- What you’ll hear in this episode….
- Introduction of the episode.
- How did you become interested in environmental issues?
- How did you get into air pollution control?
- Air pollution control systems in factories.
- Air pollution in a cement factory.
- The most terrible moment of my business career.
- Becoming an environmentalist and selling out.
- The environment in our head is the most powerful environment we have.
- How to make the outer world ordered.
AUDIO VERSION BY CHRIS
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TRANSCRIPT FROM OTTER.AI
Good morning. Good afternoon. This is Chris and wherever you are, I am happy to be talking to you today about something that’s really important to you and that is you. When I was 14 years old, I read a book by a guy called Paul Ehrlich about how the current rate of consumption of product in the world of resources and the environment was being completely overtaken by the number of people who will being born. He predicted, sadly, that we would get to a point where there would be too many people to consume too much of the planet and we would go into what would be called in his words a negative balance. He didn’t have a prediction that we would get genetically modified foods. He didn’t get the prediction that they would be things like COVID and war, and whatever took place that would pull the population growth back into some level of balance. But he also didn’t predict they would be famines and diseases. That would also affect population growth.
The most important part about this is not what Paul Ehrlich predicted, but that we’ve used chemicals and all sorts of modifications of foods in order to feed the masses. You know, most of the things that are produced in America contain corn starch. And sugars that are really bad for people’s health, but what it means is people get fed even McDonald’s has a impact on this balancing equation, because McDonald’s provides a fast food for a group of people who can’t afford not fast food. And so, feeding the growing population 7 billion coming up to 8 billion soon of the world requires that we modify what we consume our cities are also getting bigger. And by the age of 16, I was marching in the streets and doing all sorts of things to try to urbanize or try to protect human beings from themselves. I wrote papers on it. I stood up at school and I held protest plucks. It was about two years later that the Vietnam War started. And I protested the fact that we were involved in the Vietnam War. And luckily for me, my name didn’t get caught up in the call up otherwise, I would have descended. My friends went, some didn’t come back. But all these things are an app and a massive impact on what we call normality. our everyday life. When I finally went to university, after failing High School, and having to spend a year out in the desert, looked away from any form of ambition, which was a good fun year by the way.
I got back into the lowest University in probably at that time in the world, which was Swinburne technical college to study mechanical engineering, which I had no interest in. I was really interested in mechanical and Environmental Engineering, but through the mechanical engineering degree and by enabling myself to get into this university, I could study the environment again, which is my passion. And what I studied was air pollution control. And I became through association with a company that gave me a sort of weekend job and and holiday job while I went through uni, I became really adept at understanding the ins and outs of air pollution. I learned that most organizations most companies in the world that produce big profits have a statement in their values list that says let’s not pollute the planet, but out through their chimney they claim whatever came out was the consequence of technical inability to reduce it.
After four years at uni, I patented a system of hot gas scrubbing a system that could take massive amounts of pollution out of brick kilns and out of aluminium smelters, and out of cement factories by using gravel and sand as the filtration mechanism for this very, very hot and very, very toxic gas that was being pumped into the atmosphere. At this point in time, I was lucky enough to get a job in a company through cups completely serendipitous circumstances that set me around the world. And I traveled the planet I lived in America under the auspices of this company for six months, and I got to see how enjoyable it is to be ignorant of air pollution. I got to see how people didn’t care that my job was using was filtering air still was using air to dry things. And so my expertise in the management of airflow in jet propulsion in in flow dynamics and understanding all this work helped me help many companies around the world in drying paper and I know that sounds a little trivial, but I ended up in Asia, working traveling throughout the very darkest places Asia in the very most primitive parts where they had built paper making a factories right on the edge of rainforests right on the edge of the most lucrative timber they could get.
