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The truth is, there's lots of really exciting developments in the climate space, but it's about scaling it all up like 5000 times, something that only federal governments have the resources to do is the kind of system change. It's all there. It's all ready to go. We just have lacked the political will to implement it. That is significantly because of psychological factors. And I think what the climate emergency movement is doing is intervening in that, realizing that our enemy is not just fossil fuel companies and their huge network and industrial agriculture, but also denial, denial and passivity are also enemies.


No one, no one can say this system is working. That's Margaret Klein. Solomont and this is the Role podcast. The Rich Roll podcast, everybody, how are you guys doing, what's happening? I am rich role indeed. This is my podcast.


Good to be here with you guys today.


I don't think I'm going out on a limb to suggest that for a litany of unfortunate reasons, our current political system seems hard wired to exacerbate problems and rather inept at actually solving them. Whether it's our current civil rights struggles or managing the pandemic, it can really leave one feeling disheartened. Then, of course, there is the dark beast of climate change lingering in the background, fomenting this sense of existential dread. Because as much as we would like to believe that we are nearing the edge of a cliff, the truth is that we've already flung ourselves off that cliff.


This is not a situation that requires we hit the brakes. We need to put the engine in reverse. And I say this not to be cynical, not to overexaggerate or be some kind of nihilist, although I think those would be normal responses, but rather as an immediate call to action and the action demanded by us, all of us, requires that we begin by reframing the situation, placing it in its proper objective context. Today, Margaret Klein Solomon, PhD, is here to guide us.


A clinical psychologist turned climate warrior, Margaret graduated from Harvard and received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Adelphi University. She is the founder and executive director of the Climate Mobilization, which is a volunteer organization dedicated to catalyzing a worldwide climate emergency movement. In addition, Margaret is the author of Facing the Climate Emergency How to Transform Yourself with Climate Truth, which, in addition to providing the structure for today's conversation, is a really powerful emotional guide to processing the climate emergency alongside tools to help us all rise to this great challenge.


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Go to therapy on dotcom slash rich roll right now and get your gen fourth there again today. That's Dragon Dotcom slash rich there again. Dotcom slash rich roll. OK, back to Margaret. So this conversation, which I should point out was recorded remotely back in early June, is about the intersectionality of the climate crisis, its ties to the pandemic, as well as the protests. It's about the inherent conflict between capitalism and environmentalism and how we must decouple corporate self-interest from the public good.


It's about how to deal with weaponized media and the way in which we are being spoon fed lies by the fossil fuels industry. But more than anything, this is about effective altruism and the actionable steps that we can all take now to backtrack from the global suicide that we are precariously nearing. I know it can sound disheartening, and at times it feels like our personal actions feel futile. Our collective bandwidth, meanwhile, is maxed out when it comes to crises and revolutions.


But embracing the truth, the hard facts, the figures and finding a way to contribute to positive change is not only required of us, it really is in many ways this path to hope, to meaning, to inclusion and also very importantly, to empathy. Margarets ideologies have totally reframed how I perceive, address and talk about the climate crisis, and my hope is that her words will offer you a perspective that is honest and that is hopeful. But more than anything, my aspiration is that this conversation helps to inspire you to do something.


So this is me and Dr. Margaret Klein. So. Margaret, welcome to the podcast. Thank you for taking the time today. I'm very excited to talk to you. Thanks so much for having me. Me too. So. The first line in your book, I think, is is quite apropos to what we're experiencing right now, and it goes like this, we are in a moment of acute collective suffering.


And not only is that incredibly true right now, I suspect that what we're experiencing right now exceeds anything that you were contemplating at the moment that you wrote it.


And I have to say just at the outset here that what I'm dealing with in this moment is this sense that it kind of just feels wrong to talk about anything other than human rights, civil rights, black lives matter and social unrest. Right now, it even feels wrong to talk about covid and I guess on some level almost indulgent to talk about the environment at the moment.


And yet amidst this, you know, age of crisis, you know, economic, government, health and social structures being overwhelmed and falling apart beneath all of it is this accelerating climate emergency that that we can't forget.


So I'm just wondering how you're thinking about all of this right now.


Yeah, it is certainly a crisis within a crisis, within a crisis.


And in some ways I'm surprised. But I'm honestly I'm surprised at how quickly everything is moving. I've known for.


Six, seven years that we were in an ecological climate, an ecological emergency, that. I was going to cause the collapse of civilization in the short to medium term in the coming decades, I've been aware of that, but I didn't. Yeah, I thought it was a little further out the acceleration both in the climate system and in the political system in in significant part in response to the climate impacts. Is it yet?


It has surprised me, but I think I think that viewing both coronavirus and the mass protests in the United States as part of what Paul Gilding, author and former director of Greenpeace, calls the great disruption, that when you live unsustainably, when your system is unsustainable, that means it collapses. It doesn't go on forever. It it ends. So it breaks down. So, yeah, I think keeping the climate and ecological factors at front of mind when considering every other emergency is really important, both because it's a critical piece of every of every story, of everything that's going on and because we can't forget about it.


I mean, coronavirus is here today killing people today. The climate emergency is is also doing that. Mainly it's been in the global south. Most people who have. Starved because of droughts or, you know, Bangladesh just suffered horrible floods again. So so it's already taking lives, but it's like coronavirus. It's on exponential growth, trajectory, acceleration. And so, yes, there's a ton of crises and they're all interrelated.


But I mean, to just stay grounded in the reality that our entire economy, our entire society, everything is takes place in and is fully dependent on our atmosphere and our the biosphere. And, you know, the idea that human affairs, however pressing, are separated from that is I mean, it's just never true.




I think that that what we're seeing is the limitations of, you know, the human bandwidth to pay attention to too many things at once. You know, the media is very good at centering in on one specific issue, and it's a cuteness. But when we look at the climate emergency, it's more difficult to identify the enemy that we're marshalling against when we have covid, we see the virus and we can kind of intuitively understand the things that need to be done in order to tackle that.


And we've seen, you know, the incredible power of the public to kind of rally around. You know, it's like everywhere you go, people are wearing masks. For the most part, people are social distancing, like they're adhering to certain protective protocols in order to deal with this threat. Now we're seeing the social unrest and everything that's going on with that. And we're seeing, you know, a massive public awakening and awareness to a societal ill that is in dire need of redress.


