Episode 0057 · July 11, 2023

The podcast about what to do next.

Ready for a Rainy Day

[Unedited Transcript]


Paul Ford: So I am watching my YouTube synth flus, people who are into synthesizers who are on YouTube and livestream. Okay. And they’re all, they’re all in Europe.

And I notice something. They’re all men and they’re all talking kind of slow, and they’re all incredibly sweaty. On the livestream.

Rich Ziade: stream. Okay.

Paul Ford: Because climate change, because it’s like 30 degrees Celsius or whatever, you know, ridiculous temperature system they use in the rest of the world. Uh, it’s really, really hot in Europe right now.

And what was wild to me, I’m watching them and they’re like, yeah, it’s really hot.

Rich Ziade: Hot.

Paul Ford: And they, it’s hot and they’re talking in different parts of, of Europe and they’re doing their live podcast and uh, or live video. Whatever it is, cast and um, it made me realize something about climate change, which is that we’re just gonna post through it as a, as a [00:01:00] society, we’re not gonna like stop.

We’re not going to stop and say like, I can’t do my video podcast because it’s so hot. I’m not gonna stop talking about sins. I’m going to keep doing my internet stuff. Even though there’s this kind of slow boiling catastrophe on the way, and I thought we should talk about that because, you know, we’re here to advise.

We should talk about how to get ready for the rainy day.

Rich Ziade: Great topic,

Paul Ford: All right, let’s do it.

Rich Ziade: Paul. I, I do this thing and it’s the strangest thing. I’ve, I, I spent a weekend and I put all my like, My passwords and bank account numbers and logins into one password

Paul Ford: Always a good thing to do. Really good to [00:02:00] do also if you have an older parent to put their stuff in there.

Rich Ziade: and it turns out like one of my bank accounts, not because I collect them, but because I have other businesses and stuff and, um, the password never gets in there and I could have sworn I looked it up before.

I logged into my bank, got the account number, and I could have sworn I put it into one

Paul Ford: password.

Rich Ziade: And every time I had the opportunity to do it, it turns out I was, I needed the bank account for something else. And because I did the work of getting the account number, I would go and put it in the, whether the, the tool or the login or the payment system or whatever I needed it for.

And I would never go back to one password

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm. Because

Rich Ziade: It’s a weird phenomenon. There’s probably a name for it and I don’t know it, which is if you do the work to get the thing, you will not do the extra work. So you don’t have to do that same work again next time. So I go through the same motion every

Paul Ford: oh, I, I’ll give you an example.

Programmers writing documentation.

Rich Ziade: Exactly,

Paul Ford: They, they won’t. [00:03:00] So for people who don’t know this, like programmers won’t write documentation,

Rich Ziade: document, they won’t something, they won’t, there are tools that sort of auto write it.

Paul Ford: getting, it’s better than it used to be. If you have like a public open source tool, you might write it, but if you’re in internal and you’re like getting your stuff done,

Rich Ziade: like, oh.

Paul Ford: it’s like, Hey, did you get the docs done?

And then they go back and they write like five lines. Yeah. And, and then they reconfigure their text

Rich Ziade: No, but that’s not exactly that. And I’ll tell you why. Okay. If I would just make that extra payment and I’m taking you down on a whole other path, if I would, I would take that extra minute the next time I need it. It’s gonna be a split second rather than doing

Paul Ford: Oh yeah, no, but you’re,

Rich Ziade: I won’t make that future investment. And we’re terrible at making future investments. So what do we do? We’re like, man, it’s getting hotter. So I guess I’ll just get an AC unit. Now here’s the thing, you mentioned Europe. A lot of Europe, unlike the Northeast and the US, is just not ready.

Like Paris doesn’t have Central Air.

Paul Ford: They have, some of those [00:04:00] countries have one extension cord. Like I think I, I really do. I think Portugal has enough power for about five acs.

Rich Ziade: acs. I think the hardest thing about climate change, and you know a lot more about this topic than I do, the hardest thing about it is that it isn’t about avoiding one seismic event. That’s what makes it so hard for humans to process it.

