insight. And I realized just how far into this process we are and just how big a task it is to change course and [01:02:00] to put a stop to it for the sake of everyone and for the sake of every other species.
And I was literally, I mean, I, it was a moment in which my professional role as a business owner, as a, as a, as a museum interpreter, as a communicator, All of that just felt like it was stripped away. And I was sort of naked and raw in this realization. Right. And she said to me by the way, my boss just came back to her office and she’d like to meet you now.
And so I’m going to go meet the director of the aquarium and I’m literally, I’m literally trembling. And I walked into her office and you know, anyone who’s ever owned their own business knows that when you meet your new client, you want to be cool. Right. It’s not a problem. You got a challenge. It’s not a problem.
I’ll give you advice. We’ll work it out. We’ll solve it. And nothing’s a problem. [01:03:00] I sat down across from her and she, she talked a little bit and then she looked at me and she says, is there kind of quizzical? Look, she said, is there anything you want to ask me? I said, yeah. How do you cope with knowing what you know?
And she said, oh, and we talked about. The position of humanity in this, and the fact that other species populate and populate and populating grow and grow and grow until they run out of resources. And then they starve to death. You know, they, they, their population shrinks, they disrupt their ecosystem.
They or they get wiped out by disease or something happens. And here we are looking at the possibility that that could happen to us, but we have the mental capacity to choose not to do it. And the question is, can we choose not to do it? And I drove home that day and I thought, can I please put this toothpaste back in the tube and go back to the life I was living yesterday before [01:04:00] I had this insight.
And of course the answer is no, you can’t, you know, you can’t, you can’t, un-see something like that. And so that started a new journey in which. And I ended up starting a consultancy, which I operate now because there’s so much work to do beyond exhibits. And I hired a friend to help me run my design agency and I ultimately sold it to him, passed it on to him.
So it continues and I’m I’m doing this cause I was wearing way too many hats and I was having acid reflux and you know, just too much pressure. Right. Cause I was working on climate projects, many of which were pro bono, some were not. And and I couldn’t run, you can’t run a small business and be distracted doing something else at the same time.
It’s just, it’s just not sustainable. So so my old design company continues to flourish even after COVID and and I have [01:05:00] been working with scientists and social scientists and most recently with a real eclectic group of climate and climate justice leaders who are. Academics and activists and communicators and social scientists and business people and others on, on strategies to help the United States get its arms around, you know, activate, mobilize our public to create the futures we want to see in our own communities, which is something really powerful, not in a top-down way, but in a way that that brings people in a community together to choose the future they want together.
And I just wanna, I just wanna tell you one brief story to, to set aside any notion that, that I am a political leftist in California, and I have used that nobody else shares. There’s a town in Greensburg called [01:06:00] Greensburg, Kansas little farm town, 15,000 people. And one night in 2000, I think it was 2004.
Maybe it was 2006. The largest tornado measured in the United States destroyed the town. 95% of the buildings were destroyed and about 11 people lost their lives in the town and in the surrounding community. And the people spread out to find places to stay, and they had to decide whether to rebuild their town.
And the governor of Kansas said, why don’t you rebuild as a green city and and a nonprofit form to help people figure out what that means? The city government, I mean, they declared a disaster area. So they had federal and state funding to help them and so forth. And all the city buildings are LEED certified platinum lead certified John Deere bill to lead certified, which is a high ranking, energy efficient building for their showroom, their tractor dealership, farm equipment dealership.[01:07:00]
And all the residents were encouraged to rebuild their homes in energy efficient ways, but they didn’t have. I could do what they wanted to the city gets all of its power from wind through a wind farm development. And there it’s tied in with a native American energy company called native energy that does renewable energy projects.
And I was talking to one of the city leaders and I said, so, and they’re known internationally as a model green city now. And I said, so how did you adopt these left coast? Liberal values and he said, no, there’s nothing left coast or liberal about it. We’re farmers, we’re stewards of the land and, and taking care of where we live is part of our it’s in our blood.
It’s who we are as people. And you can call it, you can label it any way you want to, but the motivation is, is genuine. And that’s what I’ve really discovered is that the motivation to have lives that are not dominated [01:08:00] by air pollution and water pollution, and economies that exploit us and a degradation of our surroundings and high risk of fire and flood and other kinds of damage.
People want to make choices that, that worked for them in their context, that that help them lead healthier, more, robust, more, more resilient lives. And that’s what this is really about. That’s what climate action is really about. So So, let me ask you a couple of questions if you don’t mind. Yeah. I mean, my perspective is obviously from America and I have a conservative worldview.
Yes. And I grew up in that mindset, you know, so biblically, when I read my Bible, you know, civilization, it even lines up with history, you [01:09:00] know, civilization recorders like six, 7,000 years ago. And so what I’m seeing is civilization started six, seven years, thousand years ago that we have recorded you know, every religion that’s been out there.
Even if it’s not biblically based, they always had this story of the great flood. You know, when we’d call as Christians, Noah’s time, you know, there was a great flood that wiped out the world. And I was always under the impression there was billions of people then, and then we kind of reset start over.
And now we’re here right around that 7 billion population. But I know just in my lifetime, it was like, the world is going to freeze. Then the world going to burn, then it’s climate change. Your own went from global, you know, global freezing to global, you know, heating to, to now climate change because we don’t know what’s going on.
So what are you seeing? [01:10:00] That’s happening to our earth? ’cause I agree with like that city in Kansas, you, we should be just stewards. We should not litter. We should not pollute. We should be as clean and as recycling as we can, because that’s, you’re smart. That’s just appreciating what God gave us. But what are you seeing in regards to like, change?
Like you mentioned the waters and I want to ask you about that. So I’ve gone to Pensacola beach and it’s which Chile, and then two weeks later it’s like, oh, this is nice and warm now. I mean, it’s a fast change because the sun, but you made a comment earlier. The change will go down up to 3000 feet in Alaska up to 500 years.
Explain that. I don’t understand that. And I’m sure our listeners don’t either. Yeah. Okay. So, so you’ve actually raised a lot of things. The idea that the world was cooling was a, was a misnomer in the press, but it got a lot of attention. The climate system [01:11:00] is warming and that’s been measured reliably by satellites, by sensors, by temperature records over all over the world.