So they didn’t have transportation cost for timber. And so these factories were built without any pollution control systems at all. They belt out their, their fumes in the making of paper, by consuming masses of wood, putting it through all these very, very noxious processes, pumping the water down the rivers, pumping the pollution into the year. And I got really, over the next two years really, really pissed off with how corporations were completely blindsiding human beings who didn’t have a voice. I was dealing with the managers and in many cases in Asia, Chinese owners of these big factories that were planted all the way through Indonesia, Malaysia, in the backwoods of the Philippines, or up through Korea. I met the owners and, and the manager and I talked to them about the environmental impact of the plant while I helped them dry paper. And they threw their arms up and said what can we do? So, there was a, again, a willingness to ignore the little person who lived in the village down the street, who was dying from consuming the water or breathing the atmosphere.
I got ticked off and when I eventually left this company after three or four years working for them, I started my own air pollution control business. And I was lucky again. I knew someone who worked at that original air pollution control company while I was going through uni. He worked in a company that was had gone bankrupt, and I bought the company he worked for that had gone bankrupt and with $500,000 of debt, and I negotiated with the German licensee of that product that they had gone into debt for to delay the payment for three years while I rebuilt the business. And with very little business management experience except very hands on experience that I built three businesses already by the time I was 20 years old, so I kind of like knew what it took and the amount of hard work it took. I took this business from minus 500,000 to $12 million dollars profit in five years. But the reason it went from low profit or broke to high profit was not because I was a great businessman. It was because I have a passion and steep stilled Australian passion for nature.
I love nature. And I really get ticked off when I see people consciously polluting the atmosphere. And so with the license that I’d created, and the patented system that I’d built, I went around Australia and some parts other parts of the world selling air pollution control systems, many of them would you believe indoors. So when we think of air pollution control, we think of atmospheric but the atmosphere in which people work like in a factory making as an example, tea tea, the Lipton factory in Melbourne. The dust that comes off tea, when you open a big box that comes from India or something as a wooden box, and you tip that box upside down. The dust that comes off tea on the conveyor belt is carcinogenic. It’s very fine. It kills people. It’s as bad as asbestos. And so part of my work was industrial what’s called industrial hygiene, making the environment for people who worked inside, indoors inside factories inside places inside places where there were conveyor belts conveying grain conveying cement, conveying coal, making the environment livable for the people who work there.
Now, up until the 80s and 90s People often wore masks or as it was in when I went doing asbestos protection in Malaysia, no mask or and and also Indonesia, no masks at all. Because the consequences of the death could never be linked back to their work. And so the companies remained immune but the time had changed, and people were getting sick and the links weren’t being made between tobacco smoking between very fine dust and and people’s well being. And so the environment inside factories became crucial for the wellness of staff but also for profit. And so I got a lot of work doing industrial hygiene, cleaning the atmosphere inside a factory.
And this is sort of unbelievable thing to say that we would knowingly let the dust fume off a conveyor belt in a tea factory. into the mouths and the lungs of the people who worked there knowingly that they were being cancer causing a consuming the air. But very often, they were low paid workers very often with again, like my villages in Indonesia and Malaysia without a voice. So stronger, the more I’ve worked with this, I built massive cement air pollution control systems in Adelaide in Darwin in in Perth in Western Australia. I did brick hills in, in, in in Melbourne, I did aluminium smelters down in Geelong. I did all sorts of air pollution control, trying to lower the amount of pollutants in the atmosphere that children and people and adults and an innocent people driving past a commercial factory we’re consuming and smelling. So very often, these pollutants have a stink.
The smell of a paper factory is abhorrent. And it’s not just the water that smells the air stinks. And it stinks because of particulate and that particulate is pollution. I’m an Australian. I love nature. I am passionate about the environment. I live at Bondi Beach. I love clean water. I see where air pollution and water pollution is damaging the health and well being. I’m not so much interested in the cosmetic aspect of it. I respect it. But I really care about its impact on the well being of a human being. I built this company up and made a lot of profit. And I worked around the world traveling backwards and forwards to Germany but going into different parts of the world on behalf of the German licensee to design air pollution control systems for some of the biggest companies on the planet and one day while all this was going on, my marriage started to break down and that started making me question myself I was I was I was I was I commercially corrupted anyway I didn’t know what to do about it.
