The Climate Conversations team sits down with the director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, Jason Jay, to discuss the role of market forces and government regulation in climate action. They discuss the theoretical framework of capitalism, and how it can lend itself to benevolent practices as well as exploitative ones. Jay and the team analyze geopolitical interests in fossil fuels and alternative energies, and transitional practices.
Lastly, they discuss Jay’s research and recent book on “breaking through the gridlock” in difficult conversations. How do we move past the certainty of our own perspectives, and really engage with dissenting voices? The team looks at the power of shared values and how to foster authentic connections, in order to unlock new and better solutions.
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[00:00:00:20] JASON JAY: How do you talk to people effectively about climate change? Well, you listen. And you listen to what they're observing and what they're seeing in their communities. And you listen to what their concerns are, and fears of loss of freedom, and the fears of loss of comfort, and loss of autonomy over one's own rhythm are very real.
[00:00:23:21] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Welcome to Climate Conversations. I'm Rajesh Kasturirangan. And I'm going to be fighting gridlock with my partner-in-crime.
[00:00:31:05] CURT NEWTON: Hi, Curt Newton.
[00:00:32:00] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: And we're going to be doing that with Jason Jay, lecturer in the Sloan School of Management and head of the sustainability initiative at MIT. Jason.
[00:00:41:18] JASON JAY: Good morning.
[00:00:42:11] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: How did you get into the sustainability business?
[00:00:46:14] JASON JAY: You know, I can't start a conversation about this without the fact that I was born in Boulder, Colorado. That's a town where you're considered a wacko if you're not an environmentalist of some kind, and you get to fall in love with nature, it's just part of growing up there. So that was an entry point for me. And not only do you fall in love with nature in Boulder, but you can look out just beyond the boundaries of town when I was growing up and see this kind of brown cloud growing over Denver, which at the time-- I have to go back and look at the statistics-- but my understanding was that it was one of the most polluted cities in North America.
[00:01:22:15] There was a ring of refineries around the city, and some sprawl, and traffic, and so on. And so my dad and I would have conversations about things that I didn't know what they were, they just kind of planted a seed. He was talking about cap and trade policies, he was talking about pollution control technologies, and I didn't really know what he was talking about but it sort of planted a seed for a lot of the things that we're talking about now.
[00:01:47:12] CURT NEWTON: That's the sense I've got when I talk to my kids about cap and trade policies.
[00:01:50:16] JASON JAY: Yeah, right. It's like, what are you talking about? And my mom, she also was very passionate about these issues. She had an activist streak. There was a nuclear weapons facility in Golden, Colorado not far from us, and she was part of a group of people who went and laid down in the road. And those are some early seeds that got planted.
[00:02:12:08] Then, when I was in high school and college in those sort of early parts of defining what you're about, I was really interested in the mind. Coming into college in 1995, the decade of the brain, it was a really exciting time to be working in cognitive neuroscience, thinking about evolutionary psychology, and that had defined a whole aspect of my path, was to think about how do people think, and how do we learn, how do adults learn and develop, how do organizations learn and develop. That really is what led me to MIT.
[00:02:44:19] But there was a certain point where I started asking myself, OK, well what are we learning about? Let's say we want to create organizational learning, like Peter Senge at MIT Sloan. What is that learning heading towards? And what problem are we trying to solve?
[00:03:00:02] And when I really thought about that question, I think that's when that seed that had been planted really started to grow, is to say, OK, well what we really need to learn how to do is how to create a post-industrial civilization that can meet basic human needs around the world while containing the negative impacts on climate change, on nitrogen and phosphorus overload, on air pollution, on all these issues that seem to be the sort of diseases of affluence. And that really has guided a lot of my work, and our work, and the sustainability initiative. How can we create new kinds of organizations, new organizational cultures, new market mechanisms that support new technologies, that allow for a sustainable society?
[00:03:49:01] CURT NEWTON: So given the way you've described what your mom was doing, what your dad was doing, you kind of grew up in the middle of this tension or overlap between, say, the activist streak and the market forces streak?
