JOHN SHATTUCK: Good evening and welcome to the Kennedy Library. I'm John Shattuck, the CEO of the Kennedy Library Foundation. And on behalf of my colleagues, including Tom Putnam, our Library Director who’s here tonight, I want to welcome you to this very special forum on this cold and blustery, not very environmentally attractive evening, Saving the Environment. Maybe we could work on saving the spring. We’ll get to that in a minute, maybe.
I want to express our appreciation at the beginning here to the organizations that make these forums possible, starting with our lead sponsor, Bank of America, and our other generous supporters, Boston Capital, the Lowell Institute, the Corcoran Jennison Companies, the Boston Foundation, and our media sponsors, the Boston Globe, NECN and WBUR, which broadcast all these forums on Sunday evenings at eight. And tonight, we're especially pleased to have a national audience to which this forum is being broadcast by C-SPAN.
One of the things we like to do here at the Kennedy Library is to look at the big issues of today through the lens of history and very specifically through the lens of President Kennedy. Now, the issue of the environment was barely a blip on the horizon in the early 1960s. Pollution was generally accepted as the cost of running factories that powered the American economy, and the use of chemicals and pesticides on livestock and crops was seen as necessary for the farming that produced the country’s food.
No one thought then much about environmental hazards until 1962 when Rachel Carson published her famous book about pesticides, The Silent Spring. President Kennedy was disturbed by her predictions and requested government experts to prepare a report on the public health effects of DDT and other pesticides. The Silent Spring introduced Americans to the environmental crisis, and Kennedy in many ways was the first President to respond. Last year, we hosted a forum here on the centennial of Rachel Carson’s birth, and today we're going to examine how each of us can participate in a movement to save the environment that began more than 40 years ago.
I think our starting point, because we're here in the Kennedy Library, is the famous challenge of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” And Kennedy, of course, often would say that each of us can make a difference and all of us should try. But I must say, when the stakes are as high -- very high as they are in the struggle to stop global warming -- it’s often tempting to think that the crisis is simply too big. The speakers here on our stage, who I’ll introduce in a moment, are going to tell you that that's not true, because each of them has a powerful story to tell about what each of us can do to save the environment.
But before we go any further, I'm just going to do a little shameless promotion of the Kennedy Library, and I want to say that we are doing a little bit ourselves on the issue of the environment. Over the past three years, we've taken some modest, but important, steps to conserve energy by retrofitting our light fixtures, reducing our use of water, converting our heating system and upgrading our temperature controls. And as a result, we've cut our electricity consumption by 8.2 million kilowatt hours a year, and our water consumption by 473 gallons a year. Although the energy requirements for storing and preserving millions of documents and artifacts, as you might imagine, remain high, we're very pleased that we've been able to implement a number of basic energy conservation measures out here at the Kennedy Library.
So with that, let me now introduce our speakers, who will have much more significant information, no doubt, to tell you. I'm going to start with Mindy Lubber, who is at the other end of the podium here; she is the President of Ceres, the leading U.S. coalition of investors and environmental leaders working to improve corporate environmental practices. She also directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk, an alliance that coordinates U.S. investor responses to the financial risks and opportunities posed by global warming. Last year, Mindy organized the first ever institutional investor summit on climate risk at the United Nations. During the Clinton Administration, she served as regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency here in Boston. In 2006, she received the prestigious Skoll Foundation Social Entrepreneur Award.
Gary Hirshberg is President and CEO of Stonyfield Farm, the world’s largest producer of organic yogurt. We had hoped that Gary might bring yogurt with him today to distribute to all of us, but we’ll do that the next time. We all love it, of course. For the last 25 years, Gary has overseen Stonyfield’s phenomenal growth from -- as he was telling me earlier -- a seven cow organic farming school in 1983 to its current $300 million in annual sales. Before joining Stonyfield in 1983, Gary was the Executive Director of the New Alchemy Institute, a research and education center dedicated to organic farming and renewable energy. Writing as a guest columnist in Newsweek in February of this year, Gary tells us that his father and grandfather were New Hampshire shoe manufacturers and that as a teenager he, and I quote, “Figured out that the dyes and chemicals that gushed into the rivers from the many textile and shoe plants in our state were why we could no longer swim or fish without health risks.” He says he began Stonyfield with the basic question: Is it possible to run a commercial enterprise that doesn't hurt the planet and still be highly profitable? And I think he has answered that question very handsomely and wonderfully for all of us. He tells the story in a wonderful new book that's on sale at our bookstore, Stirring it Up: How to Make Money and Save the World.
Robin Chase, who is seated just two to my left here, in just a moment, I don't know how we got out of this alphabetical order that I had arranged [laughter], but you can see my alphabet is not as good as whoever arranged it, Robin is the founder and former Chairman of Zipcar, a company that has revolutionized the rental car industry and reduced urban car use by using wireless technology to give people on demand access to cars by the hour, an extraordinary concept. In her words, Robin’s aim is to revolutionize people’s relationship to their cars and improve the quality of urban life for all. Most recently, she founded and now runs Meadow Networks, a new company which seeks to apply wireless technologies to the transportation sector in order to reduce its dependency on fossil fuel and create more adaptable and cost efficient transportation economy. She’s received many awards and lectures widely on environmental innovation.