I went to hypnotherapy. I went to some a yoga practice. I loved yoga all my life and meditation. I went to try to not feel bad about corrupt the corruption that had taken place. I had bent in the process of building an air pollution control business. I bent myself and and now I had this massive company turning over millions of dollars, making millions of dollars profit. I’m driving a fancy car. Our family had two brand new cars a Range Rover and a beautiful new car. So we had everything you could ask for. But when I went to work every day, I wasn’t saying how do I help the world get less polluted? How do I get the help the world lower the air pollution on the planet.
What I was asking was how do I get the next contract and therefore my negotiation with companies and with people was bent toward the commercial side of it, and I lost my purpose. And as I lost my purpose, my desire to sabotage everything that I stood for grew and suddenly my marriage started to get wobbly legs. Suddenly I was having a an affair with somebody. Suddenly I was drinking on the wrong time of the day. Suddenly, I was witnessing the downfall of my whole empire that I’d spent so many years of hard work building and completely naive to the fact that this corruption that had taken place in me going from an environment mentalist who was building a business to help the world, reduce the air pollution therefore save the lives of children and people and make it a better place. I was suddenly waking up going how do I make another buck to pay the next bill? Because I had mortgages and I had 38 employees and people all over the country, depending on me. And so what I did in the process of doing that, and when I started to question it, I started to sabotage. I thought I was still doing a good job but I wasn’t and things started to come apart.
The wheels started to fall off the cart. And one day, a very miraculous day. During the process of all this. I was in blue circle southern cement in Burma in New South Wales. And the air pollution of the factory was terrible. They built the cement factory so far away from civilization. They thought it didn’t matter. The technology that I had, and the technology they were using were miles apart. I was using the systems that I designed the processes that I had patented the license that I had from Germany world’s best standard and they were claiming that they didn’t want to spend that much money to reduce the air pollution control of this factory because why care anyway, I went for dinner with the general manager of the factory and we were installing $500,000 worth of air pollution control. Some of it industrial hygiene, but a big chunk of it was in those big chimney stacks you see when you go past a cement plant belching out dust, which is carcinogenic by the way. So I sit down for dinner and I’m looking around the house and there’s dust everywhere. There’s dust in my hair. There’s dust on the table, and I said to the manager of the plant, there’s Gee there’s a lot of the cement factory dust comes he goes here when the wind is blowing from the east, we get filled with dust.
He knew that this is carcinogenic. He knew this is not good. He knew that this was a problem. And he was an Ozzy and here he is subjecting his own family to pollution to toxicity. And yet he was the most loving, caring guy. He had his kids on his knee we loved he was had a beautiful partner and was at a little above ground swimming pool in the backyard. And it was just a real good Ozzie guy, but for some reason, he too had turned a blind eye to the abuse of the factory. The next day I was in his office. And I’d done my work on the plant.
I looked at my team, they were installing some machinery and I said to him, you know, I can reduce your air pollution from 100 milligrams per cubic meter down to 50 milligrams per cubic meter and I can do it for about 50 grand. And remembering I was installing $500,000 worth of machinery 50 grand and my $500,000 worth of machinery was part of a multi multi multi million dollar upgrade for the plant. And he said no, there’s no way I can justify it. I’m sitting in front of this guy questioning my own moral intent, commercialized myself. I’m sitting in front of this guy having had dinner with him with a loving family being welcomed into their home. I’m sitting in front of this guy, and he’s the general manager of a very big factory. Very huge three summit kills. And I burst into tears. It’s the most terrible moment of my business career. I’ve cried a lot my life. I usually choose private moments or the privacy of my relationship or the privacy of a space to let those tears flow.
But I know professionalism and there is no place for tears in the Office of the General Manager of the business. What had happened is the stress and the emotions and the pollution in my own life had overcome me. This worry about compromise this worry about my sense of passion for nature and my passion for a clean environment had been put second, and here I was revealed because I didn’t have a choice but to say okay, thank you for polluting the world. I will just take the job in the interest of making a profit and walk away. I left his office drove back to Sydney to catch the plane back to Melbourne where I lived, but I was a broken person. By the time I got back to Melbourne, I’d made up my mind I had to stop.