The climate right now just feels like something that is on a low hum on the back burner, you know, with this idea, like, we'll get to that.


But we just you know, we don't have the bandwidth at the moment to really talk about that or think about that until we can kind of get over the hump on these other things.


And yet there is this indelible, irrefutable interrelatedness to the breakdown of all the systems that we're seeing right now.


Yes, I do think attentional bandwidth is is a real issue, but I also see a lot of opportunity. Coming from these two emergencies and and our reaction to them. With. The central thing being just that normal is over, and I am very glad about that, because normal was leading us straight to it has atrophy.


And, you know, this is I think this is an opportunity to create a new normal with, for example, a green new deal as the stimulus that puts people back to work and also the fact that the public has experienced in education about emergency situations, about how we can act together in order to protect life and radically alter the economy in order to protect life. Yeah, just just at what is possible for an emergency response. Suddenly Congress comes up with two trillion dollars.


Suddenly everyone can work from home. Suddenly, people don't have to fly across the planet like these changes are possible and they can happen very quickly. The public's also getting an education about exponential risk and exponential acceleration of existential risk. The fact that these things happen on a curve and you have to respond as soon as possible or else they can get away from you.


Hmm. Yeah, I think that's certainly a lesson that everybody is taking from this. And there's definitely this sense of being awakened from the sleeping self, I guess, on some level.


And so with that, let's take it back a little bit. I mean, how did your awakening occur with respect to your advocacy around climate? I mean, I know it had to do with Sandy, so if you could just like, you know, tell that story, I think it would be informative.


So I came to New York City in 2009 to pursue my clinical psychology PhD. And Hurricane Irene happened. Hurricane Sandy happened, or Superstorm Sandy, and as I was walking around my neighborhood in the days following and just seeing all of this destruction, so much damage, I there was a car with a smashed windshield and someone had put a sign on it that said, is global warming the culprit? And when I saw that, it's like my stomach dropped.


I because I knew. And that's what's that's what's so amazing with the climate emergency is.


There is so much awareness about the emergency and so little both discussion and action, so that Sayan helped me become actually aware of what I already knew, if that makes sense.


Mm hmm. So, yeah, the process of becoming aware of the emergency happened through those events, as well as for for many years I was in denial and especially had practiced willful ignorance, meaning I knew that this was a scary situation. So I just would avoid it. Like sometimes I would read the first few lines of an article on climate and then say, oh, my God, I can't handle this X. And but as I was getting older and also through my own psychotherapy, I was just getting internally stronger and more able to not do that to actually look at this.


So my awareness was kind of growing, but what really changed my life from which there is like it's a clearer kind of before and after and there's no going back is my good friend said to me I was planning, I was very alarmed and I was planning to do some writing. I was planning to, yeah. Be kind of a climate commentator and author. And my friend said to me, don't start a blog. Discourse isn't enough. I think what could you do to actually solve this problem?


And it was like my brain exploded because it's like it had I had never thought about it like that. I was an academic. I was a you know, a student. The idea of I've been a little bit involved in politics, but not really. So the idea of, oh, actually try to solve this huge global emergency, it's just too big to think of.


But when he threw down that gauntlet, I just realized, oh, that's it for me. Right. That's the only thing that I want is to, as we say at the climate mobilization, cancel the apocalypse. Right.


And I've been on that mission for the past six years. Hmm.


Well, what's interesting is that you've been able to leverage this specific skill set that you have towards that solution. And when we kind of canvas the climate emergency, there's many on ramps here. You could have been a commentator, a journalist, writer and author on this subject matter. In general, there's political battles that we can pick. There's technological innovation that can help solve this problem.


But fundamentally, if you want to get to the root of what's arresting the level or the rate at which we can address and overcome these problems, it really does boil down to our psychological makeup and how we're thinking about this issue, because that's the true barrier towards us actually doing anything about it.


You know, I come from addiction recovery and there's a certain architecture in your steps that remind me of the 12 steps specifically, you know, acceptance and breaking these chains of denial that are so important to solving any personal problem. But on top of that, I'm also like plant based on part of the vegan community. And I'm very aware of the various strategies that are deployed within that subculture to try to convince other people that becoming vegan is a good thing to do with varying degrees of success and failure.


And I think in the Venn diagram, there's an overlap that's applicable to the conversation around environmentalism because your entry point and onramp is so relatable. It's not that we're not aware that there's a problem. It's the extent to which we're really willing to face it and then translate that, increase the level of awareness into some kind of tangible action that potentially can actually make a difference.


Absolutely. And I would just add to that that's it's awesome that your.


Vegan and partan like a leader in that movement that's obviously extremely important for animal agriculture and industrial agriculture, is such a huge contributor to the climate emergency and just general ecological emergency.


And there's been such huge movement towards being plant based and all sorts of meat alternatives going more mainstream.


I mean, so that that is a really exciting development. And the truth is there is lots of really exciting developments in the climate space. Bicycling is resurgent and solar panels are continually getting more efficient and cheaper and new technologies are being created and so forth and so forth. But it's about scaling it all up at like five thousand times. Something that only federal governments have the resources to do is the kind of system change. It's all there. It's all ready to go.


We just have lacked the political will to implement it. And I agree with you, but that is significantly because of psychological factors.


And I think what the climate emergency movement is doing is intervening in that it realizing that our enemy is not just fossil fuel companies and their huge network and industrial agriculture, but also denial that denial and passivity are also enemies and the vested interests that, you know, are doing everything they can to buttress that level of denial.


Absolutely. I mean, I think that, you know, the political will to address and solve these problems at the highest level that we see in so many ways is lacking right now is also simply a reflection of public consciousness and awareness. So the way to shift political will is less about browbeating and more about raising that awareness from a grassroots level up. So in terms of advocacy and the kind of psychological makeup of the average human being, learning how to crack the code, I see as fundamental to this whole thing.


But at the same time, the strategies and the tactics for doing that, it's like a minefield, right? Like you didn't become a climate activist because somebody browbeat you into it. And I didn't become vegan because somebody pointed a finger in my face and told me that I had to I had my own personal kind of evolution into it. That began with health and kind of a self oriented sense about my own body that then evolved over time into a greater sensitivity and awareness about the larger issues.


But I had to come to that myself. And, you know, had I been browbeaten at an earlier stage, I might not have made that adjustment. So communication becomes critical and learning how to effectively translate a message in a way that's digestible for people to hear is important, but also at the same time, being mindful of not soft pedaling everything like you have an interesting perspective on fear and the importance of how fear plays into this in a positive way.


