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How to discuss climate change productively



Renée Lertzman, climate psychologist

Communicating about climate change effectively is critical to get people to engage with it productively, according to climate psychologist Renée Lertzman. And right now, communications about climate change are not helping.

People are scared.

Almost three in four people (72%) worldwide are worried that global climate change will harm them personally at some point in their lifetime, according to survey data from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Almost half of young people (45%) say their feelings about climate change negatively impact their daily lives, while 77% say the future is frightening with regard to climate change, according to a survey of 10,000 young people across 10 countries released this month by academics.

That fear needs to be acknowledged and worked through individually in the companies we work for, in local communities, in government and in organizations, says Lertzman. Only after that can we productively discuss how to prepare, adapt and fight.

The following are excerpts of Lertzman’s comments in a video interview with CNBC. They have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Getting from ‘me’ to ‘we’

There’s some truth in there. In actuality, no one — and I don’t care if you’re the biggest multinational company on the planet — no one actor right now is able to do it all. No one on its own is going to be enough.

What I think this crisis is actually inviting us to step into is a fundamentally different lens, which is really moving from that “me” to “we.” And it’s really stretching our cognitive capacity to think and experience and see ourselves as part of a system and as embedded in the system.

We are all protagonists in this story of meeting climate crisis and engaging with climate crisis.

Renée Lertzman

Climate psychologist

That’s a really significant shift for a lot of us to make. And it’s not something that just happens intellectually. And it’s not something that just happens if you snap your fingers say, “Okay, you know, what, I’m going to now start thinking and feeling and behaving like I’m in a system.” It doesn’t really work that way. It’s a process of continually reminding ourselves and each other that we are in fact joined up and part of a much bigger picture and a much bigger story.

Each one of us is actually — I don’t care who you are — a vital character in that story. We are all protagonists in this story of meeting climate crisis and engaging with climate crisis.

And that reframe is one that we need to just keep coming back to, over and over and over again. This is not just about me. It’s about me in this bigger story.

Have deep compassion for what you feel

It’s absolutely essential that we start from a place of really having deep compassion for that feeling of, “nothing I can do will matter.”

So it’s not like we shouldn’t be feeling that or there’s something wrong with us for feeling that our individual actions are not sufficient. Actually, I’m just going to really connect with myself here and say, “You know what, yeah, it’s really painful. It’s really hard.”

Having that feeling is an expression of how deeply I am connected and how deeply I really care about what is happening on the planet.

It is really, really important that we meet our experience — no matter what that experience is, overwhelmed, feeling insignificant, feeling frustrated, feeling angry, feeling numb, feeling checked out — that we meet that experience with, with total compassion.

It’s only from that point that we’re able to move into any kind of meaningful, impactful, creative response, where we’re able to take stock of questions like, “Who am I, where am I? What do I, how do I want to channel this energy, this concern, this care that I have, that’s coming up inside of me, that’s expressing itself?” We have to start from that place.

Be authentic

It’s really important that we don’t try to be “hope police” on ourselves, forcing ourselves to feel more hopeful or more upbeat or positive.

And that’s a trend that I find really concerning and troubling because, if you look at just the psychological lens, it’s not how it works. We don’t force ourselves to suddenly feel and behave in certain ways.

A solution-ier focuses exclusively on solutions and has no tolerance and no space for any kind of expression of feelings or uncertainty or ambivalence. It’s almost a zealous focus on the solutions. And it can really shut people down. And it can really alienate a lot of people who are not there yet. They still are processing and asking questions like, “What does this mean for us? Why are we in this situation in the first plate?”

The solution-ier mode is that you have to just solve, solve, solve. And, frankly, that problem-solution binary isn’t totally appropriate for the situation we’re in. This is a state of being that is going to be continuing for the unforeseeable future.

The doom-and-gloom-versus-hope dichotomy or binary is false. And it’s one that we really need as communicators, journalists, the media needs to be actively dismantling.

In actuality, the path forward is a middle path. And that middle path is one of authenticity.

It’s really about authentic experience and authentic engagement with this crisis. There is enormous hopefulness and enormous positivity and deep inspiration and power with recognizing and facing directly the scale and the impact and the loss.

The doom-and-gloom-versus-hope dichotomy or binary is false. … In actuality, the path forward is a middle path. And that middle path is one of authenticity.

Renée Lertzman

climate psychologist

What companies can do to engage employees

There needs to be a level of endorsement at the leadership level. So that’s one.

But what’s equally as important is that people within the organization are actively empowered to take initiative, to propose pilots, to run experiments, to try things out.

The old model is a company deciding to be advocates of climate change and appointing a green team. That’s kind of an older model. That’s kind of what I see as a 1.0 model.

The new model is one that is really exciting to me and is more human centered. It’s more authentic. It is about coming together. And looking at these issues together. And talking about what to do about this. It’s more inclusive. People feel that they’re really part of this conversation.

There have to be more people at different levels in the organization, in different parts of the organization, who are given the platform and the ability to initiate, to mobilize, to move things forward. It doesn’t only live at the C-Suite.