My marriage was failing. The business was making a profit but I was not enjoying it at all. This situation I needed to fight I needed to fight for the environment. And I made a decision there to become an environmentalist, to go into the world of consulting to go into the world of making the world environmentally, at least in the air, which is what my gift was in air. Pollution Control and understanding the the knock the noxious fumes, understanding the air pollution understanding the Eco eco systems, understanding the things we can change and the things we can’t understanding it all and broadcasting it making it known to all people the pollution that was deliberately being pumped out. At the same time as this was happening.
Cigarette smoking was being put on the radar for people so I had I almost had an opportunity to ride the back of a very public thing, but the cigarette smoking drew me to another awareness. And the cigarette smoking made me realize that even though I was selling Air Pollution Control to big factories, people who smoke were basically putting air pollution into their own lungs voluntarily. Suddenly, I realized I’d been fighting a battle with big industry, big companies, big organizations with the general manager in the factory. But the question was, did the did the people really care? If you’re smoking a cigarette, and they put an ad on the cigarette saying you’re killing yourself and you still smoke a cigarette? You’re basically saying I don’t care. Or I don’t believe that air pollution kills me.
I traveled all over the planet as an environmentalist I sold the business. I started to develop this passion to speak to audiences to to create this idea in the minds of others that we need to look after ourselves. We need to be each and every individual needs to be environmentally sensitive. And I had a receptive audience. All throughout the North of America. I had a super receptive audience, not so much in Australia, because in Australia, people took it for granted that the environment is great that we have so much bushland and if people in Australia say there’s too much pollution, they jump in their car and go bush is not very far away. But not everybody who lives in big cities can do that. And so I had a beautiful receptive audience, especially in cities like LA and New York, Chicago.
So I made a decision at that point to change my career. I’m going to be, as I said to myself, a professional speaker because I want to spread the word that the environment, nature and air pollution and the pollution we accept is unacceptable. We need to protect our planet. I went back to university for two years to study behavioral science. So I understood the process of going from one thought to the other thought behavioral systems, how do you change the behavior of people and the best way to study behavioral science? In Australia is to do an MBA specializing in the human resource aspect of it, and I did that MBA. What it did, that MBA gave me the clear, clear knowledge that the academic world of business is blind.
I ended up knowing less at the end of that MBA that I went in with I knew all about arbitrage and stock markets and I knew all about monetizing businesses and, and all sorts of gaps between strategy and structure and culture. I understand that stuff. And that’s really valuable. But if the knowledge I’ve got can’t be applied to the passion I have, then it’s lost knowledge. It’s, as Einstein said, I don’t remember anything that isn’t of use to me. So as a speaker, I stood on stage. My work was about consciousness, human consciousness around the planet, because I was basically saying, we need to be careful about nature. We need to be careful about the environment. We need to be worried about what we breathe in car fumes, noxious poisons, things that come out of refrigerators, all sorts of things. The dust that comes from a sore when you’re cutting something in the garden, from concrete saw to the smoke that comes off the backyard fire when you make a barbecue. We need to be mindful and after two or three years of successfully traveling the world and moving to New York, and and speaking professionally on stage.
I looked at an audience one day and I said I am so full of shit. Because actually, if I take this audience and take them into a workshop, and ask them, What do you think about the environment, they will tell you that it’s very very important to save the whales save the dolphins. Don’t cut down trees, though be conscious, super consciously environmentally aware. But that individual may not act in a way that represents their own headspace. And so the word headspace came up headspace what’s going on in a person’s head? What’s going on in a person’s mind?
That’s the environment if we pollute our brain with hate and anger and judgment and criticism, attachment to partners, attachment to work if we do not carry love in our heart, in our mind, for the life and for ourselves, and for the space we create and we are careless about where we put our socks and what we drink and what we eat, what sort of what sort of expression of that is going to transmit to the outer world and so in a wealth was born. Now I am not a spiritual guy. I care about the environment. I care about nature. To me. Caring about what goes on in our head is the most powerful environment we can have in our lives. And yet we give it up so easy. We are like that manager of the cement plant.
