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Key Takeaways From The Un Report On The Climate Crisis; Using Nature To Combat Climate Change; A World Without Email? Interview with Cal New Port; Interview with Van Jones. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired August 09, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNNI HOST: Hello everyone and welcome to Amanpour. Here's what's coming up.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My change is accelerating quite fast, actually now.
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): Code Red for humanity that blistering warning from the UN, climate change is widespread, intensifying, and caused by us. Then
what can we do? I'll speak to the landscape architect using nature to help shield our coastal cities.
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CAL NEWPORT, AUTHOR: If we end up having to check an inbox or chat once every six minutes, which is actually just about average right now, our
brains basically melt down
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): A world without e-mail? Author and Professor Cal Newport wants freedom from the tyranny of the inbox.
And finally, Prince's prophetic album, I asked his close friend Van Jones, why release it now? And what does it say a decade after recording?
Welcome to the program everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Global warming is happening faster than we previously thought. No corner of the Earth is unaffected, and we are to blame. That is from the UN in a
landmark report with strong words from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the alarm bells are deafening and the evidence is irrefutable. Greenhouse
gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.
And even if we wanted to ignore it, we cannot. Wildfires are raging right now in California and Siberia. Apocalyptic scenes in Greece with thousands
of people forced to flee burning infernos.
Also this summer, a deadly heatwave in Canada, fatal floods in Germany and China, drought in central Brazil, these extreme weather events have been
intensifying for years. The next and some say the last chance to get the world to pay attention and to keep to their commitments will come at the UN
Climate Summit in November.
Alok Sharma, will host the COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. And it will be led, as I said, by the climate chief and president who's joining me now in
Alok Sharma, welcome to the program. Thank you for joining us on this pretty, I mean, let me say apocalyptic day, and really quite, quite
I guess I just want to ask you, do you agree first with the dire warnings from the IPCC? And do you think we're heading into the catastrophe that
they are predicting?
ALOK SHARMA, PRESIDENT, 26TH UN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: Well, thank you very much for having me on the program. The report that the IPCC has put
out is obviously hugely comprehensive, and it is based on the science and the science is very clear. Exactly, as you said, in your introduction, it
is humanity, which is responsible for the climate change that we're seeing around the world.
What the report does conclude that there is still a window open, the door is still slightly ajar in terms of us taking the actions to avoid the worst
impacts of climate change. But I'm afraid that door is going to close pretty soon unless we take action now. And that's why as part of the work
that my team and I are doing on COP26, we are asking every country to come forward with ambitious emissions reduction targets, and also then follow
that through with action as well.
AMANPOUR: So that's where it gets, you know, where the sort of rubber meets the road, doesn't it? There's promises and there's action. I spoke to John
Kerry, former Secretary of State now climate czar under the Biden administration. He obviously as you know, organize the US and part of the
COP25 in Paris. This is what he said to me about promises. Let's just -- let's just listen.
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JOHN KERRY, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY ON CLIMATE CHANGE: We're not on a track. Even if we did everything that we promised to do all of us in Paris, we
still would have a rise in the Earth's temperature that is unacceptable, somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 degrees. That's catastrophic. So we obviously
have to accelerate. And the Paris Agreement contemplated that countries would come together several years down the road and make a judgment about
where we are and then raise ambition. So Glasgow is definitively about raising ambition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR So Alok Sharma, you know, it was there laid it out all these countries, you know, 196 or so signed on, now you have to corral them into
actually meeting these promises. And I guess that's where many of us, you know, we sort of despair. If you can't get, you know, China and India who
still believe in coal, or Russia and Australia and Saudi Arabia and all the rest of it, who are busy pouring out fossil fuels.
What is it that you can say to them at this point, to get them to meet these promises and pledges for basic, you know, human survival?
SHARMA: Well, Glasgow, of course, is about raising the ambition bar. And it's the first piece in the in the ratchet mechanism that was set in place
in the Paris Agreement. Now, if you if you look Christiane, when the UK took on the COP26 presidency, less than 30%, of the global economy was
covered by a net zero commitment.
We're now at 70%. So that is progress. But of course, we need all countries to step forward with that net zero commitment by the middle of the century.
If you look at the G7 nations, for the first time ever, we have every G7 country with ambitious plans to cut emissions by 2030, on a trajectory to
net zero by 2050. That is progress.
But of course, you're right, we need every country to come forward, particularly those G20 nations that have not yet come forward with more
ambitious plans to cut emissions. And that's what we're doing right now is talking to them. I can tell you from the conversations that I'm having is
that every country does recognize that climate change is not just real, but it's affecting their populations as well. And there is a very clear
understanding that climate change doesn't recognize borders. And that's why they all need to step up.
We've, of course, before COP26, we've got the UN General Assembly in September, we've got the G20 leaders event taking place in October. Those
are again, occasions were countries that have not yet come forward with ambitious commitments to step forward and to do so.
And indeed, what's also going to be really important as part of this is to support developing nations as well. Back in 2009, developed countries made
a commitment that from 2020 to 2025. Every year $100 billion would be mobilized to support developing economies. We're not there yet.
