Michael Foster | The Antidote to Despair
Hello and welcome to episode. Nine of mattia is confused. Mike guests this. Week is a man named michael foster. Michael is an environmental activist list and a rather famous one or if you think of it a certain way perhaps infamous but he and a group of four others call themselves the valve turner's and one day they shut off the keystone excel pipeline at five different points within the united states and they got into shitload of trouble for that though oh it was very peaceful nonviolent the the companies involved and clearly the government it did not side with him because michael went to jail for what he did and in fact we talk about this but the prosecutor in his case lumped him in with people like ted kaczynski who is obviously the unabomber and even the nine eleven terrorist so some people obviously think of him along the lines of a terrorist which is really crazy to me but and clearly obviously very confusing michael and i talk about this and why he would be lumped got in with such people like that even though his message is obviously very important and his his or his cause rather is very important and his means of implementing it were again very peaceful and and so it's <hes> he's really interesting guy who with really important things to say and whether you think of him as i do as a hero or as the government does as a villain and someone worth putting in jail you can decide for yourself but that's kind of what this conversation was all about. I really appreciate michael's time. He's a great guy and he he's got really interesting things to say and i really <hes> <hes> enjoyed having our conversation so here is my conversation with environmental activist and valve turner michael foster and <hes> so i am chest your next door neighbor who <hes> was a mental health counselor for about twenty years and then started working to <hes> organize people planting trees as part of a climate justice project that started in germany and as part of the u._n. Tree point program and <hes> and was concerned about climate and followed the science from actually actually nineteen seventy something and <hes> <hes> and then realize along the way that we had passed the time when we were supposed to actually be not polluted and <hes> started <hes> acting like it so <hes> my co-founder of three fifty seattle battle <hes> founder of seattle <hes> plant for the planet and climate change for families and <hes> giving free talks volunteering all all my time <hes> ended my therapy practice so that i could volunteer all the time and then um joined a group of <hes> four folks who shut off pipelines coming into the u._s. from canada yeah <hes> one day in two thousand sixteen about a month before the the there was no action some presidential thing <hes> remember who the candidates were but it didn't matter on because the emergency that we're facing and was never going to be dealt with by any presidential candidate and i can talk more about that later so are shut down. All the tar sands sands oil coming into the u._s. From canada in october twenty six eighteen and <hes> then waited for arrest they went to trial <hes> spoke for a year about what we had done and then went to trial and was convicted and sentenced based on criminal mischief <hes> conspiracy to commit criminal mischief <hes> trespass and was found not guilty of requests quest endangerment which i found a really a big deal since the prosecutor in my trial actually compared me to the nine eleven hijackers the unabomber and said that if jury letting the off sharia law was coming to north dakota. Wow okay so it's one way it doesn't reckless endangerment that was a big win for me right yeah yeah and and so when when how long were you in jail and when how long have you been out right <hes> well i i the maximum that could have sentenced me up to twenty one years. I was sentenced to one year. I did six months and got parole. I'm a you know fifty five year your old white male with no criminal record mental health counselor <hes>. I was not a threat to public safety right. I've seen i've seen some video of you. <hes> at the scene turning the valve and i was i was struck with a few things but one of the things i was particularly struck with is your be the way you are after you've done it. I mean there's obviously the happiness of all of you and the and the accomplishment of what you've done and knowing that you've done it successfully but there's also this this piece that i was struck with which is that you know what's coming. You know you will be arrested and you know i know all of those things so you're just waiting and it's very striking to me how even in the even in the body language which of the of the office of the arresting officers the it's so clear that there's some kind of understanding from you from all of you that that that you knew this was coming and that psychology is interesting to me so you you obviously not only we're prepared to be arrested but you waited and knew it was coming so that yeah okay yeah. Can you talk a little bit about that. Huge part of the action run just shutting putting off pipelines. We were going to trial to argue that. What we had done was not only <hes> you know. Should we'd be found not guilty. What we did was necessary to prevent a an insanely greater harm to the community not right and that's an age old thing in our criminal justice system. If you break into a burning building to rescue i child are you guilty of trespass and breaking and entering and burglary and and kidnapping no well what if there's a billion babies in that house right so not only were. We were <hes> shutting off oil which quite frankly. Let's just be honest. It's necessary <hes>. We have no plan to shut off the oil. We have no plan to stop using the oil. We are using adding more and building stuff that requires oil more oil every day. Every year i was near boeing and boeing is cranking taking out airliners as fast as you can. Imagine <hes> over eight hundred year. Those things us a heck of a lot of jet fuel every new one means as we need more oil than we had yesterday so we have no plan to stop any of that and we have to we needed to stop twenty years ago so and i can give you some numbers and some math on that to <hes> you know twenty percent cut per year <hes> and one trillion new trees. That's one new tree see for every three trees alive on earth today. If you both of those things starting today we could see a climate recovery are- begin over the latter half of this century and sometime next century. Possibly it is physically possible. This is just a simple whole chemical experiment physically possible that we could see climate recovery and things could be as cool as they were in the eighties eighties in one thousand nine hundred or better <hes> next century if we do not if we delay that number for twenty percent screams out of reach that one trillion trees skyrockets reach you you just can't get the c jio two out of the air fast enough because we are adding more each year and number increases and and the way it lingers in the atmosphere for thirty years fifty years and for centuries means that you do pass a moment where you you just can't get it all out of the sky. You just can't be earth system doesn't allow you to do that so we're at that moment <hes> because taveres ago when i started teaching this in schools as a volunteer that number was six percent <hes> so we reached the moment you know