The Arctic’s warming faster than the equator. But it’s warming. And that doesn’t mean we don’t have cold years cold winter because weather from year to year is jacket. You know, they have warm, cold, warm, cold, but the general trend is towards warming, warming, warming So you asked about the oceans, the oceans are complicated there.
I mean, it’s three quarters of the earth and it goes down 30,000 feet in some places that’s a lot of water and there are circulation patterns. You know, the Gulf stream is a pattern that moves from the tropics up the west Eastern side of the United States up to Greenland and Iceland, and then comes down and warms Europe because there’s this pattern of warm water that goes that way here in the Pacific, the waters Chile, because the same pattern occurs that goes up the coast of Asia across the Arctic and comes down [01:12:00] the coast to the west coast of the United States.
So our water is chillier and there’s there’s turnover vertically in the ocean, right? So cold water sinks, warm water rises. And when currents come ashore, they. Cold water from deep. When they run into the coast, it kind of follows the continental shelf upward to the surface. So there’s a lot of moving, going on in the water in the same way that there are currents in the atmosphere.
So the jet stream and the prevailing winds that go from one direction to another, and it doesn’t mean that every day, those prevailing winds happen the same way, but they, but they are the prevailing wind patterns. And so. So what climate climate is not about today’s weather. Climate is about the trends in weather over long periods of time.
One scientist, I talked to described it as average weather. I like to think of it as sort of the envelope within which all of our weather occurs, right? [01:13:00] So I live in California, we have what’s called a Mediterranean climate. So we get all of our rainfall and snowfall happens between November and March.
And then we’re drive pretty much for the rest of the year. We have moderate winters. We have warm to hot summers that are dry. That’s our envelope. Right. But it doesn’t. It’s the changing of that envelope. That is the changing of the climate. And we’re starting to see it changing with all these year after year after year of horrendous wildfires here in the west, they’re going on right now, up in Oregon.
Massive fires then the town of paradise was burned to the ground by the campfire. I think it was last year or the year before. It really tragic. Lots of people lost their lives. Everybody lost their homes. When the, when the climate system gets warmer, there’s really more energy in the system. And so storms can become stronger.
Droughts can [01:14:00] become deeper and longer. Heat waves can be more frequent and longer. The floods that happened in Europe this week have, you know, it’s a once in a hundred year flood. Well, if it just by itself, it’s a once in a hundred year flood, if it starts occurring more frequently than once in a hundred years or so.
Now we’re starting to see a new pattern and that’s what the science says has been happening and is going to happen more. So so that’s sorta, I, I get, I don’t know if I answered your question, but that’s sort of a back of the envelope definition of what’s going on and yeah. Let me ask. Yeah, I mean, this really cause you and I, every human has value and like you said, not everybody sees the same way.
Right. But I want to make sure I understand you and be able to help where I can and all of us make a better world. So, one thing you just said, though, before I kind of summarize this is, you said there’s more energy. Did you mean more [01:15:00] intense energy? Because the law of thermodynamics says energy can be neither created or destroyed.
So are you saying when there’s heat, there’s. It’s more intensified is more intensified. So the way it, the way it works is that the sun, our energy sources, right. It warms the earth, but most of that heat radiates out into space. That’s why at night times are cold, right. And, and some things hold it in, clouds, hold it in.
So that’s why cloudy nights tend to be warmer than clear nights when it’s chilly outside. Well, all the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and, and the other is Clara fluorocarbons and some others water vapor they’re called greenhouse gases because they absorb some of that heat that would otherwise escape into space.
And so the more, the more of those greenhouse gases we add to the atmosphere, the more that, that the more that’s in the atmosphere, the more. [01:16:00] Gets kept in the atmosphere instead of radiating out into the blackness and coldness of space. So, and it’s the greenhouse effect that keeps earth warm enough for us to live on.
You know, if, if it not for the atmosphere, we’d be on the moon and it’s either blazingly hot in the sun or utterly unbelievably frigid in the, in the shadows. And it’s just across the line from sunlight to shadow and the temperature swings 400 degrees, something like that, right? It’s the atmosphere that keeps it within a range of temperatures that are livable for animals and plants and humans.
So, so we’re essentially, it’s like a blanket and we’re, the blanket gets thicker and thicker. The more greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere. So they’re not, we’re not creating any new energy. We’re just not letting it go. We’re just holding onto it in the same way a thermos bottle holds onto it, you know, Something like that.
So it keeps your house warmer in the winter. Yeah. Now I know a lot of people. And [01:17:00] you mentioned this before, like you said, at this rate, the population won’t be able to sustain itself. So when I look at the world, there’s places that are thickly, densely populated. Yes. And a migration, you know, when would stop that, but who’s going to migrate right now, you know?
Cause it’s status quo. You know, what’s India have on its own a billion people, you know? I mean, 1.6 billion people, something like that at one time, China’s 1 billion. That’s right. Yeah. That’s just ridiculous. Just those two countries alone. How many people? Yeah, but I guess in my mind, I’m thinking, you know, I think it was the movie, the Kingsmen, and there’s been tons of books and tons of movies, but there’s people out there who actually believe kill the people to save the.
I don’t buy into that. And I don’t think that’s biblical, I don’t who chooses it. Yeah. Yeah. And they, you know, you have the elitist who say [01:18:00] let’s, let’s thin the masses. And what’s really interesting is like with COVID I personally I’m under the, I mean, nobody knows the truth, but God and the people who did it, but it really looks like I have people who are a part of higher level of government that I speak with on the medical side.
And they’re like, this is definitely a man-made virus. Okay. So now the question is, well, who made it and why did they make it? And to what extent is this going to go? So I guess for guys like me and women get mankind, where is the balance, Tom? So where’s the balance between saying, let us be responsible with everything God’s given us in the invite.
But understand there’s going to be natural cycle changes. There’s going to be things that happen. Where’s that balance. What have you found? [01:19:00] Well, if you believe in the stewardship of God’s creation, which is the sort of philosophical name for what you’re saying, right. That we’re supposed to take care of what we’ve been given and pass it on, in better condition than we received it.
Then, then in a way it’s a very pragmatic, very practical thing to look at. Are we polluting the water? Are we, are we destroying biodiversity? We shouldn’t be doing that right. Are, and are we, are we creating hardship for other people? And the role of science in this is that it, it, it finds evidence of whether of, of what’s causing changes that are, you know, a, a volcano or.
