Real Organic Podcast | Episode One
Project Drawdown and Regeneration with Paul Hawken
Prefer to download and listen to this episode through your favorite podcast player or on Spotify? Find the official Real Organic Podcast here.
Natural foods pioneer and climate change author Paul Hawken shares the story behind the creation of Project Drawdown, as well as his upcoming book Regeneration: Reversing the Climate Crisis in One Generation. Paul and Dave talk about the role organic agriculture plays in healing the planet.
Paul Hawken: “To put it simply, no one is coming to help. There is not a brain trust that’s going to figure it out, work out the problems while we ponder and wait. The most complex, radical climate technology on Earth, is the human heart and mind, not a solar panel.”
Dave Chapman: Hello, I’m Dave Chapman. I am the Executive Director of the Real Organic Project. Real Organic Project is a grassroots movement started by farmers and it really grew out of the ashes of defeat as we attempted to reform the National Organic Program.
We were unsuccessful in our efforts, so many farmers got together and said: “We need to find a way to communicate to people what is being lost (under the USDA Organic label) and why it’s important.”
And I would say that if you looked at what makes organic farming important, it’s about soil health. It’s become part of a national conversation now, as people start to understand.
You know, if we look back at the beginning thinking of organic farming, it was that healthy soil produces healthy plants, healthy animals, and healthy people. And I think as that has become a movement, it’s come to include healthy communities and even most importantly, healthy climate.
We’ve come to realize that agriculture is one of the great destroyers of our climate and perhaps the most critical path to reversing the climate crisis that we’re all in.
One of the great thinkers about how to do that is our guest today, Paul Hawken. Paul has written many books that have been important for me; the most-recent one was called “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed To Reverse Global Warming.”
Paul is working right now on his next book, which is called “Regeneration: How to Reverse Climate Change In One Generation.”
These are critical ideas and Paul is enormously eloquent in challenging us to face these issues that are overwhelming, and terrifying – and in fact, to have the courage to act on them.
So, I’m very excited to have Paul come today. He’s also going to be the Keynote Speaker at our Symposium at Dartmouth College on April 3rd and 4th, to which you’re all invited. And I really hope that you’ll come.
It’s an important event – we will have a number of farmers and academics and journalists speaking. Eliot Coleman will be giving a keynote address, JM Fortier will be speaking, David Grinspoon, (Dr.) Tyrone Hayes, (Maine Congresswoman) Chellie Pingree – many great champions of the organic movement.
So, please join us on April 3 and 4, and now, let’s get on to our conversation with Paul.
Dave Chapman: So, Paul, welcome.
Paul Hawken: Oh, thank you so much. I’m happy to be here.
Dave Chapman: Well, let’s take the next step then from Natural Capitalism to Drawdown. What was that evolution for you?
Paul Hawken: That evolution, it started in 2001. And I was always an environmental writer and grew up in the Sierra Club and around, you know. So I kind of thought everybody was an environmentalist. You know, until I moved out of Berkeley.
And I knew I didn’t know much about climate. And so I was really so impressed by Al Gore’s book Earth in the Balance And Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature and Jim Hansen’s work. And I thought we had some really bright, smart people. We do, and they are and were.
And so I just felt like that wasn’t my province, you know. That was an area where I would never catch up with these guys. And I always mentioned it and referred to it in my environmental writing but never really dug deep until 2001.
And that’s when the third assessment came out on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And it was more pessimistic than the second, which is more pessimistic than the first, and the fourth and fifth successively have been the same.
And that’s because they’re based on consensus science and consensus science is actually BS. There is no such thing as consensus science. Consensus science – it means that the Saudi Arabians and the Venezuelans and the Chinese and the Russians and God knows what else the US could actually do to tamp down science.
It was a consensus all right, but there wasn’t a science consensus.
It was a political consensus too, you know.
And so because science is evidentiary, it has nothing to do with consensus. If science was consensus it wouldn’t be science.
Then, well as an English major, I became confused about the language that was being used by science. Petagrams and gigatons and [152C?]. And I mean how many Americans understand Celsius really, you know? And just the whole language was very arcane and removed from people’s everyday understanding.
And it was also emphasizing future existential threat; “By 2050 this will happen” “By this, by this…” But mostly the language and the verbiage of the verbs themselves – with mitigating, combating, fighting, tackling climate change.
