Problem Solving: Rich Roll Interviews Sailesh Rao

On a recent Rich Roll Podcast, Rich Roll (the host) interviewed Sailesh Rao. It’s a podcast episode worth listening to.

I’m going to try to summarize the salient points from memory, but here’s what you need to know: Sailesh Rao is an engineer who did some amazing stuff that I don’t really understand before becoming convinced of the threat of climate change. He worked briefly with Al Gore (translation: gave Al Gore’s presentation) but thought that Gore’s analysis of the causes wasn’t — and these are my words now — deep enough. So, he went on to found a group he calls Climate Healers.

Spoiler alert: there is a lot of criticism of animal agriculture and cheerleading of veganism in the first part of the podcast. And, since I’m also frequently plant-based, I think it’s worth listening to.

If the rah-rah veganism bit is not for you, the podcast is still worth listening to. In fact, it’s the second part of the interview that I recommend.

In the second part of the interview Sailesh recounts efforts that Climage Healers made to help rural Indians use less wood when cooking their food. To me, the amazing insights were hearing the iterations of his designs for first a solar-stove, and then a more efficient stove, and then. . . well, the solution that seemed to work best was shockingly simple. (I say ‘seemed to’ because, at the time of the taping they had not yet returned to India to measure uptake of their solution.)

The takeaway from the whole thing for me is that having a better idea is not enough. What is required is a better idea that people like more.

In fact, the Climate Healers home page has this quote from Buckminster Fuller on it, that seems to sum the lesson up well:

You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

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