Neoliberal capitalism turns life into money by killing it, but what good is that money on a dying planet? Today we speak to Paul Hawken about how to end the climate crisis in one generation using an approach centered on regeneration.
Neoliberal capitalism turns life into money by killing it, but what good is that money on a dying planet?
Today we speak to Paul Hawken about how to end the climate crisis in one generation using an approach centered on regeneration.
Paul is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, author, and activist who has dedicated his life to environmental sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment.
For Paul, the solutions to climate change are local, where human beings use their imagination to form economies that create more life than they take.
We discuss Paul’s book Drawdown, in which he provides a list of 100 potential solutions to climate change and ranks them by the potential amount of greenhouse gases each could cut.
We also talk about his new book, Regeneration, which offers a unique approach to understanding and taking action to address the climate crisis.
In this conversation, Paul talks about why the fear and guilt-based climate change narratives don’t work and how we need to reimagine our relationship to our surroundings if we are to save the planet. He also addresses the lack of purpose people feel thanks to the current system and why bringing the earth back to life will bring people back to life too.
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Cory Ames 0:00
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Bringing the earth back to life brings you back to life. And what the those who live in impoverished conditions often lack has not a sense of personal well being and pride in terms of their spirit, but they often lack a sense of meaning in terms of what they do. And because we haven't created a society in which that is there. And as I said, the poverty doesn't want to be fixed. It wants to fix itself. The fundamental principle of regeneration is for us to create the conditions for self organization. Hey, y'all. It's Cory here with the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcasts. As always so grateful to have you listening. In today's episode, we are talking about how to end the climate crisis in one generation, how specifically regeneration is how we can save the earth and avoid climate devastation. And to do so I'm speaking with Paul Hawke, who's an entrepreneur, environmentalist, and author of the book regeneration, ending the climate crisis in one generation, which came out on September 4 of this last year. 2021, a really excellent book that offers a unique approach and understanding of addressing the existential climate crisis that we're in. Paul has started multiple ecological businesses. He's been writing about nature and commerce for quite some time and he consults with heads of states, its CEOs on climactic economic, and ecological regeneration. He's written eight books, including five national and New York Times bestsellers. And his most recent book right before regeneration was drawn down. The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming, was published in 2017 as a New York Times bestseller and is in currently 17 other languages. He's the founder of Project drawdown, which works with over 200 scholars, students, scientists, researchers and activists to map measure and model the 100 most substantive solutions that can cumulatively reverse global warming. And now he's the founder of a new organization, regeneration, which offers the world's largest most complete listing and network of solutions to the climate crisis. You can find them at regeneration.org.
A lovely conversation here with Paul, I think you'll really enjoy it. I know I did myself. But before we dive in, I want to invite you to sign up for our Better World weekly newsletter, which is a weekly newsletter on all things building a better world that I write and publish myself every single Monday go to grow ensemble.com backslash newsletter to join in on that weekly discussion that's grow ensemble.com backslash newsletter. Alright, y'all without further ado, here's Paul Huck. I heard you mentioned this on another interview you did in New regeneration was going to be the sequel to draw down when you published draw down, did you know that there was going to be a sequel? Or did that take a year or so to to evolve?
Paul Hawken 3:58
Now I was planning on the generation prior to publication.
And I knew why. And what for the why was that? When you write a book or create a book, it's best to stay in your lane.
What I mean by that is, say what you're going to do do it and then say what you did, you know, I mean, that's like a good speech, they were gonna say said and tell people what you said, I mean, the same thing with a book, that the temptation with the book is to sort of peel off in certain direction to know they're more than digression and to take on more. And if there's anything that can take on more as climate crisis cleanse as a whole and so many different aspects of it. And what drawn on was, what it emerged from was really my experience in 2001, you know, which was that we didn't know then what the most substantive solutions were to reversing global war. And number two, collectively, we had named the goal. And the goal then and now still seems to be mitigating fighting, combating tackling and no climate change. We'll talk about that more. But I'm just saying is we hadn't in the goal. And we hadn't determined whether, in fact, we had the wherewithal in the means and understanding to achieve the goal of net zero by 2050. At that time. And so, drawdown was about mapping, measuring and modeling, to 100 most substantive solutions to reversing global warming, period. And we stayed right there. And I knew that drawdown was a what could be done book. I mean, it's like, here it is, these solutions are scaling. This is what they were cost. This is what you say, but they were global. There's a global model. And with all due respect to ourselves and to extraordinary research people, Chad Fishman, in particular, headed up research, there's no such thing as global, doesn't exist. And so people love the ranking. They love the metrics. So 123, the number three, source number six, all that, especially Americans love that video, especially in Europe, too. Dramatic countries, very proper, very orderly, so far. And I think, you know, we did a good job on that accepting those two things that are different, which is one is that the top solutions for a New Zealand, for Botswana, for our Belgium, for our Boston are different. They're not the same at all. Some of them are common, of course, in terms of energy sources, sure. But beyond that, and beyond food itself, and food systems, they splinter and go in different directions. And so I knew that, especially out to the public, but I knew beforehand that it was a what could be done book. Regeneration is how to get it done. And it's a bigger framing, and it's a bigger arms. And it is very much about accomplishing as opposed to identify.
Cory Ames 7:13
And as well cut that one of the most common questions that you got in q&a, as as you were traveling, doing speaking, circuits, workshops and things related to draw down was, what do I do? And how do I make a difference? How does the individual make a difference? Another interview, I listened to you with you, you said that your wife mentioned Jasmine, that she'd leave you if you didn't tell her what to do in this next book, that you're creating an enrichment? And so I'm wondering, one, was your wife satisfied with regeneration? And to? Maybe not? What's your answer to that question, or what people ask, but how do you feel when hearing that question, currently the what do I do? How do I personally make a difference?
