This episode of Breaking the Fever features a podcast takeover by Nithya Iyer — a Preventable Surprises Research Fellow investigating existential risks and systemic change.
This takeover episode features biophysicist and meta geneticist Dr Christopher Mason. He is a professor of physiology and biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine, the director of the World Quantitative Initiative, was the lead researcher on the NASA Twin Study, and founder of MasonLab which is working towards a 500-year plan for humanity to inhabit other planets through genetic engineering.
We discuss the 500-year plan, how scientific visions move in the world and become reality, and the meaning of life.
The podcast refers to Chris's new book 'The Next 500 Years, Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds', by MIT Press which you can find here: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/next-500-years
Also referenced are Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/6113/oryx-and-crake-by-margaret-atwood/
Immanuel Kant, John Rawls' Veil of Ignorance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_position
and John Stuart Mills' Utilitarianism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism_(book)
You can read more about Chris's work here: https://www.masonlab.net/
This episode of Breaking the Fever features a podcast takeover by Nithya Iyer - a Preventable Surprises Research Fellow investigating existential risks and systemic change.
Over the course of three episodes, the takeover focuses on the AFTERMATH, starting from a fictional aftermath of systemic and ideological collapse to interview thinkers acting at the apex of present and future technologies, mainstream and alternative philosophies, factual and fictional realities, asking: where do we go from here?
This episode features global disaster relief expert and blockchain entrepreneur Vinay Gupta. We discuss the context of our current environmental predicaments, the grave risks humankind faces, and the types of futures that are possible if we dismantle false notions of green economies.
The podcast refers to Lester Brown's Plan B, which you can find here: http://www.earth-policy.org/books/pb4 and Jamais Cascio's (https://www.iftf.org/jamaiscascio/) work on geoengineering.
You can read more about Vinay Gupta's work here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rahulsingireddy/2017/10/18/vinay-gupta-on-why-ethereum-is-the-future/
and here: https://mattereum.com/team/
In this episode of the podcast, we speak with Debra Mashek about how true collaboration emerges within and between groups, why it breaks down, and what companies can do to foster it.
- The stages leading to collaboration: separation, networking, coordination, cooperation, and, finally, collaboration
- How romantic relationship dynamics ground the psychology of effective group collaboration
- The impact of a communal orientation toward other groups as opposed to a short-term, self-interested one
- Why a focus on short-term profits disincentivizes collaboration
- The five things groups need to sustain their collaborations
- How conflict can spark and derail collaboration
- Why feelings of interconnectedness fortify collaboration
Debra Mashek has spent two decades studying how people form relationships with each other, as well as the challenges and rewards of doing so. She applies relationship theory to understand and improve how individuals relate to others and to help people achieve together that which cannot be achieved alone. Whether connecting higher-ed administrators with their faculties, higher-ed leaders with each other, philanthropists with organizations, or junior-faculty members with senior-faculty members, Mashek engages clients in careful analysis and problem solving, weaving deep relationship knowledge with tailored facilitation, genuine concern for the individuals in the room, and an unwavering commitment to her clients’ goals. She is an accomplished collaboration builder who sees pathways where others see tangled complexity.
In this episode of the podcast, we speak with Denise Hearn about the most significant opportunities and concerns with capitalism, the need for ESG and corporate governance to evolve, and the ideas behind her new project, Embodied Economics.
- How monopoly, competition dynamics, and instrumentalist thinking affect ESG investing
- Ways ESG investing has been shaped by the pandemic
- The problem with the idealized, abstract, self-interested logic of economics
- What good corporate regulation looks like in a contentious political climate
Denise Hearn is co-author of The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition—named one of the Financial Times’ Best Books of 2018 and endorsed by two Nobel Prize winners. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the American Economic Liberties Project and a thought partner to SheEO. She is also Board Chair of The Predistribution Initiative—a multi-stakeholder project to improve investment structures and practices to address systemic risks like inequality and climate change. Denise helped launch the First Principles Forum, a platform to support and challenge technology company founders who want to use their wealth for good—now housed at Stanford's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. She has an MBA from the Oxford Saïd Business School, where she co-chaired the Social Impact Oxford Business Network and has a BA in International Studies from Baylor University.
In this episode, the third (and final) in our miniseries on climate finance, we speak with Colleen Orr and Graham Steele about how regulators in the United States can wield financial tools and soft power to set public- and private-sector organizations on a more climate-smart path.
