Free Forum Q&A – SYSTEMS THINKING (1) FRITJOF CAPRA, author of several books including The Tao of Physics; The Turning Point & (2) NORA BATESON, director AN ECOLOGY OF MIND doc re: her late father, Gregory BatesonWritten on May 7th, 2015
(1) FRITJOF CAPRA – Originally aired April 2009
(2) NORA BATESON – Originally aired July 2012
Both interviews this week explore systems thinking – one of the key ingredients of a world that just might work.
First. I speak with FRITJOF CAPRA, who wrote a book in 1981 that greatly influenced my view not only of science, medicine, agriculture, energy, and even politics – it influenced my view of reality. That book was THE TURNING POINT, and its message is as profound and revolutionary today. “We live today in a globally interconnected world, in which biological, psychological, social, and environmental phenomena are all interdependent. To describe this world appropriately we need an ecological perspective which the Cartesian world view does not offer. What we need, then, is a new ‘paradigm’ – a new vision of reality; a fundamental change in our thoughts, perceptions, and values.” Capra wrote those words in its preface.
In the second half my guest will be NORA BATESON, and we’ll talk about AN ECOLOGY OF MIND, the wonderful documentary she’s made about her father, the late anthropologist GREGORY BATESON. Her documentary is subtitled A Daughter’s Portrait of Gregory Bateson. It tells of the unique anthropologist, philosopher, author, naturalist, and systems theorist, who was ahead of his time in seeing reality as made up not of things or even of ideas, but of relationships. The film features interviews with California Governor Jerry Brown, physicist and systems theorist Fritjof Capra, Whole Earth Catalogue publisher Stewart Brand, cultural philosopher and poet William Irwin Thompson; and Nora’s sister, anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson. Nora’s film will introduce Bateson to a new generation and remind many of us of the impact her father had on the way a lot of people perceived the world.
“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.” Those are the words of the late Gregory Bateson – and I couldn’t agree more.
Free Forum Q&A – JOHN WARNER One of the founders of Green Chemistry Can we have progress without pollution?Written on April 30th, 2015
(Originally aired November 2010)
According to Scientific American, “Experts guesstimate that about 50,000 chemicals are used in U.S. consumer products and industrial processes. Why the uncertainty? The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act does not require chemicals to be registered or proven safe before use. Because the Environmental Protection Agency must show, after the fact, that a substance is dangerous, it has managed to require testing of only about 300 substances that have been in circulation for decades. It has restricted applications of five.” The harmful side effects of chemicals have long been tolerated in the US as a price of progress and profits.
But in the early 1990s a small group of scientists began to think differently. Why, they asked, do we rely on hazardous substances for so many manufacturing processes? After all, chemical reactions happen continuously in nature, thousands of them within our own bodies, without any nasty by-products. Maybe, these scientists concluded, the problem was that chemists are not trained to think about the impacts of their inventions. Perhaps chemistry was toxic simply because no one had tried to make it otherwise. They called this new philosophy “green chemistry.”
J0HN WARNER and Paul Anastas are the founders of green chemistry and co-authors of Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice. In the book, they establish 12 guiding principles for chemists, concepts like preventing waste by incorporating as much of the materials used into the final product, and choosing the least complicated reaction. Warner left a lucrative job at Polaroid to found the nation’s first doctoral program in green chemistry. In 2007, to go beyond teaching, he founded Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, an innovation incubator, in Wilmington, Mass.
Green chemists use all the tools and training of traditional chemistry, but instead of ending up with toxins that must be treated and contained after the fact, they aim to create industrial processes that avert hazard problems altogether. The catch phrase is “benign by design”.
Free Forum Q&A – (1) BEN SKINNER, A CRIME SO MONSTROUS: Face to Face with Modern Day Slavery & (2) GABOR MATE M.D. IN THE REALM OF HUNGRY GHOSTS: Close Encounters With AddictionWritten on April 23rd, 2015
Ben Skinner(Originally aired April 2009)
Gabor Mate (Originally aired May 2011)
These interviews pursue a world that just might work. That pursuit, however, demands looking honestly at the darker aspects of human behavior, and this week’s interviews deal with slavery and addiction. In both cases, my guests draw on years of personal experience to frame their analyses and their proposed solutions.
To those who say society’s not actually making progress, many point to the fact that at least we’ve eliminated slavery. But sadly that is not the case. 143 years after passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and 60 years after Article 4 of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery worldwide, there are more slaves right now than at any time in human history – 27 million. The new slavery, which focuses on big profits and cheap lives, is not about owning people in the traditional sense of the old slavery, but about controlling them completely.