Paul Hawken 7:53
Well, there's a paradox here about what can I do, and starting in 2001, British Petroleum with the help of all B and Mather, maybe other way around, but in other words, created the carbon footprint, I needed the car. And this is you could calculate your footprint. And this is what you could do sudden making British Petroleum look like, hey, we just drill holes in the ground and make gasoline you know, you're the ones driving. And so this is what you can do. You know, and they took this out of the tobacco industry playbook years old, who just make cigarettes. And advertise some children, you know, I mean, it was just so bizarre and baxi, people care about it. People said, Okay, what can I do and even before then, of course, but there is a great deal, so many things you can do to save me or whatever, these models, they're all good, and they'll meaningful. But if you could stack them all together, they wouldn't be any rare, nearly sufficient to the task at hand. And I think most individuals realize that and see that they should put the recycling bin out, they should use cold water in the washing machine, and they should eat less meat, perhaps that was not so evident 20 years ago, but now in Be careful about your clothing, how much you buy and keep it in buying secondhand clothing, all that. So so many things that you can do as an individual are very important only in the impact they have or don't have, as the case may be, but also in terms of reminding yourself every single day that you live on a planet and step lightly, so to speak. At the same time, I think because people knew as individuals, you know, that it was insufficient to the task at hand then there was a tendency to say, Well, are they going to do some music? They were big corporates, that big government and now next week at cocktail parties, Glasgow. So there is a tendency to look to these very, very large institutions, you know, as being the key is being the one to help throw away the half ability to make the really big changes that are needed in order to stem the climate crisis and so forth. But then, if you look at those institutions, big corporates, big government and competent parties, then 25 years of complete this upon. And it's not to say business hasn't made progress in certain areas, but it's been the businesses that are in the industry of renewable energy, turbans, and so forth. Those companies, those engineers, those inventors, those innovators, that spectacular, but the corporations that are basically destroying the earth, that are taking earth that are harming lives that are degenerate, are now paying much greater lip service to net zero and our sin offsets all that sort of stuff. And so that's a big change. But up until now, there hasn't been that. And so what regeneration is about is like, wow, there's a big difference between an individual and say, you know, Procter and Gamble, you know, there's a space in between is agency, it's Alice's groups, you know, it's cities, companies, people, it's classes, that schools, you know, it's our neighborhood, it's our communities is our churches. There's all these ways in which human beings can figure in networks and work together, know each other, trust each other. We'd love to solve problems together. That's why we're Homo sapiens as why we're here. That's why the Neanderthals aren't, he noticed, because we did that, and they didn't. And so we're still that way. And we're, we're trying to point to a regeneration is, that's where it's happening. And so it starts with an individual, it does, you know, I mean, individual talks to her friend and neighbor, family friend or somebody at the company, and things can grow. But those are where the solution belong their own local end of the day, you know, there's no such thing as global solutions. And who's local? Well, human beings,
Cory Ames 12:03
it's so much what you mentioned there that that is the the frustrating experience of it, the looking at, you know, the largest biggest defenders and in seeing what capacity and mass amount of resources and influence that they have to feel so insignificant in what actions you might take. And I think regeneration is a really good response to that. And I noticed myself reading feeling far more inspired and empowered and hopeful, which isn't often the experience that I have in consuming content related to how we do address this climate crisis. It's a difficult subject to touch on, because it is, I'm sure very frustrating to the journalists, the author's whomever reporting on it and writing about it. But I really do appreciate the experience that I had, in the way in which you described a completely different vision for how it is that we approach this. And one thing in particular, I'd love to touch on, you mentioned that it's not necessarily solutions problem that we have. But it's a lack of imagination. And I think this is where, you know, really gets into the substance of regeneration. But I'd love to hear more about that. Because if we have all the solutions, and we do I literally have the book drawdown right here on my desk. They're all here we have the tactics and the approaches. You know, what is this imagination that you're talking about in regeneration that we're lacking
Paul Hawken 13:20
any work backwards that when brought on does not have all the solutions, the website of regeneration? Has all the drawdown solutions, all the regeneration solutions are not in drawdown and solutions from other organizations as well. There's no such thing as a drawdown. Which is, you know, where we know. There are solutions, but it's the largest listing in the world of climate solutions and challenges, by the way, and how to get them done. And that's what Nexus is, it's really the purpose of a book in terms of imagination. What freezes the imagination is the amygdala every time and basically the way we communicated about climate is scientifically impeccable. I don't argue that at all. But it originally it was based on future existential threats and existential threat for sure a threat causes fear, remote, originally not so remote now. And then it was picked up by activists who used blame, and shaming, guilt, finger pointing and so forth, also accurate and in terms of who they're playing their fingers to no question about it. So I don't really cry. By the way, I think the both right. However, from a communication point of view, which is about earlier, I mean, humans don't respond that way to guilt, shame, blame, here threat, you know, it's just it's too much. And so, the emphasis has been on the probabilities of what's going to go wrong and how fast and how faster it's going to go wrong. Or you know, I mean, this this is an even more so this year than ever before, for real reasons. But what that has tended to do is actually shut people down. Even if they're sympathetic and empathetic to the issue. And so, you generation, one of the things I knew then and draw it on, but no now to it, but I talk about it now is that over 98% of people in the world completely disengage from doing any. And you say, Come on, I've said that before this Oh, no laughs doctors, you know, I've seen the latest polls. Yeah, 50% of Americans think we should do some, no question about it, and that government to do something in the corporations to do something, that doesn't mean they are doing. They're not. And this is not just true in the United States. It's true everywhere in the world. And some cases because they can't do a thing they live in impoverished conditions, we shouldn't expect them to, but we have to ask ourselves, I think how do we get into a situation where we have basically a movement to really renew, restore, you know, or license to be a civilization you know, and endurance to the future, you know, and have most of humanity have basically checked out in terms of doing and this is where imagination comes in. Because we have not been imagined. We have seen this as almost like I was brought up Catholic, I was an altar boy. I mean, I was schooled and guilt. Like, and then my friends are mostly I lived in Berkeley are mostly Jewish, and they were to you know, we were renewals when cold, you know, and in a sense, you know, we've looked at it as kind of thing we should wear a sack cloth. And you know, I don't do this, we're screwed. And that's, I mean, come on. That's what a lot of it says. But Kevin says he's right. It's not that I disagree. It's just that it's not motivating. And what motivates us is there. And we can be motivated to do something about it, without advocating or aggregating the science or the reality. It's like Wendell Berry said, be joyous, though, you've considered all that. And so we have to say, got it. Wow, amazing science, the most incredible collective science endeavor in human history. That is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And thank you, wow, we've delayed we hadn't been working so hard, that we should have been doing more earlier, etc, etc, etc. Now, what am I going to do? That's the question. And we know that if we try to browbeat people try to guilt trip them, try to make them afraid, and so forth. They're not going to join us, you know, they're not going to get involved. And so in less the climate movement is a joyous expression from a joyous expression of purpose. It'll fail, and what regeneration and he talked about there specifically, but the generation as offers not the book, the very core concept of generation offers, possibilities and imagination and breakthroughs in a coming together that we've never had before. Because it is already there within us, as opposed to some sort of parachute.