So I'm interested in how you think about the communication aspect of all of this.


The first thing we should recognize is the amount of propaganda and misinformation and lies that have been propagated incredibly successfully by the fossil fuel industry, the most profitable industry in history. We're talking about billions of dollars. Everybody anyone listening to this podcast has been lied to very intentionally by this industry, and they're very clever. So it's about, yes, denial and casting doubt on the science, which is the same technique that the tobacco industry used. Indeed, they use many of the same scientists and lawyers and everything.


Doubt is our right. Exactly. Doubt is the product. And also that the idea of carbon footprint, you know, that this is on you. Right. Individuals need to clean up their own act because as long as there is a demand for our product, we have no choice but to sell it, basically. And then also one of their other lies is, yeah, it's a it's a problem. And we need to decarbonise in the long term.


And through gradual policy mechanisms like a carbon price and so starting to understand the different ways that we have been manipulated and propagandized, as well as the greater American consumerist delusion that we've also been sold virtually from the time of our birth, that, you know, buying things is how you are happy and compete, get yours and then buy things is this is like the American dream, the point of life. So first of all, unpacking all of that and realizing that if we are going to solve this emergency, it will only be through a political solution.


Individual action is fine. I also do some of whatever we have solar panels on our roof and whatnot.


But it's not politics and we need a political solution here at emergency speed. And realizing that gives a lot of guidance, though not obviously it's not doesn't answer every question, but in terms of where people should direct their energy, which is towards building a movement because a social movement, I mean, honestly, I think about it sometimes in terms of it's like it plays a psychological function or therapeutic function. It intervenes in denial and says, no, we have to pay attention to this.


So realizing that, raising the alarm, telling the truth and raising the alarm in the political arena is a critical part of this, how we're going to get out of this needs to be done. Hmm.


I'm sure from time to time you're confronted with people who are intelligent or at least seem intelligent, who are not buying that climate change is a thing. They'll say the science is exaggerated. We don't really know. There's not adequate science on this. How do you interface with somebody who's coming from that place, who seemingly immune from having you, you know, basically list a bunch of resources and scientists and articles, et cetera, books that dispute that point?


There's two things I do.


One is I say, God, I wish that were true, because that's that's really what it is, is it's it's wishful thinking. And that's something we share. We we both want that to be true. And I also say, listen, the most profitable industry in history has spent billions of dollars to intentionally lie and mislead the American public. And I'm sorry to say you've fallen for it and that's it. You've been lied to. I do want to say with people my age, I'm thirty four.


I hear a lot more. We're fucked then it's not real. There is a lot of nihilism and just defeatism out there.


Mm hmm. Yeah, that's its own beast. Right. Like, how do you catalyze interest and activism from somebody who just perceives that the ship has sailed and there's nothing much to be done? There's a sense of powerlessness. Yeah, we can look at electric cars and ride our bikes, but it seems like such an ineffectual drop in the bucket compared to the larger problem. And when the cycle of these environmental cataclysms seems to be accelerating from, you know, the fires that ravaged Australia and the flooding and everything, that that seems to be happening at a quicker rate than we've ever seen.


There is a despair that comes over people where they just feel like there's nothing that they could personally do that would be impactful.




And for. A long time that was somewhat true, I mean, that's of course, people can always make a difference, but until about two years ago, there really wasn't an active climate emergency movement in this country or really globally.


I mean, so my my organization, the climate mobilization, has been demanding a world war to scale climate mobilization to eliminate US emissions in 10 years or less. For the last five years and for a long time, that was a really fringe position, but with the advent of extinction rebellion, the Sunrise movement and the youth school strikers and the Green New Deal, which which is considerably based on our work, it is possible now very possible to go and join a movement that is fighting for transformation, not reform, not gradualism.


So that's the good news. So so, yeah, the first thing to do is just try to give movement education. Right. Did you know all the stuff that's going on? Because people's nihilism and cynicism, which absolutely does result from a sense of hopelessness, it can change.


I mean, based on internal factors and also based on political conditions, like right now, the huge unrest in the United States is making different political outcomes, very different and changing people's calculus about whether or not to engage in this movement, because obviously people want to fight winnable fights and this is starting to feel more winnable. Mm hmm. Yeah.


And I think what's cool about not just your organization, but your book, I mean, your book is essentially a self-help book. It's about the climate emergency, but it's really about wrapping your head around the power that we all have to not just address, but actually participate in this change. And you kind of walk people through the steps that we can undertake to reframe our psychological perspective on how we're thinking about this problem with actionable steps that we can take to move the ball forward.


And I like like I said earlier, it starts with acceptance, like coming to this understanding and having to break the denial, you know, welcoming the emotions that flood in with that.


I mean, you kind of talk about Tara Brock and her rubric for how to think about this, then reimagining the story, you know, entering this emergency mode and then joining the movement. And I think, you know, when you kind of walk through that, you start to realize that we are more powerful than we think that we are. And when we turn on the news and we see all of the social activity in all its forms right now, I think that there is an empowerment lesson in there for all of us that we can provoke the change that we want to see in the world and that there is quite a bit of hope to be mined from what we're seeing at the moment.


Yeah, I think when you view the climate emergency from the perspective of psychology and social psychology and allow that to inform your understanding of what the social movement needs to accomplish, it is OK, we are living in a lie that things are normal and that there's not a climate emergency. And again, that's why the coronavirus and mass protests are you know, I'm glad not to be fully in that delusion anymore, but we're still in the mass delusion that we don't face a near term existential threat.


Not other people, you and me and my family and your family and the whole human family is in danger because of the climate emergency.


That understanding, we're in mass collective denial, like Vaclav Havel pointed out in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia that there was mass understanding that the state was corrupt, just like there is there is mass understanding in the United States that this is an existential threat.


But by just living within the system, living as if things were normal, rather than talking about it and raising the alarm and changing your life in response to this, we're perpetuating this sense of normalcy. And so what's so important about this recognition and again, that Vaclav Havel used to create the Velvet Revolution and peacefully democratize the Czech Republic is through if you're in this situation where there is something that is true. And is largely understood as true, and yet there is not action attached to that yet, that there is an understanding that that that is a bubble that can be punctured.


Right. That is a situation that can flip really quickly once we start a collective awakening and it is starting. It just needs to massively expand.


