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How to Save the World

How to Save the World

By Katie Patrick
This podcast is for people who devote their lives and careers to improving the planet. I cut through the complain-o-sphere and interview experts in behavior psychology, game design, and environmental data to learn the techniques that really do work to make measurable change happen on the ground. I like to call it "Fitbit for the Planet" design.
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Vegans, You’re doing it wrong: How to get people to eat less meat
Are the words ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian’ helpful or harmful to the quest to reduce society's ravenous meat consumption? Gregg Sparkman is a Ph.D. student in social psychology at Stanford University who specializes in the study of how to get people to eat less meat. In this interview, he takes us through the many fascinating (and often counter-intuitive) dynamics of what it takes to get people to measurably reduce their meat intake - and it’s not what you think. We talk about social norms in messaging and in particular his specific field of ‘dynamic norms’ where he proved that simply changing a few words in a message has the proven capacity to double the number of vegan meal choices. This episode is a rare gem and an absolute must for anyone trying to influence ethical, plant-based, or sustainable eating habits. Gregg explains many crucial psychological concepts often left out of the vegan and vegetarian movement’s attempts to change the world.  Contact Gregg Sparkman Gregg Sparkman {at} if you're interested in more behavioral science on getting people to eat less meat.   Support the podcast on Patreon Download free tutorial guides on how to be a world-changing superstar at  Learn more in my book How to Save the World
August 25, 2020
Ecology From Space: How New Satellites are Revolutionizing Conservation with Joseph Mascaro PhD
Planet Labs has launched nearly 200 very small satellites in the atmosphere that take high-resolution images of the earth just about every single day. Today’s guest Joseph Mascaro is a Ph.D. tropical ecologist. He is the Director of Academic Programs at Planet Labs and has the fascinating role of helping conservation groups and academics use these spectacular images of the earth for good. We talk about how fast-paced agile technology development can be used to support environmental protection, how images help us emotionally connect with issues in a way that plain data tends not, and how (counter to popular environmental belief), going to Mars is essential to protect life on earth. Don’t miss out on this fabulous episode! If you are conservation organization wanting more information on forest cover, ice-cover, fires or anything you can see from the air, check out
June 29, 2020
The Two Lenses Secret to Solving Every Problem
All problems are essentially made of the real world matter:  matter that is measurable. All solutions require the influence of human beings, which are governed by their own psychological behavior. We truly cannot avoid the process of understanding the data about our cause, if we are going to change anything at all. We can not avoid the process of understanding the drivers of human behavior if we are going to change the actions of any human beings. This understanding lead me to coin the term, the “two lenses” approach to social change. The two lenses approach means, 1) Your problem needs to be understood through the lens of measurement or data. and 2) Your solution needs to be understood through the lens of behavioral psychology.​​​​​​​
June 29, 2020
The Russian Dolls Strategy For Change
What can Russian dolls possibly have to do with changing the world? It’s a metaphor that I borrowed from a book called “The Big Leap” by PhD psychologist Gay Hendricks. He used the metaphor of “Russian dolls” to describe the process of digging deeper into oneself, and into the subliminal drivers that guide the real reasons we do things. A bit like the process of asking “Why . . . why . . . why?” To peel away the layers of the onion of our life decisions, or to open up the Russian dolls of our inner selves to find the little one that sits in the very core. Hendrick’s metaphor for digging deeper into the self, seemed to also fit beautifully for digging into our strategy for how we change the world. I started to explain gamification as a kind of “motivational wrapping” we can apply to human behavior.
June 29, 2020
How to Find Your Creative Genius Zone
Have you ever felt like you had a special kind of skill, or a calling, or some bigger reason for existing on the planet? Have you felt like there is more to life than just working a regular nine to five job? Or being a struggling activist working for a pitifully low salary in a sweet but ineffectual non-profit? Do you get that weird feeling that “there’s gotta be more to life than this?” I’ve had this feeling forever. I think you probably have it too. I believe this feeling is a calling that is telling you that you are not operating from your creative genius zone and that you really need to be.
June 29, 2020
How Smart Water’s Big Data is Getting You to Change with Emily Kleeman
It’s easy to talk about saving water, but how do you *actually* get people to make real water reductions that you can measure? Environmentally friendly actions are known by psychologists as one of the most difficult things we try and get people to do. A new technology company called WaterSmart has been developing an app that shows you how much water you use compared to your neighbors – and it works. We talk about the technology behind modern water smart meters, what it takes to design for behavior change, and how the water industry’s new immersion in big data is changing how we get people to change for the better. Sign up to and learn more at
June 29, 2020
Why You Should Put Measurement at the Center of your Creative Strategy
Here’s the problem: Many people start projects without understanding much about what it is they are trying to change in the world. I mean, they don’t look into the data about their problem. You may have heard the saying, “If you can’t measure it, it probably doesn’t exist.” That’s well and good for scientists, but what does this mean for social-change entrepreneurs, world changers, and designers? Or creative people in general? The brutally honest truth is: if we can’t measure the impact we are having on the world, we probably aren’t having any at all. Let this sink in for a moment: Despite your best intentions, you may very well not be making any meaningful impact on the world.
