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A Climate Change with Matt Matern
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129: Paul Hawken, Executive Director of the Project Drawdown Non-Profit

Guest Name(s): Paul Hawken

Listen in as Paul Hawken gives a master class in how to HEAL THE PLANET and our SOCIETY. Paul has written numerous books including Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation. Paul founded Project Drawdown. Paul was in Selma and Montgomery with Martin Luther King Jr! Paul gives practical advice and inspires us.

Project Drawdown >>

Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation >>

Episode Categories:
Listen in as Paul Hawken gives a master class in how to HEAL THE PLANET and our SOCIETY. Paul has written numerous books including Regeneration-Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation. Paul founded Project Drawdown.
Show Links:
Project Drawdown is the world’s leading resource for climate solutions. Our mission is to help the world stop climate change—as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible…
Regeneration is a radical new approach to the climate crisis, one that weaves justice, climate, biodiversity, and human dignity into a seamless tapestry of action, policy, and transformation that can end the climate crisis in one generation. It describes and defines the burgeoning regeneration movement spreading rapidly throughout the world…
Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, author and activist who has dedicated his life to environmental sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. He is one of the environmental movement’s leading voices, and a pioneering architect of corporate reform with respect to ecological practices. His work includes founding successful, ecologically conscious businesses, writing about the impacts of commerce on living systems, and consulting with heads of state and CEOs on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy. Paul is Founder of Project Drawdown, a non-profit dedicated to researching when and how global warming can be reversed. The organization maps and models the scaling of one hundred substantive technological, social, and ecological solutions to global warming…
129: Paul Hawken, Executive Director of the Project Drawdown Non-Profit

You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host, and I’ve got Paul Hawken on the show today Paul is a environmentalist, entrepreneur, economist, author, activist, policy editor, author of regeneration ending the climate crisis in one generation, which came out recently. He’s also had New York Times bestseller drawdown, the most comprehensive plan ever to propose to reverse global warming. He is a co founder of Project Drawdown.

He has a book another book, the ecology of commerce, pointing towards a sustainable global economy, as well as a number of other books we could go on and on. Another thing that Paul did was a TV show that was called Growing a Business, a 17-part PBS series on the challenges of starting a socially responsible company.

And Paul’s had a hand in opening Erewhon, which is a grocery store, which is close to my house. I know one location back in 1967. Paul was part of that back, I believe on the East Coast. And now it’s it’s gone. gotten quite a bit bigger, particularly out here in LA.

And one of the fascinating pieces of Paul, your story is going back and working with Martin Luther King Jr. To prepare for the marches in Selma and Montgomery. So without further ado, Paul, welcome to the program.

Matt, thank you very much. I look forward to our conversation.

Well, tell us a little bit about your journey. And what brought you here obviously, a fascinating journey going back to the year of my birth 58 years ago in 1965. You working with Martin Luther King, Jr. What? What kind of got you on that path?

Well, I grew up in Berkeley, California, which was at that time, only one of three communist cities in the United States. I joke about Cambridge, Madison and Berkeley, you know, there’s so leftist, you know, radical, which I love. And so to me, sort of, like if you’re, you know, like a fish in water, you know, you don’t know what water is, you know, and, and same with the growing up in Berkeley, I just thought everybody cared about social justice, you know, and was against political corruption.

And, you know, so it was pretty natural for me to go down there, I saw footage of what was going on on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, you know, the kids being beaten, and truncheoned, and, you know, German Shepherds, and all that sort of stuff.

So, I know you’ve been involved with civil rights up here in California. And so I got in a car went down there. And I had a very minor role in terms of registering the press, you know, as a media coordinator, but it was simply an opportunity to be a fly on a wall of an extraordinary event, really an extraordinary people.

Well, that is an amazing journey to start at that place as a young person, kind of at the feet of masters in terms of working and organizing and social justice and, and starting a movement. So how does that inform your work in the in the environmental movement?