Right. A little more inflammatory to get it to get it to that point. Like so many problems, it seems that part of, you know, what's preventing an acceleration of the solution is this misalignment of incentives. You know, as individuals, we're all kind of programmed to go out and get what's ours to, you know, satisfy our material urges and with lobbying efforts who are invested in the status quo and kind of diluting the public.


Is there a way in which capitalism and environmentalism on the level that you're talking about can coexist or how do we decouple corporate self-interest from the public good? It seems that we need to find a way to realign these incentives so that system's kind of auto directed towards solutions rather than exacerbating the problem.


So absolutely, we need to realign incentives. I definitely agree with that. However, we are just so advanced in the climate emergency, like we're not heading off a cliff, we are off the cliff and we need to hit reverse, not the brakes.


So I think that in order to move as quickly as humanly possible, it involves enlisting business as well as labor and the whole society into an effort. But what changes? What absolutely needs to change is the basic orientation and let's say power arrangements, that at the moment there is an understanding that, you know, it's like the neo liberal assumptions that the government can't successfully intervene in the market in order to deal with issues or pass strong legislation, command and control legislation, rather than just incentive based legislation.




Like we don't have to charge 10 cents for single use, plastic or whatever. We could just ban it. Like that is a policy instrument that we've kind of forgotten how to use. But during World War Two, FDR said no more consumer cars are going to be sold in this country because we need all of this capacity to make tanks, planes and ships. And so they're still participating, but the government's in the driver's seat. So that's the kind of emergency mobilization element in which very planned an emergency speed transition of the economy happens.


And that's just the overriding top priority. So which it just needs a lot of active intervention. So then what comes after that?


I don't worry about too much for me getting to, you know, beyond zero emissions to negative emissions and stopping this sixth mass extinction of species. That's like enough for me, but absolutely a society that doesn't have financial incentives that lead us to legislative governmental structure, that leads us to destruction. I mean, it's like no one no one can say this system is working if they live in the reality. Yeah. Physics. Right.


This reality in the third dimension. Yes. You know, you mentioned FDR. That made me think of your bystander effect example. You use this analogy of the fire alarm going off in the office and the extent to which people respond to that is cued by the urgency level of the boss, the person at the top. And when you speak about FDR, we're talking about a strong leader who had a vision, you know, about a certain solution. We're lacking that at the moment.


Like, how important is it that at the very top we have somebody who takes this seriously so that we can all kind of fall in step with this bystander effect? We can raise the consciousness level from the ground up, but on some level, there's something to be said for leadership that takes this seriously.


Oh, absolutely. I mean, the climate mobilisation endorsed Bernie Sanders, who is proposing a 16 trillion dollar world war to scale climate mobilization. So, I mean, we yeah, we thought he was the the leader that we need. I mean, Trump is utterly incompetent. I mean, we don't we don't waste our breath trying to advocate for Trump to do this. We would try to convince Biden administration to take this on. But yeah, I mean, OK, so yet Alexandro Cosio Cortez, I think provides inspirational leadership for the climate emergency movement.


Right. She certainly felt that she did some.


But while it is absolutely true that we need leadership from the top, it is also true that if you're in a burning office building, you don't have to be the boss to yell and tell everybody to get out and take the fire drill seriously.


So the mission that I am inviting readers to take on is really about becoming a leader. I mean, joining this movement and bringing in others through, spreading the word and I mean recruiting. Yeah. To just try and increase their power and influence as much as possible in order to spread this message and save humanity.


So it is both true that we need leadership at the top and true that each of us have to. Some in all of our strengths and courage in order to offer whatever leadership we can in our families and workplaces and communities. Mm hmm.


How do you think about greenwashing? Like there seems to be a lot of, you know, kind of commercial coopting of people's interest in in environmentalism to the extent that, you know, products are developed and pitched and presented to the marketplace that appear to be solution oriented and yet, in fact, are not. And that kind of lulls people into a placated state that they're actually doing something or that they're active when in truth, it ultimately ends up making the solution more difficult, preventing activism because people feel like they're already playing their part.


So do you think about that issue at all?


Yeah, so I, I don't believe that it's very effective anyway, any kind of activism that is based on something you buy.


I think that that really reinforces the idea of Americans as consumers.


And whereas I really I mean, I really want. To emphasize the fact that we are citizens and that we make the government. And it is it's up to us to create a system that cancels the apocalypse and protects humanity and all our life and that no one is going to do that for us. Again, I may be Bernie Sanders could have taken care of it, but even then, we would have need a robust movement making sure that he does so, to have the assumption that no one is coming to save us.


So we're going to create the leader that we need. You know, the saying, the feminising be the man you always wanted to marry.


It's like be the leader that you crave to see at the national level. Just just try to find that within yourself and bring that into your endeavors. Yeah, I like that.


No one's coming to save us. You've got to take that mantle on for yourself. Back to this world war, to kind of Manhattan Project approach to solving the problem. Like walk me through the ideal version of what that looks like from your perspective. Like what are the biggest problems that we need to tackle? How are we going to, you know, deconstruct and reimagine those systems, whether they're agriculture or energy, et cetera? Like, what does that specifically look like?


Great. So you can imagine that we have gotten this question a lot for four years. And so my co-founder of the organization, Ezra Silk, wrote a one hundred page victory plan that spells this out for any listeners that want to take the deep dive. But I'll I'll give them toplines. And it just goes to show also how incredibly complex this is, because even the victory plan, the one hundred pages, it's still a high level overview. So so anyway, what do we need to do?


We need to transform our energy, agricultural and industrial systems of our economy as well. Yeah. And I mean, it'll have implications, obviously, for the financial sector and other sectors, but at emergency speed. So how do you do that transportation sector? I mean, it's just on and on and on. It's everything. So how do you do that? You immediately ban all new fossil fuel infrastructure and development.


So no new export terminals for gas, no new coal plants, no new pipelines, no new anything. And this is obvious, but it's still somehow radical. OK, so we shut all that down and then we create a 10 year timeline to shut down the existing fossil fuel capacity in the United States. So the plants and then you create a massive program to ramp up renewables and energy conservation in order to replace the fossil fuel that's getting phased out so quickly.