Cory Ames 18:13
And so from what I understand, you were as well involved in the civil rights movement in the 60s, doing some work with Martin Luther King Junior's folks, and as well acting as a staff photographer for the Congress of Racial Equality, what overlap or patterns, differences do you see between a movement like that, and what's evolving with the climate movement today, what's changed and what's different?
Paul Hawken 18:43
That's interesting about going to the south doing by John Montgomery, and then later with a core, you know, on voting rights, and dealing with the Klan rally in Mississippi and things like that, is that you could see social injustice in such a stark way, you know, I mean, it was black and white, I don't mean to hunt on colors, racial colors. I mean, just like, it was so, so clear, I mean, and horrible, by the way, and horrific, and I got to see hate, really up close and personal look at the eyes of it, you know, and people and is very instructive, but what I was seeing was ignorance. And it wasn't like the hateful people who were acting out of that hate. They were acting out of their education, of their social mores that surrounded them, you know, that was something I could hold for the rest of my life and still do and so forth. There's a lot of talk now about injustice, climate injustice, you know, that caused by climate change. And, you know, people living in low lying communities and in cities where there's no trees where it gets hot. are all the ways in which people are less privileged or paying a higher price for the changes sobered by Wait a minute, global warming is caused by social injustice out there, it's an outcome as well. But let's go up this go upstream, because you always want to go upstream when you're trying to fix something not to fix it downstream. And so we definitely have to address the suffering that's caused by climate change and the resilience that's needed and so forth. We also have to understand it's caused by injustice. And what I mean by injustice, is that we have an economic system, every single sector, whether it's a service you receive, or a product you purchase, or make has a supply chain, and you'd have to go a very short distance down that supply chain before you discover and see that it is taking life that is harming life, it is destroying life. As a matter of fact, it's not like that's the intention of this clothing company, or this department store, or this basketball, or this car or this whatever, you know, it's like it just is it's just true. It is no exception to it in terms of economic sectors. And so when you take life, you are degenerating, like it's not just like biospheres sense, like a river or an ecosystem, social cultures and people and health and well being and education and opportunity that's being taken. And as well, you know, it's all forms of life. So the interesting situation we're in now, that's been true for a long time, it's gotten worse and worse, worse, worse, no question about it. And we're at an inflection point, I think we're at an inflection point where we collectively not everybody, but we can see that that road, that degenerative path we've been walking, going on faster and faster, faster, we can see the end of that. I mean, that's what the headlines are telling us. That's what the weather is telling us. That's what social unrest is telling us. That's what economic polarization is telling us. That's what Angola uprisings, you know, all the illegal militia in the world in, its breaking down. So we generation is simply saying, Do we really want to go that way? How's that working? Now, I'm not talking about the super rich, but I'm talking about most everybody else. And the generations are one at saying, What if we had an economy that actually created more like, instead of less, what an interesting I did, that is where the magic comes in. And which is to reimagine what it means to be human being on your, at this time, given what we know. And what it means to me. And I didn't coined the term, I'm not the leader of anything that's regenerative. But the reason it's called regeneration is because we have no choice. We can go that keep going there, where we're going, sooner or later, we either regenerate life or we're not here at all. And I prefer that we make that choice now. Because it just is so much more expansive, and interesting and helpful and kind and compassionate and creative, as opposed to what we know, as is neoliberal capitalism, which is highly disruptive, and is turning life into money, by killing what and what's good is that money on a dying planet, right,
Cory Ames 23:33
I think that's extremely important to pay attention to because so many of these very public Net Zero commitments as an example, when the the Amazons of the world, it's mitigating a negative impact, as opposed to exactly what you're talking about in being a complete 180 in a different direction. Now, how can we just first do less harm, and then we can move more towards the the orientation that you're suggesting, Paul, with that vision? I think it is both aspirational and very exciting. But I do think that people start to think of what that means for them, or some sort of kind of personal fear or threat to the way things are. Because you mentioned I mean, the economic system for one, how drastically and dramatically would the way of business as it's done as an example, need to change for us to move towards a pathway of regeneration, as opposed as opposed to strictly extractive exploitative capitalism?