while i was doing all this work and trying to help kids you know raise their voices because their their voices matter most they have the most at stake and we owe them and we are genetically wired to protect young just versions of us so <hes> that's when we hit this inflection point emily go from you know four percent reductions six percent deductions in suddenly were at twenty reductions necessary to get back to three fifty parts per million c._o. Two in the atmosphere like not just in a century but that's going to be harder harder to do ever each each year. We delay starting so anyway. That was all just say sure. It was necessary you in an emergency to stop the oil by any means necessary. Protests parades are great but <hes> we can't do that if we keep driving to the protests and all the all the fox news people are right right if we're flying around the world to stop pollution lucien. We're missing something right right right yeah. There's a hypocrisy in that for sure so so i wanted to be part of something that would actually stop the oil and that psychology you saw the joy the bliss in you imagine all the guilt you ever felt all the bad got you ever had about humans every time you saw starving polar bear or whatever or a clear cut you know on a hillside and all of that for a lifetime and then one day you get the chance teaches turn the vow and mm stop five hundred ninety thousand barrels of poisonous tar sands bitching and oil flowing into the u._s. You know that's just my pipeline. Five hundred ninety thousand on the keystone one asks whoa that's incredible so much oil the five five pipelines lines were shut down that day. It was two point two million barrels of oil stopped moving at least in theory and and that's fifteen percent of daily u._s. Consumption while so it was incredible wonderful and then to be able to go and talk got it and tell people what we have to do right and have people look at me and say just kinda means it right academic ultimate being by example yeah right now no nothing to do with political. This is a burning building right right. What do you do when you walk past a burning building. Do you talk about it. Do you create a political action committee. No right yeah you run in the building. Yeah yeah yeah. I would like to know a little bit about you talked about your previous career and the sort of shift into activism you. I feel like a lot of people myself included. I mean i'm not exempt from this at all are keenly aware of of the climate crisis and it's how rapidly it's worsening and how much the window of time is closing for us to do anything thing that matters however i think a lot of us you excluded of course don't a know what to do you or be. Don't have the will to implement it and you hit on something earlier that i definitely wanted to talk to you. You said were genetically wired to protect future generations and i've always thought of climate the climate crisis as sort of evidence of some kind of evolutionary blindspot in spot because when we have children we protect them with all of our financial and physical strength and when and we have nephews and nieces and grandchildren we do the same. This is the same thing except just a from a different source. You know it's not a violent attack on the street trying to beat someone you love up but it is an actual not existential threat an actual physical threat and and i'm curious as to what your take is on why people have such a hard time putting that innocent category as the kind of genetic their card wiring that you're talking about the person who did it for me was <hes> in an interview in in eighteen would know it was two thousand nine or two thousand and twelve. I can't remember and i think there's two thousand nine and <hes> said how do we deal with this gif. Everything we do to privilege our children his stealing their future and that question <hes> stuck with me. I did not want to let go of that question. Two kids at the time it really <hes> just kinder split my world into into a head this kind of like by focal <hes> glasses bifocals wins on everything i was doing and seeing <hes> and it eventually ensure good too. I think a divorce <hes> the idea that i could not enjoy a vacation in hawaii again. That was the right i've done that. I've been there. I got the snapshots of the kids swimming on the coral reef. I knew that coral reef was dying because we were flying to hawaii right. I i could not unknow that uh-huh and when it came time to plan another vacation. I was like no no. I can't even brian and those kinds of splits. It's in my vision. <hes> i guess not splits. Even it was integrating the two worlds right the physical <hes> knowledge of the chemical experiment. We've run the geo engineering that we've done to our planet that our kids will pay for dearly and and also realizing that you know everybody's walking around me <hes> getting these cheap flights to the hawaii you know if you've got a couple of hundred bucks to spare a little time get away. You know it's in the margin of every screen screen. If you've ever bought an airplane ticket you're gonna get an ad from expedia travelocity or whatever were sold this idea that travel is the thing or a meaningful successful life would if they really if you look at like high behavior he were these creatures buzzing around this hive and then you know millions of us are just zipping off around the planet for no fucking reason the junction have gathering song exotic cafe <hes> and then zip home a few thousand miles. I don't know it makes no sense offense. Even sure where we started with that but no yeah yeah i mean the transition into <hes> into seeing the two worlds together other was very gradual. I did start learning about this. <hes> in the seventies when i was a high school freshman and the debate topic for the year was the energy crisis and it was about energy independence and you had to be able to argue for it or against it in every debate competition based on the coin toss. I learned all doubt if the energy independence issue is basically you know means drill more oil where you live and i was living in houston texas and that's where i grew up and the the exxon scientists who <hes> said that we run this experiment and we had to stop in a few years <hes> was was considered a nutjob a crank all the kids in my high school <hes> who were on the debate team but that's when i learned about it yeah and <hes> and then realized that it was real about ten years later and have been living my life as this kind of green consumer ever since and the counseling gang and then tried to deal with it in counseling even brought up carbon counseling with my clients added this little things that instead of a bio psychosocial assessment i was doing a and echo bio psycho social assessment and <hes> tried to try to integrate this into every part of my life. Which is what. I think we all have to do right. We all have to do that and now i'm simply. I don't know trying to trying to live on as little as possible a few hundred bucks a month because i know that every dollar earned every dollar i spend it's fueling the beast that is going to destroy everything nightclubs. Yeah i mean you mentioned travel and flying around the world. It makes me think of this sort of the obstacle that big business is not even just in in in the oil business or or i mean we talk about travel. That's an easy example because as you said it's sold to us as this way to live this optimal way to