Big Think Interview With Josh Ritter
Josh Ritter:\r\nWell, I started playing music when I was really little. I started playing violin and I played\r\nthat for a really long time, 13 years. \r\nAnd it never felt like music to me really, until I—I never got that\r\nfeeling that I was playing music until I was putting on some of my parents' old\r\nrecords. They had a record player\r\nand they had all kinds of vinyl. \r\nAnd we lived far out of town, so you’d come home from school and not\r\nhave anything to do... except throw rocks. \r\nAnd I uncovered this record player one day and my brother helped me plug\r\nit in and I put on—they had all kinds of records, but the record that really\r\nstruck me was “Nashville Skyline,” Bob Dylan record with Johnny Cash. It was the first song; it was “Girl\r\nFrom the North Country.” And I\r\ndidn’t grow up around grunge, or punk, or anything like that, but that feeling\r\nthat that song gave me really made me—I think that’s the same feeling that I\r\nhad, was like this was suddenly kind of a door opened and I could go through it\r\nmyself.\r\n\r\n
Question: Why did you quit neuroscience in college to study music?
Josh Ritter: I\r\nguess it really, both of my parents are scientists and the talk around the\r\ndinner table was always about science and it was about the brain and it was\r\nabout whatever they were working on. \r\nAnd they would talk to each other and my brother and I kind of grew up\r\nin this world where "serotonin" was somebody down the block, you know. And to me, it was never a question that\r\nI would go into science. I took\r\naptitude tests and it said that I could be an undertaker or a plumber, or\r\nsomebody who worked in the woods. \r\nAnd that was it, forestry. \r\nAnd so I thought "That’s ridiculous. I’m going to be a scientist."
And then my chemistry teacher in high school said, “You’re\r\nnot going to be a scientist.” And\r\nI said, that’s totally ridiculous. \r\nI’m going to be a scientist. \r\nThat’s—what else is there. \r\nAnd I went to school for science and about halfway through I realized,\r\nman, I’m just not going to be a scientist. I’m not going to—it’s not happening. I was really in love with scientists. I was in love with the people who\r\nstudied science and was in love with the people who came up with the ideas and\r\nwith their lives and how they got interested in those things. And what were their breakthrough\r\nmoments, you know. Like how did\r\nWatson and Crick discover, like, the double helix... or these beautiful moments,\r\nthey always seem like incredible things.\r\n\r\n
And as I started to write songs, I started to realize that I\r\nhad those moments myself. And\r\neverybody who’s an artist, like a scientist is an artist; an artist is anybody\r\nwho has those moments and realizes them and so that’s how I kind of came to that\r\nrealization. I was studying for an\r\norganic chemistry test and I just—and it was a final and I just knew it wasn’t\r\nlooking good. And I left the\r\nscience library and I called my parents and I said, “I’m not going to be a\r\nscientist.” I’m going to be a musician. And they were great about it. They said, you know, we figured you\r\nwere never going to be a scientist.\r\n\r\n
Question: What advice\r\nwould you give to someone learning guitar?\r\n\r\n
Josh Ritter: Well, I think one of the great things about rock 'n' roll and guitar and the idea of America is that we all have our own unique voices, and I think that that’s something that we have very distinctively since we’ve become a country, that each one of us, our own opinions, are just as important as the next guy's down the street. And that’s the\r\nsame as guitar. Guitar is not, like,\r\nan instrument that is stuck in a canon, or stuck in a particular form. Blues is this continually evolving\r\nthing. Blues and jazz and rock and country... and to me, I guess coming out of playing violin, where you had to play\r\nthose things perfectly, you had to play the notes written on the page just as\r\nthey were written, or you were play wrong. It was such a freeing thing. And I’ve always embraced the idea that my own guitar playing\r\nis very distinctively my own, and whether it’s good or not is beside the\r\npoint. It’s just my own playing\r\nand it evolves, and in some ways it gets better, but it’s always just\r\nmine. And I always thought that\r\nwas cool.\r\n\r\n
So, I guess my advice in that way is to never—don’t hold\r\nyourself to whatever is on the page. \r\nAnd I feel that way about whenever you are playing someone else’s songs;\r\nmake it your own by playing it the way you would.\r\n\r\n
Question: What’s the\r\nsecret to successful songwriting?\r\n\r\n