And, and people lose their lives. And the best we can do with a volcano is to understand where to build a city and where not to build a city and how best to protect people and, and how to give people warning so they can get out of the way, right? That’s a natural event. That [01:20:00] mean we call ’em. We all understand that active God events are things that we can’t control and they’re tragic.
And we do our best to prepare for them in California. Here, we have earthquakes. So we have lots of rules about how to build a building so that our buildings will be as safe as they can be. And, and everybody is encouraged to have an earthquake survival kit in their garage or their basement or wherever, wherever they have it.
That’s got water and clothes and some canned foods. So God forbid, something happens. You can survive for a few days, right? So we all understand that category of risk and, and how to prepare. And then there’s the category of risk that the science says it we’re causing, you know coal-fired power plants, pollute streams and, and increase, you know, driving around in a city with a lot of cars and having a lot of industry pollutes, the air and air pollution [01:21:00] causes shortens people’s lives.
It causes childhood asthma. It keeps people home from work it’s and it disproportionately harms people in low-income neighborhoods who attend to live closer to freeways, closer to factories. Then people will have enough money to live at the beach or in the hill pools or out of town in a suburb where they’re not so exposed.
Right. Well, you know if we care about taking care of others and taking care of. Of the environment we live in, then we should, then our obligation is to find other alternatives that don’t cause that kind of farm. And I mean, to me, that’s the balance and how that works is very circumstantial it’s it depends on where you live, what the circumstances are in your community.
My, my great hope was that more people would continue to work the way we’re doing this interview and having this conversation over zoom, right? Online. We’re not neither one of us [01:22:00] traveled to have this conversation and, and the survey showed that something like 60 or 70% of the people who were lucky enough to work at home during the pandemic, don’t want to go back to the office.
And from a pollution point of view, of course, we don’t want them to come back to the office. Right. Anybody who drives through rush hour in a major city, it doesn’t matter if it’s Los Angeles or Atlanta or Washington DC or, or New York or anywhere else. Unlike it. And so I think the way, part of the way I think about climate change is that it’s a, it’s a way it’s a lens to sort of, and it’s a crisis that can push us to do things we really wanted to do anyway, in the first place that, that we have felt powerless to do something about, you know I grew up smoggy place.
I don’t want to breed smog anymore. And you don’t either. No, I remember visiting LA when I was younger and it was just, you could literally [01:23:00] see up clues smoke over the city. Yeah. And it was disgusting. And then, I mean, I used to equate it to, I grew up out in Bo outside of Boston and Milford mass. And when you go to the Boston garden to watch the Celtics play or the Bruins, you know, it was like a.
And you could smoke inside. And by the third period of hockey, you could barely see. And if you looked at all, all the championships that the Celtics have won and the Bruins have won at one point, those were white and now they were yellow. So it was easy for me to understand that concept of direct action because of the fact like you smoke, everybody breeds it, everything deteriorates.
Right? And then I CLA at six years old, I’m like, dang, how the hell are people not fix this? I mean, at six years old thinking, this is disgusting, right. Not only is a great city, but you know what I’m talking about. Pollution. I know exactly. I grew up in it. I know what you’re talking about. Yeah. And if you, if people haven’t experienced it, [01:24:00] there’s actually, and especially in foreign lands foreign to America, You literally can’t breathe.
Right? I mean, it’s just read, right? There’s no pollution controls. I w yeah. Even back in the eighties, it was horrendous. The Nasia. Yeah. So even worse in China. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, okay. So you and I, I agree with you on this, that it’s like camping, you know, the law of camping it’s everywhere you go, you make it better than when you started, right?
So you go there and you can’t for the weekend, you have a great time, but you pick up and take home all your trash and maybe a couple pieces of somebody else’s, you know, you just make it a better place. So to me, that’s life, we do what we can to make it better. You wrote a book that talks about how climate crisis is simple, like fixing it as simple.
So how do you propose we fix it? So it’s much like what you just described with the key rule of camping and, and, and the experience with smog, right? [01:25:00] The, the point of the. What if solving the climate crisis is simple is that we have learned about climate from scientists and scientists study incredibly complicated systems, the atmosphere, the ocean, the way the, the minerals in the earth remove carbon dioxide from the air, the way the oceans is, or carbon dioxide from the air.
The so, so they are thinking about really, really complex inner tangled systems of, of life. The biosphere, the polar ice caps, that’s called the cryosphere, the atmosphere, the oceans, the land. And learning about it from them has, has created an impression, I think, among those people, that climate is so, so complicated.
It’s almost impossible to understand. And it’s also created the impression that in order to do something about it, it’s so complicated that only technical elite leaders can figure it out. [01:26:00] And there, we have a great deal of distrust for technical elite leaders in our country right now also it makes you and me feel powerless, right?
We feel small and we’re talking about global warming global climate change. That’s, that’s huge. I’m small. And let’s say I wanted to pick out a piece of it. I wanted to pick out. Let’s say food, I want to do something to make food more sustainable, right? So there’s this Gordian knot of interacting systems.
And if I start pulling on the food thread, pretty soon, I’m, I’m dealing with fertilizers and herbicides that are made out of fossil fuels. The same fuels that are causing climate change. And I’m dealing with global finance and global markets and global transportation of food and distribution of food and water systems for my crops and labor systems that re dependent on migrant workers and the [01:27:00] whole immigration border debate.
And now it’s this huge Gordy and not have issues that I don’t think I can solve. Right. What if we take that premise? That premise that this is about complex systems and set it aside for a minute. What do we see? I had a, I had a painting teacher in college and I was working on a painting and everything.
I tried seemed to make it worse. I just could not make it, I couldn’t fix it. And he said, I’m going to tell you what to do. Hang it upside down and go. ’cause when you come back tomorrow, when you see it upside down with fresh eyes, you’ll know exactly what’s wrong with it and you’ll know how to fix it.
And so the, the sort of central image in the book is let’s hang the climate system, our picture of the climate system upside down. What do we see? Well, wait, what do we see as there’s only one thing that we need to do stop burning fossil fuels, do it well before mid century and absolutely positively do not fail when you define it that way.[01:28:00]
It means that every organization, every business, every community, every household, every hospital, every school system has access to figuring out ways to reduce their carbon footprint. And I did it in my little business. You know, we were a $3 million company with 12 employees and a 2000 foot building. And we reduced our emissions by two thirds and 15 months.