live to succeed at life one travels to to do life right you travel and that isn't this innate idea among in the human brain. That's given given to us and we are sort of falling victim. One might say to this idea that you're supposed to travel you know but you know there's so many aspects of not obviously just travel but so many parts of big of industry that are horrendous it is for the environment i mean you you could make a laundry list of them and i think it's such i think for some people it's just so overwhelming overwhelming that and they think while i'm just one person and it is easy to dismiss these things that way but it's interesting to hear you talk about. I think a a lot of people think of climate change is erupting into this issue around the time of an inconvenient truth albor documentary but this is something thing that's been going on much much longer than that and still so little has been accomplished in by way of making a dent in prague and it's well. I would say not progress lack of progress but you know the the environment is not getting a break. It's only getting worse as as ask things move forward and i find it. It's so disheartening and almost i think odd to know how long it's been possible to know what we're doing to the world and how little we've all for the most part actually done to do anything about it you you know it's almost it and then you get into the politicization of it and you talk about some people that don't even believe it exists but just putting them aside for moment. The science is readily available to anyone ever anywhere. Whether you're on a computer or in conversation it's so it's easy to know what we're doing to the environment and yet and yet no one is doing anything and again it gets it up blindspot spot type of thing and in your experience. Would you say that there's a way to reach people about this kind of issue short of of the kind of activism that the lengths to which you went which is actually shutting off the keystone pipeline. Would you say that there's any means which to actually get through to people about this kind of thing. Yes okay yes and number one. The climate groups are doing it all wrong wrong right okay so stop listening to three fifty stop listening to sierra club <hes> because they will fuck you over and they will kill this planet okay square career about that. Just please yeah. I really feel tell us tell us they are selling us. This idea that you have have to be political you have to sign this petition. <hes> you have to donate money and that individual action doesn't add add up and i went asperger's. I went totally ballistic at a bill mckibben talk and i lost a good friend <hes> <hes> <hes> because i blurted out and could not control myself. This was not a strategy. This was me actually. I lost control control of my body and was cleaning until my voice broke. Wow because individual action is collective action right. <hes> there is no way to stop those airliners <music> as long as we keep buying tickets right boeing's got five years worth of orders. That's based on projections of people buying tickets. That's all that is if you stop buying those tickets those orders disappear though individual action is collective action number one and we don't we don't get to do one without the other <hes> and the the large groups are going to focus solely on getting you out in the streets and that's the only way to make a difference <hes> it's naught you have to do both so <hes> demand of yourself and demand if your leadership demand of your your boss at work <hes> as well as your political leaders a climate plan and cut emissions twenty percent a year. Can you do that. Can you cut your personal emissions nations professional emissions and politically get involved and help cutting missions twenty percent this year <hes> and i'm not gonna tell tell you what the most effective way to do. That is obviously i risked my freedom plan that <hes> may or may not have accomplished on that but i think we have to try everything i think the test is you know if this seeds <hes> how will it make a difference i rhyme so i know a lot of political leaders who are pushing in a green new deal <hes> and talking about bullet trains and things like that and i don't think they're going to make a difference interest interest the i think they're going to respond to market forces. I think they're going to do things you know. Political timeframe twenty thirty forty years from now and we won't survive that it'll just be too late by coach yeah push the green new deal people to get real and to acknowledge the science silence greta tim by <hes> who is the sixteen year old girl about to land on the east coast just on a boat. She's been traveling for a week week and a half now get to the united nations climate talks in september and she's. She's gonna be landing here. In a few days. <hes> on a solar powered yacht won't that she's been crewing with like six people to get herself because because she will not fly listen to any of her talks go youtube and <hes> you'll see somebody's speaking the truth uh-huh who has an international audience now. She does not tell you what the solution on is. She does not tell you what the policy is. She'll tell you what isn't ryan. She holds herself and other people accountable and that's all we can do right now. Their selves accountable upholder readership accountable and say you know this is not enough and then and then push hard to figure out the way to live that our kids can live with. I usually ask myself you know. Five years from now is what i'm going to be doing today going to be acceptable double or am i gonna feel horrible about it five years from now <hes> and if that means going vegan or that means not owning a car or <hes> giving up my electric car and getting electric bicycle <hes> living on a few hundred dollars a month whatever it is that i do ooh how is that gonna look to me in the year twenty twenty five right when the poop will have hit us say yeah even even the democrats for bernie are gonna be freaked out your bryant and feeling like chumps in twenty twenty any five because we're going to be dealing with real crises. <hes> the immigration crisis <hes> the wildfires droughts food food security all kinds of things yeah and nobody. Nobody's gonna believe that it's about democrats and republicans anymore right. It'll be beyond that nobody's nobody's gonna fall for that. <hes> by the way president obama the climate president president laid more pipeline than any other president in u._s. History wow i did not know that bingo so oh yeah. He rejected the keystone excel. I knew that after after thousands of people protested for six years he rejected it brian and dan the big groups drew a lot of donations and a lot of attention and organized a lot of activity and he laid more pipeline and he deregulated the industry industry really gosh that is upsetting. Yeah i mean open opened up. Offshore oil leases <hes> even though the deepwater for horizon happened during his presidency right yeah on and on and on so anyway yeah i it makes me think of a a couple of things one first and foremost is this idea of the infringement upon aw freedom that this kind of this kind of actions. You're talking about would entail. I think there's such a wide swath of the population that here's is that kind of thing which is true and backed up by science but they just think but that's not freedom on not it free if i can't do the things that i