Paul Hawken on Drawdown – The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed for Reversing Global Warming [Ep. 71]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.

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. Among 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 has founded several companies, starting in the 1960s with Erewhon Trading Company, one of the first natural food companies in the U.S. that relied solely on sustainable agricultural methods. He went on in 1979 to co-found Smith & Hawken, the retail and catalog company. In 2009 Paul founded OneSun, an energy company focused on ultra low-cost solar based on green chemistry and biomimicry.

Paul authors articles, op-eds, and peer-reviewed papers, and has written seven books including four national bestsellers: The Next Economy (1983), Growing a Business (1987), and The Ecology of Commerce (1993) and Blessed Unrest (2007). The Ecology of Commerce was voted as the #1 college text on business and the environment by professors in 67 business schools. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (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 today.

Paul has served on the board of many environmental organizations including Point Foundation (publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogs), Center for Plant Conservation, Conservation International, Trust for Public Land, Friends of the Earth, and National Audubon Society.

In 1965, Paul worked with Martin Luther King Jr.’s staff in Selma, Alabama prior to the historic March on Montgomery. As press coordinator, Paul registered members of the press, issued credentials, gave updates and interviews on national radio, and acted as a marshal for the final march. That same year, he worked in New Orleans as a staff photographer for the Congress of Racial Equality, focusing on voter registration drives in Bogalusa, Louisiana and the panhandle of Florida, and photographing the Ku Klux Klan in Meridian, Mississippi, after three civil rights workers were tortured and killed. In Meridian, he was assaulted and seized by Klan members, but escaped due to FBI surveillance and intervention. Paul has spoken, conducted research, and traveled extensively throughout the world, undertaking journeys into insurgent-held territories of Burma to research tropical teak deforestation, as well as a 1999 humanitarian/photojournalistic trek to war-torn Kosovo and Macedonia.

He has received numerous awards and recognitions over the years, has received six honorary doctorate degrees, and he is now Executive Director 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 incredibly inspirational team at Project Drawdown recently released their book, Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed for Reversing Global Warming – which has become a New York Times Bestseller overnight.  Paul wrote and edited the book in collaboration Project Drawdown’s research team. He is also authoring a book entitled Carbon, The Business of Life, to be published in 2018.

Some highlights from Kevin’s interview with Paul include:

  • Our history of understanding climate change and global warming

  • The origins of and motivation for Project Drawdown

  • Moving from a “game over” to a “game on” attitude

  • The importance of naming "drawdown" as the goal in relation to global warming

  • Paul's surprise with regard to some of the food-, land-, & women-related solutions

  • Meeting our needs in ways that enhance and restore the environment (ie: regenerative development)

  • How we've unintentionally created an elitist climate movement

  • The flipside of Trump pulling out of Paris agreement

  • What's next for Project Drawdown




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Kevin Bayuk works at the intersection of ecology and economy where permaculture design meets next economy organizations intent on meeting human needs while enhancing the conditions conducive to all life. He is a co-founder and  partner with LIFT Economy, the Senior Financial Fellow at Project Drawdown and a founding partner of the Urban Permaculture Institute.  LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life. You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinbayuk or email him