Cuz what we’re very good at is like, oh man, you moved it a foot away. Let me move it a foot back. Right? And then it’s this little back and forth because we we’re so good at, we’re much better at making adjustments. Then we are at really fortifying ourselves for, uh, an investment, essentially investing in, in a better future down the road in a big way.

We always in like we react, we’re reactive by nature, right? You know what no one’s talking about right now?

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm. Like

Rich Ziade: we remember, we had like no masks and no vaccines and no medicines and no [00:05:00] ventilators. I’ve not, maybe I’m, maybe it’s just not, not not in the news, but it would be really hard to pass a bill right now to be like, you know what?

That was shitty the way we handled that last pandemic. How about we stockpile properly and distribute it around the country so we don’t have the same problem again? Everyone’s done. They move on

Paul Ford: They gone. Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: and they’re like, well, that’s expensive.

Paul Ford: Yeah. That was a bad one. Right? Woo,

Rich Ziade: bad one. And look, you know, California is, Building a lot of stuff on what is factually a piece of the United States that will break off and bump into Hawaii at some point.

Paul Ford: Oh, the Pacific North Northwest is due for huge hurricane or, uh, a huge earthquake.

Sorry. And then, um, you can’t, uh, like farmers isn’t gonna underwrite in Florida anymore. I mean, like insurance is starting to turn, its back on very risky areas. And so a lot of the infrastructure that we count on to have a stable society is saying, hold on a minute.

Rich Ziade: So how do you get me? How can you force me to properly store my password so I don’t go [00:06:00] through the task every time and pay the bill? Every time we’re really good at paying bills, you know what’s gonna be happen because of climate change, like the air conditioning industry and the water distribution industry will explode because it’ll be a bandaid for 10 years.

That’s what’ll actually happen.

Paul Ford: I mean, this is the horrible truth of it, right? Like the infrastructural change that everyone has said for 25 years needs to happen. I don’t see any signs of it happening. I, I think there has been progress in that. Like we have, we are producing fewer emissions than we would’ve been if we didn’t have as much solar.

Right. Right. There are there, there have been.

Rich Ziade: are happening.

Paul Ford: Yes. It’s just going to be too little, too late. And, and

Rich Ziade: does that mean, like, based on your understanding of what’s going to happen here, what does that

Paul Ford: mean? Uh, the simplest thing, look, we used to work with an organization, I still do probable futures.org.

Go read their website. It’s a very good explainer of sort of how all these things fit together. The way I see it is just a continual and steady loss [00:07:00] of stability and stability is impossible to identify. You know, you don’t know that your back is healthy until you hurt your back. Then you can’t walk. I walked with a cane for two weeks once cuz I had sciatica and uh, oh boy.

I went, I, I went down off the curb on my, on my right foot and I remember that moment really cuz I went, oh no, this won’t fix itself. Right. And I had to go to physical therapy and so on and so forth. This whole that up until that point. My back was fine. Didn’t think about

Rich Ziade: You were doing

Paul Ford: You were doing and now is working.

I think about my back every day. I do my little stretches if I feel it get a little sore. I, I’m, as we were talking, I’m like doing my little hip

Rich Ziade: I’ve been through similar thing and I’m very wary of doing those

Paul Ford: no. This guy Keith had at, at physical therapy taught me how to do ’em. Um, So I don’t think humans just won’t do it until they feel the pain. And also everyone is like, oh yeah, it’s like saying Augustine.

It’s like, um, you know, absolutely God, but just not yet. Let me just get,

Rich Ziade: yeah, yeah, yeah. [00:08:00] Gimme a week.

Paul Ford: just a couple more sins in here, right? Uh, and then I think the other narrative that people try is like, well, you know what? This will be big business and you can profit off of it, so on and so forth.

Rich Ziade: Is this is dire what?

The picture you’re painting here is terrible. How do we adjust that?

Paul Ford: the, it’s, well, I, I don’t think you do. I think, um, you, you know, the Mike Tyson quote, which is everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. Yeah. I, I’m at a point, and this is why I, I no longer. I spend time reading about it.