Well, there’s no difference. Environmental justice, social justice are the same thing, and the degradation, the loss of the biosphere, you know, whether it’s oceans or land, or rivers or water, farmland, pollinators, etc, is all due to basically injust economic practices. You know, which are extracted, which basically are based on taking, taking, taking, taking, and we’ve taken a lot and the results show. So to me, moving into the environment was natural.

Now, that being said, growing up, I grew up on a farm and in part with my grandfather, and I was watching California basically be destroyed the San Joaquin, Sacramento Valley. You know, we drive by a farmhouse had been there for, you know, three generations or more And then a year later, all the big oaks were gone shading the house, you know, there’ll be basically a strip mall with a gas station and a fast food outlet. You know, so I grew up watching California being destroyed.

And so that was there with me all the time. And I grew up in the Sierra Club, and you know, as a little kid, rock climbing and all that scrabbling around Yosemite. So it’s very painful to watch California be destroyed by development.

So then, fast forward a bit through that, what, what took you to starting Erewhon and building that out?

Well, Erewhon was not a grocery store, but thank you for bringing it out. What happened was that I had asthma from six months old. And the earliest reported case of asthma in San Mateo County, and I was rushed to the hospital for the first year of my life turned blue and put me in an oxygen tent. Finally they strapped me down for six weeks in an oxygen tent, and, and forbid my parents to see, to visit because I got too excited about that, in an oxygen tent.

And so I had asthma in my life, and the only palliative that was offered was aminophylline ephedrine, which is a drug – Ephedra, which was banned in diet supplements in 2004. But that was my drug of choice by prescription, and allowed me to breathe.

And when I was 18-19, I read a book and it said, if you’re sick, it’s your fault. And it really pissed me off. I learned from six months was my father what the book was trying to say is it’s your responsibility. And that was don’t play victim. And that made sense to me.

And so I went on a food fast that the book prescribed which is just eating brown rice chewing it till it was dreadful, and, and drinking tea, and I did that for 10 days. But on the eighth day, I could breathe, I can feel the air that brought in my lungs, and I stopped taking my medicine. And it was revelatory. And, and way I was just over the top delighted at the same time, it was a little pissed off. Because I’ve been involved with the medical establishment and you know, for all those years and this was so simple.

And I was incredulous in a way. And so what happened is I was eating then by then rice and vegetables. And I kept adding, adding one thing, a hamburger, a milkshake, a Coca Cola, a beer, apple juice, you know, whatever. And I can actually feel then the change in my physiology from that one food which you can’t eat. You can’t eat, you can’t detect that when you’re eating a common American diet, eating french fries and ketchup and this and that and all these things.

And you can’t distinguish which food is having which impact on you. And after I did that for almost a year. I didn’t go to a supermarket again. I went to farmers markets and I went to you know, ethnic stores, you know, the Quaker Mill, you know, in Chinatown, Japantown, and Lebanese town to do my shopping on Saturday.

And I thought you know since I grew up in a farm and we used to have a farm stand or we bought from them that there should be a farm stand in the city. There should be a place in the city where you can go get real food that was organically grown that was fresh.

There was didn’t have an ingredient list that you had to translate, if an ingredient list at all. And that’s how Erewhon started and it grew into, we had a railcar, we had a warehouse, a five story warehouse in South Boston, we had a store in LA we had a store in Boston. We had farms, 35,000 acres contracted to us from farmers all over the country. We had 3,000 wholesale accounts.

So it was the beginning of the organic food movement in the United States. Not to say that there were other companies too Matt, of course there were but for us, that was what that’s what I did. And it actually was sold and sold again and to people who started not started, but created the Erewhon stores in LA, and now I think they have one in New York.

Well, it’s an amazing story. And I think it all relates to your personal journey but also relates to kind of where we’re at as a planet. And one of the things that you talk about, and a number of your books that I’ve read is the the problems of the agro business. And, and, and all this fake food, this processed food that we get is a big part of, of our ecological problem.

And as you describe it, it’s also part of our health problems. So maybe you could talk about some of those things. And how do we stop this process of are those agro businesses, feeding our fellow citizens all this junk, which is just terrible for their health, and it’s terrible for the planet.

