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Episode 150 - Hunter Lovins on UN's COP 28 Climate Change Summit

Hunter Lovins discusses the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties (COP) for Climate Change.

The 28th COP is occurring late November through early December, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at which an estimated 50,000-70,000 people will be in attendance representing the world’s nation states along with hundreds of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). While collaborating with governmental officials and NGO leaders alike, Hunter will also co-host the Future Economy Forum in collaboration with NOW Partners and dozens of other organizations and organizational leaders in both the Blue (official UN/governmental) and Green (NGO) zones at COP.

Since the first COP in Berlin in 1995, our global community has convened most years in order to collaborate, innovate, and negotiate on climate change mitigation solutions and on addressing the (significant and increasing) social justice and humanitarian consequences of our already destabilizing climate. According to Hunter and thousands of other scientists and organizational leaders (including several who have been guests on our Y on Earth Community Podcast – see the sampling of related episodes below), there are two primary climate change mitigation strategies that need to be scaled-up globally: (1) the reduction and near-elimination of fossil fuel combustion, and (2) the wide-spread adoption of organic regenerative (soil-building, carbon-sequestering) agricultural practices (along with the implied cessation of conventional industrial/chemical agricultural practices).

In this timely episode, Hunter shares some of her insights, wisdom, hopes, frustrations, and provides a very real, on-the-ground view into the processes, proceedings, and “side serendipity” that occurs at the COP gatherings. She also shares her recently developed and articulated “Five Steps to Empowerment” in the context of the “poly-crises” that we face as a global community: (1) face reality, (2) have courage, (3) care for you and your people, (4) find your voice, and (5) find your power (see her “How I Combat Climate Despair” piece in the recent Climate and Capital Media blog). Recognizing that our Earth has amazing regenerative capacity, Hunter shares (despite the overwhelming challenges we’re facing) that we have the ability to stabilize our climate to pre-industrial levels of atmospheric carbon within the next 60-80 years by restoring and stewarding the world’s grasslands.

Hunter will be live-blogging at COP 28 – find her postings at Climate and Capital Media.

About Hunter Lovins

L. Hunter Lovins, Time Magazine’s Millennium Hero for the Planet, is a business professor, Founder and President of Natural Capitalism Solutions, a Managing Partner at NOW Partners, and co-author of The Way Out, A Finer Future, and the best-selling Natural Capitalism. Hunter consults corporations, governments and non-governmental organizations, and has taught at many universities.

Hunter has addressed major gatherings such as the World Economic Forum, the United States Congress, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and has participated in leadership roles in many of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP)

Resources & Related Episodes


United Nations FCC – COP


United Arab Emerites Embassy Page – COP 28

Ep 25 – Hunter Lovins, Author, A Finer Future

Ep 86 – Jacquelyn Francis, Founder & Exec. Dir., Keeling Curve Prize (Global Warming Mitigation Project)

Ep 89 – Dr Yichao Rui, Senior Soil Scientist (former), Rodale Institute

Ep 94 – Tom Chi, Technologist and Eco-Investor, CEO of At One Ventures

Ep 95 – John Liu, Founder, Ecosystem Restoration Communities (formerly Camps)

Ep 99 – David Beasley, (former) Director, UN World Food Programme (Nobel Peace Prize Recipient)

Ep 124 – Nick DiDomenico, Co-Founder, Drylands Agroecology Research and Elk Run Farm

Ep 132 – Hanne Strong, Founder, Manitou Foundation


(Automatically generated transcript for search engine optimization and reference purposes – grammatical and spelling errors may exist.)

Welcome to the YOnEarth Community Podcast. I’m your host, Aaron William Perry. And

today we’re visiting for a second time with Hunter Love and Hunter. It’s so great to

be with you. Oh, Aaron, it’s a thrill. And I’m really excited that in this episode we’re

going to take a deep dive into cop. The United, yeah, the United Nations conference of parties,

the annual exercise in frustration, where the world comes together to talk climate. Yeah. So,

before we get going, I’ll just share a little about your background. Hunter L. Hunter Love and

Time Magazine’s Millennium Hero for the Planet is a business professor, president and founder of