And I felt like those verbs aren’t goals. And I wanted to name the goal.
And so that’s when I started to say “Can we name the goal Drawdown?”
If you’re going the wrong way and you know it and it’s heading to a cliff or whatever, you stop, and you turn around.
So that’s Drawdown.
Next, I began to talk to NGOs and institutions, colleges and universities, friends, and say “Can we just map, measure, and model the most-substantive, impactful solutions to reversing global warming?”
Two thinkings there – measure it, and the reverse. That [one] can lead us to reversal, that [one] has to stop.
And begin to draw down, you know CO2 that we have put in the air. And everybody that I talked to actually was interested in that, but not interested in doing it. They thought it was a good idea. And I thought it was a good idea, too. And they would ask me “Well why don’t you do it?” I said, “If I knew how to do it I wouldn’t be asking you.”
So nothing happened for several years. And I forgot about it until 2013 and that’s when Bill McKibben wrote Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.
And what he had done, is basically set a match to all the unburnable carbon in the balance sheets of the coal gas and oil companies all over the world. And the research that Mark Campanale had done Carbon Tracker in London, and then just burned it.
And of course, it was so horrific what would happen. And so, it was terrifying.
But I had friends come to me then and just say “Wow it’s game over. We tried we failed. We did our best. I’m going to try to see if I can move to the Squamish Valley in British Columbia or move north.” All that sorta stuff.
And I had the opposite experience. I felt like when people give up sometimes there’s an opening actually because it’s like surrender. Like, “I don’t know.” Neither did I by the way.
And so that’s when I started Project Drawdown to figure that out.
And you know I mean Climate Change to that point had been in the public sphere for 40,45 years. So it wasn’t news and nobody had made a list of the top 10, 20, 30,40, 50, you-name-it solutions.
It did not exist. Nobody had done the math.
Which I find anthropologically fascinating to this day. I mean you could Google the top Asian badminton players and it in less than a millisecond it will be there on your screen right?
Dave Chapman: Yeah right.
Paul Hawken: The arcane things that you can list the top ten of are extraordinary. But top ten solutions to global warming? And it’s just hysterically funny. I mean you know “concerned scientists” have put a power strip in your home entertainment center. I’m not kidding. It’s like “What?”
This is the Union of Concerned Scientists you know. And every one was different. And there was no math. It was like “Oh well, use cold water you know when you’re using washing machines.” It’s like I mean…
And the thing is, for people who cared and were concerned unless you had an IQ lower than room temperature if you looked at this list you’d know we’re screwed.
This? This is what I can do?
It’s so inadequate to the task and the enormity at hand that no wonder people were giving up.
And so I felt like we should do draw down. And so that’s how it came about.
Dave Chapman: Yeah, yeah. I think that that overwhelm that so many of us confront when we deal especially with this problem is – it is kind of the question that we somehow have to answer or find the language for or find the way of getting together to talk about it.
Just as an example, I have a good friend who is a professor of labor history and she’s a fighter and she’s an activist and she’s out all the time working for me.
Paul Hawken: Who’s that? Is that Julia?
Dave Chapman: Her name is Annelise Orleck and she’s a professor at Dartmouth, and she just wrote a book called We’re All Fast Food Workers Now. And that line actually came from an adjunct professor down in Florida who made the same amount of money as he would have made as a greeter at Walmart. And you know with all the same problems in his life of making that money.
So, she wrote a book about the global labor movement and the ways in which it is finding connection in this new economy, this new wired-up economy and agriculture incidentally is in there – there’s a whole thing on the Driscoll’s boycott all that – quite interesting.
When I talk with her about Climate Change she gets it and she cares, but I see that she gets that kind of unfocused haziness that we all get because we go “Yeah, but what can I do about this?”
I see that this is the thing Drawdown is beautiful at – it lists, if we just did these things then it is game over. Game over, we won. We have reversed it, we have drawn down enough and created a green-enough, verdant planet to cool itself.
So, it is the human motivation and belief system and ability to act that is the real challenge here.
Paul Hawken: I agree with her. I mean listen, I created, imagined, and executed – with a great team of people, by the way. I mean, my God, Drawdown.
But it was limited by choice. I actually kept it very limited.