And when we saved money doing it. The most boringly simple things. So, and I can be happy to tell you about that. The point is that now it’s accessible to you. And to me, we don’t have to feel powerless and, and our collective impact can be huge and we can help make decisions in our own communities and in our own businesses that are better for everybody.
And when you do that, and I have firsthand experience with this as a business owner, when you do that, you improve the quality of people’s lives. They have, they find meaning in their work that they never had before, and they’re inspired by it. And they take a sense of [01:29:00] ownership in it because they feel newly empowered.
And I think that’s our, that’s our mission. Now talk about fossil fuels. You mentioned that several times today, I believe that the companies that, you know, supply oil. It’s a trillions and trillions of dollars. Yes, it is industry. Yes, it is. Know you want to know the truth. You go to God and man, you want to know the truth.
You follow the money. So the money is just constantly flowing in the beyond trillions over time, but trillions and trillions and trillions a year. Yes. But how do fossil fuels, like there are other alternative energy sources. [01:30:00] We can be more responsible with what we do and how we shop. I get all that. But again, there’s always that life balance we need to find because if you go too far, either direction, you know, what’s the opposite of crazy.
It’s crazy. You know, balance is in the middle. So where first off, how to fossil fuels affect help our listeners understand how does that affect the insurance? Negatively. And then where’s the balance of what can we do each day to help it? Okay. That was a really good question. So fossil fuels are coal oil and natural gas, and we call them fossil fuels.
Cause we dig them up out of the ground. Like. That’s hence the name. So coal oil and natural gas emit, and one of the byproducts of burning them is carbon dioxide, but there are other pollutants to sulfur dioxide, nitrates other nasty stuff, mercury in a lot of the coal and those all escape into the environment when we burn fossil [01:31:00] fuels set.
So, you know, if you’re ever behind a car that it’s smoky, cause it’s muffler, it’s muffler system, isn’t working very well it’s or it’s burning oil. Well, you know what that looks like. If you’re buying a truck, all those little tiny particles in diesel emissions, get into your organs, they get through your lungs, even get into your brain and they can cause serious health damage.
So there are. Health consequences, but those gases, those other, those other gases, including carbon dioxide are are greenhouse gases. Those are the gases that absorbed some of the heat that should be radiating into space. And they warm the atmosphere, which warms the whole climate system. So it’s like putting on a thicker and thicker and thicker blanket on your bed when you’re already too hot, you know, that’s, that’s how things get out of balance.
So now a little a car driving around doesn’t admit that much, but billions of cars driving around that’s that’s a [01:32:00] lot. Right. And then, and then you, and I don’t pay for the, for full cost of using oil or gas or coal when we pay our electric bill or we gas up our car or truck at the, at the gas station because we invest taxpayer dollars in in the military to keep the supply lines for.
Oil reliable. We, we pay the costs in our health insurance for all the negative health impacts of, of those things. And so we don’t necessarily experience the full cost of gasoline diesel, coal-fired electricity, natural gas when we use, when we pay for those things, because some of the costs are, are spread out into other parts of our lives, but we’re still paying for them.
So, so the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere before the industrial revolution, when we started burning coal oil and gas in [01:33:00] large amounts was about 280 parts per million. And it had stayed in that range for thousands and thousands of years, certainly for all of recorded history. And the climate has been unusually stable for the span of civil civilization that 10,000 years or so.
That people have created cities and towns and lived in them. So today from 280, the, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased to over 400 parts per million. That’s huge. That’s 30% or more increase. I think it’s more, I haven’t done the arithmetic lately, but and, and to take something as big as the atmosphere and increase you know, that’s like putting 30% thicker blanket on your bed or a 30% thicker jacket down jacket on you when you’re, when you’re going outside, right.
It’s going to keep you a [01:34:00] whole lot warmer. So if you’re used to wearing a long sleeve shirt and you put on a heavy down parka and the weather’s warm, you know, it’s going to cause you problems. And that’s, that’s a pretty good analogy for what’s happening with burning coal oil and gas. So what can we do about it?
Well, We need to stop burning them. We need to leave them in the ground. And the other, the other big factor is that yes, the earth system will remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, but it does it very, very slowly. It does it at a rate that kept the level at 280 parts per million for thousands and thousands of years.
And so it will take a very, I mean, millennia for, for this amount to come back. If we rely on natural sources to do it. So, so what do we do? The best thing we can do is not put any more in there. And that means for transportation, it means simple things like doing less driving by having more [01:35:00] online meetings, by working from home more by ganging up our trips.
So we go on one trip to do five errands instead of five different trips to do those five errands. It means I’m getting the most energy efficient car that works for you. And I’m not here to take anybody’s pickup truck away from them. If you live in a rural community, up a dirt road, if you haul gear, haul lumber, supplies around and other things in a truck all the time, you probably need a truck, but I live in a city where people drive trucks and SUV’s all the time and they’re polished.
They never get dirty. They don’t ever get used as trucks. Right. They’re designers, trucks, designer trucks. Yeah, exactly. You know, F-150 is that have never seen a dirt road in their entire life or carried or refrigerator around. And the question is, do you need that? You can get an electric car and they’re proliferating like crazy Ford, just announced that they’re going to release a all electric F-150 that has [01:36:00] better torque, better acceleration, better towing capacity, lower maintenance costs than a gasoline powered.
F-150 right. And the, the big secret, the secret advantage of electric vehicles that most people don’t know unless they try them, is that if you plug it in at your house, it’s already, it’s always full when you get it, get it in the morning and you never have to stop at a gas station. You never have to have an oil change.
You never have to you never have to take it in for service. And so your cost to operate is really low compared to a gas car. So anyway, that’s transportation for our energy supply the more solar and wind we can, we invest in the less we need to build. And build out use fossil fuels, the more energy efficient.
We make our homes and buildings and appliances, the less energy we need in the first place. Right? And so those are the, those are the big [01:37:00] strategies are to, and it’s part of the infrastructure proposal. So the Biden proposed is to, is to employ people, to make office and homes and hospitals and schools.
It’s more, it’s better insulated cooler roofs plant trees around them. So that they’ll, there’ll be naturally shaded if you live in a hot place, so you don’t need as much air conditioning, put ceiling fans in. So you can use ceiling fans until it gets really hot. And so you use less air conditioning, changing lighting systems to led all the making it heating and air conditioning systems, more energy efficient changing out our refrigerators and, and electronics and anything.