Finally, Richard Cizik is Vice President for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals and one of the most prominent evangelical lobbyists in Washington, whom I have known since we served together on a commission in Washington in the 1990s when I was in government. Since 2003, Richard has been active on behalf of what he calls creation care, a commitment to protecting the earth that he traces directly to the Scriptures, with a particular focus today on global warming. Richard has been praised and criticized within the evangelical movement for his advocacy of measures to stop global warming. His critics, led by James Dobson, have circulated a letter calling on him to resign. Richard responds by saying that it’s “time we return to being people known for our love and care of the earth and our fellow human beings.” And as a result of his tremendous advocacy, he's just this week been named one of Time’s Most 100 Influential Americans of this Year.
Our moderator today is my friend, Renee Loth, the Editorial Page Editor of The Boston Globe. One of New England’s most distinguished journalists, Renee has covered politics and culture for The Globe as an editor and reporter for 15 years. Before that, she was an associate editor of The New England Monthly Magazine and a reporter for The Boston Phoenix, and she appears frequently as a commentator in national and local media. So please join me in welcoming all of our panelists to this wonderful forum, Saving the Environment. [applause]
RENEE LOTH: Thank you. Thank you, John, and welcome, and let me be the first to wish everybody here an early happy Earth Day. We've got a couple of weeks to go yet, but I'm the first one to make that happy wish. And because John began with a little bit of shameless self promotion for the Kennedy Library, I thought I would follow suit and say that at The Boston Globe, we are happy today to announce that we have won a prize for criticism, the wonderfully talented Mark Feeney.
But also important for this audience, we were finalists -- which is a very big deal in the Pulitzers because you're competing against hundreds of other extraordinary journalists -- we were a finalist in the category of explanatory journalism for the excellent series on global climate change that Beth Dailey, Globe reporter, did over the course of the last year and she’s a terrific talent. It’s great to get the recognition for her, and really, she should be the one sitting in this seat tonight. But, I'm also happy to be here.
What we're going to do tonight is have a conversation with the excellent panel that we have for you. We're going to be speaking for about an hour here, and then we’ll turn over the proceedings to the audience. Because this is being broadcast by C-SPAN, we ask that you use these microphones that are located prominently here. Ask a question, I’ll recognize you and speak clearly and succinctly, that's a fancy journalism word for short. Your questions short and to the point and we’ll try to get to as many that way as we possibly can.
You know, when we think about protecting and preserving the environment, I think the tendency is often to think of that as government’s work. You know, we have the EPA and the DEP and this whole mess of alphabet soup government agencies that are charged with environmental stewardship. But tonight, what's so interesting to me is we have representatives here not of government, but of the other sectors of economy and society. We have the private market sector and the religious community and nonprofit sector represented here, all of them doing such important work in preserving and protecting the environment and possibly, need I say it, filling a vacuum of failure to do so on the part of our government, at least for the past seven years. End of editorial comment. [laughter]
So, I think we're going to have a really interesting conversation today that looks at all of the different sectors of society and the important work that they're all doing in environmental stewardship.
I'm just going to start off with a couple of questions for the panel, and then I really do hope that everybody is not shy and not even polite and sort of jumps in and keeps this conversation going. But I do want to start with Gary Hirshberg, who’s written this great book that will be available for signing and purchase later, that has as its subtitle, How to Make Money and Save the World. So, clearly Mr. Hirshberg, you are a believer in the power of markets to catalyze change. But I want to ask you a question of scale, if I may, and maybe I'm starting off with a particularly provocative question. But because you are the world’s largest manufacturer of organic yogurt, I wanted to give you an opportunity, really, to respond to one of my heroes, Michael Pollan, who in his best-selling book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, soon to be followed by your best-selling book, of course, but his best seller, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, raises a question about the internal contradictions in what he calls industrial organic. How is it possible to grow a seven cow farm to scale so that you can make money and still save the world? I mean, I just want to say … I have a little quote from him here. You know, he’s actually, I should say, quite kind of “Stonyfield” in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. But he does say that, in general, trying to bring these organic, natural food production companies up to industrial scale uses so much energy and requires ingredients from far away and ends up, you know, sort of undermining the logical inspiration for organic in the first place. He says. “My industrial organic meal is nearly as drenched in fossil fuel as its conventional counterpart.” So discuss. [laughter]
GARY HIRSHBERG: Well, first of all, Michael has to be nice to Stonyfield because I know where he lives. [laughter] Seriously, he’s a good and dear friend and I am also a big fan. And if I ever get to sell one one-hundredth of the books he sells, I will be a very happy man indeed. And we have, in fact, just had dinner ten days ago and have our semiannual debate, as you might well imagine. So I'm prepped, I'm prepped.