Josh Ritter: I\r\nthink it’s not necessarily like the writing the song part, it’s the willingness\r\nto like just survive because it’s like, it’s really—to me I don’t know what I’d\r\ndo if I wasn’t doing this. And I\r\nfeel that it’s perseverance and it’s also self-confidence, and it’s like very\r\nfew things in my life I have confidence about like I have about\r\nsongwriting. And that doesn’t mean\r\nthat the song is necessarily good, it means that I think it’s good, and I feel\r\nlike I’ve come—and I’m willing to let the songs that aren’t very good go by the\r\nwayside because I know I’ll have a song that I do feel that kind of "Eureka!"\r\nfeeling about.\r\n\r\n
And so, from what I’ve seen in 10 years of playing music,\r\nit’s a complete mystery to me what somebody else is going to like. You know, the song that I think is just\r\na great song, or friends of mine who have like a great song, and never get out\r\nof their bedroom with it. That has\r\nnever made sense to me. And also,\r\nyou know, people who come out and are successful that I think, I don’t\r\nunderstand why. There’s no way to know\r\nthose things. So, I think that\r\neverybody starts out playing music because they love it and if you’re lucky you\r\nget the chance to keep on doing it because you love it, but I think that\r\nthat’s... I have no idea why. It’s a\r\nmystery.\r\n\r\n
Question: What mistakes\r\nor clichés do you try to avoid when writing songs?\r\n\r\n
Josh Ritter:\r\nWell, I think—I have lots of like, tics, that I think that—or lots of things\r\nthat bug me. I sort of think about\r\nit, it’s kind of like fashion. A\r\nsong has to feel good when you’re singing it. It has to feel like somebody will put on a suit. You have people that you know that put\r\non clothes and they look effortlessly good in them and it’s like, there was no\r\nwork. And whether or not that’s\r\nthe case, the fact is that you have to feel comfortable singing what you’re\r\nsinging and so some things that make me feel uncomfortable are rhymes that seem\r\na little too obvious. Rhymes that\r\nseem a little too—rhymes that are overused: “girl/world,” girl/world syndrome,\r\n“knife/strife,” “shelf/myself,” you know, I stay away from all of those. I don’t like autobiographical\r\nsongs. I don’t think that\r\nthey’re—and I don’t like autobiographical singing. I don’t want to think about the person singing the song on\r\nstage. Like I feel like the song\r\nis your chance to like—like a short story, or anything is a chance to live\r\ninside a character that’s been given to you. You are being given this character and then you can live\r\ninside it, not a chance to see inside somebody else’s private life. You know, I don’t like that, and I\r\ndon’t think it leads to very original songwriting. You know? Those are some things that bug me. And good songs, they’re just things that\r\nyou can sing in the car, on the way home without a guitar, that you can play\r\nyourself and learn how to do.\r\n\r\n
Question: Did you\r\nconsciously turn away from political songwriting after “The Animal Years”?\r\n\r\n
Josh Ritter: Well\r\nI guess I just didn’t think it was, like I thought about it a lot like a\r\nsurgery, you know, like there was something there that—I remember I was, with\r\n“Animal Years” I had just started—when I was writing that record, I had just\r\nstarted running, and I was running and running—I was back in Idaho and I would\r\ngo on these runs down these long gravel roads, and I remember sometimes just\r\ngetting so angry about nothing specific. \r\nJust free floating anger, and I felt like it was growing in me, and I\r\nfelt like “Animal Years” was about just cutting that out and getting it out. And then once that was out, I felt\r\nlike—I felt pretty expunged and purged of it. So, I didn’t think that was, it wasn’t like I was trying to\r\ngo out there and teach anybody a lesson, I wanted to go out and say what I\r\nfelt... which I felt “Animal Years” was kind of about religion and whatever a\r\nreligion is getting taken away from people, and used for kind of cynical\r\nends. And I thought that—but after\r\nthat I had no desire to tell people what to think. That’s one of my big pet peeves. Like most political songwriting I would say is just about\r\nteaching people like they’re children or like they had never had no experience\r\nwith the world on their own. People\r\nbelieve what they believe for a reason and I just think that music is the wrong\r\nplace to kind of teach somebody. \r\nEspecially because I don’t like artists who are—you’re a musician, you’re\r\nnot a political scientist, or... you know.\r\n\r\n
So, and then—going from that to “Conquest” just felt like it\r\nwasn’t so much that I wanted to stop writing political I just didn’t feel the\r\ndrive to do that at that time, you know. \r\nAnd it was just really fun, like “Conquest” was a lot about—I was\r\nworking with Sam Kassirer, my piano player, and my producer for this record as\r\nwell. And it was like I just did\r\nan experiment and it turned into this great fun game of recording, which was a\r\nhold new discovery, you know, getting to work with somebody who really got what\r\nI wanted.