Natural Capitalism Solutions and co-author of The Way Out, a finer future and the best-selling

natural capitalism. Hunter consults corporations, governments and non-governmental organizations and

has taught at many universities. She is also a managing partner of now partners and has

addressed major gatherings, such as the World Economic Forum, the United States Congress,

and the World Summit on Sustainable Development and has participated in leadership roles in many

of the United Nations conference of the parties of the cop. So, cop, here we are recording this,

just actually a few days before you depart Colorado on your way to Europe and then to Dubai for

cop 28, cop 28, why 28? What is this, why the number 28? Thirty years ago, the UN and many of the

world’s nations came together to frame the framework convention on climate change, where the world’s

nations agreed to keep global warming below a dangerous level. We have failed and the warming

is going ever up. Ever since then, the parties, the nations that signed this framework convention

have gotten together more or less every year, the first year or so they had a gap or two,

to try to figure out how to achieve this, how to stop global warming and failed in the

28 years in which there have been cops or the 30 years since the framework emissions have doubled.

This will be the hottest year ever on record in human history and it may well push us above the

1.5 degree Celsius additional warming above what the planet was when humans evolved on it.

We are, for the scientists amongst you, we are at somewhere around 424 parts per million

concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. When humans evolved, it was at 280 parts per million.

Scientists agree that the so-called safe number is 350. Anything above that is dangerous, so we’re

already in the red zone. And indeed, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres has

said this is code red for humanity. And you’ve seen it this summer, the deaths in Maui of the

United States of the better part of 100 people from a wildfire driven by hurricane force winds

because there was a very unusual hurricane north of the Hawaiian Islands. The floods in the last

week or so across Europe, I was just corresponding with a friend in Switzerland who said that his

garden is now under 4 feet of water. The devastation in Libya because of a meditane, this is a

Mediterranean hurricane, a new term for us, the famine, a third of a billion people are now at risk

of starvation, not just that they’re hungry, that the world food program says it is now taking

food from hungry people to feed to starving people because of the droughts across the horn of

Africa and in other parts of the world. And it’s just getting worse. And I can go on and on and on,

don’t do this, don’t go doom scrolling on the bad news on climate because you get to the point

where you just go, we’re not going to make it. And indeed, I’ve stood with some of our most

eminent scientists with tears rolling down their face as they say, we’re not going to make it.

The reason that I’m going to burn jet fuel to go to Dubai, which will be the Disney land of all

cops, headed by the man who runs the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. He really think we’re going to

get a climate solution out of this one is because we know how to solve this crisis and we know

how to solve the crisis at a profit. If we do two things, stop emissions because we switch to

renewable energy, which is now everywhere on earth cheaper than burning fossil energy.

And if we take the excess carbon out of the air and put it back in the soil where it belongs,

where it becomes a nutrient, carbon is the basis of all of life. How did it come to be the world’s

largest pollutant? Well, like all pollution, it is a resource out of place. We’ve put too much

of it into the atmosphere, too much of it into the oceans, so the oceans are acidifying.

Now we need to put it back where it belongs, which is in the soil. How do you do that? You do

regenerative agriculture. This is the kind of agriculture that increasing numbers of farmers and

ranchers are turning to because it’s more profitable. And when you do this, you get higher nutrient

density, food, you get healthier farm communities, healthier farm families, you’re healthier and

we’re well on our way to solving the climate crisis. An illustrative number, this is a back of the

envelope calculation. If we did, for example, regenerative grazing, this is grazing like

emerged, well, the bison across the North American Great Plains, the greatest land managers

ever were dense packed because of predators, wolves. If you’re about to get eaten, the safe place

to be is in the middle of the herd, everybody’s trying to get there. They’re eating everything in

front of them, trampling everything under them, fertilizing everything behind them. They keep moving,

they don’t come back to the grass as regrown. This is what put the 10 feet of thick black soil into

the Great Plains Prairies. We know how to do this again. Paper by a scientist named Greg Ritalik

showed that 60 million years ago, the earth was at a thousand parts per million concentration of CO2.

When humans evolved, 280, where’d the carbon go? He showed it went into the soil because of grazing

animals. At around 30 million years ago or so, they’re evolved little grazing animals, prehorses

that nibbled the grasses at the edge of the forest. Oh, at a thousand parts per million,

the earth is carpeted in forest, which is to say planting trees is not the answer.