Michael raises really important points, and just if I could elaborate on your question before answering it. What he’s really asking is as we, as a species, have sort of worked our way into a cul-de-sac, I think, by seeing the environment as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the economy, as opposed to what it really is, of course, which is the reciprocal -- the economy is only made possible as a subsidiary of the planet -- are we just bringing the same old mistakes that we brought to conventional agriculture to organic? Are we being linear, are we just doing another fraction, are we being unconscious? You know, there's ever so many myths that drive the way we meet our basic needs of agriculture, of energy and so forth, specifically the myth of away, the idea that we can send waste to this place that's like Oz in my mind, it doesn’t exist. Or the myth that we can extract the earth’s crust, and so forth. And indeed, the recent sort of enthusiasm for local is different primarily by an obsession with the idea of food miles.
So, okay, having said that, I'm not ducking the question, I’ll answer it. You know, first of all, we have to understand that a baby born today in Boston, or Concord, New Hampshire, or anywhere in this country, could have up to 287 chemicals in her core blood, three-fifths of which are either known or potential carcinogens. And my first response is people say to me, “Well, Gary, organics isn’t really proven.” And I would submit that it’s the chemicals that aren’t proven. That we've been on an 80, 90 year experiment with our bodies and our planet and from incoming data, the early returns, shall I say, are not good.
And so if one really is committed to organics -- be it industrial or otherwise -- if one is really committed to the fundamentals of organics, which is the goal of taking toxins out of the atmosphere, out of our air, out of our water, I mean we all have DDT in our tissue even though it was banned here 40 years ago, because it’s a highly persistent toxin, it sticks around. And by the way, because we're using it in other countries around the world. And so, goal number one has to be to detoxify and to take it out. And in that regard, the debate that Michael and I have, let's not make perfect the enemy of the good. I have, in my book, proudly championed, I’ll be up front, Whole Foods is our largest customer. I'm highly dependent and grateful to them, but I've also proudly championed, as I've championed Whole Foods in my book, I've also championed Wal-Mart, which is controversial, especially with a lot of folks on the left, progressives. But yet, they are now the largest seller of organic produce in the world.
And so just to cut to it, what I would ask of readers and listeners of the author, of Michael himself, is that we look thoroughly and deeply at the carbon input into our food system and not just choose the sort of easy and obvious way out. And I’ll illustrate it very quickly, but clearly this way. We had an organic milk shortage last year in the U.S. and this is a constant problem. My problem these days is more about supply, not demand, because I haven’t met a person yet who wants yogurt with more pesticides. And we started searching all over the country. Supply is not keeping up with demand. And we discovered a source of milk, organic milk powder, in New Zealand, that was in surplus.
Now, as a green company, I said to my constituents, my colleagues, “How can I possibly bring organic milk powder from New Zealand?” And we decided, because we run climate maps on everything we do, we decided actually to measure the carbon footprint of what would be theoretically another source of milk. And we discovered that we could get organic milk powder from New Zealand to New Hampshire with about 45 percent of the carbon as getting fluid milk from Wisconsin to New Hampshire. And the reason had nothing to do with transportation, because obviously it’s a long distance. The reason is there's no grain, there's no feed in the New Zealand system. It's a 100 percent grass fed system. So it is way lower on the food table. So all of the carbon, the fertilizing, the tilling, the harvesting, the milling, not to mention, by the way, the impact on cows who weren’t biologically developed to eat grain, makes it, in fact, is far more ecological.
Now, we didn't end up doing it, we solved the problem else wise. But it points out that we can’t be simplistic in looking at this stuff. And I think goal number one first is not just preserving and protecting, but restoring the planet. And that means getting toxins out of our biosphere. Then let’s debate big versus little.
RENEE LOTH: Well, I have a sort of similar question of scale for Robin, the founder of Zipcar. Everybody loves and knows Zipcar. I was on the internet just the other day Googling around and was really surprised to see how many Zipcars there were in my own neighborhood; it’s just a sea of little green locators that Google does for you, so it’s just a great success. But, of course, a similar kind of question that I just asked Gary. You can become a victim of your own success. And one of the things we've read recently, we read this in The Boston Globe, so it must be true, is that Zipcar has, of late, drawn the attention and the competitive impulses of some huge competitors, U-Haul and Hertz, who now are considering getting into the short-term rental business as they see it. Not saving the Earth, necessarily, but good market for short-term rentals.
My question for you is whether a concept like Zipcar can be presented by these monsters, these huge corporations, or is it possible for them to do that and still be true to the mission and founding principles of Zipcar?
ROBIN CHASE: The Zipcar has been a fabulous and I think a slightly unique—I hate to think that it’s unique—but I feel like the devil could run Zipcar and it could have some Hummers in the fleet, and it would still come out with an environmental and social benefit. Because what Zipcar does, relative to using your own car, is it takes all those sunk costs and brings the whole thing up into a lump so you pay by the hour. And that hour costs $8 to $10. And that determines whether you're going to go get in your car to go buy some ice cream or you're going to eat cookies that you have at home. So really, the biggest impact that Zipcar has, and it could be achieved by Enterprise or anybody -- because that pricing means it’s all in one big bundle -- is that we get you to rationally choose whether you should drive, walk, not go, take the transit. And that's the biggest, by far, win and that would happen for anybody.