Question: What did you\r\nset out to achieve in your new album that you hadn’t before?\r\n\r\n
Josh Ritter: I\r\nthink in a lot of ways, this was a real defining record for me, making it. I guess the major one is the fact that\r\nI turn 33 and I have six records out. \r\nAnd at the end of my last record, really I was touring a lot, and\r\ntouring and touring and I had a chance to do a lot of stuff. And kind of in the back of my mind\r\nwhile I was doing it, I was thinking, "What’s going to happen now? What am I going to write about, how am\r\nI going to keep from being just—how am I going to keep this new? How am I going to keep making new\r\nmusic?" And I was worried about it and it’s just, I wrote, and wrote and nothing\r\nseemed right. It felt like—it just\r\nfelt like I was repeating myself. \r\nIt’s like the Springsteen song, you know, “Same old story, same old\r\nact.” And I just always felt that\r\nI fought to get a career where I could play music and I could do that for the\r\nrest of my life. And I felt like\r\nwhen I got to that point, I suddenly felt like, "Do I have anything else to\r\nsay?" It’s sort of like, you’re\r\ncampaigning for an office and once you get there, you have no idea what to\r\ndo.\r\n\r\n
And I think that that’s dangerous and I feel like I’ve met\r\npeople who have decided that they’ve got to that point and then they’re just\r\ngoing to play their songs that people know, their hits, and that’s it; and they\r\nstop developing. And I didn’t want\r\nthat to happen, so I spent a lot of time just kind of chewing on my fingers and\r\nthen trying to make sure that, like, I could write some songs that actually meant\r\nsomething new. And out of that came eventually, out of a lot of working and\r\nstrife, life strife, I started working on some songs, one of which was called\r\n“The Curse,” and it started as just the idea of a mummy’s curse and what would\r\nhappen if the mummy and the archeologist fell in love. And it was like—you only need one song\r\nusually to get you going, you know, one song to make you feel like you could do\r\nthis again and you’re not as bad as you think you are at the moment, you know. And once that happens, the world kind of opens up.\r\n\r\n
Question: Do your international fans respond to your music differently?