[00:04:02:25] JASON JAY: Yeah. I mean, I will say that the market thing wins out. The thing that the two of them were doing together professionally was building a business. And I was child labor in the factory, assembling wheelchair cushions. And my brother ended up being the head of marketing. And we built the business that was around a wheelchair cushion that my father invented that prevents pressure sores.
[00:04:25:09] And so the notion that you could build a business that does good in the world, and that creates a healthy living, that was probably the most important message that came out of their work for me. And again, that also steers us. Now, at the same time, being passionate about issues, and being willing to take a stand, and looking to bigger systemic changes-- all of those things, I think, are part of the picture.
[00:04:51:08] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Talking about business, I would say that one of the really red button issues for us at Climate Conversations, but I think generally in the climate movement, is what's the role of the market and business in general? Right? Because there are people who, I think, justifiably say capitalism is the problem, it's not part of the solution, it needs to go away, and people who are clearly thinking about market-based solutions. So, how do you think about it and what's your argument for it?
[00:05:25:23] JASON JAY: Well, a lot of more conservative leaning economic and political thinkers like to talk about Milton Friedman, saying that the purpose of the corporation is to produce profits. But he also was a very active proponent of Pigouvian taxation and other corrections to externalities, and public goods, and other market failures. So I think any thoughtful economists that I've ever run into have said, yeah, the market can solve any problem as long as you correct market failures in the form of saying OK, are there side costs to our activities? If I'm running a factory, maybe I'm creating economic value through the widgets that I'm producing, but if I'm also polluting a river, that's a negative externality. And so the market, unchecked, will not solve that problem.
[00:06:22:27] At the minimum, you need property rights, which is what an economist named Ronald Coase said, so that the farmer downstream who needs that water has the ability to sue the factory for reparations. And ideally you want to create some sort of a regime where you can put a price, an economic price, on the costs that society is bearing for your activities. And it was under Republican regimes that we created some of the basic infrastructure for doing that-- the cap and trade regimes for sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides both happened under the Reagan and Bush administrations.
[00:06:58:03] CURT NEWTON: And they were successful.
[00:06:58:29] JASON JAY: And they have been very successful. My kids don't learn about acid rain. Right? That's a problem that we don't talk a whole lot about. It's a real problem in emerging markets that haven't put those sorts of mechanisms in place, but here in the US, we were able to counter that reasonably well with these sorts of approaches. So I think I am a proponent of capitalism.
[00:07:19:10] There's a book called Conscious Capitalism that was co-written by a guy named Raj Sisodia and guy named John Mackey, and Mackey was the CEO of Whole Foods for a long time. And Mackey is a libertarian, so he has a bit of an agenda to say, well, if companies can be really great and responsible, then maybe we don't need that government stuff. And his co-CEO of Whole Foods for many years was more of what we think of as a liberal. And the two of them would sort of hash that out.
[00:07:44:21] But one of the things that they do in that book is they talk about the heroic value of capitalism. Which is, this is about a relationship with a customer that's really trying to understand their needs, really trying to understand what's going to make their life better, and trying to provide a product or service that does that. And I think there's something very noble in that. You just have to be conscious of, in that transaction is there something happening out the back door or out my smokestack that I'm not managing well, and can we create some market based policies that allow us to handle that? I don't think that's too big of a stretch, and it's part of what can allow a sustainable capitalism to happen.
[00:08:22:03] CURT NEWTON: And perhaps it's being a little too blunt to just say it's either capitalism or something not, and there's all kinds of stuff in the middle.
[00:08:31:21] JASON JAY: Well, there are a lot of capitalisms. OK? I mean, capitalism, as it's practiced in Sweden, or Finland, or Switzerland, or Holland, is very different than the capitalism that we practice here, is very different than the capitalism that we practice in India. So I think that it's not-- maybe the Soviet era left some sort of feeling like we had to choose between two very extreme regimes. But I think there's a few things that we can do to make this system work.