Grass is the answer. Grass has 40 times the carbon per weight of a tree, and almost all of its

biomass is below ground. When an animal nibbles grass, the roots slough polysaccharide sugars.

This feeds the microbiological community in the soil, particularly the Michael Ryzel fungi,

that is what mineralizes the carbon. Here on my ranch, I test the soil every year.

I’m part of a citizen science initiative where 50 out of us do this every year, and every year

I’m a nominee for the Humongous Fungus Award. This is the highest concentration of Michael Ryzel

fungi in the soil. I said, stop giving it to me. I won the award the first time it was given.

Stop giving it to me. Spread it around to other farmers and ranchers. We’re also doing a good job.

I get it because we grazed the ground here. When I bought this place, it was bare soil.

It now has a healthy crop of grass. That grass is sequestering carbon.

Add to that the solar panels out front, which is what’s powering our ability to have this

conversation, the electric car and the garage, the batteries and the garage to power the electric

car, the heat pump out back. The energy efficiency that I’ve done in the building,

all of these, if all of us did this, we solved the climate crisis. So illustrative number,

do this sort of thing, raising on all the world’s grasslands. 60 to 100 years, we get back to

280 to 300 parts per million. The pre-industrial level of carbon concentration in the atmosphere,

we’ve rolled climate change backward at a profit. That’s incredible. And that’s why it’s worth

going to cop, to talk about these things. I’m part of a group, future economy forum,

that will be putting on dialogues in the blue zone, five dialogues a day and then an evening

film festival, as well as high level suppers at houses of very shakes and in the terra pavilion.

With CEOs, heads of state, ministers, youth delegates, indigenous representatives, activists,

talking about these solutions, and particularly about regenerative agriculture.

Pretty much everybody knows renewable energy is a good thing.

Recent news out of China. China is moving so fast that this may be the year of peak Chinese

emissions. That news was just out yesterday, actually last week, article in the Guardian,

that China’s carbon emissions could peak this year before falling into a structural decline

for the first time because of a record surge in plain energy investments.

Why is China doing this? They can’t breathe. Their cities are so dirty from burning coal from all

of the traffic. So China is already well ahead of its target for this year of 20% of its vehicles being

electric vehicles. Europe is now starting to do the same thing. Recent report out from Europe

that Europe’s electricity transition has hit hyperdrive. EU is on track for a huge collapse

in fossil power. Again, why? It’s cheaper. This is just better business. Now, cop, what the hell

is cop? Conference of parties. This is in itself part of why we’ve had 28 of these things and

haven’t solved the climate crisis. The parties are the nations of the signatories to the framework

convention. At least 16, probably more like 25, are economically dependent on fossil industries.

Saudi makes a billion dollars a day every day, they delay action on climate change.

You really think they’re going to come to cop and say, oh, okay, end of fossil. Now, the Europeans

are calling for this. California signed the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty. As have now,

I think it’s about 12 nations. We’ve been calling for this at every cop for years. We’ve been

calling for a transition plan, particularly around climate justice. It is simply unjust

that the developed nations, which are responsible for essentially 96% of all emissions in all time,

are economically better prepared to adapt. As Lahaina showed, none of us are entirely prepared to

adapt, but the countries like Pakistan, which have emitted something like 4% of all emissions

over all time are bearing the worst of it. The floods in Pakistan a year or so ago killed thousands

of people, displaced millions of people. They’re still rebuilding from that. There are whole island

nations that are going to move. Just pick up, because their island is going under water.

And again, the famine in Africa, all of the climate devastation is hitting the developing

world vastly harder than it’s hitting us, and they didn’t cause this problem. So figuring out a

transition that allows them to get the benefits of renewable energy, of regenerative agriculture,

that helps them pay for that. And this is one of the fights we’re going to have at cop.

Laws and damage. At the Paris cop, the Paris climate summit, which was last time the world

actually really got something achieved. The brilliant diplomacy of Christianity,

learns to Vienna, who led that cop, got the world to agree that, okay, as a world we can’t set

targets, but every nation will set INDCs. Individual, national, determined contribution.

So what is your nation going to contribute to solving the climate crisis? Well, this year is

the stock taking from Paris, and the stock taking is already showing. We’re way behind schedule.

Some nations, like China, legitimately can celebrate what they’re doing. The US is way behind.