We buy to an energy star. One, because those are by far the most energy efficient models of all the things that we use. So there’s, there’s all these things that you and I can do in our personal lives that are places we work can do that our communities and states can do that the federal government can [01:38:00] encourage that will reduce the amount of energy we need.
Let’s say the potential is probably we could reduce America’s energy demand by a quarter to a third. But any, in any business for household can reduce it by more than half. I reduced mine by two thirds and nobody could tell the difference. And I had it measured by a measurement company. Cause I wanted to know if it was really legit.
And what are some, what are some of those daily steps like? So our listeners can take. Within their home. Because again, again, I believe in balance, so I’m not going to go as far as the government right now. Like the things we’re saying. And, you know, I just have such a hard time because you and I both know somebody’s profiting whichever way.
They implement. Right. So that’s a very, but that’s pretty cynical, but it’s true. I mean, I remember, I remember, I remember Heinz Kerry, you know, and [01:39:00] when John Kerry’s running for office and he’s on the stage and he’s saying no war, no war, no war. And I’m like working for the defense industry and look at it, how him and his wife benefit from Warren and these military companies.
So I trust these politicians as far as I can throw them. Okay. And like the Nancy Pelosi’s, they’re just, they’re profiting grossly from the problems are causing. So that’s why I have a problem. I don’t care if you’re Democrat or Republican. These guys are in ladies are mostly corrupt idiots. So right now for our listeners, How can we, me, you, all of us are, is take direct steps in our everyday life to make sure.
Okay. If you have a retirement plan of any kind or investments of any kind, if you’re fortunate enough to have that, tell whoever manages it for you, that you don’t want any of your money in fossil fuel investments. I told our financial planner that, and she said, okay, I [01:40:00] can guarantee that the top 50 investments in any mutual fund that you have does not have fossil fuels in it, beyond that they get so micro that you can’t see it.
So, okay, good. Did what I could do. Think about if you’re, if you’re a refrigerators more than 10 years, well, let’s do the easy stuff. The, the almost free stuff go to your local home supply, home improvement store and replace every light bulb in your house or workplace with LEDs because they use a tiny fraction of the electricity that an incandescent bulb uses and they’ve made them so good.
Now you can’t tell the difference they’re brighter and better, better. They’re better. And I know a guy who owns a machine shop and you can get you replace this fluorescent tubes with LEDs that are in the same shape. So you just plug them in. He said, man, the lighting is so good. I didn’t why didn’t do this years ago.
Right. Then go get some of those power strips that will shut off this with a six [01:41:00] plugs in it and plug in your TV into it. Your, you know, your entertainment system into your computers, into it. Anything that because 10% of your electricity is, is. To operate things that you’ve turned off, but they’re still using electricity when they’re turned off.
So those power strips will save you 10% of your, of your electricity use. And then start thinking about your bigger investments, things like your car. What, what are you driving? How much do you drive it? Do you need to drive it and think about maximizing the quality of your life when you make this decision?
Right. Can I work from home and my, do I prefer working from home or do I want to go to the office? Okay. That’s a choice you can make yourself. And when you drive, think about getting the most energy efficient vehicle, you can electric, if you can do it. And people say that there’s, oh, people have to get used to electric.
Well, [01:42:00] you get loose to used to electric and about a day because they’re so fun to drive and there’s so there’s so much. Better once you do it, that you quickly adapt. Yeah. I don’t have one friend with a Tesla that doesn’t love it. I mean, great. There they’re great. But Tesla and Tesla’s quickly Tesla.
Isn’t the only electric car now and oh no, I’m just saying they better. Yeah. Yeah. They were the, they were the Pathfinder and and I have one and I love it and I just drove it to Santa Cruz from Los Angeles and back over the weekend and it worked out just great, you know, so, so they’re practical now.
And I would say, and this gets into politics. Well, Social scientists will say the most important thing we can do about climate changes. We can start talking about it with our friends and family and coworkers, because this sort of a taboo against bringing it up, you know, it’s become so politicized as an issue that people don’t want to talk [01:43:00] about it.
But if you, if you do something productive, if you buy led lights, tell people that you did it. I mean, what we, what we can do is create a, a social meal you that says, Hey, I did this. What did you do? And we feel, we see that feel reinforced and, and support it for taking actions that, that take care of our environment better and make our neighbors healthier and our kids healthier.
So, I mean, follow that motivation as your logic. I had a slogan in my company when we were decarbonizing, I didn’t know what to do. And, and the slogan was make every decision agreeing to. In other words, we’re going to make decisions every day about things to buy ways to manage our work, where people are going to spend their day, how we’re going to, how we’re going to visit our, our suppliers.
And when we, when we said, what are our choices, I’m going to tell you [01:44:00] two quick stories. Our, our copier lease expired and I could have bought the copier cheap, but it was out of date. It wasn’t that great. And so I told the staff go find a machine that does everything you want it to do, and then get the energy efficiency ratings, because we’ll buy the most energy efficient when that does everything you want it to do.
Right. That’s called making every, every degree, that decision agreeing decision, I didn’t tell them they couldn’t have a copier. I told him to get the one that that’s most energy efficient when they go get a copier. Copier that does what they want. And it was so good that we shut all our other machinery off and we stopped using as much ink and paper.
And you know, there were a lot of other side benefits and then it causes you to, to discover that you’re living with things that look ridiculous in hindsight. And I’m in this makes me look like a really stupid business owners, but I’ll tell you the story. We don’t didn’t build exhibits. We design them and then shops that build exhibits, built our exhibits for us.
[01:45:00] And there was a shop halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. So 60 miles from our office. And so, and I had to employ. Who started in long beach, but they moved to Palm Springs. They would commute 120 miles every day to come to work, which was exhausting. Right. That’s thinking about let alone, do I get tired of thinking about that?
Oh, it’s, it’s super commuters in various cities are it’s crazy lifestyle. And then people will come to the office and then you had a meeting with the builder 60 miles away, and you drive 60 miles there and then you drive 60 miles back. And then everybody stayed late to get catch up on their work before they drove 60 or 120 miles home.
And I mean, it was awful, but we lived with it because everybody lived with it. Right. We thought that was normal. So once I said, let’s make every decision to green decision. I said, let’s try and experiment. You guys who work in Palm spring can only come to the office once a week, unless there’s an [01:46:00] urgent need to come.
