Climate Change: ‘Before the Flood’ by Leonardo DiCaprio

As a fan of biology, I enjoy learning about the ecosystem and definitely believe in climate change.  I’d heard about this documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio, and managed to track down where to watch it free.

It’s right here:

It’s about an hour and a half long and is very informative.  Cleverly explained for the layperson, the documentary covers many areas of earth, from reduction of coral reefs to forests in Indonesia being burned down for palm oil plantations.  It discusses how carbon dioxide and methane lead to global warming and rising sea levels, and how consumers can make simple changes to make a difference, like switching from beef (high methane output and land use) to chicken.


Personally, I do feel that as a human race, we are completely on track to ruining this planet.  I think it’s easy not to take seriously because it’s hard to comprehend how the actions of individuals can have a huge impact on such a huge planet.  But over time and with larger scales of everything that goes hand-in-hand with an ever-increasing world population, the compounded actions of many individuals can have a huge impact.  It’s hard to quantify accurately and seems like an abstract concept, so we don’t bother doing anything about it even though we all know there’s probably at least a grain of truth to it…

It’s like eating the extra biscuit everyday and realising 10 years down the line that you’ve gained 20kg in weight.  Where did that extra weight come from??  Well, it’s probably the 3,650 biscuits you ate.

The climate changes are happening so slowly that we barely notice the impact on a day-to-day or even year-to-basis.  Sure, summers seem to be getting hotter, and sure, there were lots of hurricanes and floods this year compared to last year… these things happen and it all feels normal.

I’m sure that one day in the not-too-distant future, humanity will wake up to some kind of climatic disaster and everyone will be asking ‘where the hell did that come from?’…

And then we’ll realise it’s probably all of that carbon dioxide we’ve been releasing into the atmosphere for decades from burning forests, burning fossil fuels and raising billions of cows that’s increased the temperature causing the melting of ice that raises sea levels and releases more methane… all of those individual actions had an impact after all.

So actions: eat less/no beef/meat, use solar power (I have ordered myself a solar panel and solar powered battery, perhaps I’ll do this on a larger scale one day), encourage renewable energy sources, stop burning forests and stop using fossil fuels.

Hm, this list sounds a bit trite and it doesn’t feel like I’d change the world by doing these things… but imagine if EVERYONE followed these actions – that would probably be a step in the right direction.  Ideally, we need political leaders to make the big changes regarding factories and where our home power comes from, but we can all be aware of the part we play.


A self-made millionaire reveals how you can stop working in fewer than 10 years

I absolutely love the idea of early retirement. Although I wholeheartedly believe in living in the present moment, we must remember to plan for our future too – so we can continue to enjoy the ‘present moment’ beyond our working years.

I felt very inspired by an article written by Grant Sabatier who reached financial independence by the age of 30.  He wrote about five steps on how to do it:






The steps are fully explained in the original article, which is available here:

A ‘2-hour rule’ based on the habit that led Einstein, Darwin, and Nietzsche to brilliance

Albert Einstein was 16 years old when he first flirted with the idea of special relativity.

He was a daydreamer. The pioneering theory that lead him to establish the foundation of modern physics was actually envisioned in one of his many famous thought experiments.

He wondered, specifically, what would happen if he were to ride a moving light wave at a constant speed, say, like a surfer.

Given that they would be traveling at the same speed in such an instance, he went on to predict that the light wave would appear frozen to him.

He didn’t know it then, but that simple thought would lead to the downfall of some of the most impressive work done in physics over the past few centuries. It changed everything.

The funny thing is that stories of such brilliant insights spurring out of deep thought aren’t unique. Throughout history, luminaries ranging from Charles Darwin to Friedrich Nietzsche have attributed much of their genius to the many hours they spent lost in their mind.

Darwin had a “thinking path” that he would walk down to ruminate, and Nietzsche is said to have strolled around in nature for hours and hours on end to make sense of his ideas.