But answering a little bit of this other question that Gary didn't answer, sorry Gary, you gave fascinating stuff. I was thinking of this local versus big. Can things get really big? I think from a business sense, what you care about is margins. And if you can provide things locally for better margins, you're going to have local guys doing it. So that is, I think, the critical piece from a business perspective. It’s not whether it’s local or large, but what's it going to cost you to provide this service, and you're going to provide it the cheapest possible way. I can imagine circumstances where choosing local things makes it cheaper. Not always, but that would be a criteria for me.
RENEE LOTH: So U-Haul, come on down?
ROBIN CHASE: Come on down, there's a lot more to the business than that. But yeah, if they can pull it off.
RENEE LOTH: That's great. I wanted to turn to Mindy, who spends most of her time trying to move businesses and investors to see the value of environmental stewardship as a business proposition. You know, I think so many of us have been told for so long that environmentalism is nice, but it’s a frill or it’s just too expensive or it requires people living in times of scarcity somehow. That the whole idea of environmentalism as a business, you know, a business proposition, I think takes some getting used to. So, if you could just talk a little bit about how you persuade your bottom line oriented clients to see the value of protecting the environment as a business proposition?
MINDY LUBBER: Well, it’s become a very easy question to answer. You know, environmental issues are an externality, it’s icing on the cake. If we have a good year, we’ll do something about it, let’s see what happens. And having spent the last 28 years as a litigator and running advocacy groups and as a regulator, I spent a lot of time thinking about what's the most effective way to make change? Is it government, is it business, is it education, is it community organizing? All of which it is.
I want to say as it relates to sustainability issues like global warming, which is perhaps the greatest challenge that anybody of us has faced, an 80 percent reduction by the year 2050 is what every scientist, and I am not one of them, tells us it has to be. To talk too much about science would be absolute malpractice on my part. But I believe it, I've read it, I've seen it, I've heard enough very, very smart people. And frankly, the debate is over. We're not really debating, is climate change real? Does it have a profound impact? We may debate on the margins, is it 70 percent reduction by the year 2050 or 80 percent? And Al Gore, at a meeting I was at with him last week, said it’s 90 percent.
But the magnitude is so huge that it has become clear and no longer debatable, but for rare instances, at the Wall Street Journal conference a few weeks ago, I shared the plenary stage with somebody from something called the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and he did think that climate change was not an issue that we needed to concern ourselves with. Short of those few people, what we have seen is that climate change is a proxy for other environmental or sustainability issues, is not only the most profound environmental and scientific and national security and public health issue that we face in our time, and that to get to an 80 percent reduction in the year 2050 will take a radical transformation of our energy systems and transportation systems. But as much as it is an environmental and scientific challenge, it is indeed as much, if not more, an economic challenge. And anybody who tries to discount it, that capital markets are not a big part of this problem, and solution, is missing the point.
And frankly, if I just think about the places that I've been over the last three months, from The Economist to Fortune Magazine next week to the World Economic Forum in Europe, or the New York Stock Exchange, the good news is that this issue is being debated front and center at every major business enterprise as much as it is environmental. And let me quickly tell you why. But let me say also it’s impossible to sit here at the Kennedy Library and not think for a minute about the wisdom of President Kennedy and certainly Senator Kennedy as well. But as recently, or as long ago as 1963, and depending on how you want to look at it, John Kennedy said, “The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of our planet.” Our planet now is truly vulnerable. It’s the first time in our life where we may leave a planet to our next generation, or to our kids, that can’t sustain itself. And the issues are affecting the world, not only the United States. The impact will be great, it will be greatest on impoverished communities around the world. And it will happen. We will see water wars, we will see other things unless we act now and act with the size and the scope and the urgency of the problem.
And what am I seeing out there? The exciting thing that I'm seeing, the good and bad, and I’ll be very quick, is that we're no longer debating the issue and all sorts of constituencies have come alive, whether it’s the evangelicals, and I remember all the excitement, and rightfully so. Or the Girl Scouts or AARP or nursing associations, the list goes on and on. The acknowledgement is there and the action is there, and the business community is acting. Enough? Absolutely not. But if we don’t engage capital markets and the big players and the trillions of dollars out there to be part of the solution, we will not get there.
Let me not discount the role of the government. The government needs to act. We need a mandatory law passed in Congress over the next few years that puts a cap on carbon and a cost on carbon. And many of the businesses are acting because they're seeing states act in regulating them, and they're seeing the federal government act and they know what will happen sooner rather than later. But at the same time, not only are companies acting because they see the risk and they worry about government regulation, which indeed they should, and they should stop worrying about it with all the years. I’m old enough to have been part of the Clean Water Act debate and the Clean Air Act debate, and business said it will kill us, it will be painful, it will be bad for the economy. Indeed, those are two of the most successful pieces of legislation; they are the only things that brought things down like SOX, sulfur dioxide in the air, and effluents to the water. They did not put businesses out of business; many businesses prosper, and a climate regulation will be similar.