Paul Hawken 24:32
Well, yeah, I think the the threat of economic and job loss has been paying over people for decades about climate, you know, we, if we go with those liberals want to do you know, you're gonna lose your job, people and industries change all the time. You know, nobody talks about when we did the poor typewriter workers, the ones who made typewriters, nobody cared about them. And so but we're supposed to worry about coal barons You know, and workers who are basically protecting lungs and destroying health, so forth, not to worry about them, we should worry about them, but in which you worry about them by creating a just transition in terms of education, but Hillary Clinton said instead of calling people deplorable, she said, I'm President, I'm going to go to West Virginia and coal mining areas, and thank them for years and years and decades, found each being sick and, and harmed by coal and powering this country. You are heroes, you you're not bad people, and so forth. And I'll make sure everything I do in my administration is going to teach you and help you make a transition to clean industries and to educate your older to thank you to the gratitude from the American. Okay, that's what we should have that right. But when you said about your net, zero, sort of offsetting a loss is not a gain. And that's what you're seeing right now. You're seeing though, I saw Delta, you'll be net zero by 2050. facet. But they all say is going offsets I don't know. You know, Amazon says that Microsoft says, you know, PNG says that everybody's going to offset that doesn't work. First of all, 5% of opposites, actually sequestered carve, 95% don't have those protect things, which should be protected, okay. And if they weren't, they would then be deforested or exploited in such a way that cause we ask gas emissions to be a method, but the other half herbs called conditionality, which feeds somebody was doing something. And then somebody said, Wow, you actually are preventing, you know, carbon emissions, let me sell carbon credits, which is somebody who's gonna buy them and put them on their balance sheet, you know, but the idea that's a threat is, I think, upside down and back generations, that is the generation that's wrapped to our economic well being. And so right now, what we're doing is we're stealing the future, we're taking the resources of future generations, and combusting burning, deforesting making Amazon boxes the world for us now faster than your earth can regenerate Much, much. And whether it's the oceans, or grasslands, and wetlands, or whether it's mangroves, or whether it's fisheries, and the I can just go down the list, none of them are sustainable, none of them are regenerate, all of them are degenerating. So what we're doing is stealing the future regenerations about economic activity that heals the future. And it's the default mode of life. As soon as you stop scraping, cutting, burning poisoning, the land only options in the case of or fishing since the rate at which it rebounds and regenerates is starch. That was essays in the book about that. In regeneration, it is, is mind blowing, how quickly and so the imagination is what would an economic system look like creating more like that took life and we only have one. And it's called regenerative agriculture. It's emblematic of what's possible because we have an industrial agricultural system that basically minds the soil turns saw the third you know, and uses chemicals. Basically, to grow plants, you know, the soil is more of a medium than it is the whole planet, basically, because the plants are IV drip, so to speak of NPK fertilizers, which make weak plants, they may make big plants and they make a lot of plants, but the wheat and they're subject to insect infestation and pesticide well that kills the pollinators, bees or buys, etc. And then it's created unhealthy soil. And that creates weeds which are very unusual and very competitive with the plants. And then you have glyphosate herbicides, and so now you have NPK, and you have all these pesticides, herbicides, you know, again, stir well mix it up. And when you have deadzone on a golf, you know, poisoning of families, cattle, water wells, and you have food that's very deficient in terms of nutrition. It's the opposite of nutrient dense, nutrient sparse in terms of particular in terms of minerals, because the roots don't have to go down as deep to get the macro nutrients they need because of our fertilizers and so forth. So you have a system that is actually degrading and then farmers know that and if feeling, you know that being pressed in by their cost of going up to maintain their yields while the income they're getting a lottery pops down, and they're in trouble. And so that is economic danger. But the danger is coming from businesses usually and regenerative farming just flips that one. It's all about making healthy soil and healthy soil acts very differently in terms of the biota, the microbiome, it has the microbiome, just like we do, and we know so much more than we ever did about that last both sides, people and soil is a complex community. And that we don't nearly understand, but we know that the more complex in the more biota is in the soil interacting with itself, the healthier is are the plants and the more water soil can absorb can infiltrate, because the structure the cell changes from being hardpan and dense, you know, to something that has aeration and porosity. And so you see farmers capturing 1020, even more 30 In one case, times more water per square, whatever, you know, breaker per square meter, whatever, in then before and that means there's so now is returned to being a reservoir as resilience. So you have drought, plants do okay, you have too much rain, which you seeing again, and again just saw it in New England with bomb cyclone, then he can absorb the water. So have resiliency that now the plants the roots go deeper, they can the President soil structure, there's more, that's where the minerals are. That's where they put the sugars. Photosynthesis is a sugar making process, you know. And those sugars are exuded by the roots, you know, those foods, then those sugars are taken up by bacteria. And they feed them and they're enzymatically break down the rock, the sand, mineral smell so that they're making bioavailable, plants makes that healthier, stronger, more nutrient dense, healthier for animals, if it's animals add Healthy People who eat the plants are both doesn't make any difference equates all health comes from soil, and the costs go down by the farmer income goes up, or at least stays the same. So they're becoming hospitable, they're not poisoning their kids. And they're not causing the dead zone all over the world ocean where the runoff agriculture is killing life. So this is an example of really regeneration, regeneration this way or that way. I mean, and what you're seeing is that regeneration agenda bag is as a complex and emergent technology, because these farmers are learning all sorts of I say tricks in the best sense of where they meet techniques and so forth that apply to their soil type, their crop type, their climatic conditions, and that are innovative. And this is not going back to the past, this is going to the future, which is why regenerative agriculture is just exploding right now in popularity, because it was
Cory Ames 32:53
mean in in that too, there's just so many different layers of things to be very excited and obsessive about you know, whether it's just creating more nutrient dense food, you know, so that as a product of what we consume and eat on a daily basis, we know we are all healthier, because that is undoubtedly a major issue to the more mechanical components of how a farmer can run their operation successfully sustainably and profitably. There's so many layers to that. And that was something that I did really enjoy going section by section and regeneration of constantly kind of exploding my mind in these depths of things that I had such little familiarity with. It's so simple and complex. At the same time, oftentimes, the solutions were kind of like, well, just, if we just leave it be, you know, it will take care of itself. The issue is making sure that we leave those things be protect those areas, or those resources. One thing I really enjoyed, Paul, is that you bring this connection of meaning and purposeful work into this conversation of regeneration and addressing the climate crisis. I'd be interested to hear more what what is meaningful and purposeful work to you. And what is the connection, the attractive the appeal to that that component as it relates to the climate crisis?
