Daniel Goleman
Psychologist and Science Journalist

Daniel Goleman on the Environmental Impact of the New India and China

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The author laments the “mindless” way in which India is growing.

Daniel Goleman

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.


Question: What threats do China and India pose to the planet?

Daniel Goleman: Always, always.  If we don’t do something and China and India had in… keep going in the trajectories they’re going on, no matter what we do in terms of trying to get them to change is not going to help because they, now, are emerging economies.  As in India, India, I think, is maybe even better off than China now.  It continues to grow even in this economy because it was insulative banking crisis.  Its banks aren’t in trouble.  Its businesses aren’t in trouble.  And its economy is still growing.  But the economy is growing in a kind of mindless way, the way our economy grew.  When I say mindless, I mean unheedful of impacts on human health, on environment, and on the people who make our stuff.  And I think we can help them get on the right track by developing these radical transparency systems, using them, which will drive the supply chain, which, to a large extent, is in India, is in China so that they emit less pollutants, so that they release fewer toxins into the local environment.  I think that’s one way we, in the 1st world, can help the 3rd world.  But there’s another way, and that is as people in 3rd world become more and more well-off, then they become middle class, upper middle class, they become their own 1st world.  People who have a 1st world life don’t want their kids to have the shampoo with the toxin.  In other words, they will start to mimic what we’ve done particularly if we can give them a system to deliver the information.  They want the better stuff for their families and so they’ll start doing it themselves.