But because of the costs to companies now, whether it’s the increased risk from regulations coming, or the physical damage from modest changes in agriculture to waterways to real estate that are on protected areas, or areas bordering on waterways, the list goes on and on of the kind of financial impacts. Katrina alone, the $80 billion cost to the insurance industry, and those were only insured costs. It was double for what the overall cost to society was. We are seeing that absolutely every day. We have no choice but to act from an economic perspective.
There's a reason that Citi Group just rolled out a $50 billion program. Are they great environmentalists? Maybe, maybe not, I don't know. But a $50 billion program that is real, that addresses their real estate, the products they offer, their employees, the amount of money they're going to invest in renewables and in creative technology. Bank of America, $20 billion program, Wal-Mart, a company that I have some issues with as it relates to employee programs, but their fundamental climate program is real. It has a profound impact, they are bringing their carbon footprint down given the size, their ability to push their suppliers. It is making a difference, and there are dozens, if not hundreds of companies acting, and that's a good thing.
The counter argument, and I'm not going to go on, is we are not acting anywhere near the level that we need to act to be thinking about an 80 percent reduction in our carbon footprint by the year 2050. It will be a business and economic opportunity, not for everybody, but if we are going to make the transformation to a clean energy, new transportation systems, new energy systems, which we have no choice to do. Every day we wait, it will cost us more to get to that kind of reduction, we need to act now on the size and scale and scope. And if you go out and listen to the venture capitalists out in California and others, they are licking their chops at the amount of money they're going to make by bringing out these new technologies. And it is those technologies that is what is exciting. The way we're going to move China is not by saying to China, “Don’t build those 411 new pulverized coal fired power plants. Or India, don’t build your 119.” They are not interested in listening to those of us who have consumed enormous amounts of energy and not regulated ourselves.
We will move them by creating the technological innovations that they are happy to adopt and buy. or they’ll beat us to it if we're not careful. But that's the way we need to be thinking about this. Business needs to be acting, bringing their carbon footprint down because there are risks, but acting because there are huge opportunities.
RENEE LOTH: Thank you, that was very urgent and well put. [applause] Very well put business case for protecting the environment. Now, I’d like to just call upon a higher power and to tell us a little bit about the awakening of the evangelical movement to its call for environmental stewardship. I just recently saw a documentary film called Renewal, which discusses interfaith and different faiths approach to this problem. And I was struck by the fact that there's a statement in the Bible for almost anything you want to find in there, that's why it’s such a wonderful guide to life. And several of these religious denominations quoted from the Bible to show why we should be stewards of the Earth. But in Genesis, and I suspect that many people never get past Genesis in the Bible, at least many of us don’t, there is this famous quote, “Be fruitful and multiply and have dominion,” God speaks to man, “Have dominion over the fish in the sea and the birds and every living thing that moves upon the Earth.” And so many people think there is some sort of contradiction between the Bible’s first principles right there in the beginning of Genesis and what you're trying to do. And I'm wondering if you could address that seeming inconsistency?
RICHARD CIZIK: I’d be glad to, thank you. Boy, this is an impressive group. I wonder why I'm here. [laughter] But sometimes the religious people have felt that the environment wasn't their duty. In fact, if you look at it historically, there are those who were theologians and historians of the church and others who would say that, “Well, the church fathers should have carried this message of our stewardship, that we are not owners of this Earth, we're simply stewards of it. And that implies the principle of sustainability.” And, of course, I think all of the Scriptures, old and new, teach that principle of sustainability, namely that our uses of the Earth must be designed to conserve and renew it, you see, not to deplete or destroy it.
But what happened? Well, some people say we all became Neo-Platonist. In other words, that the spirit is what was important, and not matter. And in a certain sense, theologians today, including N. T. Wright in Oxford, he says we are modern day Gnostics who have, again, raised and elevated the spiritual and sublimated the physical. And I think that's a [inaudible] that during, for example, the Reformation period, the great church reformers. Well, what did they say? Well, Luther, to his credit when asked, “Well Luther, Martin, would you continue cutting down that tree if the Lord were to come tomorrow?” And Martin said, “Absolutely, I would do it.” But nonetheless, during the great Reformation period, it was interpreted, you see, by them -- Calvin, Luther and others -- well, the Earth was just a stage for a great contest that was occurring between God and the Devil over man’s soul. And so the Earth was just a stage, it was a platform. It wasn't what was really important. And then in more recent centuries, even the authority of the Scriptures has come under question. And so what has happened? Well, the church has lost its role. But it’s not just the evangelicals. I believe when Pope Benedict visits the United States soon, he’s going to address the subject. And so it’s across all religious lines. In a few weeks, we’ll be meeting with Muslim leaders from the Middle East at our invitation to come to the United States and talk about this same thing.
We happen to believe as evangelicals, of all things, this should be ours. And yet what has happened? Well, even on a political level there has been, sad to say, an unholy alliance between two parts of one political party: business getting what it wants in the Republican GOP coalition. And the religious right saying, “Well, we’ll stick to just a couple of issues like abortion, same sex marriage, or whatever, and let the rest go. And if corporate America gets what they want, well good for them.” Au contraire is what we're saying, and that unholy alliance has to end because of all people, those who you see have been delegated the responsibility to be stewards should be caretakers of it.