want and hey if it's legal that i should be able to do it and and it's it's it's almost like it. Requires wires are rewiring of that kind of thinking because there's there's obvious element of truth to that. It's not like those are actually talking out of their acids but the the what is freedom worth if dot dot dot i think is really where you are coming from and that's the ultimate mid argument to make. It's like all right. Yes sure you can do whatever you want. But what about what's coming. And how free will we be then and what will this freedom have been worth then. I am free in this country to poison myself as long and as as hard as painfully as i want that's the freedom that that our our capitalist system buys us right. If you can afford it you can poison yourself and nobody can stop you. The downside on side of that is because you know opioids whatever you can you can you can buy a pill you can fall prey to somebody's scam and and you can ruin your life and that's really tragic and awful and shouldn't happen but the real downside is the second hand smoke returns the planet into a greenhouse and there's no vent. We can't get this chemical stuff stuff out of the air fast. Now we can putting it in the air for free right and we just can't get it out of the atmosphere. There's too too much of it now. So a trillion trees is a great idea but who's pointing the trillion trees. Nobody there's a couple of groups who are trying to launch these campaigns but come on a billion trees takes a long time <hes> to organize so anyway <hes> this idea yeah that we have this freedom and you know just like privileging my kids. I can privilege my kids thousand different ways if i can pay for it right. They're gonna pay for it every beer i have. They're going to pay for it. I can buy my buddies around and but my kids are going to pay for it right so i i can't live with that. I refuse. I cannot stomach i. I cannot enjoy it <hes>. I cannot if it's a big fancy dinner. I can't swallow it. It just physically doesn't work for me. Anymore should be <hes> free in that way and the day that i got arrested. I felt freer than i have felt in years and my time behind bars was the most free <hes> this is a weird true thing <hes> when i gave up my electric car got an electric bike. I felt tree. Yeah you're right. When's the last time you were on a bicycle too long. I gotta say so. Do you remember being in what it felt like. Totally it wasn't bad was kind of pleasant there was it was yeah yeah. I get that every every day. When i had a little home built electric car i would is grinning when i was driving because it had no tailpipe you know all cool right but my body was falling apart aging now. I look forward to getting on the electric bike every morning morning. I'm like where can i go today. I gotta go do something today that to get a cake it on the bicycle because it just feels good right yeah yeah i feel like the dog the dog waiting for a walk you know i don't need an errand to run so i can get on my own and that's the kind of freedom that i'm talking right yeah. Nobody's going to sell that to you. There's not there's no money in going from electric cars to electric bicycles <hes> dirt d'oro heck of a lot less expensive. There's a weird but no nobody's selling out. There is a weird connection to this. Idea of freedom tied ride to some kind of purchasing ability. Almost you know and you're advocating this sort of actual freedom versus freedom by way of what we are allowed to procure with dollars or something like that dea that freedom does not include the freedom is not about all the things that you can get and whether it's legal or not to get them. You're talking about actual freedom in a much broader sense yeah yeah yeah what about freedom from your mortgage right yeah yeah so i have an idea for january one twenty twenty that we have the mortgage strike and this i some announcing it publicly <hes> the idea that <hes> on january one twenty twenty people stopped paying paying their mortgages for eighty nine days the banks will tell you mr payment doing anything around ninety they can file a taper and begin a process and that'll take them another month until one hundred and twenty days to say this person should be evicted or whatever eh eh during that quarter the first quarter twenty twenty when we will come on. Let's face it be twenty years. Wait yup to deal with an emergency emergency. <hes> the biggest debt the biggest asset most people have <hes> will be the on hold and the banks and the financial sector will be on notice eighty nine days if people hear about that because it makes it a little news and more people join take this <hes> mortgage vacation then during the course of twenty twenty. Maybe enough people maybe enough homeowners would be willing to take a little credit hit on their credit report which twit stacey. There's only a way to get a slightly better interest rate on whatever craft you're about to purchase <hes> if they would take that little credit hit took eighty nine days late payment and enough people get involved in a certain point maybe three million households holding off their payments payments then those three million people on day ninety could decide whether or not they're going to stop paying mortgages <music> imagine what would happen if people stopped paying mortgages together wow that's what happened in two thousand and eight right right yeah yeah totally yeah and in two thousand and nine three million households olds were in some form foreclosure right and what did it do well. It reorganized everything in this case <hes> it would mean that people could say well mortgages. Don't mean anything anymore and we're not gonna pay them. I'm gonna occupy my house right now. What if you own your house or if you're you're in an apartment. What if you stop paying rent to the landlord. What if nobody paid rent landlords anymore. I guess imagine the kind of shakeup that would take place if people didn't have that in their budget each month not only scheldt if suddenly shelter was free right yeah also if everyone's doing it then obviously there couldn't really be an actual recourse yeah twee yeah. I think that's actually that kinda hits on something that i think on an individual basis. I think people think well if everyone else doesn't have to do do it. Then why do i have to do you hear this a lot about well. Yes sure we cap our emissions in america great but that's not going to stop china and india and auto yada yada yada <unk> at which is not not true but that's not really a reason to not do something you know like just because other people are doing something shitty doesn't mean you should keep doing the shitty thing to moral relativism which is obviously not a way to operate in the world. There's something's wrong or it's you know and and to say what about those guys is just kind of like a childish way to behave so i mean i think what the kinds of things you're talking about did it. The biggest obstacle almost is that it's like well. Okay sure i can do that. I might do that but what about everybody everybody else and getting everybody else does it. I'm not gonna do yeah exactly thank you and that's the dangerous way to thing yeah. It's a it's a way away. That's been sold to us by exxon and other corporations over decades. They've spent millions to convince of certain lies and that's one of the big ones awesome and they know that it works because they've focused group tested all these