The food system, which is the makers, the farmers and producers, is the single greatest cause of global warming. And it’s the single greatest cause of human disease. That is the story. And you parse it and get down into the details, which I would love to do. And to me food companies, and I’ll say this brazenly, like Pepsi, and other Ultra processed food companies are committing a crime against humanity by spending $5 million a year convincing our children to eat sugar, soft drinks, and junk food.

Well, I’ll get get an amen on that one. I mean, I believe that the food companies are just poisoning us in so many different ways. They’ve created this torrent of diabetes and diabetics. In the United States. The cost alone I read a few years ago was $330 billion, and climbing, and we’re going to have, I can’t remember 10s of millions of new diabetics because of, you know, the terrible diet that gets fed to Americans.

Yeah, 73% of our food is ultra processed food 73%. And human beings weren’t designed for ultra processed food. And if the numbers are worse, you know, we have a $4 trillion, so called health care industry. It’s not It’s a sick care industry.

And it feeds itself in you’ll have diseases and you’ll go to a doctor and she will prescribe something, it’s just medicine, but it doesn’t go back upstream to cause and 150,000 Americans every year have part of their leg or ankle cut off because the diabetes, sawed off.

And that’s downstream. Upstream, are these huge companies, you know, with advertising budgets, and you know, featuring Beyonce and wherever convincing very impressionable young children, if they eat or drink, you know, Mountain Dew somehow they’re gonna have a better life. And it’s the opposite.

Yeah, it’s, it’s really unconscionable. It’s, you know, the type as a lawyer, we would look at a conscious disregard of the rights and safety of others is a basis for punitive damages, its punishment. It’s, and that is what these companies are doing. They are consciously disregarding the rights and safety of the consumers and feeding them things that are essentially like poison.

Gosh, I’d never heard that legal term before I love it. Let’s do a lawsuit.

Okay, let’s do it. You can you can be the plaintiff. I’ll be, I’ll be the attorney. Okay.

I’ll get 1,000 children to be the plaintiffs. That’s what we, that should be the plaintiff.

Okay. Let’s do it.

Yeah, I mean, clearly food, our food problems are the source of so many problems in our society. Obviously, as you just said, the health problems are just gargantuan. And if we were really serious about having a healthy society, we would go at food first and say, Hey, we want to clean up our food source and make everything that we’re eating organic period.

We have to go backwards to the farm. And actually, agriculture is industrialized. Its chemical based, if people had any idea what actually happens on commodity farms, they would be repulsed. They basically do not feed the soil. They feed the plant chemicals, and the plants don’t need to really go down very deep and to the soil because the macronutrients are right there. And they grow but they grow in a very unhealthy way.

They grow too quickly. They look very green for the nitrogen of course, but they’re subject then to infestation. They’re like, it looks like a big free buffet to all insects for you know 10s of 1,000s of acres and they so we use pesticides, we use neonicotinoids, the last five years that kill insects but also are systemic. They go into the plant, the insects that eat them on the plant die. Birds eat insects, they have mortality events as well. So that’s just the beginning.

And what we do know is that soil health relates to plant health and plant health relates to human and animal health. And unless we are aware of that connection, we just are subject to basically going up and down the aisles of our supermarkets and buying what’s available, but the health of the nation the health of our children, starts with the soil.

Well, you’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, and I’ve got Paul Hawken on the program. We’ll be right back in just one minute.
You’re listening to A Climate Change with Matt Matern. And I’ve got Paul Hawken, noted author environmentalist on the program today, and we’re just talking about nutrition as it relates to the agribusiness. And Paul just kind of wanted to pick it up back there, in terms of what are your thoughts on? How do we make changes to really make a 180 degrees on agriculture and food in the United States and across the world?

Well, dogs are actually very big companies that some of the biggest food companies in the world are actually aware of the problem and, and are changing over to regenerative agriculture in a very quiet way.