[00:09:03:07] I think the biggest, most fundamental systemic challenges with capitalism have to do with the role that accumulation of wealth plays in the accumulation of political power. So when incumbent companies with incumbent technologies create an incumbent wealthy class of people who are then able to influence the political process through campaign donations and so on, and therefore create policy regimes that protect those incumbent companies and those incumbent technologies, or ward off policies that might threaten them, that's where we run into a challenge. That's where capitalism, in that form of crony capitalism, becomes a real issue. And what I think is really interesting right now in our political moment is that this notion of crony capitalism is equally hated on multiple sides of the political spectrums.
[00:10:02:01] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: But coming to the fossil fuel industry in particular, where you could argue that some of its power is tied to its proximity to the political class and its capacity to buy influence, but I would think that it actually goes deeper. Right? Because you could say that the foundations of American power, in particular, are tied to the fossil fuel industry. I mean, there's a reason why the Gulf is of such enormous geopolitical interest to this country. So how do you to disentangle that mess?
[00:10:45:00] JASON JAY: OK. These are big questions, and questions which I'm really not that well-equipped to deal with. So I don't want to overstep my bounds in terms of the things that I know about. I would say that this notion of incumbent technologies having incumbent political interests, which escalates a sort of incumbent geopolitical interests and military interests is very real. And so it's not trivial for us to shift from fossil regime to whatever a sustainable regime is going to look like.
[00:11:19:08] I will say that there's a few different directions that we could go with this. One is that MIT has a very robust relationship with the military and with the military industrial complex. It was one of the things that was a big surprise to me when I started teaching here, how many veterans come to Sloan for their MBA as post-service. And it was an even bigger surprise how those became my favorite students, because the people coming from the military are deeply service-oriented, they're very disciplined, they're interested in managing people, and they've had exposure to some big geopolitical challenges, and been on literally the front lines of that. And they've seen their friends be killed in fuel convoys. And so they are very acutely aware of the need to transition our energy system and to transition our geopolitical interests as a result.
[00:12:11:06] And I think the whole sort of security establishment has very much come to understand this from a few different angles. One is sort of dependence on oil, and what ties that creates. And the other is, climate change as a threat multiplier. One of our donors, Michael Sonnenfeldt, was a producer on a film called The Age of Consequences that was a great articulation, kind of terrifying, of the interplay between national security, international security issues, on the one hand, and climate change on the other. So I think that whole world-- and we've had funding from Lockheed Martin, it's firmly part of that military industrial complex. And they're very much thinking about-- they've helped to develop some of the technologies and services to build up the military industrial complex as it is, and they're thinking about new technologies that can help us move to a new regime.
[00:13:00:27] So I see a lot of possibilities in unusual allies across these various lines. The other thing that you mentioned was about the fossil fuel companies and their role in anchoring some of this. And again, just like there are multiple capitalisms, there are multiple different kinds of fossil fuel companies. I mean, we're seeing some firms, like Total and Shell, really thinking hard, and working hard, and investing in ways to try to transform themselves into energy companies-- diversified energy companies-- at minimum with a bigger natural gas portfolio than an oil portfolio. And in some cases, putting some decent money into renewables as well. Shell is even making noises about being a utility of some kind in the electricity space. When companies like Volvo are saying they're going to have an all electric fleet, you better be thinking about a transition in your business model.
[00:13:55:02] And then on the other hand, you're going to have companies that are firmly in the coal mining to power plant supply chain who are just threatened by all of this. And maybe they can diversify away from that, maybe they can't. And what role they are trying to exercise in the political process, I don't think we-- unfortunately, after Citizens United, sometimes we don't know. But I think that's very real. So I think, to come back to your big picture theme about capitalism, I think the corrective we need is somehow this role of money and politics.
[00:14:29:10] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. And you've also started to tee up another of the big themes we wanted to speak with you about, which is how to have these difficult conversations with people who don't necessarily agree with you to find common ground.
[00:14:39:09] JASON JAY: OK. That's something that I might actually know a little bit about, so I'm much more comfortable than my political and philosophical speculations here.
[00:14:47:06] CURT NEWTON: Let the record show, Jason looks a little happier now.