things you find out which ones to work and then they put him up on fox news yeah yeah so anyway this this idea is critical and <hes> getting a critical mass is a huge thing because we are social creatures <music>. We are social creatures would move a school of fish. Who's leading the school. There's no you can't have a leader in in ten ten thousand fish. It's the proximity to each other. You know when the birds go through their murmur rations in the fields and you see those youtube videos ideas of these giant flocks of birds moving around they look like some kind of ballet or weird natural screensaver and and there's no leader its proximity and one bird moves a flap of the wing this way a little bit it affects the birds next to them and in split seconds. They change direction ramping. O._b.'s find a new hive within within an hour ten thousand bees can choose not only a new hive but the best of a dozen different sites and and how are they doing that. Who's the leader there. It's about the enthusiasm of individual bees who have gone out and found these different places and they've got the sense of that place on them and the other bees are watching them dance around and give them directions and saying come check this place and then those these go and check account the new place and the b that has the best smell in the b this bender this jewish place to be that <hes> is really excited about it the way they're dancing around more people follow those tease. We'll follow those fees and so if we had a system like that we we could put an end to this crisis quickly so quickly but we don't we have a system that operates on dollars. There's and so the people with the dollars have the most enthusiastic dancers and they have the media and they have <hes> the political leadership and they write the laws and they tell you what is legal and they tell you what you want with your life l. Dollars dollars are are are to stick with the bees and birds metaphor. It's this it's they cl- dollars away even though they are not organic objects they lead they become the leader of the group in the way that they point the direction to which we all need to head you know i mean dollars advertising alone you know puts things in people's faces and it makes them err on that side rather than the side that somebody is telling them about. 'bout you know no matter how frantic someone can be about. This is what's going to happen to the environment you go out in the world. You see everybody driving their car and you just think how bad could it be you also it's easier to get in my car than it is to operate in another way and i think the the ease with which is possible to per keep up the status quo and participate in the status quo combined with everything that you're saying it kind of creates silo where again it comes back to this idea idea of like well. If everyone else is living this way me living this way as well can't be that bad. It's almost like this guilt alleviation you. You know the guilt that you're talking about not being able to live with. That's exactly what the guilt that's exactly how the other people sort of get away from that you know. It's almost like well. Look at everybody else. They can't be doing it that bad. They're operating in the world freely and happily. I can do it like that as well and it's sort of just just comes down to ease and comfort you know <hes> which i think is the underneath all of this. You know it requires people to change enj- the way that they live and it's it's not just that people have a problem with change the way that they perceive these changes is that it's gonna make their life harder <unk> harder and and humans are hardwired to protect future generations but they're also hardwired to not expend energy when they don't have to their own energy that is <hes> <hes> and i think that there's a real conflict there and again. It just gets down to like okay. How do you actually cut through that noise. <hes> <hes> and then the position is takes it even further you mentioned fox news. You watch one minute of fox news and it's like oh yeah obviously climate change is a hoax. If you don't know any better better and you're watching fox news you have every reason to believe that climate change is an actual hoax and bullshit which is incredible to me that we're still here. We're major news network at work. Has it on its platform. Essentially that something that's absolutely scientifically true and verifiable in a gazillion zillion ways is not only questioned but called a lot. You know it's literally a topsy turvy world and it's getting everyone on that same page. It just seems like the most daunting task and i think it's possible in my eyes at least start but more thought my is is that you you the kind of thing you did which is actually turning off the oil. It seems like the only thing thing that actually gets people's attention honestly <hes> we didn't get any real mainstream <hes> media yeah comrades until <hes> the new york times article came out which was the week after i went to prison which was a year and a half after the action while wow so the media is a huge player in all of this and <hes> <hes> what they consider news and what they don't make makes all the difference you know i've been out there on the street corner with the fridays for future kids kids who have been doing climate strike from school for a year <hes> <hes> and <hes> you know a million and a half kids around around the world participated one day in march but those kids didn't know how to organize together and find each other and stay connected and so the following week meet you know there were like twenty kids <hes> and part of that was because the news media sold it as is this one day event right not something that they were cup cutting school every friday because let's face it does it make sense is to go to school when your future is burning still learn caps that your political leaders are ignoring which put you in payroll yeah so they were cutting class to go and stand in front of city hall or the capital and they're still doing yeah. That's what greta started a year ago. <hes> you know now she's up for a nobel peace prize on mainstream news. It's hard to find greta yeah. That's true more news. She's getting more news coverage than any environmentalist on the planet but it's hard to find her in mainstream ratings is is that because it's seen as i read an article i think it was in the atlantic about climate report that came out. Maybe like six months to a year ago that was there's just so sobering and it was this kind of art. The article was actually about that show. Oh sobering that it's almost paralyzing and i think that yeah. I think that with the thing the media wants to give you headlines that make you click right and it's gonna make you you're more likely to click on a story where someone killed their wife and buried them in in in some faraway place and got caught for it then you are about climate change even though they're both disaster stories one is not going to affect you and is out there there with other people and the other one not only does is it can affect you your implicated. If you read a story about climate change you are implicated in that and i think that that drives lives the media's lack of interest in having stories about this because nobody wants. Nobody wants to be reminded that at least in part their fault you know it is not true that the planet is dying. It is true that you are