They’re not bragging, they’re not using it as a way to make themselves look good. They’re actually doing it to create resilience in the food system. The thing about regenerative agriculture as compared to industrial agriculture, is that it can withstand greater vagaries of the weather that is say heat cold or too little water, too much water floods than conventional agriculture.

So when you move to systems of farming, that actually feed the life of the soil, and you have cover crops and you don’t let the sun see the top of the soil, and you have the beneficial pollinators, insects and so forth, when you have those kinds of systems where the cover crops are actually also fertilizing the soil in a much better way. You’re getting a food system that actually can be, as I say, more resilient, it can withstand the vagaries and the ups and downs and disruption of weather, which is here and it’s going to increase as time goes on and within the next decades.

Not this year is not just is a trial for the future. It’s just it’s just a hint of what’s going to happen. It’s not like an anomaly. And I think that’s difficult for people to incorporate and integrate into take in. It’s like you got to be kidding. No, I’m not kidding. That was predicted 50 years ago by scientists. And the only difference is that they thought it would happen later than sooner. Otherwise, it’s exactly what was predicted by climatologist.

So agriculture, in terms of being organic and regenerative is actually a way for us to ensure that we have a sustainable food supply, as opposed to say, well, it’s a nice thing to do. It’s the best thing to do. It’s very, you know, idealistic. No, it’s the most pragmatic thing that we can do right now.

In terms of our food system, and it produces healthier food for everybody who eats it, you know, and whether it’s an animals or whether it’s people around the world. And as I said, you know, we have a $4 trillion sick care industry. And is if food didn’t exist, you know, doctors don’t aren’t trained in nutrition.

You know, when I was dealing with miasma, you had zero hours to become an MD about nutrition, zero, and now I think it’s an hour, you have an hour to become a physician, studying nutrition, and even then nutrition doesn’t really take into consideration the whole of the food supply the whole of the cycle, from whence food arises and exist, you know, so it’s a very exciting time.

I am not trying to be a doomsayer here. I’m just trying to say that the amount of changes occurring in agriculture is extraordinary. I hope that food business at some point wakes up and realizes that it should also change to what about the policies of the Biden adminstration regarding agriculture. Have they been effective? Have they moved the needle at all towards getting more farmers to go to regenerative agriculture?

They’re doing something here. You know, Vilsack is the head of the department of agriculture. And he’s with all the respect. I think he’s a nice guy, but in the he’s in the throes of the chemical, industrial agricultural industry. Syngenta, Corteva, Bio, Monsanto, Cargill. I mean, they control USDA policy, there is a program in the farm bill now called Climate Smart Agriculture.

They did dare call it organic or regenerative. And they call it “climate smart,” whatever that means. And there are things in there that encourage cover crops for sure. And and there are I think there’s subsidies or I forget what the where the funding is going towards that. So there is movement.

But the there’s not moving to move away from industrial agriculture is industrial agriculture, is seeing that there is some benefit from these things, but it doesn’t threaten their core business, which is synthetic fertilizers, glyphosate, dicamba, paraquat, pesticides and neonics. All the hundreds of different pesticides and herbicides that go onto the farm onto the land into our food, are actually completely protected under the new farm bill.

So is it going to be up to consumers to just from the demand side say enough is enough? We don’t want to eat that garbage anymore?

Well, yes, it is. And that requires what we call food justice, which is the availability of fresh, good healthy food, in our communities everywhere. That’s not true. Many, many people in urban environments live in what’s called food deserts, you’d have to go two or three miles to go to a store that had healthy food. And, and you couldn’t afford it.

And so there are many organizations now, within these food deserts, you know, they’re bringing in smaller fish, food and farmer’s markets, you know, and try to reconnect these urban islands, to growers, you know, that are within reasonable distance and so forth to try to reconnect the agricultural system, healthy agricultural system, to people’s well being in the cities.

And I find that a very fun movement. It’s a great movement, it’s a necessary movement, and it’s what’s going to have to happen if we’re going to recover both systems, you know, our social systems and our agricultural systems.