Behaviors that have been chastised today as being unproductive by a culture that mostly fetishizes measurable outputs like hours worked and reports produced seem to actually be some of the most productive. It begs an interesting question.

Is it just a coincidence? If not, what gives?

The leverage of reflective thinking
Fiona Kerr is a scientific communicator and a member of the faculty at the University of Adelaide, and she gives us insight into how and why this kind of reflective thinking works.

“Daydreaming (as with reflection) allows the mind to wander,” she explains. “The outcome is consistently more productive when dealing with complex problems or coming up with creative solutions and ideas.”

She isn’t alone in her interpretation of the research. For example, in the field of education, there has been a lot of work done on the idea of reflective thinking since the 1980s, and it’s something that is now seen as a critical component of being an effective teacher.

At their core, a healthy amount of daydreaming and reflection enable memory consolidation, and they allow non-linear connections to form, which both help our ability to break down and target issues and look at them through a new lens.

The daily mind-wandering that occurs here and there for most of us helps with this, but a deeper and more purposeful effort can yield a disproportionately greater reward.

Introducing the 2-hour rule
Once a week, usually on Thursdays, I block out a 2-hour period of my day just to think.

In the evening, I remove all possible distractions, especially electronics like my phone and my laptop, and I basically lock myself in a room to question my work and my lifestyle with a pen and a notebook.

2 hours is a long time, and some of it will feel unproductive and not all of it will be structured, but I have a few general things that I almost always start off with to set me in motion.

Here are a few questions I reflect on:

  • Am I excited to be doing what I’m doing or am I in aimless motion?
  • Are the trade-offs between work and my relationships well-balanced?
  • How can I speed up the process from where I am to where I want to go?
  • What big opportunities am I not pursuing that I potentially could?
  • What’s a small thing that will produce a disproportionate impact?
  • What could probably go wrong in the next 6 months of my life?

I can quite honestly say that this is the highest return activity in my life. It forces me to balance the short-term with the long-term. I catch problem before they become problems, and I’ve stumbled onto efficiencies and ideas that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise.

Interestingly enough, much of the value doesn’t come out of the routine questions, but from the time I have left after I run out of things to think about. It’s when I let my mind wander.

I’m not one for easy one-size-fits-all solutions, but this is an idea that I think can serve a lot of people well. We all think, of course, but not all of us do so deliberately and without distractions and guilt.

There is immense value in leaving time for that.

The takeaway
Einstein wouldn’t be Einstein without his thought experiments, just like Darwin and Nietzsche would both likely have struggled with their creativity and productivity if not for their walks.

Although that in itself is a small sample size and doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a magic bullet, the research also seems to support the benefits of reflective thinking and the odd daydream.

2 hours may seem like a long time to just think, and maybe something shorter works better for you, but leaving aside at least an hour or so is a worthy investment. It lets your mind play, and if you ask good questions, it’ll sharpen it, too. That tends to compound over time.

It can be easy to neglect something as simple and straightforward as the idea of just taking time to think as wasteful. After all, most of us are lost in our own thoughts more often than not, but there is a massive difference between a random 10 minutes of distraction and a dedicated block of rumination.

And let’s be honest, no matter how busy we think we are, most of us easily waste that on trivial things that add nothing to our lives. If the average person can spend 2 hours a day on social media, a few hours a week to organize your life isn’t a big ask. It’s a small price to pay for a consistent reward.

Who knows? You may even find it to be life-changing.

This article and any associated images were originally published here:

Book recommendations: 33 books to read before you’re 30

Things to do before 30: read these 33 books

Your 20s are a time for figuring out who you are and what you want from life.

While the only way to learn is to survive the inevitable cycle of successes and failures, it is always useful to have some guidance along the way.

To help you out, we’ve selected some of our favorite books that likely never made your high-school or college reading lists.

It’s an eclectic selection that focuses on topics like understanding your identity, shaping your worldview, and laying the foundation for a fulfilling career.

1,250 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

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