All of the western nations are way behind. Again, despite the helpful statistics that I cited.

And it’s getting to the point, it’s almost too late, because one of the other things that will

come out, well, he’s coming out now. Recent report out from the scientist William Ripple,

the amplifications of climate change. So it’s not just how much carbon is in the atmosphere,

or how warm the planet’s getting on, on total. It’s when the polar caps start to melt,

you have more dark ocean, absorbs more heat, warms the planet faster. When you start warming

parts of the ocean, the circulation stops flowing. So the, what’s called AMOC, Atlantic meridial

overturning circulation, which is what brings the warm water from Gulf of Mexico across the

Atlantic up past North Europe and up towards Greenland. Nature is usual that cold water,

cold salty water sinks. You melt the ice in Greenland, it’s no longer salty, it stops sinking,

and the circulation stops, and this is already happening. The El Niño that this year is going to

be extreme. You put all of these, what are called tipping points together. The great scientist,

Dr. Johan Rockstrom, has several papers out recently on the tipping points. This can

trip the planet as a whole into a whole new state of discontinuity, where it goes faster and faster

and faster. When you melt the, well, melt the Arctic ice, the boreal forest starts to warm up

and starts to release methane. Methane is 28 to 100 times more potent a warmer of the Earth than

even CO2. There’s just a lot less of it, so we tend to talk about CO2. These are scary,

and this is where, you know, you just go, we’re not going to make it. So a couple of weeks ago,

people have been, with all these reports coming out, people have been writing to me, what do we do?

So I wrote a piece in climate and capital media on how I deal with climate despair.

Walking through, first off, the good news, the first off saying, it’s not your fault. You didn’t

cause this problem. Something like 70% of all emissions over all time have come from 100 entities.

The big fossil companies, the big carbon companies, some of the steel companies, the oil majors,

the oily-mitting countries, you’re not the problem. Yes, you can do things as I have to make your

home more comfortable, to cut your electricity bill, cut your fuel bill, and help be part of the

solution. But the real challenge is getting the big emitters to stop this. Second, look at what’s

happening. We are in a transition that will wholly change how we power ourselves, how we run

our society for the better. Third, get active. Every day, ask yourself, what’s my dot? Do one thing.

Every day, do something to be active, to get engaged. I’m part of a group that is putting

together a global climate movement. It’s still a little bit in stealth. We’re still putting

the pieces together, getting the funding pulled together. But watch this space. Pretty quick,

we are going to launch building a global home for everyone on the planet who wants to be part

of the solution. People say, but what can I do? I’m just one person. I said 8 billion people.

I love this. Hunter, it’s amazing getting all of this information, and I want to circle back

to the disparities in a moment. But first, I want to ask, when you’re speaking about the blue

zone, for example, at COP, can you just paint for us the picture of what are the zones? What’s going

on? How many people? What is it like being at these gatherings? Utter madness. Utter chaos.

Literally last year at the top in Egypt, the sewer system exploded into the UN’s meeting rooms,

and there was a river of shit flowing out of the blue zone. The blue zone is the UN’s zone.

Remember, COP is conference of parties. To the UN’s point of view, the only thing that matters

are the nations who come together to negotiate. This is the official proceeding. This is why

COP’s happened. However, the rest of the world, as COP’s happened year on year on year,

you guys aren’t getting it done. Can we be part of this? The UN said, no, go away, you’re not a party.

In fairness to the UN, they said, well, non-profit organizations, what they call NGOs,

non-governmental organizations, should have a voice. How about we allow observers?

I am officially a delegate to the COP, a UN accredited observer organization. Natural capitalism

solutions is an accredited observer organization. Year on year on year, the UN has done more and more

to try to welcome the observers to give them a role in the blue zone. Now, at the same time,

in Copenhagen, which was 2009, the Copenhagen top, they said, let’s give the NGOs their own

space. They can all come together and talk to each other. And so they called that the green zone.

The green zone is typically a y’all come. The blue zone, you have to be nominated by an

observer organization. And they issue a certain number of passes per organization and every year,

they neck it down. Last year, almost 50,000 people came to Sharmelshek in Egypt. This year,

the projections are 70,000 are coming to the exhibition center in Dubai. They are literally,

as we speak, building more buildings to house all of this. Almost all of those are observers.