murdering the planet right and the media would much trump tell you that the planet is dying number. One which does we've you feeling paralyzed young and guilty right but nobody's said you're guilty and then people can argue about whether individual action matters whether you have to have whole countries and if you have to have whole country's well in china and india is not the u._s. Even there we polluted twenty five percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the last hundred years or so anyway on and on you can do all that and in becomes more distant and and you do become paralyzed and you do become depressed and people change the channel yes so nobody wants to report the climate news which is yes. It's dangerous. Yes it's gonna take out up to ninety five percent of all species on the planet. If we continue chain you to act like it's not our fault or we can't do anything about it. Yes <hes> you have to stop polluting right now. Which means yes. You probably need to stop earning money because the job you're doing making widgets or sewing airplane. Tickets is probably part of the problem and yes the living with less money is going to be complicated. I don't believe it's actually that difficult. I'm living a pretty simple life and it's pretty happy. The overwhelming <hes> anxiety around climate disaster is always present and knocking go blank. I'm not gonna look away from that but there's an incredible amount of joy in living a simple life where i don't have all the hassles that people are having trying to live in the american dream which is basically just a consumer hyper consumer nightmare <hes> which also waiting people making them your audit young unhappy increasingly exactly yeah but nobody's really getting off on this <hes> <hes> yeah a handful of people maybe yeah i think the unattainable keeps us on that hamster wheel. Do you know what i mean. It's like the impossibility posssibility of actually becoming happier by way of all these things actually keeps us seeking the things you know and it's like well. Why don't we fucking step off the wheel. I mean i'm not even pointing the finger because i'm just as guilty of anyone else's being on the wheel but i still aware of the fact that there are alternatives and the i and the idea that we are on this path it is happening and the only person that i can do anything about in terms of contribution is as me and i that's true of everyone as you put it into. Individual action is collective action. I think that really is a powerful way to put it because it's speaks to not only are personal ability to to sort of implement change but also you know our our <hes> this this idea of responsibility you know each one of us is just as responsible as the next you know and that adds this immediacy to that that seems to frame it the right way from me. I knew a lot about climate and have known for decades kids and so i have a higher responsibility i think and other people who have been told all kinds of things like climate is always changing yeah china. It's not us so so there's that but <hes> but you're right. It's about that personal responsibility and collective action so matt. It's it's <hes> august twenty twenty twenty nineteen. Will you cut your emissions twenty percent at least by august twenty twenty. I'm going to say yes i will you can talk to you. Can we can talk talking to year and you can hold me to it. I'll say yes right now and do do that and then we can talk in a year and you can check me on the secret. Yes does that sound hard. I think i both feel like it sounds easier than i think it is but also there's this awareness that it might actually be harder than i think it is but uttering to the world is making especially now. It's on an actual podcast. I'm tied to it yeah the key by doing what you just did having a public accountability thing with me. You've actually made it a lot easier. Another thing that would make it easier is if i said do it before the end of the year right right you can actually do it by the end of december pretty easily. If you wait until july and then you realize oh my gosh i have to talk to michael so in a month and i think it's gonna be really hard right right right right but if you take care of it right now in shorter shorter timeframe than a year because a year from now doesn't seem that real right but december's coming summers creeping up and guess what twenty five percent of our emissions uh-huh come at the last quarter <hes> <hes> or actually just the holidays we emit a huge amount of missions comes over the holidays thanksgiving christmas yeah it's more than twenty five percent and <hes> but you can make a huge difference between now in january one twenty twenty yeah and maybe we can talk about the mortgage strike the yeah i mean that that would honestly be totally incredible i i want to. I want to talk to you a little bit about you. Mentioned the prosecutor framing you as this as an actual terrorist uni bomber or the compared to the nine eleven terrorist that seems so off base to me however someone set it and someone said it in a court of law so what i mean obviously so you hear that and i can't even imagine how what that does to your brain but like what that mentality of lumping you in with people like that that who let's face it the main if there's no other difference you're not hurting anyone and so this idea that i don't understand that connection and it's i. I understand why they'd certainly interest would want to lump someone like you in with groups like that but i don't understand how someone could actually think that <hes> <hes> and that seems like an its own problem because if you're an activist and to lump you in with terrorist is sort of seems deeply irresponsible responsible to me and again i get the motivation whether it's a prosecutor or someone that works at an exxon but i still don't get the justification of that you know <hes>. It's very simple to me <hes> in fact if anybody listening to this podcast held a similar kinds of us as the a prosecutor who let's face it is paid by the state to represent the state of north dakota which is a petrol state <hes>. I'm attacking the american dream on attacking the american boil way of life. I grew up in houston. I understand that very well l. <hes> and so it's it's fundamentally <hes> un-american to be anti-capitalism anti oil <hes> anti-corporate rule is is fundamentally attacking the american dream however i am the most patriotic person in the room now because i'm trying to preserve ridiculously trying to preserve our country way yeah exactly i mean the the other side of the defend our land who is going to defend from the oil spills who's going to descend from canadian oil pipeline companies spill all over the place every day. Who's gonna defend our kids crews. Gonna defend your mortgage which is going to be literally early underwater. If you live in coastal city yeah you know you're. You're putting all your money into this nest egg. This home and it's going to be worthless of course in twenty-fifty when your mortgage is paid right <hes>. I'm trying to defend that. I'm trying to defend your community. You know picket fences and all trying to defend that stupid stupid you know self destructive suicidal pathological american community. You know what i'm trying to defend and i think that i think that it's that it's telling that that you that you know the way you framed that. Which is that you know you attack the american dream