We go. I’ve got a goal at work. I’ve written my goals down I’m going to make a profit. I don’t give a shit what goes on inside my head until it goes so bad that I get an emotional problem or a stress problem or a physiological problem that derives from stress in my brain. 98% of people on the planet don’t live to old age, they die young, they die of stress. In other words, the thing inside our head, our brain is the environment we first must take care of. Otherwise, it’s hypocritical isn’t it? Worried about water, water pollution?
Worried about air pollution, worried about population control, worried about all these things and blaming the world for it talking about bushfires and El Nino and all these other things when we’ve got anger and hate and vindictiveness and jealousy and cruelty inside our own brain towards ourselves. And so in a wealth was born and the business changed, and I changed along the way sometimes from time to time I get obsessed with success. I get obsessed with goal setting I get obsessed with visions, I get obsessed with these things, but I only started doing all that to make the outer world ordered. So the inner world could become calm inside a person’s brain.
There are layers, that we have a primal brain, which is the monkey brain, which is the brain that we were brought to this planet with millions and millions and millions and millions of years ago. And then we have the next level of brain and the next level and the next level. So these brains these seven brains to seven levels of human being are all still there ready to function ready to operate the primal brain. It’s fight flight, it will protect itself. One way or another. The should break wants to join with a collaborative mindset of a community.
So it thinks that it thinks but it doesn’t think it takes the gospel and it takes books and it takes other people’s teachings like the Buddha and it listens to the internet and watches YouTube videos trying to emulate somebody else who probably has as just a disturbed brand. As the individual doing the reading. The individual who’s actually doing the searching is disturbing their brain by searching. There is no peace. There is an argument between what’s going on and what they want to go on. Expectations. Block love. And then I see people in relationships treating themselves badly in order to make someone else happy. In other words, that’s an air pollution system. That’s a cement factory belching out dust, and then cooking people dinner to say don’t worry about it. The pollution we put out out of our selves is the pollution that drives pollution, the environment inside ourselves is the environment that causes everything. People say you measure a human being by their behavior.
People say you measure a human being and no human being by watching what they do. They’re wrong. Find out what that person thinks. Our thoughts transmit through walls that no behavior can be seen. Our thoughts transmit across the ocean, our thoughts transmit. Have you ever thought about somebody and then had them bring you up? almost in the same second? Our thoughts are the power that’s where the pollution is. And if we want to be good Australians, if we want to be environmentally aware, connected to the atmosphere, we need to know how to control our thoughts. And so the most important part of air pollution control is what goes on inside our head. The most important real estate we own is that little piece right on top of our skull. We are the environment we create there is no use complaining that somebody is not listening to you or attracted to you or not following you or is not doing what you want. That is all pollution that is all toxin, toxin to you. And toxin to the world around you. There is no use being negative to people. Did you know that 90% of people on the planet have negative self talk.
And if you give negative self talk, you can quite often push that person into the darkness that they are trying their hardest to avoid by being self righteous. It is so easy to be complimentary. It is so easy to have a purpose a vision it is so easy to be thankful for small things. It is so easy to put love ahead of profit. It is so easy to say. I could be bothered by what you’re saying. I could be annoyed with what you’re saying. I could be disappointed by what you’ve done. I could be frustrated but I know I don’t have to be I am not an pollution making machine.
My thoughts my feelings create the environment that I build on this planet and I am one person who doesn’t have to be one of the 98% of the planet thinking negative self talk. I can be one of the people on the planet saying no. I will not blame the government. I will not blame things I will not go searching on the internet for new ways to be me. I will not go thinking that I can sharpen or harden or reinforce my identity by going and finding thoughts and people that agree with my opinions. I can say I will become formless.
And what will give me form in the planet is a mindset, a mindset of love, a mindset of gratitude, presence, certainty and love. I will not be a polluter. I will make the decision. There are many stories. Many anecdotes about the butterfly who flapped its wings and changed the world. Every single movement we make every single step we take whether we plant our foot hard on the floor or whether we feel the floor beneath our feet. That’s a choice. And every one of us is powerful in having that choice. Whether your life is in a wheelchair, whether your life is in a hospital bed, whether your life is at the top of a corporation, whether your life is somehow distorted by the reality of your existence, you have a choice you have a choice of how you think and it’s not so much what you think that matters.