We've seen some, some new financing money that has come forward at the end of the G7 leaders meeting from Germany, from Canada, from Japan, but we
need every G7 nation, we need all the donors to come forward and step up so that we can provide support for developing countries as they look to make
clean energy transition and indeed adapt the climate change that we're already seeing around the world.
AMANPOUR: So, look there are two issues there that I'd like to bring out. One is climate change, by and large does not happen just by itself. This is
the first major report that said unequivocally it's happening because of us. So you say all countries, presumably yours as well, presumably the UK.
And we know that there are plans now to tap in your field of Shetland. And the British government also says more oil and gas wells will be drilled or
can be drilled in the North Sea. And plans for a new coal mine in Cumbria. It doesn't make sense.
SHARMA: Well, just to say if you look at the UK, I think I can tell you from the conversations that I have with governments and parties around the
world is the UK is recognized as a country which has been able to demonstrate green growth. Over the last 30 years we have grown our economy
by almost 80% and yet cut emissions by over 40%. I was just talking to you about the G20 nations is important they all step forward. But if you look
since the year 2000, the UK economy has been the fastest decarbonizing of all the G20 nations.
So of course, it's important for us to lead we've been showing that. And pacifically on the issues you've raised about coal mines. What I'd say to
you is that there is of course a public inquiry that's going to take place in that and people will have a chance to set out their views.
But on the broader issue of coal, we have effectively almost eliminated coal from our electricity mix. And we have gone from around 40% of our
electricity coming from coal power just in 2012 to less than 2% now and we will have no more coal in our electricity mix from 2024. The reason because
we've been able to do this is because we have built the off -- the largest offshore wind sector in the world which we are looking to quadruple.
And I think just to address your issue on oil and gas that you were making reference to the Camber oil field. This is a -- an existing license. And
there has been a public consultation we'll see what the oil and gas authority come forward with. But in terms of enter any future licensing, we
have been very clear as a government that there will be a climate compatibility checkpoint, we will ensure that, you know, any future
licenses are judged against our legal commitment that we will be net zero by 2050 in our economy.
AMANPOUR: You know, obviously, you know very well, Michael Mann, he was one of the lead authors of the 2001 IPCC report. He said today, bottom line is
that we have zero years left to avoid dangerous climate change, because it's here. And what I don't fully understand is that our civilization has
shown itself able to adapt to so many challenges since the Industrial Age before and since.
What is it that let's say, fossil fuel giants, or the others don't get about the fact that it could be a massive economic boom, to go into green
technology and all the other things that would hopefully try to save us from this catastrophe that we seem to barreling towards? What -- where is
the failure either from government, which has to hold them to account or any other areas to get them to rethink their economies?
SHARMA: Well, actually, I mean, I think we are at an inflection point where you are hearing the same message from many governments, businesses and
(INAUDIBLE) around the world that we have to tackle climate change now. And when I talk to the business community around the world, they do understand
that actually, investing in green growth is a huge investment opportunity. In fact, investing in the green industrial revolution is the biggest
investment opportunity since the original Industrial Revolution. That is very clearly understood.
We are with the UN working on a campaign called Race To Zero, where non- state factors, many of them businesses are committing to go to net zero by 2050. And that there is a big move in that direction. We're also ensuring
that we get the private sector finance commitments as well. So we have a campaign called GFANZ, which is the Global Financial Alliance For Net Zero,
the Glasgow Financial Alliance With Net Zero, we've got over $80 trillion worth of assets that have committed to go to net zero by 2050. So there is
And in terms of the move to a clean energy transition, you are seeing that across the world, we needed to accelerate. I mean, let's take coal as an
example, because you raised that in an earlier on in this conversation. The reality is that private sector investors are increasingly wary about
investing in coal assets, in coal power plants, because they can see that on a 10, 15 year view, they're going to end up with stranded assets.
So the market is moving. But of course, what we need to do is to help countries, particularly developing nations, to accelerate a lot faster in
terms of their clean energy transition.
AMANPOUR: So in your diplomacy that you're having right now with, you know, China, India, and all the others, do you have any hope, realistic hope that
they will do what they need, they are committed to coal, that building new coal plants, you know, that they don't seem to be really pulling back like
they need to and their major polluters?
SHARMA: Well, I think in terms of China, first, you know, President Xi Jinping has committed that China will be net zero by 2060, that the
emission is peaking will come by 2030. I think if you look at some of the analysis that's out there suggests that China is likely peak emissions
before 2030. And when it comes to the issue of coal, you may well have seen back in May that the Industrial Commercial Bank of China, which I think by
assets is where the largest bank in the world has said that they're looking at a roadmap to pull out of International co-financing. So you are seeing
But, you know, in China as with every other country, it's important that there are those top line commitments, but we also need to see the detail
policy that goes with it. And that's what I'm pressing colleagues in Beijing on.
In terms of India, India's made a big, big commitment in terms of 450 gigawatts of renewables by 2030. I mean, that really is a big, big
commitment. And of course, what we want to see is that those policy commitments are reflected in the emission reduction targets that they set
AMANPOUR: Well, will -- you have your work cut out for us and for all of us. Alok Sharma, thank you very much indeed for joining us tonight.