And because I always knew I was going to do Regeneration, the sequel. And the reason for that is that the research that was done, the methodology that we used was very conservative.
We only did solutions that were scaling, Number One. Number Two, they had to have extensive peer-reviewed science. Number Three they had to have robust economic data from internationally respected institutions i.e; World Bank, Bloomberg Energy, IPCC, whatever.
Only when those three occurred could we actually model a solution.
And then when we modeled it, we chose the median the low median if there was a range in terms of its impact – it either led to sequestration or avoided emission.
And then we chose a very low learning rate. A learning rate is how fast something goes down in terms of cost to the buyer. As it scales up the cost goes down.
We chose almost flatlining rates. I mean we just didn’t speculate that “Oh it’s going to be half as much in five years, and those are the numbers ok?”
And my purpose in doing so was that nobody, particularly the science community, could do a ‘gotcha’ – which is.. The science community is a ‘gotcha’ community and if you do something that misses a decimal point or whatever, they’re right there you know? Kind of like dogs in the bushes you know, and they’re gonna bite your ankle.
And I wanted to make sure that, that nobody could go after it and say “yeah, but” – you know a “yeah but.” You know, all these guys and these people and.. And we never did get a gotcha.
In fact, it’s taught from not only fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth – every grade school in the United States, it’s taught in MIT Graduate School and Stanford Graduate School and many others. And 14 languages. Because it kind of, it was sort of impeccable that way.
But what’s missing? What’s missing is all sorts of things and I’m acutely aware of it.
And that’s what Regeneration really addresses.
And that is society and poverty and social justice. I mean they’re not there. Because I thought if I tried to do too much in one book, it would be rejected, discarded, or people weren’t ready for it in a way to see the connections.
And really Regeneration is about stitching together the broken strands that connect us to each other, connect us to nature, and connect nature to nature. We’ve have been doing nothing for the last 200 years but severing and breaking and smashing them, you know.
And I kind of want to say, I don’t write it but, I say “Generation? How’s generation working for you all?” You know it’s not.
And so it’s the same thing, which is we have to stop doing that and turn around and go the other way.
And Regeneration, I mean it was in the broadest sense – not just soil, you know, which is extraordinary, not just in terms of wetlands, coastlines, peatlands, not just in terms of
grasslands – but actually in terms of our cities, our schools, our society.
You know in all ways because they are coevolved, they affect each other. Our ill health in the world comes in no small part from the fact that our soil turned to dirt.
That connection, that conceptual connection has been broken, as the physical connections have been broken. Both. Like most people don’t even realize you know, that food is only one third as nutritious as it was 30, 40 years ago.
And so Regeneration is really just a pleasure to do because it’s so much about creation and innovation and beauty but it’s also very much about.. It encompasses oceans for sure, but [also] equity. And forests, but also favelas you know? Grasslands and ghettos, mountains and migrants.
Not to make a complicated but to make it connected and beautiful and to show that basically we have ghettoized climate we’ve ghettoized the solutions. We’ve siloed them.
We think it belongs to the environmental minister in a country that it’s their problem. [We think] my problem is housing or fisheries or transport or health or education defense and finance – and no. It’s the solutions to reversing global warming [that] impact beneficially every single aspect of human, well of human endeavor.
And it’s in everybody’s portfolio – if you’re a minister of a government, and it’s everybody’s business and virtually except for oligarchs everybody benefits. Everybody.
Dave Chapman: So beautiful. I just want to tell people who might be listening, Regeneration is the name of Paul’s next book.
Paul Hawken: Yeah it’s the next book. Its subtitle is “Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation” and so there’s our challenge right there.
Dave Chapman: There’s the goal.
Paul Hawken: It’s a high bar.
Dave Chapman: And can you, can you give a little coming preview of how we might do that? How do we approach that?
Paul Hawken: Well yeah. Well, I mean looking from the back forward the back of the book is do this – it’s what to do.
It is basically reversal by the numbers, and it goes by every type of agency from a student all the way to a governor or prime minister and everyone and everybody in between; you can be a student, you can be single, you can be a couple, or you can be married with children.
You can be a renter, you can be a homeowner, you can be a village, a community, a city, an urban megalopolis, you can be a province, a state.