And so absolutely right, there is this dominion over the birds of the air, the fish of the sea and all living things. But then in the second chapter of Genesis, is followed up that verse, “To care for it, protect it, watch over it.” And so what has happened is the dominionists, you see, have been given license to simply deplete and destroy, in my opinion, at the expense of those of us who should be the stewards.
And so I happen to believe that we're at the edge of a new awakening, a huge awakening. Because see, once people change, once they think differently and fundamentally in order to change your behavior, you have to think differently about something. And so, as we change our thinking to see stewardship of the Earth, to see creation care, that's our language because well, what's also happened is that the conservatives in this country, what have they thought? Well, they have disdained environmentalists as political leftists, they've mistrusted mainstream science, they have even questioned, well when the media talks about an issue like this, well then we're going to be skeptical and not believe it. And then we're going to practice, well, limited government. In other words, regulation has been bad and then well, free religion, too. Well, free religion of a dominionists nature that says we can do darn well what we please with this Earth. And frankly, we cannot do what we darn well please with this Earth because fundamentally, some higher authority, you mentioned it, a higher authority cares about what we do. And, if we see this as a moral and a spiritual issue, yes it is a scientific, yes it is a business, yes it is an environmental and all the other political issues, but fundamentally it’s also about how we relate to one another and the rest of the world. And that especially, as you say, if the poor are the worst to suffer from this, then that makes it fundamentally an extremely moral and spiritual issue of the first order.
RENEE LOTH: One of the things that was so moving to me in that little documentary I saw was how much [inaudible] congregations would get from listening to their religious leaders, their pastor or their rabbi or whoever, speaking about the importance of protecting and serving the Earth and referring to various Scriptures. And it just gave the congregation, some of them quite poor …Therere was one section about a Pentecostal Church, I think, in Mississippi -- very poor, badly damaged by Katrina. But seeing the courage that it gave these ordinary people to challenge their governments or industry in their communities, to try to do something about cleaning up the Earth. I mean, as a community organizing force, there are few things, I think, that are as powerful as our churches and our religious institutions. I'm just wondering if you've considered that, the sort of empowerment of the citizens?
RICHARD CIZIK: Well, we say we have a vision. It is revision the way we think as Americans and as religious people. We have a strategy and it’s to hold leaders accountable and absent that strategy, well they say a vision without a strategy is an hallucination. [laughter] So absent a strategy, which has to include holding our leaders accountable, and even here at this location, some in the rest of the country would call secular, I’ll issue a sacred kind of statement. Namely, in that great conversation between Jesus and Pilate, the highest political authority of his day, Jesus said to Pilate, in other words when told, “I can release you or crucify you,” Jesus said, “You have no authority except it be given you from above.”
And so we as voters have given this authority to our politicians, but they also have to practice it under the designated role given them as leaders from a higher authority. And frankly, I would agree with you. On the last eight years, we've not had that, and I'm not saying that the next President will necessarily do any better, but if he or she doesn’t do any better, we should certainly hold them accountable.
RENEE LOTH: Well, I believe all three leading presidential candidates agree with the 80 percent by 2050, including John McCain who has said ...
RICHARD CIZIK: That is until, one might argue, that corporate America comes in and dictates the terms. And so absolutely, all three of the candidates have made those kinds of commitments. But I don't think we’ll get there without a mass movement, a social movement of the likes of nothing ever before in human history because everything is at stake. Because of climate change, everything, the whole planet, and its future, is at stake.
RENEE LOTH: Well, it’s great to hear you mention strategy as an important, obviously, I love that. What was it again, a vision without a strategy is a hallucination? I love that.
RICHARD CIZIK: Yeah, but you also have to have the right tactics, too.
RENEE LOTH: But I’d like to talk a little bit about that, strategies and tactics. Gary, I think I see you … No? [laughter] I thought I saw you giving a raised eyebrow. Let’s talk maybe a little bit about strategies and tactics and get a little bit more down to Earth.
MINDY LUBBER: Well, one thought, it is about building constituencies. We have never had an issue facing us that's so profoundly impacted all of us. Each and every one of us -- tall, short, east coast, west coast, Asia, African countries -- this is a world problem of the first order. It’s real, it’s here, it’s an order of magnitude that we're not used to seeing or experiencing. And every one of us should be doing something, which of course is not the case.
But we've got to first communicate the problem. I know nobody who wouldn’t throw themselves in front of a bus for their child if a bus was coming and their child … I mean, we need to throw ourselves in front of this bus, but not let it run us over and to stop it. And it will require a lot of education, and that has been happening, whether it’s Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate and is out there doing $300 million over time, or at least they're hoping to. They haven’t raised anywhere near that, but they are putting tens of millions of dollars into advertisements.