Josh Ritter:\r\nWell, I think it’s kind of hard to say, but one thing I do feel like I do notice\r\nis that on a good night, it feels the same anywhere. And it has nothing to do with language. It’s like kind of amazing that you can\r\ngo, especially for somebody like me who’s pretty wordy in a song, I’m always\r\namazed that even in places like Italy where people shouldn’t be able to\r\nunderstand, and probably don’t understand everything I’m saying, they are just\r\nas—on a good night they are just as happy. And that’s funny. \r\nAnd I think that that’s really cool and it’s been a big surprise to\r\nme. But I guess that it should\r\nalways feel the same to me. It\r\nshould feel kind of sweaty and happy at the end of a show.\r\n\r\n
Question: How has the\r\nrelationship between musicians and fans changed in the Internet age?\r\n\r\n
Josh Ritter: Well, it’s 24 hours a day now, you know? In a lot of ways, it’s amazing, you can get\r\nthis—if you have a song and you want people to hear it, there’s no way to\r\nkeep—the world can hear it in the space of time it takes to upload it. You know? There’s so many people out there with music who want to be\r\nheard and who deserve to be heard. \r\nI think that with an audience like—I started with an audience and it’s\r\nbeen growing over the last 10 years, so I’d say that with me, I’ve been lucky\r\nthat I have an audience that I can keep up with in a number of ways. It’s also a matter of how much do you\r\nreally want to know about your favorite artist, or even your third favorite\r\nartist? You don’t want to hear\r\nabout it too much. You want to go\r\nto their show, you want to spend the night going to a show, maybe go get some\r\ndinner beforehand, or you want to listen to like three or four songs on a\r\nrecord. And you don’t need to hear\r\nfrom them every day about what’s going on. So, there’s that line to tread.\r\n\r\n
Same with like Twitter and all this—Twitter is another\r\nthing. You know, you don’t need to\r\nhave this constant connection all the time. I really think that playing a show is... a good show feels\r\nlike the length of time you stay at a party. You know when to go and you know when to leave, and like\r\ndon’t overstay your welcome. You\r\nknow? So I think that carries over\r\nin the digital world too. It’s\r\nconstantly evolving, but it’s—the end is still the same. It’s just being there a little bit.\r\n\r\n
Question: Where does folk\r\nmusic stand now as compared to the ‘60s?\r\n\r\n
Josh Ritter:\r\nWell, it’s, I think of folk music as anything you can sing in the car on the\r\nway home. That’s always been what\r\nI think of because that’s—so whether you’re coming back from a Fleetwood Mac\r\nreunion concert, or whether you’ve got Mississippi John Herd on, or you know,\r\nyou’ve got Gillian Welch, it doesn’t matter. Folk is such a marketing term, you know. And it’s not—it’s so hard to quantify\r\nor classify anymore. I don’t\r\nknow. I mean, I always thought\r\nthat what I was doing was rock n’ roll with lots of words because I get the\r\nfeeling when I’m playing that I’m not a part of any sort of—I feel like what\r\nI’m playing is rock n’ roll, although I don’t know why. And there’s no real reason to say that,\r\nbut I feel that the quietest music can be rock n’ roll—Beethoven is rock and\r\nroll. So, you now, it’s hard to\r\nsay.\r\n\r\n
But I would say that folk music is in the same boat with\r\neverybody now. You know, it’s like\r\nin a world where you can go on Facebook and hear millions of people playing\r\nmillions and millions of songs, and it’s hard to say what the community of\r\nmusic is anymore.\r\n\r\n
Question: Are you unhappy\r\nwith the turbulence of the music industry?\r\n\r\n
Josh Ritter: It’s\r\ngoing through lots of upheaval I guess, but it’s also funny, the people that\r\nare screaming the most about it are the ones who have the microphones. You know, if you are a major record\r\nlabel—and I’ve been a part of several—it must be awful because you have... you’re\r\nstill working on stuff that you love hopefully you love music and you got into\r\nit for that reason, and you’re losing the ability to do what you’re supposed to\r\ndo, which is sell music.\r\n\r\n
I mean, I could complain about that myself, but I don’t\r\nbecause it’s just, I think it’s not worth it and it’s also, you know, that’s\r\nthe way it is. Millions of people\r\nstill listen to the music, they may not pay for it, but they’re still\r\nlistening. And hopefully, like\r\nthere is still a way that they will keep coming to the shows. The shows are—I feel like, in the last\r\nfour or five years, the shows have gotten incredible. I’ve started to see so many more shows that I love because I\r\nthought the people were professional. \r\nThey’re doing it because they love it, and the show has to be good\r\nbecause that’s the only way now. \r\nPeople hear a song and it’s like an advertisement for the show, you\r\nknow.\r\n\r\n