So you guys work from home four days a week and. When we visit the shop, we’re going to schedule the meetings unless there’s an emergency at the beginning of the day or the end of the day. So you go there on your way to work, or you go on your way home. That’s the first part of your day, or it’s your last task of the day so that you don’t do double driving.
And it took about a month for people to get used to this. And then nobody ever wanted to change because they were less stressed. They were less tired. They were happier. There was more humor in the office. People felt like their lives had been improved and, and we never would’ve thought about it. It would never would have occurred to me to make that change.
If we hadn’t set energy efficiency as a priority. And we reduced our driving by, I mean, it’s not measured, it’s measured informally, but I mean, we cut down commuting by half. Something like that, you know, and those kinds of business. I mean, [01:47:00] I know that because I paid people’s mileage for using their personal vehicles and that dropped in half right away, which means there was half of less stress, less, you know, didn’t matter to me too much money-wise as a employer, but their cars last longer and they’re happier and they’re not so tired, they’re not so stressed.
All that kind of surprising stuff is available to us. If we set energy efficiency as a goal, as we live the lifestyles, we want to live it really just, like you said, it broke down to putting some thought into what are we doing? And is there a better way? Can we reorganize our schedule? Can we redo our lifestyle just to be more responsible, right.
And nobody’s sacrifice, that’s the thing. People were happier. Our, our office, we used, you know, we cut our electricity use in half. Nobody could tell nobody was uncomfortable. We have plenty of light. We had plenty of temperatures. We’re comfortable. So [01:48:00] all this is telling me is that we wasted an enormous amount of energy and we pay for it, but we don’t see it.
We’re just not used to seeing it. Well, that’s awesome, Tom. So let me ask you, I got two questions for you left. If you’ve got the time you got a couple more minutes. All right. So the first thing is from your birth through today, is there anything else we missed that you want to talk about or address? I am a person who, who likes the unexpected.
I am, I’m an athlete, I’m an adventurer. I’m you know, I started, I started a design business of all things, right? Where you have to sell projects, you don’t sell, you don’t invent something and then sell a million of them year after year after year, you have to create everything you do. And that suits my personality really well.
It doesn’t suit everybody’s personality by any means.
And so I’m just, I just want to throw that out there because in addition to [01:49:00] having a liberal questioning kind of upbringing, it is also kind of my inherent psychology to, to live this way and to pursue great challenges to me, pursuing a great challenge like climate change is that is insurance. That I’m never going to be bored.
It’s never going to be dull. There’s always something useful to do. And most recently it has put me in, is introduced me to some of the climate justice leaders in this country who are doing amazing work on racial justice and, and, and climate equity, so that some, you know, so that basically people of color and poor people aren’t suffering while you and I are not.
And and I started to develop relationships with them and I find that to be eye opening and stimulating and. You know, it challenges my comfort zones and I love to have my comfort zones challenged. So I fully understand the lots of people don’t like that lifestyle. [01:50:00] And so if I help pave the way and make it easier for someone else, that’s a good thing.
If if one of your listeners hears this and says, you know, I’m going to go get led lights today, and I’m going to tell my neighbor, I did it, or I’m going to talk about it at work. That’s a good outcome. As far as I’m concerned, the climate has gotten better as a result. And I’ll just leave it at that.
Yeah, no, I think that’s fantastic. Now, let me ask you a question. You like to be challenged. We talked a lot about the earth. We talked a lot about theology, religion relationship. So you’re living, we’re all going to die, right? We’re saying be as responsible as possible with this. Talking about global population and sex trafficking.
What’s your philosophy of what happens when we die? We close our eyes, boom lights out on this earth. What happens next that you believe? So I’ve thought a lot about that. And I know that the answer is [01:51:00] we don’t know. I don’t know. I, I, I work to become more liberated in the sense that, that I worry less and live more.
And and I know that what happens to me when I die is the same thing that happens to everybody else. And to me, there’s a lot of comfort in that, you know if, if we all go to heaven and we live on in an afterlife, terrific. If we close our eyes and it’s lights out, we don’t really know. Right. But it’s not different from anyone else.
And, and and that’s good. That’s a good thing. But coming from a theological background, the alternative though, to an attorney with God is an attorney and torment in hell. So what do you think you don’t buy that? No, I [01:52:00] don’t. And I, and I think that no, I mean, so I was raised Protestant and the, the diff you know, the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism in Catholicism, you, you S you, you confess, you sail here at your hair, hail Mary’s and you’re absolved, and you’re free, right?
Th the sins you committed are gone, the Protestants don’t get that advantage. You’re stuck with it, and you don’t get to know it. You don’t get to know you don’t get to be set free. You don’t get to You don’t get to know if you have a place in heaven and to live a life where you’re worried about that is.
And I did, I did worry about that. I think that’s really counterproductive. I think it, it prevents you from doing your best work. I think it prevents you from living your best life and providing the, the most, you look at [01:53:00] people who, who really, the people we, we think of as saints, who really helped the world, mother Theresa Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther king, right?
Just to name a few Desmond Tutu people who, who devoted themselves to real service. They’re joyous people. They’re joyful people. They’re there. They laugh. They’re happy. They’re lighthearted. They do hard work, but they don’t look like they’re, they’re burdened by guilt and. And to me, the idea that, that you could slip up by merely being human and then be, and then spend eternity in torment is insane to me that’s just nuts.
And it, to me, it flies in the face of the good news of the gospel spittle, you know, that, that I mean, [01:54:00] Jesus, wasn’t trying to scare people. He was, he was liberating people. And and I think that that’s the side to celebrate and if we really celebrate it and we really dig into it, we discover our connection with others and we discover the, the meaning of our lives that is joyous for us and good for others.
Yeah. At that point, you know, if you can really embody that, if you can really live that way, you don’t have anything to worry. Yeah. I mean with religion, they always pervert things, but a true God and the Bible. That’s what I love about the Bible. It’s never wrong. I’ve never found any flaw or contradiction.
And like, just this morning I was reading, you know, John three 16 is where most people stop, you know, for God. So loved the world that he gave. His only begotten son. We started believing in him should not perish but have everlasting life. But the [01:55:00] next verse in verse 17 is exactly what you said for, you know, God came not into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.
So the good news, the gospel, Matthew mark, Luke, John, all about Jesus and why he came to earth and what he did, that’s the Bible and that’s freeing and that’s beautiful. And I was just wondering that, you know, with your background and your, the flexibility you had, where you ended. Today. So I do believe a little bit differently than you.