I’m just wondering what percentage of our $4 trillion dollar spend on health care? would it take to get people healthy food? Because it seems like it would be just a small percentage of that 4 trillion to to get people healthy food, which would solve a lot of the problems with people’s from a health standpoint.

Yeah. And who’s getting that food? Who’s getting that money? Pharmaceuticals? Yeah. I mean, they don’t make money from health. They make money from sickness.

They certainly do. And, of course, there are no very few studies on the benefits of eating healthy food. There’s lots of studies on how they, you know, the value of their drugs, but not very many studies on what would what would, what would the positive effects be of eating a healthy diet, just like you did in your personal situation to get healthy from from asthma?

Exactly. And the thing is, I mean, the ideal pharmaceutical drug is something you have to take every day for the rest of your life. Right? I mean, that’s ideal. statins. Great idea. Okay, let’s take it every day. Right, instead of going back, you know, upstream and saying, Well, what’s causing those hard problems?

You know, look, what are you eating and what’s your genetics for sure, you know, what’s your predilections, you know, for genetically, but, but actually, it’s downstream, which is, you know, basically palliative, not curative, and that’s our industry and it controls, just like, big guy controls, the USDA, the CDC, and the FDA is controlled by big pharma.

Well, I certainly had a situation myself where I my cholesterol had gone up a bit and the doctor wanted to put me on statins, and I said, Well, let me just try changing my diet and cut cut down on the red meat dramatically and cut down on eggs and things like this, and lo and behold, he said, Oh, wow, it’s uh, your, your cholesterol went down. So it is within our power to do these things if we, if we change our diet.

Absolutely. I mean, look at eating rice and drinking tea did not cure my asthma. It created the conditions whereby the asthma was not occurring, okay? I mean, what healed me was a wide variety of healthy foods over time. But it’s interesting when I went back to my doctors and said, Wow, I don’t have symptoms anymore. I’m not taking the drugs, you know, I’m eating this healthy diet, you know? They said, Well, that was probably a placebo effect. They didn’t take it seriously at all.

Yeah, unfortunately, as you said, most doctors are not trained in nutrition, they don’t really understand it as well as they should. I always say that our human bodies are the most sophisticated pharmacological device out there and are far more sophisticated than what the big pharma can create and far more effective.

Oh, here’s, here’s a quick factoid. There’s 10,000 ingredients in a head of broccoli. There’s 10,000 ingredients in a head of, a bunch of kale. Okay. There’s only a 10% overlap with just discovering we have no idea what’s in our food.

Everybody, stay tuned. You’re listening to A Climate Change. I’ve got Paul Hawken, noted environmentalist, entrepreneur, economist, author, activist, and we’ll be right back in just one minute.

You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, and I’ve got Paul Hawken on the program. Paul, we were talking about the food chain, I’m going to pivot a little bit to with you, and we’ll talk about some other issues.

I mean, you’ve got so much stuff that you’ve written about, in your most recent book regeneration, ending the climate crisis in one generation. You know, it sounds like a very, you know, a hopeful, you know, title certainly there. Tell us a little bit about their trajectory of the book and why you wrote it.

I really, because I feel like the conversation about climate has focused almost entirely on carbon. And I believe there’s what I would call the carbon Tunnel Syndrome, you know, which is looking at carbon as this inert substance, you know, that is gotten is problematic, you know, there’s too much of it up there because of the combustion of fossil fuels, and the way we treated the environment, and somehow we’ve got to stop doing that and bring it back home.

And if we do that we get a hall pass to the next century, which is nonsense. We have to do that. There’s no question about that, by the way, I mean, it’s imperative that we do that. But it basically presumes that the rest of the world will be there for us when they get there. And we have lost half of all biomass and life on the planet in the last 200 years, and the rate of loss is increasing, right now at the highest level.

And so it’s almost as if we have a climate movement, that sort of as soon as the planet will be there. And fact is destroying the planet. And even some of the climate solutions are destroying the planet and destroying the planet by taking, extracting, I mean, the first principle of really reversing climate. It’s not really reversing climate change, because climate is always going to change what we want to reverse is global warming, global heating, we want to reverse the impact climate is having upon society.