[00:14:49:12] JASON JAY: Yeah, I mean, this is a topic that I am very curious about and have been working on for the past five or six years with my co-author and colleague, Gabriel Grant. You could think about the conversations as being at multiple levels. So there is the most intimate conversations that happen around the Thanksgiving dinner table, or usually not at the table but maybe alongside, or after a few glasses of wine afterwards.
[00:15:15:00] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: And you don't want to spoil the dinner party.
[00:15:17:24] JASON JAY: And you don't want to spoil it. Exactly. Exactly. And the fact that people might be in the same family, might be in the same neighborhood, in the same community, the same organization, but have different political views and different views on these particular issues around climate change and sustainability. So there's that kind of conversation. And in some of those situations the challenge is, I really don't think this is an issue, I think this is a hoax, versus, I do think this is an issue and I'm devoting my life to it. That's a very tough kind of conversation.
[00:15:46:22] There's another kind of conversation which is, I'm a passionate sustainability advocate inside a company and I want to get my company to invest in 100% renewable energy for our data centers, or going carbon neutral through some sort of an offset program, or something that I think could help, and I've got to go talk to my CFO about devoting resources in that direction. Or, I want to drive more climate-friendly practices across my supply chain and I've got to go talk to my suppliers about that. And that person may not think that climate change is a hoax but they may have a priority list that's 50 items long and climate change is number 48. And so in that kind of conversation, I want to be able to elevate the importance of that issue so that maybe we can get some action on it. But that is also another kind of conversation where people get stuck.
[00:16:36:26] And then there are some bigger conversations that happen between people about what is the right policy. Within the Massachusetts State House and Senate right now, there's debates about how to tackle climate change and whether we need a carbon tax in Massachusetts and things like that. And those are conversations between staffers, between politicians, with politicians and their constituents. All of these are conversations that can go off the rails very easily, and they can go off the rails in a few different ways.
[00:17:05:25] One is that people just kind of yell their favorite facts at each other and then walk away feeling like the other person really didn't get it, and nobody makes any progress. That's one kind of stuck. The other kind of stuck is that people just avoid the conversations entirely. I mean, if you just think for a moment, if you just become mindful over the course of a week or a month and notice all the times in your life where some thought came to your mind-- maybe you're at a restaurant and you're thinking about ordering fish and you don't know where it's sourced from, but you don't ask the waiter or waitress about it for whatever reason.
[00:17:44:22] There's so many avoided conversations. And I would argue that that's another form of getting stuck, because we feel this agitation like there's a big issue we care about and we'd really like to see movement on it, but in a sense we don't want to be that person who's just constantly slamming their heads against the wall on an issue. And once one conversation goes off the rails, then our tendency might be to avoid them entirely. So that question about how we get stuck has become a very interesting one to me.
[00:18:14:18] We called our book Breaking Through Gridlock-- The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World. When we talk about breaking through gridlock, that word sometimes make people think about Congress or some big political thing that's happening. But that metaphor is just to kind of capture this feeling of being stuck and having an issue that you care about, and either trying to move forward on it but having that conversation go badly, or avoiding it entirely and then just feeling stuck in your own head. And this notion of the power of conversation in a polarized world is that if you engage in conversation, and if you can figure out a way to do that authentically, meaning as a connection between two people, and effectively, where you are engaging in a dialogue that can generate new ideas instead of just generating conflict, that it is actually possible to transform these things and move forward.
[00:19:02:14] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. I've read through the book, I've heard you speak on it a couple times. It's really interesting work, and my big takeaway, for me personally, is to watch out for how good it feels to be right.
[00:19:14:00] JASON JAY: Yeah.
[00:19:15:17] CURT NEWTON: And how good it is to feel safe. And between those two things, it becomes really hard to have the kind of authentic connection, as you're speaking of, so that people who are coming from a different place can engage in it. I think it's a really framing. I appreciate what you've done with it.
[00:19:32:19] JASON JAY: Thank you. I think if you think about this notion of getting stuck, one way that we can think about that is that there is a barrier in front of us-- this person is my barrier and I just have to get through them, or get around them, or they're sort of putting something in my way. And what we invite people to do is to think of this in a slightly different way. To think about getting stuck as, you have fallen into a trap.