Rising sea levels will put our coastal towns and cities and communities as serious risk as well. Just last week, experts warned that Lagos in Nigeria,
home to 24 million people could be unlivable by the end of the century, thanks to extreme flooding and rising water. So what is the solution?
Kate Orff is a landscape architect trying to find one. She told The New Yorker, we have to hit the reset button if we want nature to come back.
There is no more natural nature. Now, it's a matter of design, she says. So what does she mean? We're going to ask her Kate Orff joins me from New
York. And welcome to the program.
Kate all of those seem to be pretty difficult sentences to understand and internalize. There's no more natural nature. What does that mean?
KATE ORFF, LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Well, I guess in this last century, when we've built an economy based on the extraction of fossil fuels and the
decimation of our natural landscapes, we have a fate -- we're facing now a climate change future with more fires, more intense storms, rising sea
levels, river and flooding. And we've also at that same time lost this sort of protective benefit of the wetlands, forests, coral reefs, oyster, reefs,
mangroves, all of these systems that once protected us.
So, in my view, and I'm really in the adaptation space here, in my view, it's really time for a broad investment in the natural systems and the
landscapes that can sustain us and anticipate these risks of a future.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, living in Manhattan in the New York area, you're living on very low lying territory there. And you have designed a whole
sort of ecosystem around status at Staten Island. So living breakwaters, and you've kindly provided us some pictures. So I'm going to ask you to
walk us through what looks like a really interesting project.
So, what is it you you've designed reef streets to be submerged? Tell us about this first picture.
ORFF: Right. Well, you know, as your viewers probably will remember, the New York Region, New Jersey region was hit incredibly hard by Superstorm
Sandy in 2012. And so, this project Living Breakwaters was a kind of an investment in innovative infrastructure, how can we just not build back as
we were before, but how can we look to the future and anticipate the landscapes that we need for the whole, you know, litany of risks that we'll
So the Living Breakwaters project, which is in Raritan Bay, and just off the shore of Tottenville Staten Island is essentially a half mile linear
necklace of breakwaters, near shore breakwaters that are constructed from a combination of concrete and ecological units. And what they do is they calm
the water they, they sort of rebuild on shore beaches, they reduce erosion. And they kind of bring back that protective layered ecosystem of reefs and
beaches that once really characterize the coastal protection of our region.
But more than just that physical project, though, the Breakwaters project is also an ecological pilot of reviving the historic ecosystems that once
characterized our region, robust fish, and mosaic of fish habitat and mosaic of underwater habitat and oyster reefs that really kind of helped to
clean and calm the water here.
And it's also a social project or a community building project, if you will, that involves citizen science, that involves sort of oyster
education, science based education. So, it's really a combination of, you know, physical risk reduction in the breakwaters, but really thinking about
rebuilding this ecosystem that we've lost and integrating people into the process.
And so, it's really trying to look in a forward looking and holistic way about what do we need to be doing to adapt to our changing climate in the
AMANPOUR: And about this one, you've said it can mitigate surges during storms, but also, you know, I think inquiring minds want to know why
ORFF: Well, why oysters, is a great question. First of all, I see oysters as first are sort of environmental engineering partners. Oysters can clean
and filter the water. They can kind of agglomerate on these breakwater structures and help reduce the wave action and slow the water. But just to
be very clear, you know, a big part of climate adaptation is motivating people to act.
You know, your first guest and in your first segment, were talking about the emotions that we feel as after reading this IPCC report. Meaning these
emotions range from fear and sadness and frustration, but one emotion that I refuse to dig into is despair, because we have created these challenges,
but we have the imagination, and we have the will to break through these challenges.
So, in short, the oysters component of this project and the sort of active seeding of the reef and the outreach to schoolchildren, the science based
education, this is really a tool for community engagement and for participation, and really is a way to kind of bring people into a larger
discussion about the risks in their immediate environment. And, frankly, the pleasures and that the future program and a vision that the kind of
bring people together to make change in their immediate neighborhood in their environment.
AMANPOUR: So actually, you brought up the notion of hope. And I wanted to read this quote that I might have paid my last guest, but I didn't. It's
from, it's from Dr. Kate Marvel, who's a climate science at NASA. She says, as a climate scientist, I'd like you to know, I don't have hope, I have
something better certainty. We know exactly what's causing climate change, we can absolutely one, avoid the worst, and two build a better world in the
So, that is really something important to focus on a day like this with that terrible report that's just come out. What, you know, you also work
and have colleagues in the same business, if you like, the same efforts around the world, what are you seeing that it's being translated from your
landscape architecture in this regard, perhaps around the world?
ORFF: Yes. Well, I see this, not only just the reef system that I just described as being something that's replicable, but it's really this entire
idea of community engagement, ecological rebuilding and investment in nature based infrastructure and risk reduction. It's that combination of
elements that I see, to be highly replicable around the world. And I also teach urban design at Columbia University. And Kate Marvel is my colleague
But what I've seen around in global cities around the world is that this kind of sort of combination of factors could be applied in so many places,
to bring people a greater awareness of global cities, climate change, and the impacts of that we will be anticipating and what we are seeing now. For
example, in Kolkata, you know, mega city in India, that is experiencing or at now and is slated to experience ex -- kind of extreme inundation.