but you're also in a in in just in just the same way almost being as american as possible right. Which is your your. You're sort of what what they're doing when they lump you in with people like that. Is that there. It's like this sleight of hand trick where they're saying that you're attacking the american dream mm-hmm but all you're doing is stopping big business stopping the oil industry and that keeping the keeping industry going is not the american dream you know individual freedom one could argue maybe is but but that's it's bullshit to to lump you in with someone like that for for the simple reason that activism and freedom to be an activist is is arguably the most american thing but have you watched watch the super bowl. I mean yeah corporate. America is american freedom. Yeah i mean they're tethered. Uh-huh touched jeb jet fighters vying over the stadium. You know <hes> military hardware. This is american freedom. Yeah right boeing is also the number two defense contractor. You know our country <hes> yeah that's american freedom so so american freedom is trent fossil fuel overlords right selling you oh trillions of dollars worth of stuff that is cutting down here on family tree right yeah. I mean that that is certainly what it's become you know. I just think that there's a slight of hand there where it's not true that that's what it's always been and that's what it it should be and that's even what it really is. You know it's it's almost that idea is almost sold to us the same as you know a fucking ticket to hawaii. You know it's it's. Is this this trick that we're that we're that we're led to buy the nose to buy into. You know that we really. I need to have an american dream. What is the new american dream. I think it's about food and water shelter. There is nice. Clothing is optional right nice needs if we spent our days. Only we trying to do that. Trying to take care of our food needs for the day are clean water needs for the day are simple bowl shelter needs for the day and sharing sheltered <hes> and and basic clothing needs basic then i think <hes> <hes> life would be a lot richer. We would have a lot more time to spend with our kids and families and neighbors <hes> i this is silly but gets august and i am surrounded by invasive blackberries on on all the bike routes around town so i just stop and i i i just eat blackberries fine and it's like why how can i can't imagine you know the people who are working on community gardens around here. Free food forests <hes> cities being able to see themselves so that you know number one if we have a mortgage mortgage strike. You don't have to screw around with that mortgage thing anymore. We've figured out some other actual real market for how you're going to have a house so room whatever not not a financial market that's controlled by a handful of giant banks selling these bundles of mortgages and then <hes> and then food if people knew they could put food on the table without poisoning their kids stealing their kids future. Oh my god how how how dedicated how devoted to these cubicles would people be if they knew that they had food and shelter yeah taking care of yeah i mean. How many widgets would we have to sell. How much more plastic would we have to come into the ocean. If we knew that we feed our kids tonight and had a warm dry safe place to a d yeah i mean that's a really good question. <hes> it's it's such a requires such <hes>. It's like you need to shake people out of this <unk> state almost <hes> to to wake them up to it and that is obviously what you're doing. My question for you is really because you're on the ground with this so so much an it's you know the issue of all issues that you're championing. What is your i. I mean i have a guest but if in your own words what what how optimistic or pessimistic argue that that i guess that it's not whether i know you're not a a fortune teller what's gonna happen. But what do you think is going to happen here. As we move forward and climate change bears down on us we you have no choice but to see it and by then we're also realizing oh it is too late. Do you think that there's any hope of do you think there's any hope of the things. Is that your that you say or require. Do you think that that's possible. Do you think that's going to that could happen might happen will happen won't happen. What do you think there is absolutely no a reason to hope period the end. There's no reason to folk is to a it has been two. We really were supposed to were expected to reduce pollution starting back in the nineteen ninety eight dino el nino <hes> scientific predictions actually had had people's or global global emissions declining after two thousand because back in the one thousand nine hundred as they realized the effects would be observable observable and so around the turn of the century they predicted that humanity would start cleaning up its act <hes> it is too late and there is no hope and we have seen the of the observed effects you know katrina was huge wakeup call all yeah but we've seen them every year since then hundreds of billions of dollars worth of damage and lives ruined some of those places are or not recovering and yet we still have people saying it's a hoax so there's no reason to hope that <hes> <hes> the oil company the media <hes> talking points organised stop working whatever they want us to believe to keep us from actually stepping out of their system. We'll believe it whatever doubt they need the client to just keep hugh from taking the actions that are actually going to reduce your emissions. That's all that matters. If you say climate change is real and it's an emergency and we have to do something and let's all get behind bernie the oil companies okay with that. They're okay with that. I mean they'll spend a a few million on some of you know. Buy it and they'll by congress so that bernie can't do anything like that because you're going to keep going to work in your gas guys guys were right so if you step out of that system and in moments when you do not just turned off the keystone pipeline applying but <hes> but in moments like when you decide okay i'm giving up the car for an electric bike right <hes> then you feel different right and that's not hope that's real change when you cut your emissions twenty percent and over the next few months matt. You're gonna feel different ryan. It's not hope it's not hope hope has nothing to do with it. I feel depressed depressed. I feel despair. I feel suicidal at times and and thank you know the only way for this thing to end well as humans all start killing are missile because we can't live with the consequences of being here and consuming hyper consuming on this planet <hes> and that's only true for about a billion of us about a billion of us are hyper consuming in making life impossible for all other species. I don't think that makes sense there so if you yeah if you just get rid of like the top ten percent <hes> of hyper consumers on the planet you know if we all just killed ourselves or took opioids until he died or whatever it is <hes> things would be way better off. That's half the problem. Half the pollution is gone. If you deal with that. I mean it makes sense yet but that's not about. That's not a that's not a choice. I can make right. I can't choose for half the population or even a tenth of the population him to change their ways right. I can do things and i can think who do i influence. How can i