Climate are like I say, always gotta be changing they’re supposed to, as we clap, it does. So we don’t want to fight that where we want to do is understand how we’ve changed because the climate of the atmosphere is simply responding to what we do here on earth. No other reason.

And so how do we change what we’re doing here and one of the principles of what we do has to be reciprocity, which is after hundreds and centuries of time where we’ve just been taking, taking taking, you know, from the forest from people from cultures and oceans for the land from soil from water.

You know, we have to actually have reciprocity which is have to give more than we take. So regeneration is it How can we supply and you know, human needs, you know, and all human needs in a way that creates more life instead of life? And so taking life, and that we have an economic system that takes life in order to provide with human needs? Well, we don’t argue about providing humans with their needs. That’s not the question. The question is, how are we doing that?

And that’s why again, regenerative agriculture, not to just focus on that entirely is an example where you restore the soil, you restore the health of the soil, pollinators, bird life, you know, nutrition that comes out of the soil in terms of plants. And everybody’s a winner.

There’s a winner all the way across. And so the question, and that’s my question, too, but for all of us is how can we build our homes? How can we, you know, operate our cities? How can we, you know, our schools? How can we live here together as a civilization in such a way, that as a step by step basis, we are creating more life instead of less? And that’s really what regeneration is about?

Let me ask you about you, you mentioned that some of the climate solutions are destroying the planet, one of the things that is talked about a lot is the amount of mining that has to be done for, say, electric car batteries. Do you think it’s still a net benefit to our society to the planet to to create millions, if not billions, of electric cars.

With with that mining, you’ve raised a really important point, a really important question. And there’s an underlying assumption that if we swap out our technology, and how we build our buildings, and how we drive, how our mobility, how we make our cars, with systems that are arguably more renewable and less impactful, that we’re good to go.

And actually, the underlying assumption there is that capitalism can cure consumption. In other words, that we can consume just as much as we are right now. And even more so as we move on. And that that’s going to work and it’s not.

And so going back to mining, specifically, there, we can’t do what you spoke to, that we cannot continue to mine, and to build out a so called sustainable society. And we certainly don’t want to mine the oceans, which is now what they’re talking about in order to, to gather those important minerals that are needed for renewable society.

And I think that the again, I at the other hand, I mean, not to just be, you know, a complainer sound like I’m complaining. There are some extraordinary stuff going on in terms of batteries. And reimagine what a battery is how it works, what it’s made of the don’t require these minerals, whether they be trace minerals, or rare minerals, or just plain metals, like, you know, it’d be mined from Chile, the lithium, Chile and others in the Congo. And so my hope is that these breakthroughs will happen sooner, instead of later.

There’s even a very famous scientist in the University of Maryland Liang boo, who sees me leaving who, who is attending a wooden battery, that works, and he has the chops to do it and has invented things that really do work in other areas, and so and that’s being funded by the Department of Energy. So your question is really well placed, actually, which is No, we cannot just assume that, you know, we kind of continue to take extract and harm the world, for a sustainable society.

Well, it seems as though given the amount of build out of technology and infrastructure to whether we go more sustainable battery or whatever the route may be, is going to take a tremendous amount of shifting of our industrial base. And it wouldn’t just consuming less be a far more elegant solution to this problem than just, you know, trying to live at the same or greater rate of consumption than we’ve lived here to for.

Absolutely, and I think it’s not, it’s like the Gosh, it’s like the subject that nobody wants to attend to business doesn’t want to talk about it, you know, and politicians don’t want to talk about it. People actually don’t want to even think about it because most people don’t Have enough? Or at least they think they don’t have enough? And in many cases they do not.

And so we actually have to think about this in a ways and how do we really support those people who wake up every morning with a current existential threat. They’re worried about food, they’re worried about food security, they worry about security for the children about education, about clothing, about warmth, about housing, about jobs, give them dignity at a living wage, that’s most of the people on Earth right now.

