Paul Hawken, author (with Amory Lovins) of Natural Capitalism,among other books, and founder of sustainability-focused businesses (a longer bio available here), spoke last night at Fort Mason in San Francisco as part of the Long Now Organization's speaker series. His presentation focused initially on the history of the environmental movement in the United States -- a movement that, in his introduction, Stewart Brand credited with first teaching the 20th century to think in the long term. Hawken noted a long-standing tension in environmentalism, between "love of nature" and "alienation from nature;" it's a split, in his view, between whether the economy is a subset of the environment, or whether the environment is a subset of the economy. But he went on to say that the environmental movement, as previously conceived, is no more: it's been replaced. And this is where Hawken's talk shifted from a history lesson to a clarion call.
Hawken articulated, in passionate language, a vision that aligned with and expanded what we've been saying here at WorldChanging: there's a revolution taking place, one which is powered by (and in turn powers) the efforts of thousands of disparate movements, groups, networks, ideas, and people, all over the world. They are distributed and diverse, not focused on ideology or power; in fact, this is the largest movement in history not seeking power. It is mainstream, but not centralized, so it often seems to operate beneath the media radar. It links social justice and environmentalism, activism and science. And it is changing the world.
"Nobody understands the rate and breadth of the environmental degradation that's taking place.
But more important, nobody understands the rate and breadth of humanity's response."
--Paul Hawken, October 15, 2004
Read on for some more Paul Hawken quotations from the talk.
"Environmentalism is, at its heart, a scientific movement. It holds, therefore, a long-term perspective."
"Why do you let the Wall Street Journal choose your science? We don't let science magazines choose our stocks."
"The single biggest influence on corporate behavior is activism, and they will be the last to let you know that. Anything activists do to make people in organizations feel that they're employed by a pariah is effective.
"The second biggest influence is daughters -- not sons, just daughters -- of CEOs coming home from college."
"[Because of climate change] In the 21st century, we will all become homeless. We will no longer recognize our homes. They will no longer be the places where we once lived."
"Every movement is a seed, planting seeds in turn. In our societies. In our communities."
Wow, sounds like a great talk. Sorry to have missed it.
*Sigh* I'm jealous.
Hear it again, along with past speakers, at
It may be a few days before the Paul Hawken talk is posted. But I recommend listening to the talk by Bruce Sterling while you're waiting.