You could imagine mangrove replanting in the Sundarbans wetlands, in Vietnam, in places around the world, you can imagine an infrastructure,
which is really driven by ecology and people kind of coming to the foreground, and really helping people understand the risk, adapt to their
risk and sort of have a role in sort of mitigating that risk for their communities.
AMANPOUR: And closer to home, of course, it's really relevant now at all times, you know, communities of color, are disproportionately affect
affected by the worst aspects of climate change, certainly in the United States and elsewhere. And you have a project about bridging divides, we
have two beautiful pictures, and I want you to talk, talk me through them.
But you raise this question, can we do with landscape what we cannot do with political ideology or the internet? Can we mend things ecologically,
and also repair the social world? You obviously think yes. Tell us how.
ORFF: Well it's a tall order, but I think we have to try. So we have a project in the Atlanta Metro region called the Chattahoochee River lands
and it's 100-linear mile, blue way and greenway that is advancing kind of non-motorized transit, that's really investing in river access and
communities of color and places that have been traditionally underserved by investment and infrastructure. We're also helping to rebuild the sort of
shoreline and river and ecologies along the Chattahoochee.
And it's just a project that is, I think it's a project that kind of talks to the future and the investments and infrastructure that we need to be
making in the American context. We have a bipartisan infrastructure bill being discussed right now. Let's not spend our money on just widening
highways. Let's think about the projects that will connect us literally physically, like in the case of the Chattahoochee River lands through
bikeways and greenways that will help rebuild our ecosystems.
And another example is a project in Memphis called Tom Lee Park, which is just 130-acre stretch of parklands, near downtown Memphis. But it's really
conceived of as part of a network of parks that kind of knit the city back together and sort of hit the reset button on its relationship with the
These are the kinds of projects that are not going to solve climate change, we truly need to decarbonizes our economy to hit that. But as we see from
IPCC, that warming, and that changes are baked in. So we must adapt. So let's adapt and have a very forward looking visionary stance. And let's
think about rebuilding our infrastructure -- our community infrastructure, rebuild our communities and rebuild the ecosystems that have sustained us
for so long. It's time to do that now.
AMANPOUR: So do you think then that New Yorker article, which called one of your oyster ideas hokey at the time, that you're having the last laugh or
the last piece of, you know, climate responsibility?
ORFF: Well, I, as I said in the New Yorker piece, it certainly was motivated in 2010 to have the initiative dismissed like that. But my
response was like this is already happening, that there is a community upwelling and a community uprising, in terms of a desire to reconnect with
our water bodies, to develop in a more sustainable and resilient way, to integrate the restoration of our, our waterways and our environment.
So, I found that comment to be very motivating, but we're going into construction for the Living Breakwaters project in two weeks, so I feel
like having that groundbreaking or water breaking in two weeks time, I will feel very satisfied.
AMANPOUR: Vindicated and it was my mistake, it was a New York Times critic who said it not the New Yorker. Kate Orff, thank you so much, and good
Now, how many e-mails have you received today? And are you on multiple WhatsApp groups? Do you feel sometimes like your brain is in meltdown,
trying to cope with it all? Our next guest wants us to radically change the way we communicate in the workplace.
Author Cal Newport takes Hari Sreenivasan on a journey now through a world without e-mail.
HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS JOURNALIST: Christiane, thanks. Cal Newport, thank you for joining us.
NEWPORT: My pleasure.
SREENIVASAN: Let's start with the big basic question. A world without e- mail. Why?
NEWPORT: Well, I'm using a shorthand when I say a world without e-mail, what I really mean is a world without the style of collaboration that email
made possible, which I call the hyperactive hive mind. And it's an approach to work in which we figure most things out on the fly with back and forth
ad hoc messaging. My argument is that this approach to collaboration has been both a productivity disaster, but also a psychological disaster for
SREENIVASAN: OK, let's break that down a little bit, the productivity disaster part why?
NEWPORT: So if we're working most things out ad hoc, on the fly with messaging, what happens is we end up with many different asynchronous back
and forth conversations happening at the same time, we cannot let them linger too much. If we delay too long answering one of these conversations,
things get slowed down. So we have to check inboxes or slack or teams or whatever tool we're using to communicate, we have to check it all the time.
That's a disaster because our brains can't context switch that much.
If we end up having to check an inbox or chat once every six minutes, which is actually just about average right now. Our brains basically melt down,
it takes us 10 or 15 minutes in reality to completely change our focus from one thing to another. So it puts us in this persistent state of self-
imposed reduced cognitive capacity were quite literally making ourselves dumber accidentally by working this way.
SREENIVASAN: What is good and what is bad about sort of collaborative problem solving? And why is it twisted in this way, where what is negative
about the hyperactive hive mind?
NEWPORT: If the unscheduled nature of the communication, so let's say for example, which is typical, I have something like two dozen different back
and forth asynchronous interactions happening via e-mail over here, we're trying to schedule a meeting for our client over here, we're trying to edit
a deck over here, we're trying to figure out a new strategy theme or something like this.
Each one of these has messages coming back and forth on schedule. I sent a message at some point someone will respond to it. I can't really ignore
these messages, right, because we have to figure out the client meeting date by the end of the day because he's coming tomorrow, right?