And what’s so interesting about the climate solutions that are brought on and regeneration is you look at them, from a different point of view, what you find, in fact, is that they create a better life for virtually everybody on the planet, but they don’t die based on extraction and consumption.
And, you know, a way of living here that actually is destroying our hosts, you know, we’re the only species was 8.7 million, excuse me billion species on Earth. And we’re the only one that eats its hosts and destroys its habitat. So there’s room to maneuver here to think about living in such a way that doesn’t do that.

Well, I love there’s an Eisenhower quote in, in your book, back in 1953, Eisenhower was talking about the costs of a bomber to society and, and how many hospitals and roads and, and homes could be created for the price of that, that bomber.

And and now that has increased, you know, like 10 or 50 fold with the bombers that we currently have. And so maybe just a different way to look at that, that we have the economic means to solve many of our problems if we reallocated some of our resources for problems that are not military ones.
Absolutely. And one of the ways we could do that is and work with every other country in the world. Why can’t we have a cabinet post is called the Department of Peace. You know, why not? I mean, okay, well have a department of war to case. But can we actually look at the real cure, or is not a cure.

It seems like a great idea to me, you’re listening to A Climate Change. I’ve got Paul Hawken on the program. And we’ll be back in just one minute to talk to Paul about a host of issues.

You’re listening to A Climate Change. I’ve got Paul Hawken, author of regeneration ending the climate crisis in one generation. And I just read recently that Bill Gates was essentially saying that the trillion trees idea is more or less silly and not particularly helpful. What’s your take on that one?

I have mixed feelings about it. I agree with him. By the way, other trillion trees, so not about that. His idea is his point is well taken twin trees were in which trees? What the world needs is forests, not more, you know, more forests? For sure. But on whose land where will they be placed? And how will they be planted and to who who benefits from this and so forth.

What we overlook is that there’s five mega forest, math in the world, the Amazon, the Congo, the boreal, both the tiger on the Russian side, and the boreal on our side. And then as Indonesia, there’s Borneo, and if we protect those forests, and the way they are right now, it’s 40 times more effective than the trillion tree movement and seven times less costly.

So there is a sort of very, it’s very male oriented thing of like, you know, we’re over the top, we’re gonna save the Earth, you know, okay, let’s do it. But let’s use our brains. Let’s do the math, you know, instead of just being sort of, you know, a sort of colonial hero, you know, and the people in the south.

The global South are appalled by that idea, because you’re saying, you’re talking about our land for your trees to save your ass up in the north when you’re the one who was emitting most of the carbon, you know, so there’s a real business there.

Now the other hand, what Bill Gates says he believes, he thinks that direct air capture is a solution. Well, direct air capture is basically giant plants that suck in literally sucking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, liquify it, and then pump it into geological formations, or in depleted oil formations.

And there is one being built right now by Occidental Petroleum in Ector County, Texas, and it’ll cost a billion dollars, it’ll cost $300 million a year to operate, it will capture 500,000 tons of CO2, okay.

And if you do the math, that means that it will sequester or capture 360 seconds of global emissions. And that’s worth $300 million a year and a billion dollars. And, I gosh, there are so much better ways to spend our money.

And so Bill Gates being a techno optimist, you know, is into that, when in fact, there are in mega forests, it’s just one example I can give others and so forth, where human beings can be so much more effective in addressing the issues and the climate crisis that’s at hand. Well, one of the things he said was kind of the, the male oriented approach to solving problems.

And I noticed that in your book, you had referenced Steven Mitchell, and I belive it’s Steven Mitchell, who is the translator of the Tao Te Ching, that I really like, which is the Tao is is not about forcing and more about allowing, and, you know, we’d be far better served by a less man, you know, changing nature, philosophy, and curious as to, you know, Steven Mitchell’s input into this process or your connection to him?