[00:19:55:17] And you fall into that trap or you've been caught in that trap because you're attached to some bait in that trap, something that you want that is keeping you stuck. And that's this feeling of getting to be right, getting to feel righteous, getting to feel certain, and getting to stay safe in your own views, and with sort of preaching to the choir, people who are connected to you. And that's, in a way, the hardest part about this, is that the power of conversation is first the conversation with yourself where you are reflecting on what am I really trying to accomplish here.
[00:20:28:28] Am I trying to score points? Am I trying to look good in front of my fellow activists who are sort of in the background watching me fight the power? Am I trying to just justify my own views and the views of my tribe, the people that agree with me? Am I trying to just stay safe and avoid conflict, avoid that discomfort of confronting somebody or being confronted with a different set of views? And if you want right, righteous, certain, and safe more than you want to be effective, then you're going to stay stuck. And that's a tricky reflection process to do. We've tried to provide some tools for doing that.
[00:21:09:28] CURT NEWTON: Do you have perhaps a favorite example of somebody who's doing climate related work who's created an unstuckness?
[00:21:17:02] JASON JAY: That's a great question. I'm a big fan of Katharine Hayhoe. She a evangelical Christian who is also a climate scientist. And so in a way, what matters there is who the messenger is. It's not a secular atheist liberal from the Northeast who is going and preaching on climate change. It's somebody who shares a belief system that's deeply loved and held by people in our country who have been conscripted by a sort of cluster of conservative political views.
[00:21:53:19] And she is sort of saying, yeah, there are some of those things that we're going to agree on, but climate change shouldn't be one of them. Because God created this kind of commandment to be stewards of the earth and to stewards of creation, and that our responsibilities around climate change are part of that. And I think she's an important bridge builder between these different communities. But it's not just that.
[00:22:17:06] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. Because she's a trusted member of the community that she's trying to reach.
[00:22:22:07] JASON JAY: Yeah she's a trusted member of the committee, and so that matters. So having relatedness matters. You can't just sort of go storming in somewhere where you have no shared context with people, and expect them to go along with your agenda or to take on your views. And this is one of the insights from our work, is that people break through gridlock when they talk to the people that matter to them about the issues that matter. They talked to people who they have some shared context with.
[00:22:50:05] I have cousins who grew up in conservative communities, going to evangelical churches twice a week, and who are now in states that have been consistently red states. And I could choose to just avoid that conversation entirely, but we have a shared context, which is that we're part of the same extended family. When I called my cousin to talk about the election last year, we spent the first good chunk of time just talking about our kids and finding out what's going on in each other's families. We spent the next chunk of time talking about the fact that our grandmother had recently passed away, and how could we keep the family connected to each other without that common anchor.
[00:23:31:25] And then we talked about how we could keep our country together without a common anchor of shared views or a shared reality. And when we compared notes about what news sources we were each reading and what we are gleaning from those things. And we debated some of the issues around immigration and climate, but we did it from this place of a shared context.
[00:23:50:13] And I think that's what's really important about Katharine Hayhoe's work is that what she's doing is that she has shared context with her fellow evangelicals, that they share a belief and love for God, and they are coming at this issue from different places, but she seems to be able to get through. But it's not just that. It's not just sort of the structural position or this one shared set of beliefs. It's also that she has a very compassionate way of approaching things. And she's talked about this-- how do you do this effectively? How do you talk to people effectively about climate change?
[00:24:20:05] Well, you listen. And you listen to what they're observing and what they're seeing in their communities. And you listen to what their concerns are and why the climate solutions that they understand might be scary. One of the things that I think has been really important to understand is that, we had a whole conversation here about capitalism, and market-friendly policies, and so on, but that gets really wonky really fast. At the end of the day, the way that occurs to people is, the government is going to come tell me not to drive my car or the government's going to come take a bunch of money out of my pocketbook for driving my car, and I need my car to get around.