I spend time, uh, advising on, on technology platforms and, and, you know, I give money, but I don’t talk about it as much as I used to. Cuz I really just basically believe that humanity needs to get its punch in the face before we’re responding. I don’t see us punching ourselves. Um, so what’s, you know, what’s gonna happen is, Increasing, uh, migration crises of humans.


Rich Ziade: [00:09:00] people migrating away from zones of the earth that are just way too hot.

Paul Ford: borders, shutting down, flooding in Bangladesh, like just, just sort of classic slow motion apocalypse stuff.

Lebanon is a very good, you’re, you’re Lebanese and we work with a lot of Lebanese people. Yes. Including people who are in Beirut right now. It’s a hard place to get out of. It’s gone through tremendous financial instability. Um, had a tough reaction to the pandemic and there was a huge explosion in the port.

Like these are the regular experiences that people who live there. And to me, what, how do the Lebanese react to society and infrastructure breaking down.

Rich Ziade: They adapt.

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm. What do they do? What is, well talk about it a little bit. The units in the, the unit is the family, right?

Rich Ziade: Yeah. I mean, they help each other, uh, at the family level, sometimes at the community [00:10:00] level.

Um, you know, it’s, it’s made up of clans in a way. It’s no different than a lot of like Middle Eastern countries term

Paul Ford: that this, you educated me on this, on the term is bait, right? Like

Rich Ziade: house, like house of

Paul Ford: bait. Yeah. Yeah.

Rich Ziade: and, and the last name carries something which is very tribal and actually kind of old school.

Um, but what you end up with is a lot of sort of like shifting this self-sufficiency. So, um, there’s no power grid in Lebanon. It’s pretty much wrecked. It gives you like a half hour of public electricity a day. Uh, and so everyone has generators.

Paul Ford: right?

Rich Ziade: has generators. They have to pay private diesel suppliers to, um, fill the generators with fuel and they pay for, um, maintenance.

Now, the thing about the generators is it’s like a mafia, like the generators are, uh, you effectively own zones of generators. And that is a, it’s like a distribution of fuel that is, uh, monopolized by, you know, [00:11:00] one or two people. And then there’s like, you know, these sort of like, Uh, you know, cobbled together economies that take hold so that people can function right around food distribution and, and, and amenities and, and, uh, going to restaurants, it’s, it’s a mess.

It’s actually a mess. But what it it does highlight though, is how incredibly adaptable people are. Like they just adapt in very extreme, extreme ways. There’s no, um, there’s no phone lines in Lebanon.

Paul Ford: we’ll be talking to our employees and it’ll just go dark and their face will only be lit by the laptop screen

Rich Ziade: and they will not flinch.

I’ve been in restaurants, this is a great that you brought this up. I’ve been in restaurants where everything goes dark and the sound of people talking doesn’t change. They’re so used to it that the con like, I’m gonna finish my

Paul Ford: They, they don’t even note that the lights went out. Like if that happened in America, it’d be like, whoa, what just happened?

Hey, what?

Rich Ziade: would get on their phones and [00:12:00] say, check Twitter or check

Paul Ford: Or, or they joke about it being dark and you know, like, oh, guess we’re having a candle at romantic dinner now. Ha ha ha. No. And they just,

Rich Ziade: And so I think, I think, you know, the, the way humans adapt, um, and I, you see it to such extremes in Lebanon, like, Ultra luxury right alongside just like abject poverty and like difficulty in living.

Even if you have money, it’s hard to live like comfortably in Lebanon. And what it just highlights is that no one assumes that they can change the system. Everyone’s kind of given up on that and what they’ve done. So what they shifted to, and this is I think what’s gonna happen with climate change, sadly, just because we, just how humans are, is they shifted to like, how do we make this as like comfortable and potentially slightly enjoyable for my family and my like immediate community?

That’s all they do. Mm-hmm. They don’t go, nobody’s going to the council meeting in [00:13:00] Lebanon so that they don’t build the bar in the town.

Paul Ford: instead they’re like, you know what? We should get a lot of board games for the kids. Yeah. Because we might lose power. No,

Rich Ziade: No, no. That’s it. That’s it. And, and anyone who has tried to be an active, sort of progressive in the country gets absolutely battered by the system, which is a system of like power sharing amongst families

Paul Ford: the simplest way to explain it for someone who isn’t up on Lebanese uh, politics is just, it’s designed for gridlock.