There’s something like 600 national delegates, about 50, 60 of whom are the real players.

And they meet sometimes behind closed doors, but often in open sessions, and the observers can be

there. And there is a whole protocol for how observer organizations can put forward information,

can engage. So there will be all of that going on. In starting it about in Paris,

there were created what are called pavilions in the blue zone, which are spaces where various

organizations, corporations, countries can showcase what they’re doing, have a space to hold events,

called side events. And so you can go on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNF,

CCC website for COP28, and download the program for the blue zone. You can also go to the UAE,

United Arab Emirates website for COP28, and download the program for the green zone.

Now, with so many people coming, they are requiring registration for the green zone,

but it is still aimed to be everybody come. There are at any given point in time,

dozens to hundreds of side events happening. You cannot go to them all.

We are promised that this year, the organization will be better. The Emirates are very clear.

They want COP28 to be a success. They want people to talk about Dubai the way we talk about the

Paris COP, the Paris Accord, the Paris Success. They want that for this COP, and blessings on them if

they can pull this off. The world desperately needs for this to succeed. Note to self, it won’t.

There will be grand pronouncements, expect a pronouncement on the creation of a fund for loss

and damage, where the rich countries put money in to pay for helping the poor countries adapt,

deal with the damages. This agreement was already essentially reached. It will be in the World

Bank, which the G77, the 77 of the poorer countries said, we don’t want it to be at the World Bank.

Sorry, the US said, hey, if we’re putting money in, it’s going to be the World Bank, headquartered

in Washington. So it’s going to be a fight over that, but there will be a pronouncement that,

turn out, there’s a loss and damage fund of several hundred million.

What’s it? The amount needed, the amount promised when we first started talking about loss and

damages was a hundred billion. So we’re a little short. There will, there may be a brilliant

announcement by these countries that are putting together the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.

That’s actually a big deal, and here’s hoping for that. To me, the real achievement that happened

at COPS come out of the side events. That last year’s COPS, future economy forum teamed with this

brilliant company in Egypt, second, we hosted dialogues in the evening outside the blues on. We

got, had a couple villas in a beautiful garden, and again, hosted heads of state and ministers and

representatives. Out of that came an agreement that second, who works with farmers helping them

convert to regenerative agriculture would create carbon credits for the carbon that these farmers

initially 2000 Egyptian farmers, some of the poorest farmers on earth, are taking out of the

air and putting into the soil. At COPS, we expanded that to about 40,000 farmers. Got the deal done.

It’s issued as part of the Egyptian stock exchange. Got companies out of Europe to agree to buy

these credits. What this is doing is funding climate heroes, farmers who are transitioning from

industrial farming to regenerative farming, moving away from diesel generator sets,

doing regenerative grazing, growing organically. Because the credits help pay the farmers,

they can price their organic produce at cheaper than the chemically produced produce,

helping transform Egypt away from chemical agriculture to regenerative agriculture.

That was a big deal, and I’m truly honored to have had a tiny hand in bringing that together.

So this is the sort of thing that we’re going to try to achieve at top. If all these people are

going to come together, let’s get it done. Absolutely wonderful. Let me ask, I got to give a shout out

to our friends at Secum also from what I understand, practice biodynamics, which is one of the things

we love to talk about in other episodes of the YonEarth community podcast as one of many

approaches to regenerative agriculture. I’m so curious, Hunter, to ask you, when identifying the

twofold requirements of decarbonizing, de-fossilizing energy and recarbonizing soil, sequestering

carbon in soil through regenerative practices, what do you see as the primary mechanism for all

of that to occur from an economic standpoint? Because when you’re describing what happened at

Secum in Egypt, what I’m thinking to myself is, hey, this is natural capitalism at work, right?

The externalities and the suite of benefits are starting to get more accurately reflected in

the various pricing of the regenerative foods versus the conventional chemical foods, right?

So what do you see as the primary drivers that will help scale all of this in those two categories

of decarbonizing, de-fossilizing energy and sequestering carbon in the soil? Very important question.

And policy has a real role in this. Market mechanisms are incredibly powerful,

but we don’t have a market. Free market. Let the free market do it. It’s like a bad light bulb

joke. How many economists does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, the free market will do it.

