Daniel Goleman Explores the State of the Environmental Movement

Psychologist and Science Journalist

Daniel Goleman is a psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. Working as a science journalist, Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam Books) was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half.
Goleman’s latest book is Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything. The book argues that new information technologies will create “radical transparency,” allowing us to know the environmental, health, and social consequences of what we buy. As shoppers use point-of-purchase ecological comparisons to guide their purchases, market share will shift to support steady, incremental upgrades in how products are made – changing every thing for the better.
Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, was published in 2006. Social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence, can now be understood in terms of recent findings from neuroscience. Goleman’s book describes the many implications of this new science, including for altruism, parenting, love, health, learning and leadership.

  • Transcript


Question: Where is the environmental movement today?

Daniel Goleman: Well, I think that the old kind of [IB] model of environmentalists versus big government, big business is really not functional, that we need to find a way… I was just with a remarkable Lama.  His name is Karmapa.  He’s talked about as maybe the successor to the Dalai Lama.  And he’s very involved in the environment.  And he came up with this symbol, which are 2 hands clasp like this, you know, man and nature.  But I think we also need environmentalists in industry in a synergistic fashion, working together.  And now, that we have the ability to help a multitude of individuals make better choices, they will shift market shares so that companies have to do the right thing.  We finally found the synergism.  


Question: Does Earth Day accomplish anything?

Daniel Goleman: I don’t think that Earth Day per se has a really very great positive direct impact.  I think what it does is raise in the collective awareness like Christmas or Halloween, that we all ought to be doing something right now, we should regard something, we should pay attention something in a certain way.  And with that collective awareness, comes all kinds of activities that can, specifically, have great impact on people, you know.  You know, our city for Earth Day, we’re doing a clean up of the meadow that has all the plastic bags or whatever.  Those concrete hands-on acts have a lot of impact on people who get involved in them.  But Earth Day per se, I think, is not that interesting.