NEWPORT: So I have to keep checking these inboxes to wait for the next message to come in so I can send it back. Now if we scale these over two
dozen different conversations, now I constantly have to scale it.
If you want to do let's say collaboration with a group on something, put aside time, get the people together and do group collaboration. That's
fantastic you'll get you'll get a lot done, but it's scheduled, right? You know when that work is happening and you're giving it your full attention
when you can.
The thing we have to avoid is the need to always be checking because we never know when that next message is going come. But when it does, we have
to answer it right away.
SREENIVASAN: Is some of this action and reaction that we take in the workplace reply, reply all performative? I mean, are we doing this because
we think it's sort of like the equivalent of making sure the boss sees that I'm working?
NEWPORT: There is a performative aspect of the hyperactive hive mind. If this is the main way work happens, it opens the door to the sort of
performative signaling of activity, which comes with, I think, lots of issues. But one thing I like to emphasize is that it is not entirely
performative because sometimes I'll get the reaction to this that says, no, no, if we could just change the norms or we could get people to have better
expectations or we could get people to send smarter e-mails we'd be fine. My argument is we cannot solve the problem by repairing our relationship
through our inboxes.
We actually have to stop those inboxes from getting so full in the first place, and that means changing underapplying processes. We don't just send
e-mails to schedule client meetings. We use this system. We don't just rock and roll on slack when trying to come up with a new theme for our marketing
campaign. It is Monday mornings, from 9:00 to 9:30 and we do it in whatever this conference room and it is highly structured and you have to write the
memo the weekend before so we can all read it. We have to actually replace the hive mind with a specific alternative.
SREENIVASAN: This is a multibillion-dollar industry, trying to figure how to get offices to communicate efficiently. You have got so many different
players in it, right? You have got Microsoft, the people who made e-mail ubiquitous through their office application. You've got Slack, which is
kind of an instant messaging. Microsoft has Teams. You know, there are so many different ways to do it.
What are they getting wrong? What are they missing? Because they seem to be going after e-mail saying, well, e-mail wasn't so efficient but chatting
almost like texting back and forth is. Does that solve anything?
NEWPORT: Well, here is what happens. So, we fell into this hyperactive hive mind workflow basically by default. Once we started working this way,
we realized there are shortcomings with e-mail as a tool if the way we're going to collaborate is back and forth ad hoc messages. So, we invented new
tools like Slack, like Teams that basically implemented the hyperactive hive mind better.
I think that's why people have a love/hate relationships with these tools. On the one hand, this is the way you are going collaborate. It is a
smoother tool for doing so, on the other hand, we keep this way of collaborating. So, I think, a lot of people right now has been, OK, I guess
we'll just stipulate that this constant back and forth ad hoc messaging is how we're going work, and once we do that we can say, what's the best tool,
and sure, Slack is probably better than an old e-mail client, then that's what you're going to do.
But my argument is that that way of collaboration itself is causing a lot of trouble. We need to think much bigger. Not how do we do this faster but
how do we replace this whole way of collaborating altogether.
SREENIVASAN: You know, this conversation is more around today because we are facing the potential of a remote working environment being extended out
into longer futures. Depending on the industry, depending on what city you work in, depending on what kind of company you work in, people are
rethinking, well, what is the best way for an employee to work? And then, what are the tools that can make that happen?
Well, ultimately, there have been many people who have researched what the mix should be. What did you find when you were writing this book?
NEWPORT: Well, some of it became clear is that the hyperactive hive mind is not very compatible with fully remote work. That if you look at
knowledge sector companies that are relatively successful with remote work, what you tend to find, the unifying factor is they have much more
structured approaches how they collaborate, how they keep track of who is working on what, how they communicate about the work, how much work do you
think anyone should have on their plate at the same time.
In the absence of that structure when everyone is remote and everything is abstractions, you're just a slack handle or e-mail address and
communication is just flying back and forth and Zoom invites are just flying back and forth, things spiral out of control. And I think a lot of
people experience that over the last year and a half, a lot of knowledge workers found themselves in back-to-back-to-back-to-back Zoom trying to do
e-mail and Teams chats simultaneously and getting basically no actual work done. Remote work requires structure. I think there is no way around that.
SREENIVASAN: So, give me an example of some good behaviors and good structures and infrastructures that companies have put into place. What
should we be doing to try to not just maximize productivity but, you know, just be sane and humane with each other?
NEWPORT: Well, one example of a sector within knowledge work that has traditionally had lot of success with remote work, for example, is software
development. And why is this? Because they have already put in place usually pretty structured modes of collaboration.
Most of these shops, they're using what are known as Agile Project Management Methodologies. They have a shared board where every task is
listed, you know who is working on what. They have a highly structured morning meeting where all of the communication about the work happens. They
actually care about how much stuff is on your plate at the same time. This is an example of a type of work in which they can go remote or not remote
without much issues.
Another example I found in my research are these so-called ROWE companies, R-O-W-E which stands for Results Only Work Environment. And these are
companies that have really changed their cultures so that it's results oriented, when you work, where you work, how you work is made less
important, you just clearly identify, here's what I'm working on, here is when I'm going the get it done, here's when we need to communicate to get
These high structured environments also don't have the same issues of constant e-mail overflow. And during the pandemic, they went remote and
back and remote with basically no issued at all.