It outlines really the top – and it doesn’t go beyond that in terms of emphasis – it emphasizes the top seven, eight things you can do, each of those in order to reduce impact by 50 % by 2030.
And it’s very clear, very clean. It certainly talks about “these are all the other things you can do” too it’s not avoiding them. But there’s surprises there.
You know if an individual is like to stop buying clothes?
Buy six garments a year that’s your limit. Fast fashion is 10% of global emissions.
But that’s not true for a mayor. His or her, basically agency is different. You know for a school teacher or principal, or somebody who does buildings and grounds at the school. Well, their agency is different, you know. So that’s where it ends up.
But where it starts is the number one solution to reversing global warming is, you know and drum roll please especially talking to your audience, is soil.
It’s soil by far. By 2, 3x!
I mean what I’m talking about is that we emphasize energy and we shouldn’t.
If we don’t stop putting it up there we’re going to hardly solve it of course. And so that’s an absolutely important imperative. No question about it. I don’t gainsay that one bit.
But we can turn off our energy today for example or we could snap our finger, it could all go to renewable – we would still be going over the cliff.
Because we lost climatic stabilization quite some time ago.
We’re at 496 parts per million not 415ppm, or 413. I mean it varies right now. But because we don’t count the other greenhouse gases of methane and nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons and [SF6?]. Those are and there and with their global warming potential and CO equivalents we’re at 496 ppm.
This is beyond anything in the last 25, 30 million years. And so we’re in Terra Nova.
We have no idea what this means or what’s gonna go on. So, unless we’re talking about bringing carbon back home, we’re not serious about stabilizing and reversing global warming.
And the most powerful way to do it is in grasslands and farmlands.
No question about it. Which means regenerative organic agriculture.
And then next comes forests. And then next comes oceans, wetlands, seagrass, marshes and things like that. And then comes food and it’s hard to de-aggregate food and agriculture!
So we delineate it, but actually you could put food and ag together. And then it’s even much bigger I mean it’s number one by – even more so than it already is.
And then in Regeneration, in Soil Dave, we have 23 regenerative practices. And what I say in that is that this is not a return to an idealized past you know repetitive echoes.
This is a booming emergent technology that has more moving parts than any shiny object ever to come out of Silicon Valley.
But those shiny objects are actually parts, are actually alike. I mean they’re not parts, they’re part of a system in that as [name] said you know regenerative agriculture is not rocket science. It’s more complex you know.
And so for people to understand that what’s going on right now is this extraordinary amount of observational science that’s aggregating into an understanding that we did not have in the climate science world [when carbon-soil-sequestration was first mentioned].
The climate scientists referred to people who talked about soil as being a basis for sequestration – they said “Oh those are the ‘soil’ people” you know they really dismissed it. IPCC? The fourth assessment didn’t mention it except[to] stop putting it up there [as a discussion point] and cutting trees you know.
But that didn’t talk about it [soil] as the solution. Now they are.
And now people are saying “nature-based solution” – how cute. The whole thing is nature-based everybody!
Every aspect of what we do is nature-based, we just don’t see the connection between it. Or it’s nature-destructive of course in many cases.
And so what I’m saying in the book is if it happens it’s possible. And that’s science too.
And we have farmers who’ve been at this for 10, 20, 30 years and their soil organic carbon levels are 7%, 8% you know instead of .5% say over 1%. And those are beyond what the traditional soil science establishment the paradigmatic establishment thinks is possible.
Well then go to the farm and stick your own probe in there for God’s sake. But you don’t have to question it. You should do what the farmer does which is stand on the ground…and..
And you know there’s a wonderful story, in I think David Montgomery’s book, about a farmer who was sort of being mow-mowed and you know, patronized by these soil agronomists you know, about the amount of carbon he had in the soils.
And the farmer he kind of listened to it. I think it was, I think I know who it is if my memory might be correct. It doesn’t matter, the story holds.
And he listened to them telling him how complicated it was “You don’t really know how much carbon is in there, and there’s occluded carbon.” You know, like as if he was a dummy.
And then he said, “You see that auger over there?” He said “See that tape there?” And he said “So, I just auger that and I take those last three inches and I give it to the woman and she puts it in a meatloaf pan and weighs it. And then she bakes it and bakes it again.”
“And she knows exactly how much carbon is in that soil.”