Plus I think that it’s incredible still, you can be a part\r\nof somebody’s life for 3 ½ to 4 minutes. \r\nSo, I could—you know, it’s useless to complain about that stuff.\r\n\r\n
Question: Which artists\r\non the current music scene deserve greater visibility?\r\n\r\n
Josh Ritter:\r\nYeah, well that’s—I mean visible or invisible, I’d say like there’s still some\r\npeople that are doing it like incredibly well. You know, I think that Glen Hansard, both in The Frames and\r\nThe Swell Season, is one of the most amazing live shows I have ever seen. I think that my very impressive wife,\r\nDawn Landes, is amazing. And I\r\nlove seeing—Ray LaMontagne is incredible. \r\nI love seeing him play. \r\nGillian Welch is proof that you can do something with two people that’s\r\npretty life changing. And then\r\nthere’s just so, so much music happening right now that it’s hard to name them\r\nall.\r\n\r\n
Question: What made you\r\nwant to write a novel?\r\n\r\n
Josh Ritter: I\r\nreally have wanted to do it for a long time and I’ve started and I’ve worked on\r\na number of different things that were all just terrible. But I got this idea when I was working\r\non “So Runs the World Away,” and I had this idea as I started writing the song, and it was\r\nway too long a song. It was about\r\na guy who has an angel who tells him to do things. Not necessarily a guardian\r\nangel, but it was a long song, and it was pretty overwrought and I realized it\r\nneeded a lot more subtlety, more subtlety that I can get into a song. And so I\r\nstared writing and I wrote 1,000 words a day for 50 or 55 days and then I had\r\nthis big rough draft. And then\r\nafter that, it was just, you know, keep on going over it and over it. And it really is, it’s like you’re\r\nwriting a really long song. Every\r\nword kind of matters and if it doesn’t feel right you’ve got to work until it\r\ndoes. So, yeah, I’m very excited. It’s coming out next year.\r\n\r\n
Question: Which is\r\nharder, writing a novel or making an album?\r\n\r\n
\r\n\r\n Josh Ritter:\r\nWell, putting together an album is a group effort, you know? Luckily you have a number of people\r\nthat can help and everything from helping you to record it to—I write a song\r\nand I bring it to my band and I say, let’s like open this up and fiddle around\r\nwith it, and I’m so lucky to have that, people to help record it. But with a novel, it’s you’re kind of\r\ngoing across the page alone and there’s been times when that’s been really\r\ntremendous. It’s like running;\r\nit’s like a solitary thing. And\r\nother times, it’s just really terrifying.
Josh Ritter:\r\nWell, putting together an album is a group effort, you know? Luckily you have a number of people\r\nthat can help and everything from helping you to record it to—I write a song\r\nand I bring it to my band and I say, let’s like open this up and fiddle around\r\nwith it, and I’m so lucky to have that, people to help record it. But with a novel, it’s you’re kind of\r\ngoing across the page alone and there’s been times when that’s been really\r\ntremendous. It’s like running;\r\nit’s like a solitary thing. And\r\nother times, it’s just really terrifying.
[Josh Ritter plays]\r\n\r\n
Josh Ritter: This\r\nsong is called “Change of Time,” and it’s from “So Runs the World Away.”\r\n\r\n
I had a dream last night; I dreamt that I was swimming\r\n\r\n
And the stars up above, directionless and drifting\r\n\r\n
And somewhere in the dark were the sirens and the thunder\r\n\r\n
And around me as I swam, the drifters who’d gone under\r\n\r\n
Time love, time love, time love.\r\n\r\n
Time love, time love, time love, it’s only a change of\r\ntime.\r\n\r\n
I had a dream last night, and rusting far below me\r\n\r\n
Battered hulls and broken hardships\r\n\r\n
Leviathan and lonely\r\n\r\n
I was thirsty so I drank, and though it was salt water\r\n\r\n
There’s something about the way it tasted so familiar\r\n\r\n
Time love, time love, time love\r\n\r\n
Time love, time love, time love, it’s only a change of\r\ntime.\r\n\r\n
The black clouds I’m hanging, this anchor I’m dragging\r\n\r\n
The sails of memory rip open in silence\r\n\r\n
We cut through the lowlands, all hands through the saltlands\r\n\r\n
The whitecaps of memory, confusing and violent.\r\n\r\n
I had a dream last night, when I opened my eyes\r\n\r\n
Your shoulder blade, your spine were shorelines in the\r\nmoonlight\r\n\r\n
New worlds for the weak, new lands for the living\r\n\r\n
I could make it if I tried; I closed my eyes, I kept on\r\nswimming\r\n\r\n
Time love, time love, time love, it’s only a change of time\r\nlove\r\n\r\n
Time love, time love, it’s only a change of time love,\r\n\r\n
Time, time love it’s only a change of time love, time love,\r\n\r\n
It’s only a change of love—seas that carry me wherever I go\r\n\r\n
Rough seas, they carry me wherever I go,\r\n\r\n
Rough seas they carry me wherever I go,\r\n\r\n
Rough seas, they carry me wherever I go.