SREENIVASAN: You talk a little bit in the book and other place about deep work. What does deep work mean and what do we need to do to create an
environment for ourselves where we can execute that way?
NEWPORT: The deep work is where you are able to focus on something that is cognitively demanding without context shifting. So, you can give it your
full attention without having to check an inbox every five minutes, without having to look at Slack, without having to glance at your phone. When you
are in a state of deep work, where you're actually giving something your full unbroken concentration, you get a lot more out of your brain than when
you are not, when you're half attention, when you're half context shifting.
And one of the arguments I made in the book I wrote about deep work, it was eponymously called "Deep Work," is that this is an incredibly valuable
activity especially in the knowledge economy. We should be prioritizing and supporting it but we don't and it is almost impossible. And why is that
impossible? Because of the hyperactive hive mind demands that we constantly check all these inboxes.
SREENIVASAN: You know, when you talk about deep work I want to ask if that's something that is a luxury. You know, I remember reading a long time
ago Marc Andreessen said that he would only check e-mail twice a day. I'm like, wow. That must be nice. I mean, you're are the CEO. You are the boss,
at the time, Netscape, right? You can afford do that. But all of your subordinates or people who report to you, they can't afford do that, or if
I'm the end level -- lowest level person in an organization, I can't afford not to be on e-mail because my boss might ask me something, right, or some
other colleague might?
NEWPORT: Let's say you are in an administrative assistant style support role, well, you are not spending four hours at a time working on one thing,
your task preventing to be smaller, but we would like to set things up so you could do one thing at a time and not have to be constantly servicing
Slack and e-mail and switching your context back and forth.
Now, let's say you were a computer programmer, the one thing you were doing at a time might be writing a tricky algorithm, so to do one thing at a time
might mean hours of work in a row before you move on to something else. And so, those durations differ but regardless of the job. But regardless of the
job, I think human neuroscience is pretty clear, humans do best when they do one thing at a time.
SREENIVASAN: Is there something changing about how we perceive our relationship to work? I mean, for a lot of people, the pandemic forced them
to see the things that they had compromised and sacrificed in order to go to the office. And all of a sudden having, perhaps, this is again white-
collar workers who are privileged enough to take this time to do this, they were starting to reflect on why am I doing this? And we have also a kind of
generational difference here in how younger people perceive their relationship to work than older people.
NEWPORT: I think there is definitely a disruption occurring, I think definitely the pandemic is pushing it. When you look at sort of knowledge
workers, kind of like generically educated knowledge workers, so workers who can do many different types of jobs, not someone who is trained in one
very specific skill, we're seeing a shuffling and downsizing seems to be happening.
The shuffling is people changing locations and jobs, maybe even just for novelty or variety. And the downsizing is people actually literally
reducing the footprint of paid employment in their life. Maybe if I lived somewhere cheaper, I don't have to work as hard at any job.
I think knowledge work in particular is really susceptible to these types of disruptions because unlike other types of labor it is very ambiguous.
You know, we're in an office and there is a computer and we're doing e-mail all day and it is actually kind of hard to point at sometimes, I made that
or I helped produce this or here's the locomotive that my team turned off the Baldwin (ph), they simply went. In the absence of that, it's sort of a
weird almost half seem of a lack of a work. You can feel that way sometime. Just a flurry of slack and PowerPoint.
And because it is so ambiguous, it is really ripe for disruption when something changes and knocks us out of our cultural conventions about work
and we say, well, how much of this do I want to do? How much of my life do I want to spend hitting -- you know, entering my Slack chat box? What do I
really do for a job?
I think a lot of this reflection is happening and I think a lot of this is happening in part because we have not yet done the hard work in knowledge
work of actually getting better at defining work, having good metrics, structuring work, making it something more craft oriented, more deep work.
We allowed knowledge work to be much more ambiguous and hyperactive and back and forth communication, that's a type of work that I think is much
more prone to huge shifts in our employment.
SREENIVASAN: So, how do we decrease our reliance on technology where we're spending so much of it, using so much of it to manage relationship
virtually instead of just being productive?
NEWPORT: Well, yes. Now, we can talk about the personal aspect of technology and things get a little bit tricker. And I think there's two
elements to this. So, one thing I've heard from companies during the remote work aspect of the pandemic are saying, yes, there is this productivity hit
from being on Slack or their e-mail all day but as a side effect, we are getting more interaction with each other, should otherwise be isolated and
typically, my response is separate the two goals.
So, we have the goal of actually how do we collaborate Let's find the most effective way to collaborate and then we have this other goal, how do we
foster connections and relationships while we're remote? Solve that problem separately and directly. What are we going to do as an organization to keep
people feeling connected? Don't mix those two things together. Don't say, we're going to be hardly unproductive so that we can be more connected. I'm
sure we can find to way to be more connected and also be productive.