The invisible hand. Yeah, I know it won’t. Anybody who’s ever climbed the ladder knows

during, well, you’ve got to change that bulb. The fossil industries receive something like

$7.2 trillion every year in subsidies to make fossil energy look cheaper than it is.

So even though the renewables are cheaper, they don’t necessarily look that way because of

these perverse subsidies. So getting rid of perverse subsidies would really help. And I keep hoping

every year at the cop that the nations will at least agree to that. But again, they won’t because

any one nation can veto any action at a cop, which means the nations that are receiving all

these subsidies don’t want to give up their gravy train. And I believe in the tooth fairy too.

Change is hard. You go about your daily life. You drive the car, you’ve been driving, you

eat your house in the way you’ve been heating it, you buy the cheapest food at the grocery store.

What, now I have to pay attention to what food I’m buying. I mean, you should because when you buy

organic bio-dynamic food, you’re making yourself healthier. But yeah, you have to pay attention.

And that’s hard. Some people can’t afford it. So payments to help, and this is what,

this is seconds genius of if they can pay the farmers because the farmers are delivering a

service that the world needs by sequestering carbon, the farmers can cut their prices for their

food and thus people will preferentially buy it because it’s cheaper. So policy helps. In the

United States, the so-called inflation reduction act may drive solar prices down to the point

credit squeeze back when there was a credit squeeze said by 2025, solar will be at one

cent per kilowatt hour. What’s, what are you paying on your electric bill? I’m going to

hazard a guess. It’s at least 13 cents if not 18. Some places pay 25. Build a new

nuke nuclear plant. It’ll cost you at least 20 cents a kilowatt hour, just to build the thing,

let alone the cost of decommissioning when it dies, which is about the same amount all over again.

New coal plants are at around 10 cents a kilowatt hour. Solar right now is commercially offered

at around three cents a kilowatt hour. Here in Colorado, the coal loving utility, Excel energy,

put out a bid for new power. They were over bid 100 times. They believed natural gas would win.

Gas came in at four cents a kilowatt hour. Solar came in, let’s see, a bid above three cents,

wind came in, blow three cents, solar plus wind plus batteries. Storage came in at around three

cents a kilowatt hour. Excel said no. Solar tariffs, bid it again. Everybody bid it again. 5,300

megawatts bid. They wanted 1,100 megawatts, 3 cents a kilowatt hour wind solar storage. So this

is on commercial offer and it’s true around the country and prices continue to fall for renewables.

The inflation reduction act said by an electric car will give you what $7,500 tax credit. Put in a

heat pump. We’ll give you tax credit to utilities install battery storage so that when you have all

this solar and nobody wants it and then when the sun doesn’t shine at night, you want the power

put it into batteries. We’re now building massive battery storage. Texas recently, Texans were

oil country. We don’t like renewable energy. Guess what is the biggest wind producer in the United

States? Texas. And one of the biggest solar producers because of economics. It’s just plain

cheaper. And the Texans said, yeah, well, but we had this terrible cold snap and all the

wind turbines froze. Actually, they didn’t all freeze, but neither had they winterize them and the

gas plants froze too, which is why the grid went down. Batteries. I have batteries here. The power

goes out. We’re in a rural area. Power goes out all the time, actually. And I only know it

because the clock’s blinking in the morning. I have batteries in the garage and they just automatically

take over. Right now, sun shining. We’re not using much power. I’m selling to the local utility.

This is good for me. Every home ought to be this way. And we can design this. You can have

vehicle to grid so that my electric car is just sort of sitting in there. It could be sending

excess power from its battery to the grid hot summer afternoon. If I’m not driving, let it

help feed the grid. This can be done. We have all the technology. We know how to do this. It’s

just a matter of digging our heads out and saying, you know what? Climate’s a crisis. Let’s solve it.

I love it. It’s fabulous. Well, let me let me ask this Hunter, because I know it’s something

that a lot of us are experiencing in our own unique ways. This issue of feeling the despair,

the sadness, for some of us, if there’s a grieving associated with all of this,

what I got to ask this probably in a couple of parts. How the heck knowing what you know

and having been involved in these processes as deeply as you’ve been, what keeps you from

giving up entirely is knowing that despite the trends and the economics increasingly playing

in our favor, we’re still up against such tremendous inertia in the wrong direction.