And ideally, if it’s done well, each person, no matter what part of the company you’re in, feels that they have a stake in this climate change response. Nobody is exempting themselves because they don’t know enough about climate. An effective response is one where everyone has something to add here and is a part of the response. It means creating an atmosphere where everyone all has a vital role.

Because, what really drives change is when people feel invited, they feel heard, understood, included.

One example of how to start this is hosting circles. I train people to facilitate climate circles or conversations, which are small groups where people meet over a duration of time, and they just simply come together and talk about what they’re feeling and thinking about the issues.

And before long, it becomes about action. It really does.

People don’t stay that long in the feeling, but you need to at least have the space to go there before getting into action planning. And if we jump right into actions and bypass discussing how people feel, then we shortchange and we short circuit the the potential to really do some amazing work.

A resource for those interested in further reading: Lertzman recommends Project Inside Out, an online resource she was commissioned to put together by the climate organization, the KR Foundation, based in Denmark. The online tool which provides guiding psychological principles for effectively working in climate change.

Also in this series:

Climate change is radicalizing young people — here’s what that means and how to combat despair

Grief and anxiety over climate change drove this 30-year-old to write a letter to his future child

18-year-old climate activist shares how she finds courage to face a ‘ticking time bomb’

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Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey says ‘hyperinflation’ will happen soon in the U.S. and the world



Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and co-founder & CEO of Square, speaks during the crypto-currency conference Bitcoin 2021 Convention at the Mana Convention Center in Miami, Florida, on June 4, 2021.

Marco Bello | AFP | Getty Images

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey weighed in on escalating inflation in the U.S., saying things are going to get considerably worse.

“Hyperinflation is going to change everything,” Dorsey tweeted Friday night. “It’s happening.”

The tweet comes with consumer price inflation running near a 30-year high in the U.S. and growing concern that the problem could be worse that policymakers have anticipated.

On Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged that inflation pressures “are likely to last longer than previously expected,” noting that they could run “well into next year.” The central bank leader added that he expects the Fed soon to begin pulling back on the extraordinary measures it has provided to help the economy that critics say have stoked the inflation run.

In addition to overseeing a social media platform that has 206 million active daily users, Dorsey is a strong bitcoin advocate. He has said that Square, the debit and credit card processing platform that Dorsey co-founded, is looking at getting into mining the cryptocurrency. Square also owns some bitcoin and facilitates trading in it.

Responding to user comments, Dorsey added Friday that he sees the inflation problem escalating around the globe. “It will happen in the US soon, and so the world,” he tweeted. Dorsey is currently both the CEO of Twitter and Square.

It’s one thing to call for faster inflation, but it may be surprising to some that Dorsey used the word hyperinflation, a condition of rapidly rising prices that can ruin currencies and bring down whole economies.

Billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones and others have called for a period of rising inflation. Jones told CNBC earlier in the week that he owns some bitcoin and sees it as a good inflation hedge.

“Clearly, there’s a place for crypto. Clearly, it’s winning the race against gold at the moment,” Jones said Wednesday.

But most of the major investors have not gone so far as to call for hyperinflation like Dorsey.

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Alec Baldwin fatal prop gun shooting raises questions about working conditions



While injuries or death from prop firearms are extremely rare, the accidental killing of Halyna Hutchins on a Sante Fe movie set Thursday has sparked inquiries about working conditions for Hollywood crew members.

“I’ve been in the industry 21 years,” said Kevin Williams, the prop department supervisor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. “I have not heard of any circumstances like this. So, this is definitely one of these things, and it sounds like a cliche to say, but it really sounds like a freak accident.”

The circumstances of the shooting are under investigation. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office confirmed that actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of “Rust,” a Western being filmed at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, killing the film’s director of photography and injuring its director, Joel Souza.

Security guards and a compliance officer at New Mexico’s Bonanza Creek Ranch on Oct. 22, 2021, the film set where actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded a director when he discharged a prop gun.

Adria Malcolm | Reuters

Souza has since been discharged from the hospital. No charges have been filed. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

While it’s unclear at this point what exactly transpired Thursday, many in the industry have begun to inquire about working conditions on set. These queries come as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees works to finalize a new three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers that addresses the union’s calls for better working hours, safer workplace conditions and improved benefits.

“There have been times that I have been on projects for 18 to 20 hours and then been asked to return in six,” Williams said.

Crew protested working conditions

The IATSE issued a statement Friday addressing Hutchins’ death and encouraging its members to contact the union’s safety hotline if they feel unsafe on set.

“Our entire alliance mourns this unspeakable loss with Halyna’s family, friends, and the ‘Rust’ crew,” the statement read. “Creating a culture of safety requires relentless vigilance from every one of us, day in and day out. Please, if you see something, say something.”

The union declined to comment further.

A person familiar with the matter told NBC News that half a dozen camera crew workers walked off the “Rust” set in protest of working conditions just hours before the shooting took place. Among their concerns were multiple misfires of the prop gun.

Earlier Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing three unnamed people involved with the production, that the crew was frustrated with the production’s long hours. It also alleged that there were two previous prop gun misfires on set, one the previous week and one on Saturday.