Recorded April 5, 2010
Interviewed by Austin \r\nAllen
A conversation with the singer, songwriter, and musician.
Tea and coffee have known health benefits, but now we know they can work together.
Credit: NIKOLAY OSMACHKO from Pexels
- A new study finds drinking large amounts of coffee and tea lowers the risk of death in some adults by nearly two thirds.
- This is the first study to suggest the known benefits of these drinks are additive.
- The findings are great, but only directly apply to certain people.
Maybe you should enjoy this article with a cup of coffee or tea.<p> The <a href="https://drc.bmj.com/content/8/1/e001252?T=AU" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> involved 4,923 type 2 diabetics living in Japan. The average participant was 66 years old. All of the participants were taken from the rolls of the Fukuoka Diabetes Registry, a study geared at learning about the effects of new treatments and lifestyle changes on the health of diabetics. <br> <br> The participants filled out questionnaires concerning their health, diet, habits, and other factors. Among the questions were two focused on determining how much green tea or coffee, if any, the participants consumed over the course of a week. The health of the participants was recorded for five years. During this time, 309 of the test subjects died from a variety of causes. <br> <br> Subjects who drank more than one cup of tea or coffee per day demonstrated lower odds of dying than those who had none. Those who consumed the most tea and coffee, more than four and two cups a day, respectively, enjoyed the most significant reductions in their risk of death. This level of consumption was associated with a 40 percent lower risk of <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201020190129.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">death</a>. </p><p>Most interestingly, the effects of drinking tea and coffee appear to combine to reduce risk even further. Those who reported drinking two or three cups of tea a day and two or more cups of coffee were 51 percent less likely to die during the study, while those who drank a whopping four or more cups of tea and two or more cups of coffee had a 63 percent lower risk of <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/diabetes-coffee-and-green-tea-might-reduce-death-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">death</a>. </p>
So, should I start swimming in a vat of coffee and green tea?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LY0E-JQxeoY" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Not quite. </p><p> The primary takeaway from this study is that Japanese adults with type 2 diabetes who drink a lot of green tea and/or coffee die less often than similar people who do not. If this effect is caused by something in the drink, lifestyle choices people who drink that much tea all make, or something else remains unknown. The finding must be considered an association at this point. <br> <br> The eye-popping reductions in mortality rates are compared to the risk of death of others in the study. The people who died reported drinking less tea and coffee than those who lived. Unless you have several demographic and conditional similarities to the subjects of this study, you probably won't suddenly be at a two-thirds lower risk of death than your peers because you drink green tea. </p><p> Like all studies that depend on self-reporting, it is also possible that people misstated how much they consumed any one item. The study also did not look into other factors like socioeconomic status or education level, also known to impact death rates and potentially linked to coffee and tea consumption. </p><p> However, it is yet another study in the pile that suggests that <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">coffee</a> and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">green tea</a> are good for you. That much is increasingly <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/health-benefits-linked-to-drinking-tea" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">agreed</a><a href="https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/health-benefits-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> upon</a>. This study also suggests the benefits are additive, which is a new development.</p><p><br> So, while it isn't time to start the IV drip of green tea, a cup or two probably won't <a href="https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20201022/coffee-green-tea-might-extend-life-for-folks-with-type-2-diabetes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hurt</a>. </p>
But most city dwellers weren't seeing the science — they were seeing something out of Blade Runner.
On Sept. 9, many West Coast residents looked out their windows and witnessed a post-apocalyptic landscape: silhouetted cars, buildings and people bathed in an overpowering orange light that looked like a jacked-up sunset.
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India finishes last of 60 countries in environment and sustainability, as ranked by the expats who work there.