And he’s right. He’s absolutely right, you know. And so there’s a kind of emerging science coming out right now that that can lead to a trillion tonnes of CO2 equivalent in carbon being sequestered over the next years.
Dave Chapman: So I agree with everything that you said. And I also know that, let’s say time is of the essence here in this conversation in terms of changing what’s happening.
And I also know that there are enormously powerful interests that do not want to see that thing change. Because they’re making a great deal of money off the system just as it is.
Michael Pollan has said, he might have been quoting Obama, but he said “Until you can light up the switchboard you don’t have a food movement.”
Paul Hawken: Yeah.
Dave Chapman: And I think of that a lot. I was at a meeting with some congressional people and we were talking about the Green New Deal. And I said “Yeah but the truth is you’re all not going to be able to do this unless you have a lot of us at your back. You just can’t do it. It’ll be suicide. We have to be there demanding this.”
So if that is – if we have the science, if we have the knowledge base to do this and I think we do – in a better agriculture, what we lack is the ability to change the economic and the political system to allow it to happen.
Do you have any thoughts about how we can do that?
Paul Hawken. Well yeah.
First of all, we have a different governing system than say again Denmark or many other countries. You know it’s dysfunctional to the max. And therefore, I mean my own feeling about all that is that we’ve sort of been looking for love in all the wrong places.
It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to change the system – I’m not saying give up and ignore. No, not at all.
But in our country, the most powerful agent for change is the individual.
And the reason I say that – I mean that sounds like nonsense you know, people feel powerless, you know. But you know, I mean, look at the [commerce/ congress?] of the parties has meant, well it was the Kyoto Protocol, but since there’s been global meetings of world leaders connected annually and the atmosphere hasn’t noticed a thing. Not one thing.
And we’re worse off today than when they began.
Because there is no agency at that level of confluence.
Congresses begin and end. You know governments come and go committees – commitments are just words. They don’t mean anything. And so then we can look at things like the Berlin Wall or Greta Thunberg and so forth.
Why dig Greta Thunberg become so effective?
She became effective not just because she held a little cardboard sign in front of her school saying she was striking you know due to Climate. She was effective because Climate Change and the science of it was being taught all over the world to our children. And it never was when you and I went to school.
They knew what she was talking about.
And so within a year of her sign there was the largest Climate March in history. From that little sign.
And what I’m getting to hear is when conditions are right and you don’t even know necessarily that they’re right – Greta Thunberg did not know the conditions were there every student did not know that conditions were there.
The students at Parkland High School the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida who started basically what was it? They started the March for Our Lives.
Those students, that is what inspired Greta Thunberg.
So you go back and say this little – I mean this shooting is horrific – but I mean the students getting together and organizing it’s an extraordinary school actually.
But then how did Greta hear about that? How did that inspire her?
Why did she say “Well I’m just going to strike and sit-in front of the steps” you know and do that in the cold? It was August when she started but.. It’s cold in Sweden in August.
But conditions like that are rising right now.
I really, really believe without doubt that that’s what’s happening in the world. I see it anecdotally. I have CEOs coming to me with tears in their eyes. They’re doing their quote-quote right thing
commitments and this and that and going to net zero by 2050. And blah blah blah. And they mean it they’re sincere and that’s good.
And they have tears in their eyes because they know it’s not sufficient.
And they have children and grandchildren in some cases and they’re like, they’re like their
heart is breaking. That is happening. I mean so something is shifting.
And I have no doubt in my mind that in a way that will be precipitated in a way that nobody could predict right now that this is the – we are at the crest of the largest movement in the history of humankind.
And it’s forming it’s forming like a mycelium under – you know you’re going to walk through it all day long and not seeing the mycelium is there you know.
And in the spring then fungi come up mushrooms you know. Well where were they? [They were] there. I’m not a kind of you know fantasizing guy or I’m not into hope.
I don’t believe in hope. I think that is the mask of fear.
I believe in action and courage.
But I do think just looking at it, and I’m going “You watch this thing is going to break wide open all over the planet.”
And because it’s becoming experiential instead of conceptual. The languaging and the talk about future existential threat was all conceptual. It’s like OK but I got a job to do I have a mortgage to pay I have children to take care of I have a mother who’s sick with Alzheimer’s. I can’t handle all that, excuse me.