Paul Hawken 34:08
Well, I think one of the main drivers of depression in the world is a lack of purpose. We rarely hear about that, hear a lot about depression, and certainly hear about what's happening to the newest cohort, not very nervous, but I mean, youth are between 16 and 20, per se, and, you know, poll after poll, both in this country, but Indonesia and UK and England, and all over the world is showing that that cohort is very anxious. 70% of people are experiencing anxiety, depression, fear, panic, because of climate and questioning whether to have children whether they should at all, and I think 39% of that is questioning whether they should bring a child under world at this time. And so, if you feel that way, and with all due respect, what does it mean? If you go to work at Amazon, you watching overconsumption of flying down, flying out of their, you know, boxes made from Virgin timber from the boreal forest, the largest stock of carbon in the world, on terrestrial systems, you know, and like, and you're seeing what people are buying, or does Oh, my God, you know, and 40% of it or more, it's coming from China. And it just, you're there. And it'd be very difficult, the clever Amazon ads thought was, and to feel that you have a purposeful life. And if that isn't true there, and I don't speak for any Amazon employees and so forth. But it is definitely true. In for the 4.3 billion people who are impoverished, there's no such thing as a poor person, there's only people living in conditions that are impoverished, they don't have access, or to the energy, to the education, to the healthcare, to the housing, to the infrastructure to the pure water that they need and deserve. And you see, I say anything in the book somewhere, I would say, if you want to understand poverty, look, to see who's mad, and go to get upstream, so to speak, or downstream, depending how you look at it. And then you understand why people are poor, and whether what they're doing basically have jobs that are meaningless to them, at least if not to the world as a whole. And I don't mean, take care of their children or family or having a garden, I mean, their, their, their work life. And that's true in United States, too. I mean, fast food workers, you know, buy me a happy one. I mean, it's become meaningless in terms of what is my life about? No. And when people do that, then they feel that they turned to other things, they turned to groups organizations to admit they become addicted. Lots of things. So I'm just saying is the lack of purpose. And meaning is a symptom of how far off we come from creating just share kind, passionate and abundant. I shouldn't say it societies, because this world is not abundant to most at all. And yet, it really isn't abundant, beautiful earth. And so the thing about the climate solutions, that we end the challenges, by the way, but the solutions, and the challenges that we go into detail, and website Nexus is that if there wasn't a climatologist alive, but we didn't understand what was causing extreme weather, we want to do every one, because they have cascading benefits for people, for children, for PAM, you know, for water, for animals, for biodiversity, for the future, for abundance, food quality for healthcare. And so we don't need to have an emergency, or we don't need to go into crisis modality to know these solutions is kick ass. But what they do though, is they give people when you look at those solutions, they give us somebody a mother or father or whomever, son, you know, brother, whatever. give that person a sense of meaning bringing the earth back to the life brings you back. And what those who live in impoverished conditions often lack it's not a sense of personal well being by in terms of their spirit, but often lack of sense of meaning in terms of what they do. And because we don't, we haven't created a society in which that is that. As I said, the poverty doesn't want to be fixed. It wants to fix itself. The regeneration, the fundamental principle of regeneration is for us to create the conditions for self organization, as opposed to organize the world and fix it or know it, they're fixed, it's us. And that's again goes back to the joyous expression of purpose. So if people feel that they're doing something that the mother or father can come home from work and saying, This is what I did today, in terms of debate Atlanta situation, or whenever was so many examples, there, it can be proud for the children's elders, well, my dad does, my mother does to devote to whatever, you know, this is missing. This is lacking, whether it's in Alabama, or you know, or whether it's in Tanzania, whether it's in shanty towns, you know, the Merola I mean, we're, we are wasting environment, were wasting us. We're bracing ourselves we're wasting people set a system that actually wastes people's lives.
Cory Ames 39:46
And I would undoubtedly agree. I think that's that's why we go through so many layers of sorting through purpose and going through the existential, especially in our 20s and early years of wondering what we're supposed to do. And where are we supposed to fit in? What are our strengths? It's very difficult to actually in our current system to find something that feels very purposeful and meaningful, we go to different layers of it to where, you know, at a baseline, maybe there's a company that's providing good pay and good benefits, and they're nice people, you know, and then we rationalize that that's okay. But even still the core of the work, know what we're doing, might not feel that purposeful to us. And so I really do love that that position of what could be more motivating what's what's a more important mission than restoring the health of our planet?
Paul Hawken 40:33
Well, you might have seen that piece in The New York Times today about McKinsey 1150 employees at McKinsey are wrote a letter in the spring and just being published right now. And some quit calling out McKinsey for basically helping aiding and abetting 43 of the most polluting companies will send saying, Wow, what are you thinking? We don't want to be a part of an organization that does that. And again, so you can be highly paid and high status, it's very difficult to become an McKinsey consultant. I mean, very difficult. And yet, what's the purpose? So your example is spot on, you know, in terms of just because it pays well, doesn't mean it's got a good night.