What keeps you from giving up and what is this insight around despair that you shared in this

article you recently wrote? I said there are five steps to empowerment. First is face reality

because we do know what to do. Yes, we are at a crisis and we know how to solve it. So let’s go.

To have courage, be brave. We will lose much. We’re losing lives now to climate change and to conflict

and to COVID pandemics. We are actually in what’s now being called a poly crisis. All these crises

coming on top of us, but the earth has amazing regenerative capacities. We need to learn to be

like grass to bend, not break. Care for you and your people so that together we can care for all.

Each of us has to find what it is in ourselves that needs replenishment. I was once on a panel

at a big green conference out in California and they were going down the panel as a closing

exercise of what do you do for well-being? And they got to me and time had run out and I said,

beef and whiskey. For me, that’s actually true. I run on high quality protein. When I’m doing these

around the world, John’s getting no sleep, high energy, I need high quality protein at the end of

the day. I need a drink with a friend to just wind down. So the next year at the conference,

they opened it with the evening of beef and whiskey. It’s not for everyone. It’s what is for me.

Find your voice. You have something to say that your family, your neighbors, your friends,

your coworkers need to hear. One empowered person begins to change everyone around them.

Each of us has something like 20 people who look at what it is we do and care. What you do with

your life makes a difference. It inspires those around you and this is the last one. Find your

power. This is the dot. Do one thing. You aren’t alone. As I said very shortly, we will be

standing up this global brand of climate activism, of climate care, of climate engagement and

it’s going to take all of us. So stay tuned and join us.

Absolutely wonderful, Hunter. It is such a joy to have this opportunity to visit with you.

I want to remind our audience. This is the Y on Earth community podcast. I’m your host,

Erin William Perry. We are visiting with Hunter Lovens just a few days before she departs to

Europe and then Dubai for COP28. I want to be sure to give a shout out and thank a few of our

partners and sponsors who make our podcast series possible. This includes Chelsea Green Publishing.

With Chelsea Green, you can use the code YOE35 for a 35% discount on any of their books and audio

books. Also, if you go to Y on earth.org and you go to our partners and supporters page, you’ll see

Chelsea Green amid many other of our wonderful collaborating sponsors and partners, many of

whom are offering special deals to our audience. This also includes Puria Morganic superfoods.

They’re offering $50 off your first order or 25% whichever is greater.

Weyley water soaking salts. These are the Colorado grown biodynamically and regeneratively

grown hemp infused aroma therapy soaking salts we make for the Y on Earth community.

Profitable purpose consulting. Earth hero sustainable products.

Soil works. Biodynamic garden preparation. Earth coast productions are a dear friend,

Artem Nicolkov and his team. And of course, our growing global network of ambassadors.

For our ambassadors, we have a number of additional benefits, including our monthly zoom

meetup and our ambassador resources. These are recordings from conference proceedings and

are behind the scene segments that we record with many of our podcast guests after we conclude

our main episodes together. And if you’re not yet activated as an ambassador and you’d like to

be, you go to Y on earth.org to get that set up. Many of our ambassadors are giving through our

monthly giving program at varying levels. And if you give at the $33 or greater level as a thank

you, we’ll send you a jar of the Weyley water soaking salts each month for your self-care practices

connecting to some dots there. Now, you can connect with Hunter and her team at natural capitalism

solutions by going to natcappsolutions.org. And also, you can get more information at futureeconomy.forum

regarding COP28 in particular. A number of informational pieces available there. And of course,

these links are available in the show notes to the podcast episode. We’ll also include the links

that Hunter mentioned to the United Nations FCC resources and the United Arab Emirates resources

for COP28 in particular. And, you know, Hunter before I should also mention I’m going to be live

blogging wonderful from COP. So you can you can ride along with me at a site called climate and

capital media, which is climate and capital media all run together.com. All right. I’m jotting this

down quickly and legibly. So we’ll make sure that link is in there as well. That’s so great to

hear Hunter. And, and Hunter, before we conclude our main episode and do a little five, ten minute

behind the scene segment for our ambassadors, that exclusive content. You know, I just I want to

first of all acknowledge and thank you for all of the work you’ve been doing all of these years and

you know, I had the opportunity to first meet you clear back gosh twenty twenty five years ago

back when I was working at sustainable settings. One of our favorite biodynamic regenerative