[00:24:58:20] And so I think you have to really get present to that with people and understand that the fears of government overreach, and the fears of loss of freedom, and the fears of loss of comfort, and loss of this kind of autonomy, and over one's own rhythm are very real. And in fact, I share them. So just like Katharine Hayhoe may share Christian beliefs with other Christians, I like to live very autonomously and freely and do what I want. I don't want the government telling me what to do. So I can get into that with my friends who are kind of more libertarian leaning.
[00:25:36:04] And at the same time, I also really care deeply about what's happening in southern Bangladesh, which is far away from where my wife's family is, in Calcutta. I really care deeply about the threats to our coastlines in Florida. I want to do something that protects them and their children, and all the children, and my own children. So we have to sort of hold those two things at the same time. How can we have freedom and autonomy and deal with this climate issue?
[00:26:05:23] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So I can definitely see the value of that conversation amongst peers, but often negotiations are between people with very different levels of power and wealth.
[00:26:21:12] CURT NEWTON: For instance, climate justice communities and big utilities or big corporations.
[00:26:28:08] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: And there are very objective struggles that cannot be erased. So how do you approach those kinds of issues? Where there is a conversation or negotiation happening, but it's happening across a different kind of dynamic.
[00:26:47:02] JASON JAY: Yeah, I think that's very important. I have a couple of different responses to that. One is that the Martin Luther King theory of change is that you build a positive collective identity and build a large enough group of people with that positive collective identity that the people power overwhelms the structural power. In a democracy, that's possible to do. And I think that that is a very important theory of change. I think there is an aspect of this, which is about building a movement that has power and, by virtue of its numbers, and its passion, and its strategic intelligence.
[00:27:27:21] I do think that that movement though, has to be composed of a combination of citizens and businesses. So the rising up of a new business community that is able to amass wealth through industries like renewable energy is very important to the building of that social movement. And the aligning together of social justice advocates, and on all other kinds of people who might be in the climate conversation, with the vanguard of businesses that really could stand to grow and thrive in a context of a more thoughtful set of climate policies-- that's a really important coalition. I think we want to fight business power with business power and a combination of citizen and business power. And some organizations are trying to do that, like E2, which is the Environmental Entrepreneurs, like AEE, the coalition of companies that work in the clean tech space. I think that's very important.
[00:28:25:29] CURT NEWTON: Did you see Sheldon Whitehouse's talk here at MIT? He was speaking about the only thing that could take on the fossil fuel companies' power in these negotiations is people like Alphabet, Google, Apple, and a consortium called TechNet.
[00:28:41:04] JASON JAY: Yeah. All of them want 100% renewable energy to power all their gear. So I think that's an important part of the power equation. Now, I also just want to challenge this notion that there isn't power in conversations when there is power differences. So one of the things that we've seen-- that we just kind of have stumbled on in our work-- are places where one-on-one conversations that make their way up the power regime. So just here's a really simple example.
[00:29:11:07] There is a woman in Washington state. She was working on municipal recycling issues and waste management issues. And, in the course of doing that, one of the things that she saw was that there's a lot of carpet accumulating in trash dumps. That was just a particular thing. And her mom had this job where she was a mid- junior level executive in a carpet company.
[00:29:36:15] And so she raised that question, she had that conversation with her mom to say, you work for this company and I'm seeing that there's this tremendous amount of waste that is happening, and there's this environmental impact. And some of those conversations got stuck but she persisted and then figured out ways to just have that conversation get through to the point where her mom said, you know what, let me see what I can do. And she said how did you learn about these environmental issues?
[00:30:05:13] And her daughter said, well, I read this great book that summarized a lot of this stuff. It's called the Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken. This is a great book, look at it. So her mom took a look at the book and she said, maybe if our CEO read this book that could have an impact. And it turned out that she had spent a little bit of time around the CEO's office and she knew that the CEO had this corner of his desk that he kept empty and clear. So if you put something in that corner of the desk, it's was more likely for him to see it. So she coordinated with some people at headquarters to put a copy of the Ecology of Commerce on this clear space on the desk, and the CEO read it. That CEO was a guy named Ray Anderson.