- Theories of change for regulators in climate finance
- How the private and public sector can work together
- How the SEC, Treasury Dept, and other governmental bodies are setting their climate finance agenda
- The Fed’s robust financial tools are somewhat wasted by how it uses them narrowly, in ways that are market-neutral, for example
- Economic reasons why younger generations are much more drawn to sustainable finance
- The ways in which the US and EU differ in regulatory approaches to banks and investors
- The role of anti-trust legislation in climate finance regulation
- Reasons for optimism about climate finance providing effective solutions to the climate crisis
Colleen Orr is a Senior US Policy Analyst for the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment. In her role as Senior Policy Analyst, Colleen advocates for corporate disclosure of environmental, social, and governance factors to improve capital markets; analyzes and prepares comments and briefings on US and global policy regulations; and fosters relationships with the PRI’s global signatory base, US policymakers, regulators, and advocacy organizations to promote the PRI’s policy priorities.
Graham Steele is the director of the Corporations and Society Initiative at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Prior to joining Stanford GSB, Graham was a member of the staff of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. From 2015 to 2017, Graham was the Minority Chief Counsel for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs.
In this episode, the second in our miniseries on climate finance, we speak with Peter Bosshard and Elana Sulakshana about the insurance sector’s role in maintaining status-quo climate policies, and what insurers can do to halt the development of more fossil-fuel infrastructure.
- What might happen if insurers didn’t provide insurance for new gas and oil pipelines
- The near-absolute confidentiality of who is insuring what
- The role coal plants in the EU have in premature deaths
- The hypocrisy of insurance companies’ stated aims and actions
- The uneven geographical distribution of insurance companies that want to phase out links to coal and other climate risks
- The touting of investments in green tech by insurance companies to divert attention away from investments in fossil fuel
- How most major insurance companies in Europe stopped insuring coal mining
- How the insurance industry is organized around climate issues
- The promise of insurance companies pressuring corporations on climate with share-holder resolutions
- How US insurance companies lag behind peers in Europe, Australia
- The role of insurance brokers
Peter Bosshard is the director of the Finance Program at the Sunrise Project, the aim of which is to grow social movements to drive the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy as fast as possible. He coordinates international campaigns to accelerate the transition of the insurance industry and other investors from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Elana Sulakshana leads Rainforest Action Network’s campaign to stop the U.S. insurance industry from driving the climate crisis. She has been active in the climate justice movement for the last eight years, most recently organizing for just and equitable climate policy in Washington State, fighting fracking in the U.K. and campaigning for universities to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in communities.
In this episode, the first in our miniseries on climate finance, we speak with Ivan Frishberg, James Vaccaro, and Marilyn Waite about the banking sector and what it would take to scale its ambition and impact on helping to stem climate change.
· Incentives for banks to keep financing fossil fuels industry
· How banks can motivate their clients to improve climate performance
· The existential crisis the sector faces over the next decade
· Measuring the alignment of banks’ portfolios with climate goals
· How to get banks to say when they will divest from fossil fuels
· What shareholders and investors are doing to motivate banks to pursue climate goals
· How regulators enable long term harmful behavior such as the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure
Ivan Frishberg is the Director of Impact Policy for Amalgamated Bank, the U.S.’s largest B Corp bank and a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values. Ivan leads Amalgamated’s impact efforts by spearheading and proactively engaging in strategic initiatives at the bank, such as carbon and climate commitments.
James Vaccaro is the director of Re:Pattern, which works to catalyze business transformation and business-model innovation in service of positive social impact. James is a strategist and systems thinker with a background in sustainable finance. He acts as a Special Advisor to Triodos Bank. As part of a former strategy role there, he designed and facilitated learning, development, strategy and innovation programs to accelerate progress in sustainability sectors across Europe.
Marilyn Waite is a Program Officer in Environment at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Marilyn manages the foundation’s grant-making on climate and clean-energy finance with the ambitious goal of addressing climate change by accelerating the transition to a climate-friendly economy. Her grant-making mobilizes private capital investments in low-carbon and climate-friendly energy infrastructure and systems, seeking to redirect finance from high- to low-carbon activities and encourage wiser energy investments.
In this episode, Charles Hecker and Michele Wucker revisit their risk assessments from early 2020 and share their perspective for the year ahead. From political division to rising inequalities, from climate to debt:
- 2020 avoided the worst
- 2021 will be very challenging on all these fronts
- not every society is rising to the occasion and showcasing resilience; trust in institutions and personal agency are both needed for success.
- with the pandemic, we've all become daily practitioners of risk management.