I think we need to be doing education in every way, shape or form. And it will take what Richard said, a movement. The nice and exciting thing is what we're seeing with the young generation, it is our Vietnam War or more. They are getting energized, they are getting exercised. We have not seen the youth empowered in the way that they have and whether it’s Obama bringing them out of the networks, I think it really is this issue. At high schools, at colleges around the country, we are seeing action and activity. Within the business community, within the religious community, within the environmental community. But this won’t happen without a mass movement. We have got to hold our businesses accountable, we've got to hold our governments accountable. There is no way to deal with this issue without an international treaty, without federal legislation, and without extraordinary action on the part of individuals and businesses and investors and every constituency out there. The good news is we've seen far more action, far more education. People are starting to get it. Again, the bad news is we have taken baby steps and we have got to get to great heights to really make a difference.
GARY HIRSHBERG: I’ll jump in there. You know, I feel an enormous sense of a need to ground this conversation in the realities here. The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared a year ago that we have about ten years to adjust the trajectory of CO2 emissions if there's any hope for future generations. If we stopped burning fossil fuels today, we will continue to warm the planet, estimates are between 40 and 60 years. Eighty percent, 90 percent -- whatever the debate -- we are not going to offset or reduce our way. Kyoto was a wonderful objective, but we have been warming the planet for 70 years by the time the 1990s came around. So with that kind of science -- and obviously we need to debate it. But as Mindy said, very few will debate it. Two of the three people who will debate it are in the White House and they've got 292 days to go and they're out of there. [applause] Right, I’ll clap for that.
But more to the point, I think this is not a business, a spiritual or a community problem, this is a species problem. This is a question, as was stated, of recognizing our role in the universe, in the cosmos. And we have exercised …
RICHARD CIZIK: By the way, we call that cosmological thinking, as opposed to anthropocentric thinking. As in, “For God so loved the cosmos,” so I'm affirming what you say.
GARY HIRSHBERG: Yeah. No, I would say it simply this way. That we have moved ourselves into—I don’t call it a dead end, I call it a cul-de-sac, a place that we've got to come out of. But when we're talking about urgency, and I would never argue that whether we're dealing cosmologically or concretely about in terms of the economics of climate, the reality is every aspect of our species, every way that we're engaged has got to be mobilized here. If we're going seriously to make change that we're talking about in the next nine years. I mean, just to make a hard example here … I mean, we think we have immigration problems now! We're talking about the [inaudible] billion people, a quarter or a fifth, depending, on the world needing water, needing land, needing a home.
Now, my point that I would make is simply this. On that level, in this context of urgency, consider this fact: we all must, we all must, reduce. We all must change our habits, we must reduce our consumption. Whenever, wherever we can buy locally, of course we should. I mean there's no argument about that. But if the hundred largest corporations in America reduced their climate footprint by just 5 percent, it would be the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road. One hundred companies, 5 percent. If those hundred companies reduced their climate footprint by 10 percent, the U.S. would be three-quarters of the way of meeting Kyoto, and I don't think Kyoto is the goal.
But the point I'm just trying to illustrate is the immense concentrated economic power through supply chain. Because it isn’t even the businesses, it’s them impacting all of the goods and ingredients; in my case, the milk, the fruit, the cups, etc., that are coming in and the domino effect of our economic activity. That is what we're going to need to mobilize quickly.
Now, here's the great thing. The great thing is that we consumers are actually in charge. Business, corporate America, spends billions of dollars to tally up our votes. When we run an item past the scanner, we're voting. We vote all the time, not just once every two or four years, we vote constantly. And believe me, corporate America tallies those votes. And we think that Wal-Mart and all these others have moved to being green because they've had a moral or spiritual renewal here, think again.
RICHARD CIZIK: Think again.
GARY HIRSHBERG: I’ll tell you what's different in there, it’s $100 barrel oil. Oil was $32 a barrel when George W. Bush took office. It does not take a genius to figure out that we're going to be at $150 any moment now.
ROBIN CHASE: I want to add a couple of facts to this discussion of urgency. So I'm not a climatologist and I quote the two senior leading climatologists in the U.S. -- James Hanson, who is the head of the NASA Space Goddard Institute. A week and a half ago, he came out in the New York Times to say, “If we continue with business as usual for ten years, we have a zero percent chance of averting catastrophic effects of climate change.”
John Holdren, when he presented to the U.N. in September -- he is the head of the Woods Hole Institute and Chairman of the Association for the Advancement of Sciences, American Association -- he said, “If worldwide CO2 emissions peak by 2015, seven years from now, we have a 50 percent chance of averting catastrophic effects.” So what really dismays me is when people talk about what's going to happen in 2050 and 2020. I give a huge number of lectures, and people are thinking, “Oh, technology is going to fix it. You're going to come up with alternative fuels, you're going to do all these things.” If we want to get the odds up between 2050, we have two to three years to make worldwide CO2 emissions tip.