Like, I believe that there’s real eternity and I believe there’s a real having the real hell cause not Jesus wouldn’t have to come. So that’s like, I think where we differ, but I don’t agree. Like you don’t agree that, you know, you make a mistake and you’re condemned for life because the Bible, again, Jesus said for whosoever shall call upon the Lord shall be saved.
So, so that’s, [01:56:00] what’s interesting. I just really wanted to ask you that question. Well, how’s your background and worldview. Yeah. And I also, I also don’t think, and this was a, you know, I studied my master’s degree is an ethics, social ethics, which is part of the school of religion, you know, curriculum.
And there’s all this discussion about whether whether you need. To believe in God, to have been ethical life, the ethical system, and whether you need to believe in divine punishment in order to convince people, to convince ourselves to live in a, in a moral way. And I think that that’s a limited way of looking at the question.
I mean, this is, this is gonna sound really bizarre maybe to some of your listeners, but we are social animals. And and you look at any social animals and they take care of each other, you know? And we’re not different from that where we live in communities, we live in [01:57:00] families. We, we care about one another.
We care, we grieve when we lose somebody, you know in our lives. And, and and if you really think about that, I mean, if you really experience those feelings, you realize that they’re there, that, that the drive to live a moral. Positive life is kind of innate. It’s kind of who we are. We convert at people perverted all the time.
We get perverted by greed and wealth and, and power and position and need and insecurity and, and all those kinds of things. And we have to watch out for those things, you know, we need to work to, to not take ourselves so seriously or to feel so so victimized that we lead to pray lives. I a hundred percent agree with that.
But in my own experience, I don’t need to [01:58:00] the idea that there, of whether there’s a hell of a heaven and hell and I have no idea really. I don’t need that to motivate me to live well. I find that the, the shortness of my life, the fact that I’ll be here for a moment and gone for the rest of eternity.
And that, that I experience a real difference. I really experienced a difference when my relationships with others feel like they’re on solid ground, versus when I feel like I’m taking advantage of somebody. The difference in how I feel is so dramatic that, that now I would say I was going to say, that’s enough.
Don’t forget. I was, I’m a preacher’s kid. I was this whole, I was acculturated in, in that world. And that’s in escapable for me. So it could be that I internalized more than I realize of, of the worldview that you describe, but I don’t think [01:59:00] of it in those terms anymore. I just, it just became who I am.
That’s possible. That’s entirely possible. And see, I’ve found everyone I’ve met. I can only talk about my experiences in life, but everyone I’ve met from every world view, there’s always a foundation. Good verse bad, right. Verse wrong. And I don’t think anybody can escape that because if there was no God, if there was no creator, then there would be neuron.
Like literally you could do whatever you want. I could say, I like that car go up, shoot the dude in the head or the girl take the car and there’s no right or wrong. I mean, there would be neurotic. I don’t think you human, if you did, if you did, if you could really do that, because think about being human, that, that makes us helps us know.
But it also remember we grow up knowing that we depend on the community we live in. We depend on your parents. When you’re a child, you [02:00:00] depend on your neighborhood, you depend on your teachers, you depend on others. And I think that that also teaches us that, that we’re not alone. We can’t. You know, we get our moral lessons in our upbringing too.
And I don’t know that there is an example of a human community where, where people have grown up without that and have literally no compunction. I mean, there are sociopath’s we consider them insane psychopaths. We consider them insane, but to be, to feel moral pole, to do right, to know the difference between right and wrong, we’re all raised with it somehow.
And whether it’s sort of genetic, that we’re like that, or whether we’re just all raised with. I don’t know. See, I believe it’s I’m tracking with you on everything. It just the, cause I believe it’s an innate, we’re born knowing that there’s a creator, like someone created, God created us and we may not, you know, everybody calls it different things or different [02:01:00] religions you could well be, right?
Yeah. I mean, I’m just saying that’s my world is that there is a God and he put in us that search for truth because I mean, what’s everybody want to have, they want to be loved and to be understood and to be safe and to be special, you know what I mean? Everybody has the same needs. It doesn’t matter what country you’re, from what culture everybody has that same core need, but there’s always that right from wrong.
Like, you know, when you’re doing right from wrong, like there’s people, like you said, sociopath’s you get, they shut that part of their brain off, but. There’s a society norm we know stealing is wrong and the lying is wrong. Murder is wrong, there’s right from wrong. So that’s where I find it really interesting with you growing up in such a subjective environment and even through college.
And then now you’re dealing with climate change. You know, you have a lot of people, I assume from what I’ve seen in climate change are really on the far left and what you and I have talked about this whole time is finding balance where [02:02:00] all of us can work together to make the world a better place. But I’ve noticed like a lot of people that are supporting climate change are on the far left.
So that’s what makes it hard for me and people like me to join in the cause because. I don’t agree with so many other things they agree in, but with you and I were saying, Hey, don’t be an idiot. Don’t litter, don’t waste. Don’t make expenditures. You don’t need to make don’t burn fuel. You don’t need to burn.
And these are all good things. So thank you for your time today, brother. Yeah. I think the message about climate change. I want to get out there is that climate change isn’t about whether you’re on the left or the right it’s it’s about the climate is changing. It’s harmful for all of us. What, what do you want to do about it in the context of your belief system and, and where you live and the values you live by to make the world a better place?
It might be different from what I do, but if we’re both doing that, we’re making the world a better place. That’s what counts. Yup, exactly. And again, if you believe in [02:03:00] climate change or not, I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but if somebody is like, I don’t believe in climate change. Okay. Where you still can be a better person every day.
Like I don’t my definition of. You know, what I think is happening with the world and what you wrote and what a thousand people write, what they think is happening. Both are all going to be different. But at the end of the day, I think we both agree, Hey man, let’s put an led lights, let’s drive less. Let’s, you know, be more responsible.
It’s bio electric cars. If we can, let’s not just in once. And for all say what let’s get rid of air pollution once and for all. Yeah. Yeah. I mean health, like you said, health alone. It’s not that area is proven time and time again. Like I don’t believe in evolution, but I believe in adaptation and I think that’s proven, you know, you put pollution in the society and all the environment around it changes because God made a beautiful body and we adapt, but you can have serious gross deffer, deformation and sickness and [02:04:00] illness.