So that's going to take a lot of jobs to put solar or green roofs on every roof and insulate every home, winterize every home, and to create just a renewable energy production miracle. We want to convert factories into solar and wind producing factories. So that's a little bit on the energy side, on the transportation side to immediately make zero miles per gallon the new mileage per gallon standard. So all new vehicles must be electric and then to work on getting fossil fuel vehicles off the road through a Cash for Clunkers program.


In some cases, retrofits are possible. Cars with an internal combustion engine can be electrified and move towards public transportation. Obviously, we need to build out a huge high speed rail network. We need to do so and drastically curtail flying. We need to be on factory farms and transition all agriculture to regenerative practices through a combination of banning pesticides, phasing out pesticides as well as education, and providing support for farmers to do that. I mean, so yet we need huge research grants.


We need to create a super smart grid that we need bike lanes. I mean, it's huge the amount of stuff we need to do. And the only possible way we would do it is if we realized that we have no choice, because if we don't do this, we will literally all die in chaos.


Mm hmm. Yeah, and getting people to understand the level of that existential threat seems to be not only is you know, that's not only like the most important piece, like that's really the focus of your expertise, right. Getting them to this level of acceptance and then activated and self directed, you know, on the right path.


How does your, you know, kind of solution oriented perspective on this square with the work that Paul Hawken is doing with draw down to those things line up? Or is there a, you know, kind of a difference of perspective there? See somebody about on the podcast who, you know, spoke about his various channels for addressing this on a global level, because a lot of what you're talking about also is it's about, you know, kind of the United States and what we can do.


But as we know, like this crisis doesn't respect national borders if we're doing this. But China isn't like, how are you thinking about all of that?


So drawdown is awesome. And it lays out areas like refrigerants and educating women, girls, and that, for example, that can reduce carbon emissions.


And so, as I said earlier, in terms of solutions, we've got them and they do such a good job of demonstrating this. And it's really just about achieving scale. I do think we have some differences in terms of theory, of change, of how that happens and what kind of policy should be sought with myself and the climate mobilisation coming in for incredibly strong legislation. Massive spending in order to get all this done is going to be super expensive and just, you know, kind of doing whatever it takes at a legislative level, an emergency mobilization.


I think Paul Hawken has a vision that involves businesses and other sectors kind of taking action on their own. Yeah, yeah. Not not through necessarily command and control.


And, yeah, the kind of emergency mobilization type approach when we when we think about, you know, the psychological aspect of this, you know, my sense is that.


Everybody thinks they're like everybody thinks that they're a good person, you know, that they're doing the best that they can, and when confronted with certain aspects of this movement, it's not uncommon for people to be defensive or self protective.


So when I experienced that myself, I'm reflective of my own kind of inherent biases. And I think, you know, what am I being defensive about? Is there some underlying thing that I need to look at in my own behavior? And I think beneath that is perhaps some unconscious shame or my attempt to protect my own self-esteem because I feel like my identity is being threatened.


Can you give me an example of the kind of situation that you're talking about? What might make you feel this way?


Oh, I mean, it could be as banal as my wife saying, you know, why didn't you take the garbage out last night? You know, it can be anything like I'm a I'm a sensitive person. You know, I will get defensive and protective and then I'll react rather than take a moment to pause and respond mindfully to what is actually being said to me. So I'm just thinking about like if I'm called out on some character defect of mine or some behavior, my natural inclination is to be defensive.


And I think that's a natural thing.


And I've done a lot of work over the years to not behave in that way. But as we all know, we all have our buttons. And when they get pushed, we're going to, you know, basically play whatever loop is programmed into our psyche.


Yeah. And by being aware of them and mindful of them is the best that we could do towards growth.


So it's that's great.


Right. So so in terms of kind of creating an architecture around around communication on these subjects, like you're you're out there, you're trying to get people excited about this movement, you're trying to empower them.


But we all have people who are who are kind of resistant out there. So knowing what you know about, you know, the human brain and human behavior, I think it would be instructive and helpful to kind of provide some guideposts to people who want to learn how to be better communicators about this or how to think about their own participation in this movement for themselves, for their own personal self actualization.


Yeah, it's it's such an important point what you what you bring up about people's self-esteem and how if someone feels criticized, that is not their most when they're most receptive to what you have to say. And it can be hard because when we talk about the climate emergency, I mean, it's such bad news, it's such challenging, painful, awkward news. So I do think it's really important for people to really think about how they engage in how they communicate and always try to be improving on that.


So I really appreciate the question.


I think that one of the most important things is to speak from the heart with climate. We have gotten so far down the road of science that people read about climate in the science section and they look to scientists to tell them what's going on and what we should do. And it's like, this is not a science issue. This is an everything issue. And scientists play an important role. But, you know, we can talk about this from a perspective of our values and our emotions and our futures.


So, yeah, I would probably recommend against a kind of, let's say, PowerPoint type, science driven approach. Plus, people don't generally feel comfortable doing that. So I invite people to have personal conversations about the climate emergency with your friends and family in which you talk about your reaction. How are you feeling about what's going on? And obviously this includes covid and the mass protests against police brutality and racism that we're seeing to talk about how you're feeling, what you think the future holds, and your fears about the future and how you're processing this and ask them the same.


And how are you feeling about it and what are your thoughts about the future and how are you processing it? And you don't have to have all the answers. You don't have to have everything worked out. It's just to connect on the level of. Holy shit, have you seen the most recent updates about what's happening in the climate? Do you know what's happening in the climate? It is accelerating so quickly. I'm so scared that is so impactful to to share what's in your heart.


I'm really, you know, if to say I'm really thinking about not having children, given what I'm seeing and think the future holds. I mean, a huge amount of people are experiencing painful feelings consciously related to the climate emergency. Yeah. Fifty six percent of Americans say we're in a climate emergency and 80 percent of young people think that global warming is a major threat to life as we know it. But yet there's still very little personal conversation going on.


So that's yeah, that's definitely the number one thing I would say.


Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, it's certainly an issue that should not be political, that should have bipartisan support.


And yet, like so many, you know, big issues that we're contending with right now have become politicized, tremendously politicized.


You know, this trend that really kind of entered the public consciousness around the 2016 election has only accelerated the tribalism, the weaponization of social media, the fake news and the increasing extent to which we are siloed in our chosen media information diets of choice.


And when you're talking about, you know, trying to confront this issue, you're inevitably going to butt up against people who are getting their information from a very different source and have become very calcified around any idea that contravenes what they've acclimated themselves to, which just is this extraordinary complex, iffier to this whole thing, like how to untangle that knot when everything is political now and we're so self-identified with whatever tribe you know, it is that we choose to belong to.