​”The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company,” Rust Movie Productions said in a statement provided to CNBC. “Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down.”

Rust Productions is cooperating with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation.

A ‘potential failure in the system’

Hollywood productions typically adhere to strict safety measures for stunt work, particularly when it comes to weapon and prop safety. The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee has written and distributed safety bulletins on best practices for television and movie productions.

“Blanks can kill,” the first bulletin reads. “Treat all firearms as though they are loaded. ‘Live ammunition’ is never to be used nor brought onto any studio lot or stage.”

These guidelines are recommendations and may not apply to reality shows such as “Mythbusters” or “Top Shot” where live rounds are used to test scientific theories or for marksmanship competition.

“I can say unequivocally that a blank round versus a live round is really easy to identify in the hands of an experienced armorer or prop master,” Williams said. “I can’t imagine anybody would say ‘whoops’ and just put that in there.”

He also noted that safety demonstrations are done with all cast and crew involved in firearm stunts who are instructed that prop weapons should never be pointed at another actor or crew member. In cases where a director wants to film a weapon being pointed at the camera and discharged, ballistic shields are used, he said.

“There are a lot of safety measures put in place,” he said. “If it turns out that a live round was loaded into a vintage weapon and it turns out that that is how this happened, then we need to figure out why.”

That’s a “potential failure in the system,” Williams said.

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U.S. officials keep close watch on the ‘delta plus’ mutation as it spreads in the U.K.



Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol on May 11, 2021.

Jim Lo Scalzo | Pool | Reuters

U.S. health officials are keeping a close eye on an emerging Covid-19 subvariant, dubbed “delta plus,” that some scientists say may be more contagious than the already highly transmissible delta variant.

Formally known as AY.4.2, delta plus includes two new mutations to the spike protein, A222V and Y145H, which allow the virus to enter the body. Those mutations have been found in other Covid variants, so it’s unclear how dramatically those changes affect the virus.

Francois Balloux, director of the Genetics Institute at University College London, said it could be 10%-15% more contagious than delta, which first appeared in India and spreads easier than Ebola, SARS, MERS and the 1918 Spanish flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Delta has an R-naught, or reproductive rate, of eight or nine, according to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, meaning that every person who has Covid will spread it to up to nine other people. The “wild type” or original strain of Covid had an estimated R-naught of about three. Someone infected with the delta variant carries 1,000 times the viral load of the original Covid strain.

India’s Ministry of Health reported in June that delta plus was more transmissible than the delta variant, adding that the subtype binds more strongly to lung cell receptors and could even reduce the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody treatments.

The mutation has been detected in the U.S., but there hasn’t been a noticeable uptick in delta plus cases nationwide, Walensky said at a White House Covid briefing Wednesday.

“We particularly monitor for sublineages that could impact therapeutics, such as monoclonal antibodies and vaccines,” Walensky said. “At this time, there is no evidence that the sublineage AY.4.2 impacts the effectiveness of our current vaccines or therapeutics.”

The AY.4.2 subvariant has been detected in at least five cases in the U.S. since August: in Washington, D.C., California, North Carolina, Washington state and Massachusetts, according to The website collects data from GISAID, a global genomic database on Covid and influenza cases.

Top health authorities have cautioned for weeks that more powerful and potentially vaccine-resistant Covid variants could develop as long as widespread outbreaks continue to occur, fueled by billions of people worldwide who remain unvaccinated. White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said in August that the U.S. could be “in trouble” if another mutation surpassed delta, asking the unvaccinated to get their shots in hopes of curbing a surge that crushed the nation’s health-care systems this summer.

Delta plus could also eventually affect the age groups eligible to receive Covid booster doses, Dr. Peter Marks, the Food and Drug Administration’s lead vaccine regulator, said Wednesday night. The FDA and CDC have authorized Covid boosters for a wide array of adults in the U.S. from all three manufacturers in the U.S.: Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.

“The exact age of that will be based on what we see of the emerging situation, which is quite dynamic right now because we continue to see reports of new variants coming up,” Marks said. “And we’re also seeing changes in the epidemiology of Covid-19 in our country right now with new hotspots coming up even as certain places die down.”

Concerns over delta plus are running high in the U.K., where officials are battling a surge in cases and facing a renewed health crisis. Delta plus cases represented roughly 6% of all sequenced Covid cases as of the week beginning Sept. 27, according to the latest data from the country’s Health Security Agency. The sublineage is “increasing in frequency” in the U.K., the agency noted, and doctors from the National Health Service Confederation in London are calling for a return to stricter Covid protocols heading into the winter.

But global health leaders are urging the public not to panic. Though the emergence of a Covid subtype isn’t the same as an entirely new variant evolving, keeping track of delta’s progression could allow the medical community to better understand the mutation, Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, Covid-19 incident manager at the World Health Organization’s regional branch for the Americas, said at a briefing Oct. 6.

“Looking to these additional changes, it may help researchers to track the variants on a fine scale,” Aldighieri said. “But they do not imply any functional or biological difference.”

— CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt in London contributed to this report.

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