- How 'green' is life in your work country?
- That's the question InterNations asked its network of expats.
- The United States ended 30th out of 60 countries.
Nordics on top<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2NjgyNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTczNzkyOX0.VgfqyjAa9avw6gFOE0qlgSgKuBN7DJmzOc5lzFGLm8g/img.jpg?width=980" id="1f0dc" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b27458cf472d26cf1f87cb91623a0621" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Evo Hiking Area, H\u00e4meenlinna, Finland." />
Evo Hiking Area in Hämeenlinna, Finland. Great nature, clean air, clean water? Check, check and check.
Credit: Kanta-Hämeen kuvapankki on Flickr/ Public Domain.<p><br><strong>1. Finland</strong></p><p>The Nordic country scores at or near the top in all categories surveyed, including the quality of the natural environment (say 96 percent of expats in Finland), water and sanitation (96 percent) and air (95 percent). <br></p><p><strong>2. Sweden</strong></p><p>Swedes lead the world in environmental awareness (84 percent versus just 48 percent globally). Perhaps not surprising, for the homeland of <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/greta-effect" target="_blank">Greta Thunberg</a>. This is reflected by government policy. Sweden currently gets more than 50 percent of its power from renewable sources and wants to go 100% renewable before 2040. "I've been here for over 20 years and I clearly see the benefits of my taxes paid coming back to me and the rest of society," says one American expat.<br></p><p><strong>3. Norway</strong></p><p>"The beautiful nature, the clean air and tap water, and the focus on the environment," are what one Ukrainian expat enjoys most about Norway. With 76 percent of expats happy with the availability of green goods and services, Norway's 'weakest' category is still 13 percentage points above the global average. <br></p><p><strong>4. Austria</strong></p><p>The first non-Nordic in the global ranking, Austria places in the Top 10 for each category and comes in first for the availability of green goods and services (90 percent). <br></p><p><strong>5. Switzerland</strong></p><p>Swiss nature is the most appreciated in the world (98 percent versus 83 percent on average). Switzerland also gets stellar results for air and water quality and the availability of green energy and green goods and services. </p><p><strong>6. Denmark</strong></p><p>Danes are very much into green causes, as is their government, say 83 percent resp. 84 percent of expats. "Organic food is readily available, and they are good with recycling," observes a South African expat. And they love cycling: 9 out of 10 Danes own a bike.</p><p><strong>7. New Zealand</strong></p><p>85 percent of expats agree that the New Zealand government takes green issues seriously. In fact, New Zealand plans to use 90 percent electricity from renewables by 2025. The country also scores high on the quality of its natural environment and all other categories – albeit slightly less on the quality of its water and sanitation.</p><p><strong>8. Germany</strong></p><p>"I enjoy the rising awareness about environmental issues and the alternatives the government and society are developing," says one Colombian expat. Indeed, 80 percent of expats agree the German government is pro-environment (versus 55 percent globally). <br></p><p><strong>9. Canada</strong></p><p>The only North American destination in the Top 10, thanks especially to expat appreciation of Canada's natural environment (96 percent), but also the quality of its water and sanitation (90 percet) and the availability of green goods and services (80 percent). <br></p><p><strong>10. Luxembourg</strong></p><p>"Access to nature for hiking and bicycling" is a definite boon for one American expat. In fact, the country's natural environment, although ranking 13th out of 60, is its lowest-rated subcategory. Luxembourg does even better when it comes to green energy, waste management, and the quality of its air and water.</p>
Taiwan, most sustainable destination in Asia<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2Njg1Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NzkxMDAxNH0.Roy7h_Od1cmaqBmamk-DP4rKMpLjTM-qIajG96alZAg/img.jpg?width=980" id="00799" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dab52370e1edb5da5ebb0f5631027b1c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bEternal Spring Shrine in the Taroko Gorge, Hualien County, Taiwan." />
Eternal Spring Shrine in the Taroko Gorge, Hualien County. Outside of Taipei, Taiwan can be surprisingly green and beautiful.