Yeah, absolutely. This is a huge central problem in our politics, generally speaking. And on the climate in particular, one thing I would say is don't worry about the deniers or don't focus on them. They're going to be the last people to join this movement, but even they perhaps can get there. But it's not going to happen now. So don't waste your time, spend your time talking to people who do understand what's going on with the climate but are still going on with their lives as usual.


Move them to greater action like people say, oh, but that's preaching to the choir or something. And it's like, no, that's getting the choir together. Our choir has not been doing a very good job recently and we need to really grow it and it's power.


So, yeah, you don't I wouldn't I wouldn't waste time honestly talking to climate deniers. You could tell them if you're interested, you know, if you are reconsidering or if you're interested or whatever, we could talk. But there's so much low hanging fruit, like the 80 percent of young voters who think that global warming is a threat to life as we know it, like organizing them, bringing them into the movement.


It's easy. All you need to do is show them how and yet, you know, and encourage them to do it. So there's so much to do there. I would say that's where it's at. Yeah.


I mean, that's the low hanging fruit and the easy sell and the on ramps. It's just building the appropriate onramp to activate those people in the most effective way. Yeah.


You know, another thing that's somewhat unique about this problem is and you point this out in the book is that we are together collectively all victims of the climate emergency. But through passivity, we're also its perpetrators. And from a psychological perspective, that's confusing. Right? We're suffering as a result of this, but we're also active participants in its acceleration. And untangling that not seems to be kind of a psychological minefield as well. Right.


And this gets into or back to what you were saying about self-esteem and that guilt to be a part of this problem is one thing that holds us back from.


Fully engaging with it and doing what we can to stop it, because we've been told that it's our fault and I like to say it's not your fault, but it is your responsibility.


No one asked to be born into this terribly destructive and broken system. We're here at this time, and this is the reality that we're faced with. And I don't see what someone could do with their time on this planet that would be more meaningful or noble than to fight for humanity in the living world. Take that on as your personal mission and just decide that this is not going to happen on your watch. Right.


And once you've an individual is kind of face that truth and grappled with, you know, the fear and the grief and all these other emotions that come up with breaking that chain of denial about what's actually going on, you have this third step, which is entitled Reimagining Your Life Story. So walk me through what that means.


So in the step before welcome your fear, grief and other painful feelings. I encourage readers to grieve not only the people and nature animals that have already been lost, but also to grieve the future that they thought they had their hopes and plans, realizing that it's it's just not going to unfold the way you hoped and planned.


And instead, there's this other reality of that's going to be, you know, accelerating chaos once you do that. And I did realizing that being a psychologist and writing books and having a family, which is what I had planned, and it seemed like a great plan. But when I realized that it wasn't going to work, if civilization was just collapsing all around me, I no longer saw satisfaction down that road. And what that does is open up space for a new.


Identity, a new future, a new trajectory, and a new story of self. So I invite people to ask, what if this is why I'm here and what if everything in my life had been leading up to this? All my challenges, all my skills and talents, like what if this is really what it's all about? And imagine what it could be to have that heroic mission to take that on.


So, yeah, it's it's it's a tall order, you know, it's it's hard, but I just think it's so worth it. Yeah.


It's very much in the ilke of the Joseph Campbell hero's journey. And there's this trajectory from self-interest to being kind of community oriented. Right. Like the self esteem that comes with devoting yourself to something that's bigger than you and more important than, you know, your own personal concerns that I think girds people's lives with meaning. And to the extent that they can identify with this movement or perhaps an aspect of it, maybe it's animal agriculture, maybe it's solar energy.


You know, like sometimes I feel like, well, global climate change. So it's so vast and all consuming. Like, is there wisdom in identifying one aspect of it that speaks to you personally that you feel like you have an emotional connection to and can do the best good? Like how do you think about passing this into various sectors where you can channel people's energy in a direction that feels like a fit for them?


Definitely, people need to find their place in this movement.


And I absolutely some people are drawn to regenerative agriculture and others to trains. And, you know, and that's great. And, you know, people should follow their heart in those ways, but make sure to make it or to also be political, because if you're just having a regenerative farm, for example, that's great. It's certainly much better than having a conventional farm.


But I just don't think that's going to change the world.


Yeah, you're thinking in terms of scale, like whatever you choose, like it has to have a lever that can move things beyond the immediate, like thing that you're involved in.




But and maybe that's I have a regenerative farm and I bring people from my community there to educate them about the climate emergency and regenerative agriculture. And I share my insights with other regenerative farmers. You know, there's ways to make a lot of different things. A part of this movement. It just has to be, you know, consciously part of what you're doing.


Yeah, I guess where I'm thinking of, you know, I'm just analogizing it in my mind to the vegan movement and understanding that, you know, certain people are very good at being brazen with their messaging and unapologetic and kind of edgy.


And other people are more effective at provoking change in more subtle ways just because of their natural disposition. And I think you need all different types and, you know, every shape and form. But finding the vein that, you know, you can tap that fits you is, you know, what I'm always thinking about in terms of how I direct people and think about my own messaging. But I do think that piece of figuring out how that's going to be effective in a broader sense is the important part of the calculus that, you know, perhaps I've overlooked or should think more deeply about.


Yeah. Choosing your place in the climate movement. And it's and it's also it's not just like one and done.


It's a it's an evolving thing you should always be reaching for, you know, how is this going and how can I have a greater impact? That's just an ongoing process.


But choosing it is as complex and personal as choosing a career. Right. There is just so many different factors. Right. And so that's why the final step, step five, I try to say, OK, well, this is what the movement needs, these different categories of things and think about how you fit into them. So just like for some concrete examples, movements need bookkeeper's and graphic designers and.


And people to help with child care and people to make meals for events, whatever, catering people to do tech support, people to offer child care at meetings, translators, there are so many different things as well as of course, they always need organizers and fundraisers. If you want if you want to be welcome in any social movement organization, tell them you're willing to raise funds. So there's I mean, there's just so many different ways to do this.


And yeah, I mean, and, you know, on the on the high end and I always encourage people to go all the way. I mean, run for office, start an initiative, get your business or organization to declare a climate emergency and to reckon with their role in this movement. There's so much that is helpful to the listener. Know there's something you can do. There's something for you in this movement, right?


