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Jan 1, 2020

Ep. 95: Paul Hawken – environmentalist, entrepreneur, author, and activist ||

For episode 95 of Sourcing Matters we welcome environmentalist, entrepreneur, author and activist Paul Hawken to the show. Paul has dedicated his life to environmental sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment.  Hawken is a leading voice in the environmental movement, and a pioneering architect of corporate reform with respect to ecological practices.  Paul authors articles, op-eds, and peer-reviewed papers, and has written eight books including five national bestsellers. He has appeared in diverse media outlets including the Today Show, Bill Maher, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, and has been profiled or featured in hundreds of articles including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Business Week, Esquire, and US News & World Report. Paul is a dynamic public speaker, and he has served on the board of many environmental organizations.

Paul Hawken 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.  The book, which Paul helped write and edited, describes 100 solutions of change, 80 of which are currently in practice.  To clarify – ‘Drawdown’ is the point at which the concentration of greenhouse gases begins to decline. The solutions in the book are ranked by the number of gigatons of CO2, or the equivalent, that they would avoid or sequester between the years 2020 and 2050. They range from big difference-makers such as refrigerant management, wind turbines, and food waste to those that are important but not as impactful, including methane digesters, green roofs, and microgrids..

In our 45 minute discussion we learn from Paul that our only future is regenerative. In fact, our quickest and most pragmatic approach get to the goals of Project Drawdown is to evolve our land management practices in the way we produce our food. Paul explains, that now tooled with modern data analysis and peer-reviewed science supporting regenerative agriculture – investing in soil health is the #1 way to reverse climate change – “by a factor of four or five – SOIL is the largest solution.”

We learn of Paul’s current work “Regeneration – ending the climate crisis in one generation” – expected release in 2021. We also learn about some of Paul’s business ventures.  Food, garden and energy – all within his sweet spot. We hear a bit about Erewhon, one of the first natural food companies in the U.S. that relied solely on sustainable agricultural methods. Additionally, Hawken co-founded Smith & Hawken, the retail and catalog garden company. In 2009 Paul founded OneSun, an energy company focused on ultra low-cost solar based on green chemistry and biomimicry that is now known as Energy Everywhere.

Joining as cohost is Dutch-American Agricultural Economist- Renée Vassilos. Renée recently joined The Nature Conservancy as their Agriculture Innovation Director.  She manages TNC’s investments in early stage agtech companies that will support regenerative agriculture production – at scale.  Vassilos spent over fifteen years in the production agriculture space.  Her work experience includes time spent with the USDA, she’s started her own consultancy to help investors and Agtech companies, and she spent nearly a decade with John Deere; much of that time in Beijing.

Tune-in to hear what this soothsayer has to say about what’s next for us and the planet.