And it wasn’t germane and pertinent to people’s lives. And it’s going to be. And they’re going to see.
And that’s why I want to talk about a generation; we have to make sure that people see the benefit. And if we want to get the attention of humanity to this then we have to – humanity has to feel it is getting attention.
And that attention means that we have a climate movement that actually serves the poor, the excluded, the disenfranchised, the children, that we’re meeting basic needs here. We’re not trying to meet the needs years from now for upper middle class white people. We’re trying – we’re about meeting human needs now everywhere.
And if we don’t do that we’ll be ignored and we’ll fail there’s no question about that.
And that’s what I feel that’s emerging in the climate movement a much different movement than the top-down, Al Gore etc., you know Citizens Climate Lobby. You know all this stuff
is great, great stuff.
But I feel like something’s moving. And so I do have a sense of how this will emerge.In the United States, it’s a very peculiar country that’s…
Dave Chapman: Sometimes I talk with people and say you know “what we do in Vermont is so important because for whatever reason we have a tremendously outsized influence on the country.”
And the country has a tremendously outsized influence on the world.
And so maybe what we do on some farm in Vermont might impact the world.
Paul Hawken: I believe that. I do, too. In eastern Chinese – it’s not mythology, it’s just sort of wisdom. The great ideas, the great changes, always come from the Northeast. I mean like in a kind of geomancy way.
That’s where, you know, where did the transcendentalists come from?I mean look what came from New England. Frank Lloyd Wright said “If you shook America everything loose would end up in LA,” you know? But this idea could end up in Vermont.
You know and I’m not saying there’s not great things going on there but really it does come from places that may be overlooked. But that’s where the great ideas can come and have – Harvard and Yale in the northeast. Yeah not that they’re perfect. But..
Dave Chapman: Well maybe we should end on that although we’re not done.
But let’s invite everybody to come to the Northeast to the Symposium, the Real Organic Project Symposium on April 3rd and 4th and hear Paul talking more about this.
I think it’s going to be an enormously important event, I do. For that coming-together, and building enough critical mass to bring these ideas to everyone across the country.
So I’m very excited to have Paul coming along with many other people from all over the country. In fact all over the world. We have somebody coming from magical Denmark to talk about how they have gotten the government of Denmark to commit $ 160million to taking the country organic which would be the equivalent of about I think $19 billion in US dollars.
So there are changes happening and they’re possible. I look to any place thatis creating a model that we can be encouraged by.
So, Paul thank you very much.
Paul Hawken: It’s been a pleasure talking to you. And I hope I didn’t rant too much. But..
Obviously I’m thinking about this and not to say that I’m right but definitely engaged. And caring, as you are. And as I am sure all the fantastic people I’ll get to meet at the conference.
And I love conferences like that because most of the time my mouth is shut and I get to learn something new. So I know I’ll learn a lot being there.
Dave Chapman: Thank you, Paul.
Continuing the Conversation
Dave Chapman: After Paul and I finished our formal interview our conversation continued, and we got into such important issues that I included them in today’s Podcast.
I find that Paul’s thinking about how we go beyond fear, how we go beyond shame, how we go beyond blame in order to actually find the courage to take action – how do we actually build coalitions that are capable of creating change rather than just talking about change? So, please stay tuned and dive into that with me.
Dave Chapman: So, we’ll end the show there.I have a question, though, It’s so interesting to me, your approach:
“No fear no shame, no blame.” And “As soon as you’re right, you make somebody else wrong and you’re divided again.”
These are things that you said.
And, “It’s not my job to change somebody else’s mind. It’s my job to change my mind; that’s hard enough.”
And I think that, I’m trying to really understand in my bones what you’re talking about because I see something enormously important there. I’m often out talking in situations in which the things I say make some people in the room fearful and I really work not to be accusing because I know that then, we just get the division. We don’t get change.
Do you have any thoughts about that?
You know, you’re taking a something about, here you’re saying, “you know we’re
facing species extinction – but no fear, no shame, no blame.” You know that’s ‘a narrow ridge to walk’ as Martin Buber would say.
Paul Hawken: Well, I think it’s the other way around.I think it’s the widest, best road of all instead of a narrow ridge.
The fear thing, and the fact thing is, you know, like Wendell Berry, you know – be joyful though you know all the facts. It doesn’t mean, you don’t get it.