Yeah. Yeah, of course. One of the questions that you ask in the book is, you know, how we got to this place? Why are we passively accepting collective suicide? And, you know, underneath it, kind of underscoring this thing is this. Idea that it's because in so many ways, our society treats life as if it were a cheap commodity, like that's a line out of your book to overcome, that seems to me to require a shift in our in our value system.




And when I read that it's a provocative line, I immediately think of all the things that I do that are that are not perfect. You know, I'm talking to you through a microphone and a computer that's full of all kinds of minerals that I don't know where they came from. And I'm certain that, you know, they weren't mined in a way that was protective of the environment. Like, we are all complicit on some level in participating in a system that is creating the undoing of the planet.


And that dissonance becomes like, I want to think that, like my value system. States that I don't treat life as if it were a cheap commodity, and yet, you know, it goes back to what I was saying before, like this idea that we're both victim and perpetrator here.


But in order to truly, like, shift this value perspective away from treating life as if it were a cheap commodity and towards valuing it more seems to be you know, that's a that's a big. Thing, right, like we can all get involved in causes we can participate, but are you optimistic that we can arrive at that place where I mean, it would seem like there would need to be total system upheaval of governments and, you know, political systems to arrive at that place because at present we value life so poorly.


Hmm. I guess I'm not like that's not really a question. It was more like an observation, I suppose. Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, I just thought of that in that moment. Right. I guess what I'm saying above anything else, it's just a recognition of the complexity and the difficulty, like the the difficulty factor of what we're trying to accomplish here.


What you're trying to accomplish here is extreme.


Yes. And I take great comfort in your optimism around it and the activism that you've, you know, shouldered for yourself in your organization. And I am hopeful and I'm surrounded by young people who are extremely, you know, activated by this cause. And, you know, I want to believe that we're going to be able to tackle and overcome this.


And I have to juxtapose that against some level of admitted despair that I see when, you know, I, you know, scroll through today's news cycle and I see the violence and I see the, you know, level of hatred being perpetrated. And on some level, like there's a this process has to occur for us to get to the other side and transcend these age old problems that we have. But in my own mind, the attempt to kind of reconcile all of this, you know, leaves me at times like less hopeful or confused.


So one element that I really want to emphasize is thinking about our system and our role within that. Because we participate in this system, there is not really a way out. I mean, you could be like a renunciation, you know, like a monk or something. But you have to take really extreme measures in order to not participate in the basic global economy and energy system and all of it. And I certainly don't think we should shame people for that, but I actually don't think I mean, yeah, OK, so by living in the system.


By consuming, there is some level of guilt and responsibility, but I think about passivity and lack of political engagement as the larger like that to me is where the responsibility lies. And I think it was Naomi Oreskes who said that the abolitionists in this country knew that their clothes were made by slaves and that the cotton was picked by slaves and that this was a slave process.


But they knew they had to change the system, not their clothes.


And I just I mean, I feel like looking back, you can see it seems obvious, right, that a movement to ask people to change their consumption patterns and try to buy clothes that were made only by free workers, it would not have been as effective as fighting the institution head on on the field of politics and public opinion.


Mm hmm.


One of the things well, the sort of, you know, step five final chapter in your book is about like how to actually, you know, join the movement and be effective. In my experience, there's a lot of people who are energized by this movement, but they're not quite sure where to direct that energy. You know, you can go to the Climate Mobilization Project website or you can go to an extinction rebellion rally, et cetera.


But I think, you know, it's important to try to provide people with some guidance about how to direct that in the most effective way.


So talk a little bit about, you know, somebody who's listening to this or read your book and they're excited and they're ready to go like, how do you then channel that in the right direction? Like, what can somebody who's just living in the suburbs somewhere begin to do?


Great. So the first thing is to find out what's happening in your area. Even in this moment, even that is going to be virtual. But it's good to just find out what groups are operating as well as to start to understand the landscape. I encourage people to look for some criteria in what groups they're going to join. Do you call it an emergency language matters. This is a climate emergency. This is not a little change. Even more important, do they advocate transformational change, not reform?


OK, so an example of reform is carbon pricing. And many in many sectors of the environmental movement, carbon pricing is considered the gold standard of what we need to do. But it's too late. Carbon pricing perhaps can play a role in a larger mobilization, but it is not worth it to campaign for carbon pricing alone. So look for a group that is talking about 10 years to zero emissions and emergency response and emergency mobilization. And that's growing, right.


So extinction rebellion, the sunrise movement of the school, Stryker's, the climate mobilization and many local organizations as well have taken on this platform. So find out what's going on with those organizations and what the advocacy platforms are of the other organizations available is a great first step, thinking about your own skills and resources and networks and doing an inventory of that. So, I mean, obviously, I, I would love to recommend that people read the book and that chapter facing the climate emergency, how to transform yourself with Climate Truth, because it's a really I mean, it's quite involved.


You got to think about how much time you have and if you're willing to donate money and yet what skills you have, what you're willing to do, what you're not willing to do, are you willing to get arrested.


So to really take seriously that kind of self-assessment and bringing that together with an understanding of what the movement needs and what's going on in your local area, is what I would say as well as the addendum to that is and and this is to everybody talk about the climate emergency as much as possible and do it personally.




On the subject of philanthropy and from kind of an effective altruism perspective, if somebody wants to donate money, who are the best recipients of that that are provoking the greatest amount of change? I mean, there's so many places to donate now. It's hard to know, you know, who's doing the great work and where those funds can be used most effectively for the most amount of change.


Yes. So I would strongly recommend funding newer, smaller organizations.


And I really recommend not funding the big green organizations such as NRDC, the Sierra Club. Greenpeace does some good work, I guess. I guess maybe they're OK, but there is a nature conservancy. These organizations are not on top of how bad this emergency is.


League of Conservation Voters, they are in denial. They are in the gradualist paradigm. And that is significantly because they've gotten too cozy with power. They value being insiders more and they don't want to do any kind of agitation. So give to the organizations I mentioned previously. Extinction, Rebellion, Sunrise Movement, Climate Mobilization School, Stryker's and that's the Future Coalition is one of the key school strike organizations.


And so, yeah, look at look at their demands. Again, we are out of time for week demands. If someone is promoting the decarbonisation by 2050, it's just I mean, come on, we don't have thirty years and it's certainly not worth funding an environmental group that is advocating such a. Like week and not reality based message, so, yeah, I think that kind of targeted giving I mean, this new movement, this climate emergency movement that has emerged, it is a tiny fraction of the resources that the big green has.