[00:30:51:01] Ray Anderson sort of had an epiphany reading this book, and sort of seeing that he was part of a system that was about take, make, waste-- that kind of linear production system. And he wanted to move towards what Paul Hawken was describing, which in our language now, we'd call Circular Economy. And Ray Anderson became probably the most important corporate evangelist for sustainable business practices in the 1990s. He galvanized many other CEOs to start thinking about sustainability, which in turn really got American businesses into a global conversation that was starting to happen around the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and some other coalitions. And that laid the groundwork for a lot of what we have right now in terms of the more progressive side of business trying to drive for sustainable development goals at the UN level, the COP process, and so on.
[00:31:41:13] And you can even trace that further back of just somebody teaching that girl to think about ecological issues. And you don't know where those conversations are going to lead. So yes, there is a sort of power politics aspect of this, and yes, there is about building a coalition that is going to advocate for these issues. And there's a lot of conversations between children and their parents, between people that we have access to in our lives, where we don't know where those conversations are going to lead. And we don't know what halls of power we might end up being able to influence indirectly through that kind of work.
[00:32:13:08] CURT NEWTON: It seems really important to keep those examples in mind, because they have the effect of kind of dismantling the big systemic, oh, I can't take this on. Let's be sharing those. And podcast listeners, if you know of any, we'd love to hear about them.
[00:32:26:24] JASON JAY: Yes. Yeah. And I appreciate that, because we are really eager to gather stories, and examples, and so on for the curriculum materials and all the other things that are associated with the book.
[00:32:36:13] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So just to close the conversation, if there was one tool from your book that you would want our listeners to either adopt, or at least reflect upon, what would that be?
[00:32:50:17] JASON JAY: I think it's this notion that we explored here. This idea of the bait and the trap, or what Bob Kegan and Lisa Lahey call a hidden competing commitment. Understand, in a conversation that's getting stuck, notice what you really want to have happen, and what you're committed to, and what issue your care about, but then notice what else you're quietly committed to. You've got hidden competing equipment-- the bait and the trap.
[00:33:17:13] Are you looking to be right and make the other person wrong? Are you looking to be righteous in your own goals? Are you looking to be certain and to stay in the certainty of your own perspective? Are you looking to stay safe, keeping your own views from being challenged and avoiding the discomfort that you fear might occur in these conversations? Notice those commitments.
[00:33:41:24] And the thing is, you're never going to let those go unless there is something that you want more than being right, righteous, certain, and safe. So that reflection of really, what am I trying to accomplish here, and can I loosen my grip on that bait and walk out of the trap. If we can do that individually and collectively, then I think we can harness the power of conversation, and I think we can really move forward on climate and the other critical issues of our time.
[00:34:08:04] CURT NEWTON: Sounds great. Yes.
[00:34:10:27] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Thank you.
[00:34:12:01] JASON JAY: Cool.
[00:34:12:09] CURT NEWTON: Thank you, Jason.
[00:34:13:27] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So Curt, the power of conversations. What do you think?
[00:34:17:25] CURT NEWTON: Well, you know, I've always believed that there's a lot of work that everybody in the climate movement needs to do on this topic, because it brings up some of our toughest personal spots when we get into these hard conversations. I think the work that Jason has done with this book, and his research overall, I think has a lot to offer. How about for you?
[00:34:38:25] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: I would say that I have an internal conversation in my head. One part of me says, yes, I want to have those tough conversations. Another part of me says, I'm right.
[00:34:50:19] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. There's a leap you've got to take that the other people that are around that proverbial table have as much right to be there as you do, even if you don't agree with them. And that can be a tough one for people to get over sometimes.
[00:35:05:02] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So if you have any of those hard conversations that you would like to share with us, reach out on Twitter, on Facebook, email us at ClimateX@MIT.edu, or comment on this podcast.
[00:35:18:04] CURT NEWTON: And if you are subscribing to the podcast, please don't forget to rate us as it helps us a lot. Thanks a lot.
[00:35:24:10] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Thank you for listening. Goodbye.