farms here in Colorado and and knowing how much you and your work in particular have impacted

thousands millions, perhaps of other organizational leaders, other activists, other folks who are

leaning into doing what can be done and what must be done. And so first off, I just I want to give

a major acknowledgement Hunter for all of that. Thank you. Absolutely. Secondly, I you know, I want

to open the floor up to you. You’ve given us so much information here, including the five steps

to empowerment, which is brilliant. I just I want to open the floor up and just ask you, you know,

for our audience, what is it that you would that you would say in the in the face of all of this

sort of going beyond the five steps you’ve already articulated? What is your sense for

what’s possible in the next handful of years? What’s your sense for what we might all achieve

together if enough of us, that critical mass of us mobilizes, leans in and says, yeah, we are

going to make this happen. What does that look like? You and I’ve spoken of this. I almost hung up

my spurs a couple of years ago. And I asked myself, put together everything that I do writing books,

teaching, consulting, going down the road. Is it enough? No. If you look at the science, we’re losing.

Do I know what enough is? No. My husband had been after me to retire. And my partner, Walter

Lent of now partners asked if I would come on a trip to Munich, Rome, Assisi, help him do back-to-back,

to-back workshops, big B corporation, global leaders, summit in Rome, and a retreat in Assisi.

Said, yes. But driving out from the ranch headed out on that trip, I thought, this will be my last trip.

And that was a bit of a bleak thought. Holy unplanned. I bumped into a guy very, very senior UN

official who might have fought for a number of years. He had been tasked with running a UN

program that certainly appeared to be promoting industrial agriculture. And I was not going to let

that happen. And so we fought for two years, or I fought and he diplomatic. And then in the end,

the UN pulled the plug on the whole thing, killed it, and I went, yeah, I win. And Walter said,

at these sessions, will be this man that I had fought. And I thought, oh, this will be fun.

I’d have always enjoyed a meet the guy that I fought. And got there, he gets up, gives a speech

on regenerative agriculture I could have given. That was what I thought. I marched up to him. I said,

howdy, my name’s Hunter Lovens. He laughed. He said, I know who you are. Yeah, you probably do.

After two years of my insurgency, I said, I may have been wrong about you. And he and I sat

down and talked. And he pitched me on this idea of building this global community. I thought,

oh, that’s big. If that could be done, that’s the solution. That is enough. And I have no

earthly idea how to do it. Nor do I know anybody who could. You think of all the usual suspects.

They’d make it all about them. And that never will work. So I shrugged and think much more of it.

We wound up on our way to a seasy on a bus crossing the Italian mountains and

spent seven hours together. Somewhere in the middle of Italy, I thought, he can do it.

He is the kind of humility. It’s not about him.

And then, of course, the obvious thought was, what do I do if he asks me to join?

And a little while later, he said, will you join me?

And I looked at him. I thought, let’s see, I work six jobs. I’m supposed to be retiring.

And I looked at him and said, I will ride for your brand. So you have no idea what I just said,

but you’ll figure it out. And since then, we have been just getting after it. And so on my way to

Dubai, I will stop off in Germany and spend some time working with the team that he has collected in

Germany to put a business frame on this as well. And I was scratching my hat. How are we going to

fund this thing? Doing this is going to cost a lot. How are we going to fund this thing?

And he’s got a colleague in Germany who said, I have a business model for this.

Well, I did. So we’re going to sit down and see if we can put that together.

Meantime, like everybody else, I’m fundraising, looking for the money to pull this off in

in the way that he envisioned it. And it’s been a little hard. He’s a very senior UN official.

If the UN knew what he was up to, they’d fire him. He has family. That would be bad. He also

has a very important job. And that would be bad for him to lose that. So it’s kind of hard going

to funders and saying, well, I can’t really tell you what I’m doing. And I can’t tell you

I’m doing it with. Trust me. Amazingly enough, some people have done. And that’s what’s gotten us

as far as we’ve gotten. And now we’re in conversations with some very big funders. So hold that thought.

Brilliant. Fabulous. Thank you so much, Hunter. You are so welcome.

Great pleasure to be able to do this again. Yeah, absolutely. Bye everybody.

The Y on Earth Community Stewardship and Sustainability Podcast series is hosted by Aaron

William Perry, author, thought leader, and executive consultant. The podcast and video recordings are

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