In this episode of the podcast, we speak with Jessica Long about the global imperative to eliminate waste in the economy, and the progress people have made on this front—in companies, industries, cities, and nations.
- Sustainable growth
- Changing a “take, make, waste” linear economy to a “take, make” circular economy
- Modifying products to allow consumption to grow sustainably
- How sustainability will permeate organizations akin to widespread digitization
- Concrete signals of sustainability successes
- Avoiding politically polarizing approaches to sustainability
Jessica Long is a sustainable and responsible business expert. She is a former Managing Director with Accenture and has over 15 years of national and international experience in strategy, technology, and complex-program delivery within the corporate, government, and development sectors.
As Chair of the CFTC’s Climate-related Market Risk Sub-Committee, Bob Litterman led the publication of a critical report that framed climate as a systemic risk to the US economy and reaffirmed the necessity of putting a price on carbon. We discuss Bob's trajectory from risk pricing guru to climate advocate, the growing consensus for climate action among US financial leaders, and how to break the political deadlock with US policymakers.
In this episode of the podcast, we speak with Marsha Ershaghi Hames about how COVID-19 has shaped and continues to shape, the way corporate leaders respond to challenges not only to their business models but also how they are evolving their dialogue with their own workforces in a new era of employee activism.
Supply chain changes
Good leadership over a remote workforce
The adaptability of leadership
Activating robust DEI efforts amid the pandemic
Who gets to shape an organization’s moral narrative?
The promise of younger employees to shape better conversations
The future of corporate governance
Marsha Hames is a partner at Tapestry Networks, a stakeholder strategy firm that designs a variety of collaborative meetings, for senior leaders in a given industry, in order to help advance positive economic and societal outcomes. Hames leads Tapestry’s corporate governance practice, offering advice on issues related to culture transformation, board leadership, and stakeholder engagement. She also serves as an expert fellow on USC’s Neely Center for Ethical Leadership and Decision Making.
Uzodinma Iweala is the CEO of the Africa Center, a cultural institution in New York City that serves as an intellectual hub for ideas about culture, business, and policy related to the continent. A physician and the author of two novels, most recently Speak No Evil, about sexuality, race, and cultural dislocation, and Beasts of No Nation, about an African child forced to become a soldier (which became a feature film released on Netflix), Iweala is well placed to reflect on how race, culture and class have shaped the COVID-19 crisis and life, in Africa as well as in the United States.
In this episode, Breaking the Fever hears from Carlos Nobre, a climate scientist recognized for his work on biosphere-atmosphere interactions and climate impacts of Amazon deforestation. We speak about Covid-19, about the Brazilian people, the rainforest, biodiversity and climate, cattle and deforestation, and about changing global attitudes and the solutions investors, governments, companies and consumers from Sweden to China can promote.
What does it take for people and organizations to navigate uncertain times? Margaret Heffernan https://www.mheffernan.com/ took Breaking the Fever on a wild ride on the occasion of the US September release of her latest book, Uncharted. A timely, astute, energizing. much needed conversation.
Ayin Jambulingam, a culture and leadership consultant based in Malaysia, explores the historical, political and cultural factors driving the Covid-19 response across Asia. We explore how political leadership and structures have affected the trajectory of the virus, whether lessons from Sars have helped drive a more robust response, and the strengths and weaknesses of collectivist and individualist cultures in managing systemic risks.
Listeners may also be interested in this related article from NYU professor Christina Fang: https://www.ethicalsystems.org/an-organizational-scholar-explains-how-to-learn-from-covid-19/.
In episode 15, Rob Brotherton, a psychologist and science journalist, discussed the pandemic and conspiracy theories.
In episode 14, Akash Goel, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical Center and human rights advocate, spoke to us about the medical response and food system in the United States, as well as poverty, purpose and dignity after #Covid19.
In episode 13, Gabriel Filippelli, Chancellor’s Professor of Earth Sciences and Director, Center for Urban Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, discussed the pandemic and climate change, and what the climate movement can tell us about societal responses to systemic risks.
From tipping points to policy, from technology to anxiety, from consumption choices to communicating science, we embarked in an honest and far-ranging conversation informed by his decades as a scientist, academic and policy advisor in the US and abroad.
In episode 12, Jenny Vaughan, human rights director at BSR, talked about how responses to the crisis look from the perspective of business and human rights, and how organizations can built resilience by tackling systemic risks.
In episode 11, Navtej Sarna, former Indian Ambassador to the United States, spoke about the impact of the pandemic on Indian society, and diplomatic, cultural, and economic relations between India, the U.S., and the world.