Credit: Zairon, CC BY-SA 4.0<p><strong>11. Taiwan</strong></p><p>The highest-scoring expat destination in Asia, Taiwan boasts 92 percent approval of its waste management and recycling, and 80 percent of the availability of green goods and services. But "the air pollution (in Taipei) is getting worse because it is too crowded," one expat complains.</p><p><strong>12. Netherlands</strong></p><p>Green goods and services are widely available, agree 82 percen of expats, as is green energy. However, 13 percent rate the Dutch environment negatively, 4 percet above the global average. <br></p><p><strong>13. Portugal</strong></p><p>Well ahead of its neighbor Spain (#20), the country scores high for air quality (91 percent) and natural environment (95 percent). "I like the opportunity for gardening and growing our own food," says one expat. <br></p><p><strong>14. Estonia</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Estonia scores in the Top 20 for every category and gets its highest marks for its natural environment. "A beautiful country with excellent air quality and open spaces," praises an Indian expat.<br></p><p><strong>15. Costa Rica</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Both the government and the people are very supportive of green policies, find 82 percent, resp. 67 percent of expats. "It's easy to live a healthy lifestyle with regard to the food, climate, clean air and water," says one. Costa Rica won the 2019 UN Champion of the Earth award and has pledged to go carbon neutral by 2050.<br></p><p><strong>16. Czechia</strong></p><p><strong></strong>"The beauty of the environment" is one of the best things about living in Czechia, says a Russian expat. No less than 97 percent of expats agree.<br></p><p><strong>17. France</strong></p><p><strong></strong>77 percent of expats are happy about the availability of green goods and services in France, which is 14 percentage points above average. The country also scores well for waste management and recycling. In short, France has a "good, green and clean environment," one Iranian expat finds. <strong><br></strong></p><p><strong>18. Australia</strong></p><p><strong></strong>While ranking high on the quality of its nature, water and air, Australia scores low when it comes to government support for green issues (51 percent). Fortunately, expats see more interest among the general population (68 percent). </p><p><strong>19. Singapore</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Expats rate the government's interest in green issues higher than globally average (77 percent versus 55 percent), but the Singaporean public's engagement for the same less than average (40 percent versus 48 percent). Of course, in a small, crowded place like Singapore, "(nature) spots are limited."<br></p><p><strong>20. Spain</strong></p><p>Spain's "scenery, diversity of places to visit and healthier environment" are what rate highly with one British expat. Its weak point is governmental and public support for green issues – but still slightly above the global average. <br></p>
London is "polluted and noisy"<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2Njg4Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDg3NjkyOH0.3ySSD7jFBfAWA07u-EN-oL9x9cq9FZn06iz5aV0hEOw/img.jpg?width=980" id="f5630" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="80c9fa119e7ff3acc91e027b7529bfed" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bEven at 2:30pm, London gets clogged." />
Afternoon traffic jam in London.
World map for the 'sustainable expat'<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2Njg5MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMzAyNjQ2MH0.hjRiMDmOSnn9EvKJtx_tlzql3Gf7ph8lt8bL6dPCft4/img.png?width=980" id="def5d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="149be2f5a19cc625cb555d8078f62ce2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The best & worst destiations for the sustainable expat" />
Sixty expat destinations ranked for sustainability, from best (orange) to worst (light blue). In between: fairly okay (brown), middling (grey) and not that great (dark blue).
South Korea's "rather horrible" air<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2NjkxNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MTY1MjIwNn0.2e6eBIc38sAZLFQGKw4UL3-SY3hA9NthX0Uj9L4ibZA/img.jpg?width=980" id="c10db" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cba918e6e5455c2e5ff4f9d5caf54775" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bSmoggy Seoul" />
Seoul's air quality is so bad you can picture it. Only India's air is perceived as worse than South Korea's, according to the expat survey.
Bad, worse, India<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2Njk0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTcyMTczMH0.Pt2bGDrpSKSwVjimMK_iK0Jejpu8ILn77VEzHTdzQQ4/img.jpg?width=980" id="28411" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8b8b602261a168a46b05c53e09ab1b02" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="man standing surrounded by garbage" />
India scores worst in all three categories, but to be fair – some of its problems were imported from more developed countries.