And it has made a much more significant impact through its passion and willingness to tell the truth. So I would strongly direct people towards climate emergency organizations that are operating in the political and social sphere. It's a tiny fraction of climate funding goes to that. It's like a new area. So another another group to mention is the Climate Emergency Fund, which sprouted to fund groups like this and new groups. Right. That have no track record but that want to get started.


And the climate emergency fund will give them small grants like five hundred bucks to host the first protest or whatnot so that they're pretty cool. They take risks that other funds don't. So if you don't feel comfortable giving directly to an organization, that's a good approach.


They know how to disperse it.


I would the last thing I would say is to apply these same standards to political candidates that you donate to. Obviously, donations matter a lot in U.S. politics. So letting a candidate know that you're only supporting candidates that call it a climate emergency, that advocate for an emergency response, 10 years to zero emissions, whatever, that's I mean, that's like one of the most effective ways to influence a candidate.


So other than AOC, who else on the Hill is is really pushing this message?


Earl Blumenauer and AOC introduced the Climate Emergency Declaration in the House. Bernie Sanders introduced it in the Senate. So, yeah, that's that's some people to flag. Ed Markey, who's getting primaried from the centrist Democrat Joe Kennedy, has been a climate champion. There's not a huge amount of people that are doing nearly enough.


I wish the list was longer.


You and me both. Well, let's I want to give you an opportunity before we close here to talk a little bit more about the climate mobilization project and perhaps kind of what your immediate focus is right now on some of the work that you're doing.


So the climate mobilisations, key organizing activity is our climate emergency campaign, which has helped achieve more than fifteen hundred declarations of climate emergency primarily from local governments, but also from national governments and even the EU, though unfortunately, some of those governments attach to 20 50 decarbonisation timeline, totally contradicting themselves in their declaration.


And it's quite a cognitive pretzel. But anyway, in other cases, it works really well to help shift the terms of the debate. So, for example, Ann Arbor, Michigan declared a climate emergency and unveiled a billion dollar climate plan that would get them to net zero emissions by 20 30, which is quite ambitious for a city of that size. 20 cities in California and Massachusetts have now, after declaring a climate emergency band the natural gas hookups in new construction, making all new construction, electric appliances, electric heating.


So we work with local organizations and organizers who want to enlist their local governments as allies in the fight with declaring a climate emergency as the start of a campaign. That's great. I also I also want to say I am working on a project around the book and around creating models for facilitated discussions around these issues in which people can share feelings and process together. And so I'm also personally really leaning into the psychological side and looking to operationalize that as much as possible.


Oh, that's cool. I like that idea. So in other words, getting like smaller groups of people together to just process and talk about how they're thinking about it or. Yeah. What does that mean?


Yeah, exactly. I mean, right now there's two kinds of discussions that we do. One is called pain into action, and that's for people who haven't read facing the climate emergency. And at first everyone shares what they're feeling about the climate emergency. And then in the second round, people share ideas about action for themselves. What? They might do, and it's a bit of brainstorming. I mean, it's very basic. I mean, it's not rocket science, but people say to me all the time, no one ever asked me how I feel about the climate emergency.


And it's like, huh, maybe we should be talking about this.


Mm hmm. Mm hmm.


And then we're also putting together a format for people who have read the book. So it's a yeah. Kind of like a politically engaged book club, kind of politically and psychologically engaged kind of approach. Right. Well, cool.


I mean, I love I love that idea. I love the book. I should say that it's a very easy read. I mean, there's this sense that you think you're going to get into something that's, you know, superheavy about the science behind the climate emergency.


And it's really less about that and much more about, you know, how to think about it, you know, like we've been talking about psychologically and how to, you know, channel that into action. I think you did a great job. It's very easily digestible. And I should also point out what's very cool about this that I love is that your publisher is not only a beaker, but they're like carbon neutral. And the book is printed on recycled paper and they have this like environmental benefits statement on the back page and everything.


So you are walking your talk with. That's cool.


Let me let me also mention that all proceeds from book sales on our side go to Climate Mobilization Project. Cool. Of course.


Excellent. So people are digging on Margaret's message. Definitely pick up the book Facing the Climate Emergency, go to Climate Mobilization Project, the website and any other place that you want to direct people.


Oh, I'm sorry. You said the climate mobilization big and facing the climate emergency dotcom.


Go to all of them. One is one is for the book. One is for the organization, both great sites.


And you can be followed on Twitter at climate site, correct? Yeah. Cool.


All right. I think we did it.


How do you feel? I think that went really well.


I think so. Do I think people are going to really enjoy it. So I appreciate you sharing your message is powerful with everybody today. And if there's anything I can ever do to help with your work and your cause, please reach out to me.


I really enjoyed well, this is an incredible help to appear like this, so I really appreciate it. Cool peace plants.


So that happened, we did that did it bend your noodle, Mark? It's an incredible communicator, I think.


Hope you guys are feeling more inspired than despondent because we need you. This crisis is important. We can do this, but we got to do it together. If you're feeling at all altruistic, you can find the aforementioned climate groups in today's episode show notes. I also encourage you to check out Margarets book. Please read this book. Facing the Climate Emergency. It will not disappoint. You can find Margarette on Twitter at Climate SYK and on Instagram. Just go to climate mobilisations.


We also have another role on Šamaš coming up in the forthcoming weeks. You can leave us a voicemail with your question at 44, two, three, five, four, six, two, six. And you can also leave a message on our Facebook group. If you'd like to support the work we do here on the show, subscribe rate and comment on it on Apple podcast, on Spotify, on YouTube, share the show or your favorite episodes with friends or on social media.


And you can support us on patriotic rich WorldCom. Forward slash donate. I appreciate my team who works very hard week in, week out to put on the show. Jason Kamela for audio engineering production show notes and interstitial music, Blake, Curtis and Margo Luvin, who typically video the show. But today is audio only Jessica Miranda for graphics. Ashley Rogers, who takes portraits when we do in-person podcast DKA for advertiser relationships and theme music by Tyler Pietje, chopper pilot and Hari Mathis.


Thanks for the love you guys see back here soon with another amazing episode. Until then, Peace Flats. You got this. Let's act together. Come on, let's do it.