And I remember the town that was down the street from me, the company just poured pollution into the. Yeah, everybody around there had higher cancer rates, autism rates, illness rates. I mean, it was terrible. And it’s like, okay, you can see that pollution is bad. So why is this being allowed? But then what do you think in the last thing for the, for at least on my side, you know, it always, again, we talked about politicians, we talked about corruption.
Okay. So oil company gets caught polluting, and this is fact the numbers might be off. I’m going to throw numbers out there, but they’re making $10 billion a day. And the government says, if you dump this in the ocean, you have a $250,000 fine a day. Right. Who cares? That’s corruption at its finest, because if you said, it’s going to take.
$10 million to refine this pollution, or I can dump [02:05:00] it in. If I get caught, I get a slap on the wrist. Of course, that’s what they’re doing. So that’s why I think we need to hold these politicians to the fire because they’re making corrupt laws so they can take kickbacks. I mean, what are your thoughts on that?
So I was at a town hall with a member of Congress once and all of these people were saying they wanted this done and that done. And it all seemed very reasonable and it wasn’t getting done in the house of representatives. He was a Congressman and he finally said, look, and he said something that I never thought I’d hear somebody like that say, he said, every member of Congress is there to represent the donors who got them there.
Think about that. They don’t see their job as representing you and me. They see their job as representing the money that paid for them to be there. And that means fossil fuel companies, other businesses, major businesses, primarily and rich donors who want what they want. Right. And unions and whoever, [02:06:00] whoever else is paying the big bucks that’s who gets represented, not you and me.
So that’s a, that’s a huge problem in our country. It’s, it’s, it’s a problem in your city, but it’s not as big a problem. And so we have more impact. We have the potential to have more impact where we live closer to home. And if you’re thinking about pollution and climate, those are those are, we experienced those issues where we live too.
Like the pond in the neighboring town, you described the air pollution that you saw in Los Angeles. And that I was out running cross country workouts in when I was in high school. And I’d go home sick and unable to breathe because of the smog alert that was happening. We experienced those things locally.
And so we have more power to do something about it in our cities, in communities, below the level of national politics for the most part. And that’s not a bad place to start [02:07:00] because it connects us with our neighbors and it lets us feel like it lets us actually make decisions that matter to us like Greensburg, Kansas did, you know and like every community can do.
And, and then again, in our own organizations and our own households in our own neighborhood center with our neighborhood associations, whatever your circumstances are, they’re not going to be the same as mine, but but that’s where you intrinsically have more, more influence. And I would say the other thing I would say is I’m going to ask you a question and then I’ll make a statement.
The question is, do you know what percentage of. Scientists have been convinced by the evidence that climate change is happening. I’m talking about climate scientists, not geographers or heart surgeons or dentists or somebody like that. Climate scientist. I have no idea. Cause you hear the left and the right throat numbers and the contradictory.
So what have you heard? Yeah, so there’ve been a bunch of studies [02:08:00] figure out based on analyzing their papers, interviewing them doing surveys. The answer is that about 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human caused climate change is occurring. Yeah, that’s, that’s better than four to five out of five dentists.
Think you should use sugarless gum. I mean that’s 97% agreeing on anything is amazing. And that just means that there’s a lot of evidence that climate change is real, but what there isn’t agreement on is what we want to do about it politically, right? People on the left want big government solutions.
They want the government to regulate this out of existence, people on the right one more Liberty, Liberty, personal Liberty, personal responsibility. And so they don’t want, they want small government and and maybe incentives or, or things like that. And so that, you know, if we could back off from the, from the ideological rigidity on both sides and, and the Senate and the Congress could [02:09:00] turn into a place where people find common ground again, which it hasn’t been for.
Geez, I don’t know how long then the federal government could do a lot more. That would represent what we collectively. Be willing to live with. And in the meantime we have to do it ourselves. Let’s do it. Let’s let’s not wait for them. That’s good. And you know, if you, if you agree, if you accept the conclusions of 97% of the scientists, then I would say, only vote for a candidate.
That’s going to do something about climate change. I mean, I it’s that dire. So I don’t remember how many people in Germany just lost their lives to that flood and how many people are being burned out of their homes in the, in Oregon and California. Right now. It’s the worst fire season. This year already is our worst fire season on record you’re in the west and it hasn’t even really started yet.
So yeah. And there’s so much that goes into every topic. I mean, we could go on [02:10:00] and on and on because it’s like, there’s so many things that go into like the fires. What was it managed right ahead of time? Like my brother-in-law my ex actually ex brother-in-law. He was. For water trucks and he owns a company doing the water truck.
So when everything’s on fire, he just makes insane money. But he’s like, you know, a lot of this stuff could be avoided new, but some of it’s acts of God. So, but it’s been great talking to you, Tom, and a lot of good ideas. What, what for our listeners, if they want to get a hold of you, what’s the best way they can reach you.
My website is Tom bowman.com, B O w M a N. And my books through there, my emails there and some other resources. I’ve got resources tab where you can find out information about how you can make your own a household or a business, more climate resilient. So that’s all just available for free and that’s the place.
Awesome. And I’ll put links in the show notes. So if you’re [02:11:00] watching this on YouTube or if you’re on our website or if you’re an apple or Spotify, just check out the show notes and you’ll get the link right to Tom. You could be, I’m sure different countries, different cultures within the United States. We all have different opinions on this stuff, but I don’t think anybody can argue.
We need to be personally responsible. We need to do our best each day and like camping. If you’re going through the camping site, it should be cleaner when you leave than when you got there. And that’s how we need to approach life. So, Tom, thank you so much for being here today, brother. I appreciate your time and your insights and you know, just sharing your story.
Anything we can do for you, please let us know my friend. Well, thanks for having me on and let me help spread the word about this show. Excellent. Excellent. So ladies and gentlemen, that was Mr. Tom Bowman, enjoy this episode. Think more about it, but also act like our slogan says, well, listen, do repeat for [02:12:00] life.
Listen to the information Tom brought you. Excuse me. Do the. Repeat it each day. So we can have a great life in this world and an attorney to come. So I’m David Pascoe loan. That was Mr. Tom Bowman. You have an amazing remarkable day, my friend. And if we can help you Tom, or I in any way, please reach out to us and let us know.
And again, Tom, thanks for being here today, brother. Thanks for having me. All right. Ciao.