I have an RSS feed here that would make most people take Prozac you know. I mean, the news I get every day?
I have to stay up to date on science and the science is like “Ahhh!” and I take it seriously. And I do go into a mourning. You know, I mean, I do mourn and grieve. So, it’s not like I’m not perky. That’s a private act, you know, for me.
When I’m speaking to people like I want, I’ll speak facts, but I’m presenting it as facts. And so knowing all the facts and so forth is the starting place for action, not denying the facts or for putting a lipstick on a pig.
You know I mean, you’re going to go the wrong direction or you’re not going to do anything at all.
And so to me, the scope and breadth and depth of the problem is then, is the amplifier of the depth and scope and breadth of the solutions. In other words, they have to match otherwise…?
And so, when you have what I call unreasonable goals, like – can’t be done but thank you for sharing – [then] you’re probably right.
But it’s a forcing function just like in calculus, which is a forcing function, then creates outcomes and breakthroughs in innovation that would not have happened otherwise.
[You would] not have that unreasonable goal. So an unreasonable goal depends on a reasoned assessment of where we are. Otherwise, it’s deluded (diluted?) it’s like to me mitigating in such a word, what’s a mitagant (?). I ask people, do you know mitigating means even, can somebody raise their hand?
You know, no really? I say that it means reducing the pain of something. Is that what we want to do? Is “we want to reduce the pain of the Climate Crisis – is that our goal? Right? And so that’s the kind of language where you’ve tempered the problem.
And then the thing about blame/shame is that by acting out and acting as a victim then you put yourself in a really bad position, because then you’re the object of the sentence or the object of the problem and you’re always looking at others as what they did wrong or what they think wrong or what they say wrong, what they believe wrong or whatever – and there you are.
You see? Instead of thinking what is, not “right” but “what is beautiful?” “What is the magic of?” “What is extraordinary?” “What is beguiling?” “What is helpful?” “What is connecting?” “What
brings people together, what would solve this person’s problem?”
This is a poor person with this [type of] problem. I mean, what would solve that?
And now that’s where your mind is. Every day, you know. It’s where –
when I do a book like this, I mean, I wake up with it and I go to sleep with it.
I mean, even though in meditation, you’re supposed to identify your thoughts and let them go. And that’s what I do [to each thought]. “You’re blame, judgement, you know, fantasy.” Thought, thought, thought, and then all of the sudden “This is a really good idea for the book.”It’s like, “thank you!” My meditation teacher goes “argh…”
Dave Chapman: I’m amazed that all corporations don’t have their top executives required to meditate an hour a day for that 10 second thought. That was a pretty good one.
Paul Hawken: I mean, that’s what happens when you aren’t looking at yourself as a victim, and Fear, like you know, frankly, fear is a mind killer. It kills the problem solving. It shuts down, you know, the prefrontal cortex you just shut it down.
Yeah, it’s no fun to live in amigdala.
And so we’re only here a short time. You and I shorter than some other people because you know, we’ve been around for a while. But I can’t, I don’t want to live my life in that sense of “we screwed up” and [we didn’t]. You didn’t – and I didn’t. We did our best.
Yeah, we’ve tried to help all our life. We tried to help, and we. And we absolutely did the best we can. And can we look back and say, “I could’ve done better”? Sure, that’s what the mind does. But at the time we did the best we could. And we still are. And there’s no more that could be asked of us by ourselves or by others than that. So, there is no shame in that sense.
And if we can help bring other people about in terms of realizing their own sense of agency. I think somewhere, I don’t know if I can find it in the new book – Let’s see if I can find it. I should know this sentence cold, I probably do.
It segues from a previous paragraph, so the first sentence won’t make sense. But it says
“This requires a worldwide collective committed effort. Collectives do not emerge in the top of institutions they begin with one person. And then another. That invisible social space where commitment and action join and come together to become a dyad; then a group, a team, a movement.
“To put it simply, no one is coming to help. There is not a brain trust that’s going to figure it out, work out the problems while we ponder and wait.
“The most complex, radical climate technology on earth is the human heart and mind, not a solar panel.”
Dave Chapman: Yes, beautifully said.
I say in my talk that the helicopters are not going to come for us. It’s like, where are helicopters? They’re not coming. They are not coming. It’s just us.