And then, of course, we have the technologies in our personal life, social media, Zoom, Face app, WhatsApp and it's all very important for connecting
to people we just have to deploy it carefully. We have to know why we're deploying it. I wanted to talk to my uncle on a regular basis is a great
use of Zoom but I'm going to use Twitter as a way to escape feelings of dread or just to numb myself is a bad use of technology. We have to asking
and answering those questions, what am I trying do, how do I use these tools to accomplish it?
SREENIVASAN: Is this going to be a flash in the pan? This idea that we're going to be able to work remotely? I mean, because you already see certain
companies pulling very hard to try and get their employees to all come back to the building.
NEWPORT: So, my prediction is, if your company does not revamp how you actually collaborate, right, we're going to revamp it so that it is more
conducive for remote work, which means getting the way from just this always on back and forth messaging. If you didn't -- don't do that, almost
certainly the friction will build up to the point where within one year everyone will be back in the office.
So, I think that is are where the gravitational force is right now. I mean, we're already seeing this at companies. We're seeing this, you know, Apple
moving back to we need you to be here two days a week or three days week. We cannot change the way work happens just with memos, just with saying
here is our new rule. You actually have to change the way work happens just with memos, just with saying, here's our new rule for how we're going to
work. You actually have to chance the cultural work.
So, I don't know what's going to happen, because to me it all comes down to how many companies are going to be motivated enough to go through the pain
of changing fundamentally how they work to get away from the convenience of the hyperactive hive mind to something more structured and more effective.
Those that do that will, I think, sustain large amounts of remote work. And those that don't, I don't think can. I just don't know how many are going
through the pain right now. So, it's going to be very interesting to observe over the next few years.
SREENIVASAN: The book is "A World Without E-mail." Cal Newport, thanks so much for joining us.
NEWPORT: Thanks for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And we're all going to be on that journey. And finally, tonight. His death from an accidental overdose in 2016 shook the world and shocked
his fans. But now, the musical genius known as Prince is speaking to us again from beyond the grave. Well, it is a whole new album that's garnering
great reviews since its release over the weekend.
Recorded back in 2010, "Welcome to America" blends lyricism and cynicism as Prince takes on the issues of his time and our time, racism, politically
corruption, division, disinformation. Here is a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Interestingly, the album was written during President Obama's first term and Van Jones worked in the Obama White House. And later, he
became a close friend, an advisor to Prince. So, who better to talk to about all of this right now?
Van Jones, welcome to the program.
Van, I know you're super cool, we all do. How does a White House operative become best friend and advisor to one of the most legendary musicians of
VAN JONES, PRINCE FRIEND AND COLLABORATOR: Well, you know, he got a lot of best friends. I was happy to be in the mix. He honestly -- he's one of the
reasons I wind up in the White House in the first place. He found out about the work we were doing in Oakland, teaching urban youth to put up solar
panels and he wound up funding all that up and then got me in the White House, helping Obama with that stuff.
And when I left, the White House -- Prince saved my left. I left the White House under fire. The right-wing was coming after me and I didn't know
where to go. And Prince pulled me in and changed my life. And I never knew that this album existed. Even though he must have been working on it while
we were together. That's Prince.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's really -- that's an amazing -- that's amazing what you said. A, I didn't know that he'd been so instructive in helping, you
know, with those projects you had and how closely he had helped you. But I want to ask you. You probably heard the little clip we played where he
says, hope and change, everything takes forever, the truth is a new minority or welcome to America.
I'm going to ask you because, you know, some of the critics have said some of the words look like -- you know, they reflect a little bit of a
disillusion with the Obama administration. I know it was early in the administration. But what would your reaction to that be?
JONES: Well, I think that Prince wanted more from all humanity. Not just the Obama administration. I think that makes it too small. I think that
Prince was probably literally 30 or 40 years ahead of his time. And he had the pain and the frustration that comes with that. Don't forget he was --
he and David Bowie were trying to put their music on the internet in the 1990s when people didn't even know what the internet was and he already had
in his mind, a vision for what would now be called a title or Spotify or streaming. It didn't exist.
So, he's living in this constant state of being literally decades ahead on race, decades ahead on gender, decades ahead on sexuality, decades ahead on
democracy, decades ahead on everything. And so, I wouldn't reduce it to something about the Obama administration. He just wanted humanity to be
better than we've shown up as so far.
AMANPOUR: I want to play another clip. And it is land of the free, home of the slave. These obviously also prophetic lyrics and, of course, he wrote
this before so many of the names that we've come to memorialize, so many black men and women who have been unjustly killed. He wrote them before
George Floyd and Trayvon Martin. Let's just play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE: Keep playing, it gets worse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Land of the free, home of the brave. Oops, I mean, land of the free, home of the slave.
PRINCE: Get down on your knees, hit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to America. Welcome to the big show. Everybody's looking for something when there ain't no place to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Oops, I mean, land of the free, home of the slave. It's pretty - - it gets right into your solar plexus that.
JONES: Yes. Well, the whole album is like that. I mean, again, he was so far ahead of the times that he could put out an -- think about this. He
created this album. It is perfect. I mean, every song is great. He's got the hooky stuff. He's got the sexy stuff. He's got the political stuff. And
he just sticks it in a drawer. Just never even releases it. And, you know, the vault is full of stuff like that. He could have put that out at the
time and it would have made a big difference.