Rich Ziade: It’s designed for gridlock. It’s a great way to put it. And, and, and. The response isn’t revolution. What you need for climate change is revolution. You need the equivalent of like,

Paul Ford: you know, you know, revolution. How do you get your punch in the face? CEOs go to jail.

Rich Ziade: That’s not even a punch in the, that’s not gonna do it.

Paul Ford: CEOs get executed in the town square.

Rich Ziade: That’s the punch in the face. I thought you meant like a, a tsunami hits [00:14:00] Manhattan

Paul Ford: Manhattan. No, there’s that too. But I mean literally like after the tsunami hits. Well, who’s responsible for this? Well, we’re gonna go round. No, I, I think, and I’m not saying like I. I’m not go, I’m not aligning with any political side or another, like I’m just saying, that’ll become a Target French Revolution style.

It’ll be like, well, those are the people, those are the CEOs of the oil companies. We better hang them. Right? Like I I, because they, they allowed Manhattan to get destroyed. The, those are the narratives that are, that are in front of us in a kind of not even worse case. Like that’s just, those are possibilities of all the possibilities.

Rich Ziade: Look, man, the biggest challenge for climate change is it’s really boring.

Paul Ford: I love boring subjects.

Rich Ziade: wanna make it exciting? Bring an end to dollar 99 loafs of bread at Target. You really wanna make it exciting, bring an end to it because of distribution [00:15:00] systems or because, um, farms got scorched or whatever.

Paul Ford: I’ll fix it for you. Your Toyota now costs $75,000.

Rich Ziade: et cetera.

Paul Ford: No, wait. I can fix the, I can Gas is $20 a gallon. I’ll destroy America in two hours.

If I set that policy. Exactly.

Rich Ziade: It’s not even set the policy. It might just be natural resources are are screwed because of whatever is happening out in the world. Whether it be supply lines are messed up or the waters are too, if the tankers can’t get across the oceans and then it affects things that way.

Paul Ford: If gas costs $20 a gallon, America becomes a different country in about two and a half hours.


Rich Ziade: is a baby in a high chair

Paul Ford: that didn’t

Rich Ziade: get its applesauce. That’s the only thing that makes us wake up and do anything. If you think you’re gonna sit that child down and say, listen, if I don’t ration this applesauce out properly, you’re not gonna digest it well.

He’s just gonna look at you like, what’s wrong with you? Just gimme the apple sauce. You take the applesauce away. It’s we’re simple. That way [00:16:00] we adapt until it’s unadaptable. Right? Until it’s then. Then read. Any, like the origins of most revolutions, it’s usually a combination of a small elite, essentially teaming up with masses who have lost something fundamental.

It’s like almost always the

Paul Ford: Well, what they’re gonna lose, they’re gonna lose their farmland just flat out.

Rich Ziade: I, I don’t think I, I think you wagging your finger and saying, if you don’t do a handful of things here, you’re gonna lose your farmland. It doesn’t work. It just does not work. Humans, historically,

Paul Ford: I, I think you’re right here. Which is they lose their farmland due to the fact that the crops won’t grow cuz it’s too hot. And then a group of people says, you know what? Those people over there have farmland

Rich Ziade: and I don’t wanna misspeak and say, you know what? Well, let’s not bother with anything. I think what you can do is, and I, it’s a lot of what probable futures does

Paul Ford: we, we should be trying desperately to do anything that we can to get the global warming to lower.[00:17:00]

Rich Ziade: It’s good for business.

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm. It’s good

Rich Ziade: for stability in terms of political stability. It’s good for all those things and probable futures. The organization you mentioned before, a lot of their approach is to tell

Paul Ford: Power

Rich Ziade: and business like this is actually really bad business. Like you think you can just sort of skirt by.

You’re not going to,

Paul Ford: I mean, capitalism is predicated on a nice, stable global climate. Exactly. You know, I know where the corn’s coming from. Commodities. Exactly. Yeah,

Rich Ziade: exactly. Um, so this was a darker podcast today,

Paul Ford: but you know what, here’s here was the advice.