During the four years that BEN SKINNER researched modern-day slavery for his book, A CRIME SO MONSTROUS, he posed as a buyer at illegal brothels on several continents, interviewed convicted human traffickers in a Romanian prison and endured giardia, malaria, dengue and a bad motorcycle accident. But SKINNER says he’s most haunted by his experience in a brothel in Bucharest, Romania, where he was offered a young woman with Down syndrome in exchange for a used car.
Some might call addiction is a form of slavery. I am a long and consistent opponent of the war on drugs and of US policy toward illegal drugs and illegal drug users. I am also someone who advocates for a holistic view of reality, its challenges, and potential solutions. Holistic healing deals with the whole situation – mind, body, emotions, spirit and environment, treats root causes rather than symptoms, and treats as naturally and safely as possible. GABOR MATE, deals with the issues of drugs and addiction holistically. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts proposes approaching addiction through an understanding of its biological and socio-economic roots.
Free Forum Q&A – DAVE ZIRIN the Nation Magazine’s first sports editor GAME OVER: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside DownWritten on April 17th, 2015
Originally Aired: 2/19/15
When you pick up a newspaper, do you reach first for the sports section? When you sit down in front of a television, do you look first for ESPN or today’s hottest game? Does your mood revolve not just around whether the world is better off today but whether the team you root for won or lost?
I love sports. Playing sports, I’ve probably had more peak moments in which my ego was dissolved and I was able to merge body, mind, and spirit in the pursuit of a goal in full collaboration with others than doing anything else. Sports have always served as a bridge among strangers as well as friends – whether the ability to show up at a basketball court anywhere in the world and join a game within minutes or to strike up a conversation with anyone anywhere regardless of race, class, faith, or nationality. How many fathers and sons have had sports in common when all else seems strained or broken between them?
All of which has a streak of purity about it. But what about professional sports? This week’s guest DAVE ZIRIN fills a fairly unique role in our culture. He takes sports seriously enough to be the first sports editor in the 150 year existence of The Nation magazine. He has for years in books, columns, and commentaries examined both the politics of sports as well as the intersection of the two.
Howard Cosell said “rule number one of the jockocracy” was that sports and politics don’t mix. In his newest book, Game Over, Zirin asserts that modern professional athletes are breaking that rule like never before. From the NFL lockout and the role of soccer in the Arab Spring to the Penn State sexual abuse scandals and Tim Tebow’s on-field genuflections, Dave reveals how our most important debates about class, race, religion, sex, and political power are being played out both on and off the field.
I’ve left my overzealous interest in sports out of the studio for years, but this week — a couple of weeks after the Super Bowl, not long after Lance Armstrong finally admits to doping, and a few hours before the NBA All Star game – I break that barrier. Dave Zirin and I will talk about specific events and athletes, but we’ll also examine the role sports plays in our individual lives and in society.
Free Forum Q&A – TEMPLE GRANDIN, one of the most accomplished adults with autism, designer of livestock handling facilities, author, ANIMALS MAKE US HUMAN & (2) WALTER ISAACSON, head of the Aspen Institute, author, EINSTEIN: HIS LIFE AND UNIVERSEWritten on April 9th, 2015
TEMPLE GRANDIN – Originally aired January 2010
WALTER ISAACSON – Originally aired May 2007
Two extraordinary minds: Interviews about a couple of individuals who, though slow learners as children, grew up to do amazing things.
In the first half, I’ll talk with Temple Grandin, PhD, probably the most accomplished adult with autism in the world. Now a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and a designer of livestock handling facilities, Grandin, who didn’t speak until she was three and a half years old, has become a prominent author, speaker and advocate on the issues of Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. The 2010 HBO film based on her life won seven Emmys, including Outstanding Movie Made for Television, Outstanding Directing – Mick Jackson, and Outstanding Actress – Clare Danes.
In the second half, my guest will be WALTER ISAACSON, former managing editor of TIME magazine and Chairman of CNN, current head of the Aspen Institute, and the author of several bestselling books, including his biography of Steve Jobs. We’ll talk about his biography, EINSTEIN: His Life and Universe.
Einstein discovered, merely by thinking about it, that the universe was not as it seemed. His contributions changed the way we conceive of reality. A new biography makes the point that his scientific imagination sprang from his rebellious questioning of authority – a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom. In addition to his scientific genius, he was also noted for his social conscience Besides campaigning for a ban on nuclear weaponry, he denounced McCarthyism and pleaded for an end to bigotry and racism.