Cory Ames 41:18
That's what leaves a lot of young people continuing to sort and search for more in there, there is a, I think it's a parallel of a movement of my purpose driven and mission driven businesses that kind of have that appeal. That's become a little bit more popular, like the certified B Corp movement as one people are attracted to work for companies like that, because it's the idea or the the promises that it's more than just a job that you are doing some work that that is ideally going to benefit people outside of yourself. And so Paul, I'm wondering, as well, there's an event that's happening here, at least at the time of our record, recording the COPE 26 in Glasgow, I'm curious, is there anything that that you might pay attention to as an event like this happens with these these meetings of very large countries, corporations, all this kind of stuff? What are you paying attention to, if anything, as an event like this passes,
Paul Hawken 42:13
almost nothing. The good thing about them, the meaning is the green zone, okay? The green zone is where most people are, I think it was Dwight, they say 20,000 people there 2000 can get into the balloons out, which is the company and country represent the company being the rich companies, the sponsors want to pay their way, and just see what companies are they like, but, and the green zone, though, you have basically what I call activists, and scientists and podcasters, and all sorts of people, kind of like, you know, their antenna are brushing against each other, changing pheromones and so forth, you know, and learning and connections and so on. I think that is actually kind of exciting. There's no headline that comes out. Now, that's because it's not headline material, you know, this, the real deal, is how change happens, you know. And so that's part is really cool. Inside the blue zone, in the 195 signatories to the UN framework on climate change, who have a say, at the UK, cop 26. Each one of those countries goes there representing its own interest. That's their job, the person or persons who go there representing the media or representing Paraguay or representing Indonesia have one job. Their job is to represent their country's interests. And so those are just buried if you're an island nation with rising seas. Your interest is to say, stop the ship, combine, you know, it's our culture, it's our life. It's you know, it's everything. If you're a country like Indonesia, that's still burning its forests for palm oil, and now building roads in the Columban pond for fossil fuel exploration. Well, your interest is very, very different, you know, in terms of piling, anything that might cause a loss of funding or loans or investments or exploitation, no. And so the idea that 195 countries can come to an agreement that is remotely on par with the task at hand with prices on hand, it's not unlikely, it is impossible. It's absolutely possible because that their interests are not aligned, unless your interests are aligned. This is what you can do in a community. This is what you can do in smaller geographical regional areas, so forth. The things that unite people are much more important than what divides so forth. And you can come together right left middle center, you know, religious ever doesn't matter. You know, When you have those situations, people come together, and they work together and try to figure out how to solve problems together, that will never happen on a conceptual level. I'm not decrying the work of the UN framework on climate change at all activity and hard work. I mean, they're amazing people that thought about it, doing the best they can, as you know, the United Nations, you know, to organize it, it's very complicated process. Reason is, you know, it was a 12 day conference takes so long to move through the massive bureaucratic processes, you know, they're involved, you know, kind of come to an agreement, you know, but it doesn't make me upset so much as I think it's just a pointer to where real change can occur. And real change occurs, it's local, in the broadest and most specific sense of the word, you know, it's not international wouldn't we'd love to have an international covenant, you know, that actually subordinate the country centers to the whole world, you know, to the whole church to future generations. I mean, that's, but that's not gonna happen. We have to do it.
Cory Ames 46:13
But I think that just speaks to important sentiment that you communicate throughout regeneration is that there can be this tendency to hold your breath and wait and watch, especially, you know, as you mentioned, the 60 or so percent Americans who think that we should be doing something aggressively to act on climate, or that businesses should be making these these changes in these moves, it's that same sort of feeling or sensation to be like, well, you know, what's going to come out of this is it going to be something of significance or progress, and you feel a bit powerless, just waiting and watching it feels out of your control. And so I do think that that's important to communicate, because it's made, there's a big deal man of it, you know, in in having any sort of overlapping climate or not, you probably know if you're paying attention to the news that that's happening this week, or, you know, here in a few days anyways. And so I think I do really appreciate what you stress is that focus of, you know, changes in your control, and it's just a matter about where you look more so than deferring any sort of expectation or action.
Paul Hawken 47:12
But this is where social entrepreneurship comes in. I mean, let's put it this way. In the blue zone, there's no social entrepreneurship. is there's no entrepreneurs or whatever kind of change comes from the margins. And, you know, it doesn't come, it just does now, have countries prepared for it and tried to increase their commitments, you know, and sharpen up their policies and to impress, and to inform, yeah, how the states has tried to, as we know, UK talks, a good talk, many countries have really stepped out and said, you know, get it understand, this is what we're aiming to do. You know, we'll see what those commandments total up to you. But so far what we know, because most of those commandments are already understood and have been publicized. It doesn't get us anywhere near to the IPCC calls, you know, SRT six calls, basically a special report number 60, came out last year, calling for basically a 45% reduction in fossil fuel combustion by 2030. And not to exceed 1.5 degrees centigrade. I mean, those are the goals of the IPCC. And I don't know how to look at it when it's all said and done, whether any country's commandments actually come close to that I probably some will come close to our countries, but in Toto.