But now it comes out, 10 years later and it makes an even bigger difference. It hits even harder. That is the genius of Prince. People talk
about Prince as a musical genius. That is too small. He had a genius for humanity, a genius for people that was so powerful that it could only be
expressed musically. A lot of people can play a lot of instruments. There is only one Prince.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you. Because, you know, there is always lots of discussion about when somebody has died and then a huge piece of their work
is put out. You don't know why, by who or at least maybe you all do, but do you have ethical qualms about that? I mean, do you think he would have
wanted it to come out? Did he want it to come out?
JONES: Yes. I mean, the thing about it, as Prince put the stuff in the vault for a reason. He didn't put it in the trashcan. He didn't put it in
the shredder. He put it in vault. And he said himself that they will still be going and pulling stuff out of the vault in 50 years. He -- that's how
much content there is.
And look, some of it is unbelievable good, some of it is not that good. But, you know, this particular album. You can't argue, this was ready to
go. It could have been literally released as it, you know, was recorded and as it was put in a vault. So, you can't argue he didn't ever want this to
be heard. I mean, if you listen to it, the guy, he's some kind of magic because this album comes out the year it needs to come out even though it
is five years after he died.
AMANPOUR: I know it is incredible that. And we have one of his soundbites when he's talking to an MTV critic about the vault, the legendary vault.
So, just to expand on what you were saying, let's play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE: Some amazing jazz work. You'd find the best, most heady tracks that the revolution recorded. The ones that we thought were too far gone
back in the '80s. You would find the more psychedelic rock version of the time. You would find the really erotic Prince.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?
PRINCE: The really erotic sensual Prince. You'd find the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: That's what we got.
AMANPOUR: Well, what are some of your personal reflection on -- yes, you were saying that, we don't know what else is going to come out. But when
you listen to this and you remember your friendship, how do you think about the influence he had but also would have kept having had he not -- had his
life not been cut short?
JONES: You know, I think about that every day. You know, what would he have thought about, you know, Donald Trump as president? What would he have
thought of -- you know, don't forget, you know, he's from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
So, he talks about George Floyd and that's all right there. You know, that whole thing happened right in his backyard. He would have been there. He
would have been doing something. I don't know if he'd been marching in a protest. That wasn't really his thing. But he would have been involved. His
voice would have been massively a part of this moment.
You know, he was one of the first people that gave significant money to Black Lives Matter when they first started and people didn't know what to
make of them. He gave money to the Harlem Children's Zone, Geoffrey Canada. He helped YesWeCode get started. He helped Green for All get started. He
was unbelievable philanthropist but he never wanted to be known. He wanted -- he thought it was important for the people who were doing the work to
get the attention, not the people who were funding the work. He's very different in that regard than many of his peers.
I tell you. I have no idea but the world is a poorer place, a dumber place, and a less happy place because he's not here to help us through these
AMANPOUR: Van, I want to ask you a question because this has come out 10 to 11 years after he recorded it. And this summer, we've seen amazing
hidden treasure that's been made into this fabulous film "Summer of Soul" about the big concert in Harlem back then and it is also the 50th
anniversary of Martin Gay's famous protest album "What's Going On."
I guess I want to ask you specifically about those treasures. Like "Summer of Soul" and this one of Prince. Do you think it would have made a
difference in how people looked at your community had they come out earlier? Particularly, I just want to ask you about "Summer of Soul" right
JONES: Well, you know, it's hard to know because people look at the black community in different ways, at different times and from different angles.
What I will say, you know, hopefully, this doesn't come out the wrong way. But there is a repository of genius and magic and resilience and insight
and perspective in the black community in the United States that is really second to none.
That is why you got, you know, kids in Korea who are rapping and that's why you have got, you know, blues and jazz, you know, restaurants and
opportunities all around the world. There is just something about this crucible that we've gone through as a community trying to get America to
live up to its best ideals in both its constitution and its bible that has created something.
No pressure, no diamonds. We got a lot of diamonds in this community and I think the more people look into who we are, and what we're about the richer
the world gets because we got a lot of riches here.
AMANPOUR: So, let's listen to no Pressure, no diamond. This is just a nice summer song from Prince. "Hot Summer."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE: Anybody close enough to hear, knows what we've been listening to all year. These are the days my people told me to fear. But as long as I
got your ear, I think it's going be hot summer. Just wait and see. Hot summer. Shoo-be-do-we. Hot summer. As long as you're my company.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I guess like every great geniuses, he could do any genre, couldn't he?
JONES: Any genre. Didn't matter what it was. And he just -- I mean, he just -- he was music. He lived it. He thought it. Everything about him. He
wrote almost every day. He performed literally every day. And, you know, he could do it all.
I mean, a lot of songs that we think about as belonging to other people. Like, you know, "Manic Monday" and The Bengals. Prince wrote that too. He's
just unbelievable person. But what I will say is, he cared a lot about people. He cared about people who didn't have much. He wasn't born with
JONES: And so, he was constantly on the internet, YouTube trying to find people to help. And the music was a part of it. But he made his whole life
into a contribution.
AMANPOUR: Really great insights and great to have this album.
Van Jones, thank you for being with us.
And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.