It was right in there, right in the middle. And I wanna state it explicitly, which is you don’t have control over the world. Right. You don’t. You can. Do things. You can advocate, you can speak up, you can give money, you can, there, there’s stuff you can do. You can also be more personally responsible about your footprint, fly less and you know, don’t buy a new car and if you do, can make it electric.

There, there’s, [00:18:00] there’s a list. Those are easy to find. But I think the larger issue is that, and why I often go back to Lebanon in my head is that. Resilient, smaller structures are your are a place to spend your time and your thoughts, like grow smaller, resilient groups. Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm. Don’t

Paul Ford: count on the big thing to take care of you.

So I’ll give you an example. Like, you know, the big company, the federal system, the, this, that, or the other, those are fragile because they’re very dependent on things being stable.

Rich Ziade: yes, they are. And, and humans tend to not make that shift until they have to.

Paul Ford: They

Rich Ziade: They don’t go to their community and say, well, we’re gonna have to figure out our own electricity until they absolutely have to.

They just don’t do it

Paul Ford: No. And I, I think like, being more aware of that, uh, I’m gonna, I’m going give you a really dumb little example. I have a little backyard, and [00:19:00] one, one day our house flooded and we switched our backyard to clover because clover has deeper roots. Mm-hmm.

And when, and, uh, the

Rich Ziade: absorbs

Paul Ford: water doesn’t bounce off a clover as much as it does off a grass

Rich Ziade: so

Paul Ford: it doesn’t flood.

Rich Ziade: Got it.

Paul Ford: Right. And we extended our gutters and oh, you know, all sorts of other stuff. So that’s a little thing. And then we talked about it with our friends and we have a little community where we are.

You have a community where you are, it’s very oriented around your family. My family isn’t here, but still, like there are 10 or 15 people who are within two miles of me, I would call an emergency. Right. Like that we could get together

Rich Ziade: Do you think, last question before we close out, do you think that that’s just not gonna make a dent and instead you need the real power like centers, big business, government in the world to really make the proper changes?

Paul Ford: You absolutely do, but they won’t

Rich Ziade: because.

Paul Ford: because they don’t want to. Because it’s exhausting and it takes, they want to get that money out just a little more before they do the thing. That’s

Rich Ziade: just gimme one [00:20:00] more, go

Paul Ford: just go, just if one more year and then we absolutely are turning the spigot off.

I promise. I promise. It’s just abusive husband territory. It’s just like, ah, baby, one more chance, I promise. You know, we’re gonna just, I need like five more oil tankers and uh, and, and so that’s the relationship we’re in. He’s not gonna change.

Rich Ziade: not gonna

Paul Ford: He’s not gonna change. And, and so you gotta leave him and, and you kind of can’t because he’s the oil industry.

But, okay. So, so here, so here we are. I mean, I know this is a gloomy one, but like it’s for the Audi advisors, it’s coming. Let’s,

Rich Ziade: it’s more of a warning than a, than advice, but it, that is advice in

Paul Ford: no advice is go get resilient, baby.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: All right.

Rich Ziade: Um, speaking of resilience,

Paul Ford: well, actually I think about this with the product that we’re building.

A board, a board is built for small groups to share information,

Rich Ziade: Collect, organize, and collaborate.

Paul Ford: It is, I swear to God, one of the use cases in my head in, I’ve written, I wrote about [00:21:00] this at one point. Uh, is your climate adaptability in a small group? How do you keep track of it? How do you become more accountable around climate stuff?

It’s a really good tool for that.

Rich Ziade: We’re still in beta, sign up@aboard.com, uh, and we’re waving people in.

Paul Ford: We would love to see you and check us out on the internet, on Twitter at zdi ford zdi ford.com. Send us an email hello@zdiforduh.com.

Rich Ziade: cool out there. Yes,

Paul Ford: Stay cool and dry.

Uh, we love you, and we’d love to hear any, uh, thoughts or feelings.

Rich Ziade: hello@zdiford.com. Have a lovely week. Bye.

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