Cory Ames 48:47
Well, that's important of what what's to keep in mind, what is the ultimate goal that that was agreed upon? Paul, I do really want to be respectful your time here. Thank you so much for spending some time with me. Before we wrap up you mind if I ask you a couple quick questions? Sure. Yeah. Well, first, what's maybe a an additional book, film or resource that you might recommend to folks if they're interested in some more interesting and unique views on the climate crisis outside of your book regeneration that you might recommend,
Paul Hawken 49:17
but interesting question, I look around me like I had stacks that I'm reading, I tend to go outside of the climate narrative to, to look at, you know, I look at the book by emergent emergent strategies. I'm going to hash up her name's Andre, Marina, Andre and Marie Brown, together first name, so sorry, emergent strategies. Really brilliant book about organization and organized really, really, really, and really how to do it. And it makes sense, as opposed to other organizational books. I think that was really, really important. I'm reading harshly I mean, I'm reading rooted or meeting So many how to be an animal is a really, really great book. In Susan's Mars new book on plant communication or tree communication, I love that one. It's Monica Galliano's book on the same thing on plant intelligence, I find that fascinating. And we really saw a very Lopez work and also on Horizon his new book before he died, he died about indigeneity I'm a weird, you know, I mean, I, I'm, I had asthma as a child, my mother kept me in bed a lot. And I just read like a book bar united. And so, if you went to, there's a really beautiful book to buy on the land keys, a stamp inside this called dopamine nation, on that be the really interesting to see how we have become addicted to dopamine. And not just on our phones and social media, but obviously, until, you know, drugs and themselves, you know, and how it works, and why, in a way that we may not understand why this hormone has actually kind of screwed up our society in such a interesting way. And how it's being used by, you know, the like button on Facebook, the lichens, air, you know, was, I mean, talk about dopamine, when they got that. So that's a really interesting book, always trying to meet things that give me a sense of Zeitgeist, like, what, who are we? What do we contain? How do we how are we responding? And so the on the kind of books themselves, you know, I, I've read those books, and I find them quite so helpful, because they tend to be here base, they tend to be about a lot of jargon. I used a lot of jargon, the last bit about si six, IPCC and I went by sea and jargon facts, metrics, ranking, like grounded, don't change. They do not change people's minds. They do not motor. So we have to make sure that we're speaking a language that isn't climate and harlots. Climate parlance is there the same way doctors or hospital talk in shorthand. pilots will talk in short, football players on the field will talk in shorthand, shorthand is very, very important. But in climate, that absolutely do its people. It's useful to talk to somebody who's literate in science and so forth. And so go do it. But to the 98%, this falls on deaf ears. So I'm always looking for ways to understand things that are much more understandable and approachable, in language that doesn't get blocked out by people's aversion to jargon, acronyms, and things that make them feel like they're not smart. Actually, they are smart, that when you use that kind of language, people will turn it against you. Because it makes them feel like not that smart, or it's just not interesting enough as writing starts.
Cory Ames 53:17
Paul Hawken 53:19
So that was a lot
Cory Ames 53:21
our list of recommendations that that we'll certainly have linked up. Next one for you is, are there any particular daily practices or maybe morning routines that you feel like you absolutely have to stick to? If anything?
Paul Hawken 53:37
I do, and I have, I haven't been sticking to them. So I don't know. You know, this is a hypocrite speaking now, because the response in the book has been overwhelming. But in the routine I should stick to and do when I have more time. And because I got like, I was really early this morning doing it'll a class nearly seven already. And so there goes a meditation that goes to yoga, it goes to hot water and lemon. It's like, and there goes the journaling, boom, boom, boom, oh, God, you know, and then what happens is that, that's an hour and a half, you know, it's like, and then by then it's nine o'clock, something and then the day starts the other day, the this time zone, they start, and then I end up doing stuff at night. And so the month I did go outside spot, and we had a big, big big storm, and so beautiful provincials a rain day. And so I went out with a broom and Reagan and I just cleaning the pathways and all that sort of stuff. And air smells so good. And so I did do one thing for myself before literally, it was it was just practically dark, too. And then I fed the Raven. I've been getting rid of him for so long. I mean, we all know each other. We know Family, you know, the siblings, we know who is there, who in it. And it's so beautiful. I mean, I just like, just, I don't know just how close they allow me to come to them in trust, you know, and just to see their beauty and, and listen to all the variety of columns they have here in the morning. You know, if I even say my outfit, if I wake up and pull the curtain on, on the third floor, they're down on down far away, they actually can see, they're waiting for you. Other injuries, you know, and then they come down. It's like, it's just such a that beautiful experience somebody but I say what is the one thing I should do? You know, people are what's one thing I should do? I think I disappoint most people are telling me this. But it's really to find out like to find out where you live, the soils, the migratory birds that are coming and where they come from, and where are they going to and why are they eating while they're there? You know, same with the pollinator, you know, what are the wild bees? What are the big Italian beach? You know? What are the names of the plants, the native plants? What are the ones that are invasive and introduced? What are the names of the trees? Well, who who lived on that land? You're living on? Probably unseeded land, from the one of the 500 indigenous cultures in North America. Action, just American stuff, Turtle Island. And it's really about, you know, where the hummingbird nests, you know, how it nests, you know, how it sleeps at night. You know, it's the it's upside down, you know, it goes down 60 miles an hour when it's playing show off. And, you know, longer lives. And it has the same amount of heartbeats as an elephant. And but it lives two years and elephants, you know, over 100, I mean, just discovering the beauty of the world that you inhabit, even a suburb still is, and, or the beauty, the word, the world corroding story, but wants to come out. And I feel like that sense of falling in love, no, is the most important thing. You want to protect what you love, says that's so, so cute. And it's a matter of expanding that love, you know, beyond one's kin, family and partner, you know, into your home, whatever, to the unseen. You see it, you look at it, really the unseen world around what it is saying to you what it's manifest how it works, and the mystery of it. That's what really, I mean, I kind of do some of that every day, I figure out wow. It's like, I mean, there's just so many beautiful, so much beautiful literature. So, yeah, that's what you should do find out where you live.
Cory Ames 58:08
I think that's an excellent recommendation. And it has me imagine that that that was something of your experiences, you put together the different sections of this book, whether we're talking about marine protected areas or clean cookstoves, or whatever it might be, I'm imagining you approach those subjects and topics in a similar way to what you just described there.