Because you can think a million thoughts and say those thoughts are me, but they’re not. What matters and where the anti pollution system comes from.
Is how you think. How you think changes everything. It changes the atmosphere within your self, the environment within you and the environment outside of you. I’m an environmentalist, I am not a psychologist. I want this world to be nature of Ozzy I love nature. I love the purity and the century of the diversity and the complexity of nature. I’m not trying to go to a pristine Lake and say that’s how the world should be. I’m going to a pristine Lake to a Himalayan mountain to an ocean wild in a kayak.
I’m going to the most rainforests burnt down chopped down place and I am looking for beauty. I will not be a victim of the environment outside of myself. I will make the environment inside myself. The prime and to do that I must become formless. I must learn how to adapt. I must stay true to this inner commitment. Not to be an angry person not to be a hurt person. Not to be a wounded person. Not to be a victim not to be environmentally externally environmentally reactive. Not to judge people. Not to criticize people not to say I would never be that person. I need love and I need it in my head.
We call it our heart. But it’s a thought. We only call it the heart because we don’t know how to differentiate that thought of love. And that thought of air pollution pneus freedom inside our mind. We don’t know how to differentiate it from the thought that decides whether we have milk in our coffee or not.
There is so much chasing going on in the world. We are chasing better health we are chasing better leadership. We’re chasing more profit we are chasing to be a better partner we are chasing to bring up our kids we are chasing, chasing, chasing and that’s great. That makes people interesting. That makes them colorful. The Chase. But if all of the chase turns on itself and creates pollution to the world, if the factory is belching out carcinogenic dust, if your thoughts which transmit through walls are causing the world to have pollution in it.
Then you need to be somewhat accountable and also realize the power that you have to make the change to make the thoughts and the feeling and the experience inside of you the primary in my life, I’ve sabotaged many things. And I’ve sabotage many things because I’ve become hooked into the outcomes. I wrote a book and started traveling the world selling my book and being promoting my book but in the process of doing that I forgot what the book was bloody about and started talking about how many books I sold. Extraordinary
in building and working with First Nations people and youth at risk in Canada, I started that business talking about creating an environment in a community and I got so frustrated with the pushback that I started getting too big for my boots, I suppose you could say and I forgot the reason I was allowed in that as a white person allowed in in an indigenous community because I love nature. And because I’m humble and I believe in the environment in the individual can change the world. And I got hooked into trying to fight for indigenous rights. I got distracted
in our lives, things are gonna come and go in our lives people are going to come and go in our lives.
Our wealth is going to grow and shrink and grow and grow, shrink, grow. All these things move. And that’s the beauty of the of the world around us. We don’t know what is going to happen in Russia and the Ukraine. We don’t know whether an aeroplane is going to flip upside down Nepal and kill people we don’t know. And in that not knowing there is proof that relying on the outer world to create the environment of our inner world is very foolish.
Relying on a relationship to make us happy. Relying on our children behaving in the way we want to make us happy is not the way it’s meant to be relying on how much money we earn to make us happy is not the way it’s meant to be. We have control of the environment within us. And then we read the newspaper. The question is going to be does the newspaper reading affect the environment within and there’s the power of being a human being the environment within and so as I close this off, and I reflect on the era from being 14 to where I am now. 55 years I have never deviated a day.
From the concept of needing to be responsible for nature and the environment we create. The only thing that’s changed is the form of that environment has gone from factory chimneys and industrial hygiene and how many people born and how much they eat and how much they consume to the power of a human thought and what it can cause on this beautiful planet. That’s where nature starts. It starts in any individual saying I will take responsibility for my thoughts and and those thoughts can be gratitude presents certainty and love. And from there I will build the outside world because thoughts traveled through walls that behavior cannot see.
This is Chris You have a beautiful day.
Bye for now.