Yeah, he’s a very good friend. I respect him very much. He actually wrote one of his books in a cottage on my property. But it’s not just man, it’s male, let’s be clear about this, you know, it’s a gender thing. And men like to fix things and make it better. And that’s all cool, and it’s a great quality. But when it comes to the planet, the verb is wrong “fix.” You can’t fix it, it’s fixed.

What we’re doing is harming, and we have to stop the harm. As opposed to that Earth creates the conditions from our life automatically. And we don’t we do the opposite. We they we create the conditions for less life. And so what are we talking about is like, what does that mean?

And I have the same questions as others, you know, which is what does that mean for this, that service to that, you know, for housing and facilities and for transport, etc, etc, the things that we rely upon, and I think those answers are forthcoming and accent and we need more of them.

But I think we have to, you know, get our frame of mind a house and I’ll be gender specific has to be much more like a woman’s frame of mind looking connection, you know, that the male one which is a little bit over the top?

Well, what you know, now that you’re talking about female connection, or more creative energy, I noticed that Gisele Bundchen is, you know, as listed in your book as a contributor or supporter. How is how is she connected to the movement?

Well, Gisele is a friend, and she’s an extraordinary intelligent woman. People probably don’t know that because she’s so beautiful. I think, well, that’s Giselle, you know, about actually, her beauty, deeper beauty’s inside. And she grew up in a very wonderful place in Brazil, you know, very full, she was, you know, nature girl. She spent her time outside, you know, with creatures and plants and so forth.

And that has never left her, you know, that’s been a part of her. So she was very, very helpful in promoting Drawdown, and also Drawdown in Brazil. And she remains a friend. And by that, I mean, I just think that that part of Giselle is in a lot of people, you know, find themselves as professionals doing this, and that and working in office towers or whatever, being photographed.

And we really got to get back in touch with that part of us and for those in the city who’ve never been able to be in nature and to experience it. I think one of the most important solutions, in terms of reversing global warming, is to get people away from their screens, so away from digital information and awareness and have a direct awareness of where we live and how it works.

And it’s fascinating and magical and infinitely varied. And so I don’t think watching whatever you watch, or whatever you read is sufficient until the task at hand to actually develop that sense of wonder and awe and mystery. My next book is called Carbon: The Book of Life, I just finished it.

And it is exactly about that, which is, oh my gosh, look where we live. It’s so amazing. And so fantastic, you know, to create those conditions where we can fall in love with where we live with this beautiful, exquisite planet. It’s only it’s a Goldilocks planet, there’s only one we got. And, and but when you get into it, as opposed to saying nature based or you know, all those kinds of terms, forget all that.

And you get into that whether it’s soil was plants, gardens, pollinators, you know, I mean, insects, you know, birds, butterflies in the ocean. So when you take any part of that and start to really understand what’s going on, there is gobsmacking. It is extraordinary. And we all need an injection of that.

Well, amen to that one, too. I do a gratitude exercise every day. And it just kind of has me open my eyes to the beauty of the world around me and just the flowers, the trees, the whole thing is just amazing. Yeah, it’s unfortunate. We don’t have more time with you, but it’s been. It’s been great having you on the program.

Thanks, Paul Hawkins, go out and get a copy of Paul’s book, Regeneration: Ending The Climate Crisis in One Generation. Also take a look for his new book, Carbon: The Book of Life, follow him on social media, and be the change we want to see in the world.

Be kind. And if everybody would be so kind as to follow us on A Climate Change with Matt Matern. Go to aclimatechange.com. We’ve got about 125+ episodes, follow us on Spotify, Apple, or iHeart, and pass these links along to friends, family, business associates, and let’s work together as a community to solve these problems.

So, Paul, again, thanks for all the work you’ve been doing over the last 60 years and we’d love to collaborate with you going forward.

Thank you so much, Matt. Thank you for what you’re doing. Let me have one last quote from Jill Clapperton, it says “when you’re standing on the ground, you’re standing on the roof of another room.”

That’s beautiful. I love that. So what a way to close. Thank you again, Paul.

(Note: this is an automatic transcription and may have errors in formatting and grammar.)

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