influence them. And since i started started thinking that way and doing what i can people know who i am right. I have more influence. I walked my talk and then people say yeah. I gotta i gotta do that got to stop whatever i got to start doing the thing they do and it's great <hes> <hes> yeah so we have real influence in that school of fish and we have to use it and as soon as we use use it we start seeing results when we're not using it. We start to feel despair. Yeah yeah that's true. That's true down top to bottom across the board. I mean that's really that's a really powerful thing say and it really rings true. Yeah i love that. I all right man well. Is there anything else before we go. I mean we're coming up on over an hour here. Is there anything else you wanted to talk about. Anything you want to share with the audience anything <hes> the mortgage strike is a real thing it sounds like <hes> some weird <hes> science fiction plot or something something you know but it's actually a real thing <hes> if enough if a handful of people put this out there and it becomes the thing that people say we can do this. Let's do this. I'm doing this then it becomes a thing and if it grows big enough mortgages end right. I don't know what replaces them right right right. I've i've worked out a couple of scenarios of what's likely what's possible with the government them and the banks might try to do in response but the key is that they would be at our mercy people who lived through the two thousand and eight meltdown understand what that was like and how horrible it was but we remained at the mercy of wall street and the government right this would be the opposite of that because consumers homeowners landlords you know would suddenly okay being the ones who decided are we gonna do mortgages anymore. We're gonna do instead our we <music> buy and sell and move and trade are houses and their properties. How are we going to do this. We're gonna do it our way because we own them now. We we live them. We inhabit them and you can have to kick us all out and that's not gonna happen right mass squat also let's face it who doesn't want to who doesn't doesn't want to not pay their mortgage for three months. I think that's universally truck for everyone so there's there's like a naturally there's like a natural silver relining perk there which is you're not just precipitating something that might actually change and save the world. You're you're also not paying your mortgage which again everyone everyone wants to do every month anyway so i actually think this is something where you're talking about. Now is something that people can actually get behind because they're saying oh. I can save money that way great then it's like well. Let's convinced everybody else to do it so this might be the one that actually comes through. I'm happy to unhappier announcing it here. Yeah it's a really scary idea in terms of <hes> <hes> financial markets and <hes> would corporations start laying off people on and on all those ripple effects that we don't have control of me scary scary scary and you know if you go door to door and tell your neighbors hey would. You like to join us. We're we're not paying our mortgage for the next three months. <hes> they're gonna say what are you crazy. What are you trying to drive down. Property values and you can say no but <hes> if this works you yeah three months from now. You're not going to have to pay your mortgage anymore. Enticing that is very enticing people. I don't think i'm going out on a limb and saying yeah yeah so anyway. It's over thirty percent of our economy is now financial products over thirty percent of our finances now financial products though he said yes yes which which is insane and it's no wonder that we can't figure out how to rewire this thing right <hes> so a mortgage strike it could be a real thing not a made up thing and we would change our our culture in profound ways and the way we think about what has value whiting's have value in what we really want from my lives and how we want to go to work and what we want to work for <hes> <hes> also greta landing on on the east coast by boat my gosh <hes> her trip is amazing but <hes> her commitment into not flying and being at these u._n. Climate talks where she's going to be most honored guest in the world <hes>. It's pretty pretty inspiring. Please take a no-fly pledge or fly only when you absolutely have to emergency <hes> it does make a huge huge difference. It's as it's almost as big as <hes> not having a car for a year well that is taking in one less transatlantic quite is almost as much as not driving a car for a year holy shit really it's easy. Wow take a trip. Wow wow wow that is fucking nuts holy shit. I did allow you know if you if you if you travel if you don't take two or three trips this year you've cut your emissions in a huge way <hes> so those those kinds of things look at what are the biggies <hes> the fact that that not having another kid is the single greatest individual can do seen those numbers yeah. It's it's really tragic totally. Let's think about that for a second. We as a species have reached a point in the developed world. It's civilized society. We're the worst possible thing anybody can do times ten its own. It's not even close have have a human child fucking nuts. That should callous something so let's look at that. Let's not just put that aside. Let's say okay so what is it about a human child in america that i got i gotta stop being that that huge urge frigging footprint ryan. I gotta expect that of my leaders. I gotta expect them to deal with this as an emergency. If we were living in china they would be different from china can say today is electric bicycle day. Only electric bicycles will be allowed on the streets today right trying to can you that shit right right right in the u._s. That would be you know to call out the national guard civil war yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah which is where you know. Maybe this is headed. Maybe we end up with some kind of military dictatorship so that we can serve high rise. Our freedom freedom to collude ourselves is sacrosanct and nobody is willing to be told that they should have to stop poisoning their children front. Yeah i mean talk about a silver thought yeah. I've totally makes sense and it totally seems impossible to me yeah yeah so. Let's let's be reasonable. It's let's choose life with rebel for life. Extinction rebellion has a week of strikes and actions coming up <hes> <hes> at the end of september september twentieth to twenty seven and it's going to be kicked off by students striking from school who are asking grownups strike from work and just let the planet catch its breath for day or a week and think about how to reorganize ourselves our lives. Our governments are corporations and also the twenty percent thing. I'm doing it. Whoever's listening. Can you do it to <hes> we'll check in with michael in a year and give a progress report and let's do and amazon is burning now. <hes> trillion freeze give just a start. A tree and trees is only a hundred and fifty per person on birth so do one hundred and fifty trees this year and do a hundred fifty trees next year and every year right so okay. Thanks thanks for the interview. I mean thank you so much for your time. Your energy and your voice on these matters is so so social important and keep up the the only antidote to despair is action. They <hes> <hes>.