But that’s beautiful, what you wrote there. I know you’re not interested in hope, but you give me you give me some hope.
Paul Hawken: I understand. I use it sometimes. But it just… for a lot of people, hope is a crutch.
Yeah, it’s like, “oh,I feel so hopeful.”
Don’t. Do something.
It’s you know, the people I often encounter feel so hopeless they can’t do anything. And you know that’s, you know, careening between terror and depression and you know, it’s finding
the place where you can take that and do something. And even do it with a good heart.
I’m saying “yeah, you know, there’s a pretty good chance this won’t work, but let’s do it anyway.”
Paul Hawken: I don’t know if you know Jack Kornfield, he’s a Buddhist teacher.
Dave Chapman: Yeah, sure, sure.
Paul Hawken: At Spirit Rock, and he’s a friend. And he’s asked me – he did a beautiful talk on Climate Change, really beautiful, Dharma Talks, a podcast – but he asked me to come out March 2nd because he gives a Monday night class, and to be with him.
And I’ve been thinking about that (in my meditation!) like okay. And then I realized I have
a question for Jack which Is “why is it that there is not one single anecdote description or story narrative about the Buddha smiling or laughing?”
I doubt it [that could be true], you know. He’s a human being. And if we don’t think we can dance smile and laugh about taking care of each other and this place we live on, and in every way we know how, and I just don’t think that’s true.
And why would people want to work with us anyway? Well, you’re going to work with people that are having the most fun and not the least. And so I wonder about that.
You know, because… I mean, the earth doesn’t care if your Buddhist, Hindu, or voted for Trump. You know and we’re all one. In that sense. And so what’s really common to us, which is, what really connects us, you know?
And those are the qualities that are the cross boundaries you know, and I don’t mean a joke that’s making fun of a certain belief system or politician that’s – you can you can laugh at it, but that’s not what I’m talking about in terms of laughter and joy. Music. Celebration.
I saw that thing of – The documentary last night on Taylor Swift.
And it was interesting how, you know, she was told by her dad and everybody to never make a political statement. That country music avoided it absolutely, so that people can project onto you whatever they wanted to project, you know.
And then finally she came out on how much you know how she felt like she had cleansed her soul when she finally came out and was herself instead of trying to please others you know.
And she did it in a beautiful way. And she didn’t lose her fan base.
And I feel like you know, the Quaker thing of speaking – there’s a way to speak truth to power that is not inflammatory.
Dave Chapman: Yeah,Yeah. I hunt for that too.
And when you find that place what’s fascinating to me is people really respond actually. like people are drawn to ‘Yes.’
You know, it’s and even the people you’re speaking truth to who maybe don’t like it, if at the very least they’re confused, you know they go [hmmm..].
I say [about] the truth – “if you can just get a grain of sand into that person you know figuratively
speaking, of truth, that can grow and grow and grow it starts somewhere. And yeah, right, become a pearl.
From a terra bottom? point of view, there is in everyone, they call it “the one who knows.”
And every person knows the truth. It just got covered up. Conditioned. Programmed. Deceived. All that stuff. We all know.
Dave Chapman: Yeah Yeah. Thank you so much.
Paul Hawken: All right.
Dave Chapman: Paul, thank you very much.
Paul Hawken: It’s a great pleasure.
Last Thoughts From Dave
Dave Chapman: So thank you Paul, and thank you all for listening to this podcast. Paul Hawken, who is on the Board of Advisors for the Real Organic Project will be giving the keynote address at the Dartmouth Symposium on [Saturday] April 4th, in the evening.
I hope that you can come to that. To get more information about the Symposium, go to our website, realorganicproject.org and you’ll come right up to lots of information about our 30 speakers.
We have gathered an amazing group of people from around the country – farmers, journalists, scientists, authors, eaters, advocates – to come together to share their thinking about “what are we facing?” as the food system is changing so quickly – to really being almost unrecognizable.
For many of us, these changes are invisible. For farmers they’re not invisible and we’re very much aware of them. And I hope you will come and participate in this conversation, so that we can create the world that we want to create. Create the agriculture that we want to create, eat the food that we know will help us and recreate the climate that can sustain our children and grandchildren.
Thank you very much. Bye-bye.