Paul Hawken 58:29
Yeah, I think there's there is resonance because Isabella tree writes about wilding, you know, and then that was stayed in Sussex, England, which she and Charlie Burrell did such a beautiful, beautiful essay, you know, where they took a farm that was failing, big one that they inherited, and then ring fenced it found the interior fences and brought in an ancient form of pigs, animals and cattle, you know, each couple 1000 years, and then let them go and then do any then do any. And then 20 years, they have more red listed species on their land when they went wild, completely wild, then all the conservation areas in the UK combined, and they have birds nesting pair of white storks in the UK in 600 years. Wow. This is regeneration. This is what's there. So, you know, it's in us to that's the thing it's, you know, our 30 trillion cells are regenerating every nanosecond. That's who we are. We're just you know, we are keystone species one of the we can create more life and how we live and step by step we're not gonna do it overnight, don't But learning and that's why I love about a punch list, you know, and in the website, look at all the punch lists, and these are what people commit to do in a month or a year, whatever they decide, and sometimes there are companies classes, this is no commandments and the commandments is so beautiful and diverse all over the place. And so you see, regeneration, again, is so in itself so diverse in what you can do is that it's not about like having to get breaking again, you know, being a good Catholic apologist you make with America Remember, it's more about celebrating what it means to be alive. No, we're all gonna die. So us and it's not that you don't have any questions to ask people. When you fadeaways. Climate keep asking and it comes down, down. So we don't have to worry about that one is yarda.no words. The question is, how are we going to live? That's the best? And do we want to live? Like guilt? feared, like, do something terrible is going to happen? Or do I live in a way that is celebratory, that is engaged, that is jorts that's where we have music, where we have friends where we honor, you know, have gratitude for being alive at all in going out every morning, oh, my god, I'm so glad I'm alive, as opposed to thinking, you know, self dooms. You don't need to do it, especially on climbing. And those are the choices, you know, and I think that you need to make every day we have to want to work can be notions they need. And they lead to very different outcomes. And they lead to what she referred to earlier, which is imagine that's how magic, the imagination comes alive. In that part of the brain, not part of the brain.
Cory Ames 1:01:45
As you as well saying that the book, you know, it's actions that start to form and change your your beliefs. And we're we brought up the regenerative agriculture explosion. For one, it's not necessarily easy work to take a conventional industrial farm to one that's regenerative. It's quite quite the process to get there. But But I mean, surely talk about what is purposeful and meaning work. And then the rewards of that, as you're describing everything from the soil and the the earthworms to the new types of birds that are nesting there are returning and talk about such rewarding work, and really, really incredible fruits of that labor.
Paul Hawken 1:02:23
And even those big bars, you know, they're they're not stupid. They know it's a big transition. So they do one part of the bar first, then the next part. And the next part, they do it in such a way that they don't they they abate the risk of loss of income, and they learn as they do as they go. So, I mean, it's not like you can do this overnight, you know, but what you can do is, it's like I said to when at, let's go this way together, and learn and share. And who knows what, no,
Cory Ames 1:02:58
absolutely agree. Very exciting vision, Paul. And before we finish up here, what where's the best place for folks to keep up with you and regeneration? Where do you think the most appropriate next actions are?
Paul Hawken 1:03:10
www.regeneration.org. And I get the input emails. I get around. So that would be we share with other inputs for Nexus, you know, if you think there's something we should do that ad, and then there's just very, very receptive to that. And then we haven't published it yet because it was new or sort of understaffed. Overwhelmed, but we'll publish the events thing really soon. Maybe the speaker next week, then Podcast coming events. So we've been there. And so, and there's more, yep. So lovely.
Cory Ames 1:03:51
Well, we'll have all things regeneration linked up with our show posts at grow. ensemble.com. Paul, thank you once more. I really appreciate you taking the time.
Paul Hawken 1:04:02
Thank you so much, Cory. I mean, and thanks for what you do. Really? That's what we're talking about. Right?
Cory Ames 1:04:09
Alright, y'all. That's a wrap on another episode of the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcast as always so grateful to have you listening in. If you love the show, please leave us a review on Apple podcasts or hit subscribe wherever it is that you get yours. And as well. I want to invite you to sign up for our Better World weekly newsletter. This is our weekly discussion with our community of social entrepreneurs and changemakers on all things building a better world is a newsletter I write and publish send out myself every single Monday go to grow ensemble.com backslash newsletter, to join in on that discussion all things building a better world. Go to grow ensembl.com backslash newsletter to get the next one in your inbox. And finally, if you know of a company work within a company or run a company that might be interested in sponsoring the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcast, we always love starting conversations with potential partners who share our vision of building a better world together. Go to social entrepreneurship.fm backslash contact. There, you can fill out a quick form, start that conversation with us. These sorts of partnerships fuel our mission to build a better world together. Alright, y'all, until next time.
Author, Speaker, Founder
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.
Paul has appeared in numerous media including the Today Show, Bill Maher, Larry King, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, and has been profiled or featured in hundreds of articles including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Washington Post, Business Week, Esquire, and US News and World Report. His writings have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Resurgence, New Statesman, Inc, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, Orion, Libération, and other publications.
Paul authors articles, op-eds, and peer-reviewed papers, and has written eight books including five national bestsellers: The Next Economy (Ballantine 1983), Growing a Business (Simon & Schuster 1987), and The Ecology of Commerce (HarperCollins 1993) Blessed Unrest (Viking, 2007), and Drawdown, The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (Penguin). Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Little Brown, September 1999) co-authored with Amory Lovins, has been read and referred to by several heads of state including President Bill Clinton who called it one of the five most important books in the world during his tenure as President. His books have been published in over 50 countries in 30 languages. Growing a Business became the basis of a 17-part PBS series, which he hosted and produced. The program, which explored the challenges and pitfalls of starting and operating socially responsive companies, was shown on television in 115 countries and reached more than 100 million people. Paul co-authored and edited Drawdown in collaboration with its extraordinary research team. He is currently writing Carbon, The Business of Life, to be published by Penguin RandomHouse.
Read more at paulhawken.com.
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