June 29, 2020
A Fitbit for the Planet? The Fascinating Future of High Tech Air Quality with Kimberly Hunter
In this video I talk with Kimberly Hunter, the VP of Communications at one of the Bay Area’s most interesting new environmental data companies Aclima is the first company in the world to map out air quality by specific address by attaching air sensors to the Google cars that take images for Google Street View. We discuss the fascinating evolution of electronic sensors that are now starting to cover the world that are telling us information that we never had before. This detailed environmental data is opening up a huge change in the way governments and individuals make decisions . . . and could even lead to a future world where sustainability is fully automated. Interested in having your city’s air pollution mapped? Learn more about Aclima at
June 29, 2020
New Book Out On Indiegogo
Today is the launch of my book How to Save the World on Indiegogo! Click the link here and get your copy.  How to Save the World is a workbook that helps social and environmental change professionals learn how to implement powerful techniques, drawn from behavioral psychology, measurement, design, data, storytelling, visualization, and game design that are proven to have impact.
June 29, 2020
Social Ecology, Systems Thinking, & Psychology with Professor Dan Stokols
In this episode of the How to Save the World podcast, I talk with Dan Stokols, Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus at the University of California Irvine.  Dan has recently published a book, Social Ecology in the Digital Age, and he talks to us about what the field of *social ecology* is all about. In a world that often compartmentalizes issues into bite-size boxes, Dan illustrates the importance of taking a “systems thinking” view – and urges us to look more deeply at the interdependence of the many systems around us and how the very small, such as a piece of litter, is governed by a larger system of forces. Dan explores the need to look at the human behavioral dimension of environmental issues to truly understand how to solve the planetary challenges we’re facing in the 21st Century. Support the podcast with a small donation at
June 29, 2020
The Remarkable Power of Public Data with Harvard Professor, Archon Fung PhD
You can easily see the amount of calories in your peanut butter and your car’s safety rating. But this publicly available data comes from hard-won battles - and the numbers behind many of our most crucial issues in healthcare, environment, and finance are either under lock and key -  or they are simply not even measured. In this month’s podcast episode I interview Harvard University Professor Archon Fung PhD about what happens when we turn important data that is often hidden and contentious into a publicly available resource for the world to see. Read the full transcript here Support the podcast on Patreon Download free tutorial guides on how to be a world-changing superstar at
June 29, 2020
Urban Heat Islands: The Secret Killer You’ve Never Heard Of, with Jeremy Hoffman PhD
Did you know that heat waves kill more people than all the other weather-caused fatalities (like from cyclones, floods etc) put together? Cities around the world are getting baking hot. Extreme heat gets a lot worse when you live in the city, because of all the concrete and asphalt and it’s called an Urban Heat Island. In this episode I speak with the very fun and enthusiastic Jeremy Hoffman PhD from the Science Museum of Virginia about an study he conducted that involved getting volunteer drivers and cyclists to ride around the city in Summer wearing a thermometer. What he got was a map of Virginia’s urban heat island. We talk about the frightening dangers of urban heat islands, but also the exciting opportunity we have to use heat data to catalyze a massive revolution in urban greening. The cities of the future are ours to invent. We can all get to work to plant more urban trees, install more green roofs, and turn old car parks into gardens, and really change the world with easy practical contributions to the built environment. Support the podcast at Download more free resources at
June 29, 2020
Why Creativity Will Save the World – A Talk
This episode is the recording of a talk I put together about my thoughts and theories about why creativity is the missing link in saving the world. This talk covers the technical creative process, the positive constrictive imagination, the neuroscience of optimism and creative productivity, and most of all, it makes a powerful and scientifically robust argument why we need a positive vision of a future world in order to solve the world’s biggest problems. Learn more at
June 29, 2020
The Science of (Eco-Friendly) Motivation with Behavioral Scientist Xiaojing Xu PhD
In this video I interview Xiaojing April Xu PhD about what it takes to motivate people to do eco-friendly things. It turns out that it’s often not what you think it is. We talk about interesting phenomena like the Value-Action-Gap,The Crowd-Out Effect and wether financial or environmental information is more motivating to get people to change. Xiaojing April Xu conducts post doc research in the behavioral science of energy efficiency at The University of Tennessee.
June 29, 2020
Public Disclosure of Data: The Secret Solution We Need More Of
I got this sense a few years ago, that if people could see the numbers that made up their environmental footprint (such as the litres of water they used in a shower or the number trees felled to make their toilet paper) in an immediate and easy-to-understand way, then this data must, absolutely must, cause the person to use less resources, right? I had such a strong hunch about this connection that it has obsessed me ever since. But there was a glitch. Every time I would google terms like “environmental data”, “showing data” or “measuring environmental footprint”, I just wasn’t finding any academic research on the field or even anything useful at all.
June 29, 2020