And to be very specific about that, today emissions rise about 2 to 3 percent a year, so we're not talking about having to have some impossible goal, we're talking about a discreet goal, which is can you and I reduce our emissions by 3 percent this year and 3 percent the next year? And Gary talked a lot about big business and they absolutely have a huge role to play. But I’d like to put some additional burden on all of us as individuals. If U.S. CO2 emissions are 29 percent you and your car, so to manufacture that car, that motor fuel, and to drive it around is 29 percent of emissions. The second largest thing you as individuals do is 17 percent is your residential electrical bill. And if you're looking at 17 percent, there's lighting, there's heating, there's air conditioning, there's you're refrigerator, there's heat, there's all that stuff. And while I think we need to be focused on changing out our light bulbs, just compare that to the 29 percent that's just your car and we have this sense of urgency. So I get told all the time, “Robin, you’ll be so proud of me. I bought a Prius.” Well, I'm glad you bought a Prius, excellent. But what I need you to do is to stop driving. You know? So 29 percent, if each one of you in this room took one trip less a week, that would reduce emissions by 5 percent this week. If you would share one out of every twenty trips, that would reduce emissions by 5 percent. Americans in particular really want to turn their eyes away from this car which is 29 percent and come up with every other possible solution. We need to address all the solutions. I really, really want to see we need to address those solutions, but we also have to talk about the car and it’s got to get back on the table, and it is terrifying for Americans.
MINDY LUBBER: Renee, if I could just follow up on Richard’s sense of it’s all about strategy and tactics and not about hallucination. With a problem like this, we need to be extremely tactical and strategic. It will take all of us, whether it’s consumers, businesses, government. I used to debate when I was a young lawyer, should I spend all my time as a litigator? There are no single answers here. This is going to take all of us.
But I do want to, in the spirit of strategic and tactical, we could do all we want as individuals, and we should. I am not debating Robin; I think it’s superb and I agree. But if China and India build 511 new pulverized coal fired power plants, this is game over. We will not be able to come up with a plan to mitigate the carbon problem that we're facing. And so we have got to be strategic and tactical about the leverage the United States needs to build, and we get no leverage until we act. And until Congress acts and until there is a limit to the unlimited use of energy and transportation, we love to have it all in the United States, all of us, some more so than others. But until Congress acts and there is a cap on the amount of carbon and there is a cost on carbon, we're somehow making believe right now that carbon pollution is free. When something is free, you get a whole lot more of it.
GARY HIRSHBERG: It’s an externality.
MINDY LUBBER: The United States thinks carbon’s free. It is not free. It is very expensive, it is doing us in. So we have got to be very smart about putting a cap on carbon in the United States. For those of us who don't like limits, we're going to have to learn this is not going to all be easy, although it doesn't have to be draconian. But we have got to get leverage and putting a cap on carbon and limiting our own carbon footprint as individuals, and there are ways to do it as companies, as a community, we could do that. It also will give us leverage to go into an international debate. And nobody is listening to us right now, given what our government has done, which has turned a blind eye and somehow assumed this carbon problem is not real and there is no cost to carbon.
But we have got to be strategic and tactical about dealing with international treaties. When I was at the World Economic Forum at Davos, 18 sessions on climate change. Every business leader, yes, yes, yes, it’s a problem, and those are good words, and words are good. That was day one. And my young staff told me … and I had a blog and I spent all night blogging saying, “I feel like I walked into a Greenpeace conference and not the World Economic Forum.” But day two, the head of the Indian Chamber of Commerce, or their equivalent, and the head of the Chinese government and business association said, “We have mouths to feed. We have millions of people living on less than a dollar a day. We are going to build our economies as expeditiously as we can, and the cheapest way to do that is off of a carbon base, a coal base.”
So our eyes have to be smart, we have to be clear on where the big wins are and where the big problems are, and we've got to organize, understanding the right targets. That's not to say it is not all of us, it is. But there are some really big targets out there, and if we don’t get to them, we won’t win. And we're not going to get to them without being smart and strategic and tactical and having a United States administration that is willing to lead rather than blindly ignore the problem.
RENEE LOTH: I think it’s almost time to start taking some questions. I'd love to have people come up to the microphones. I was really happy to hear some of Robin’s recommendations and Mindy’s, because this often happens in discussions of environmental problems -- especially climate change -- where you get to this point where you just feel like, oh, despair. We can’t possibly turn it around; we're all doomed; we should give up and go out and buy the next Hummer. So it is good to hear that there are specific strategic steps that we can take to make a difference, and I’d love to hear some more about that in the conversations that continue. Sir, I can see you at the microphone.
AUDIENCE: Hi, is this on? My name is Peter Smith. I’m with the Green Decade Coalition, Newton, and we have a decade left. And I'm also working with the Chamber of Commerce, the Needham/Newton Chamber of Commerce, that's one of our citizens group, and we did an outreach to our Chamber of Commerce. And the question is to both Gary and to Robin, and we've heard a lot today -- and it’s been a wonderful conversation; I think the urgency is palpable, it’s really important -- but we've heard a lot today about what large corporations can do, and Mindy was just talking about how India and China are really critical targets. And we've heard about what each of us has to do. On June 3rd, the Chamber of Commerce is going to have a major conference, in fact Gary’s going to come and give us our keynote speech, but maybe you can give us a little preview. What should small businesses do? What message can we bring to small businesses, not as individuals because we've heard what that message is for individuals, but what messages can the photo shop, the copier, the banker, branch bank guy, how can they really make a shift and make a change, and what should their life be like ten years from now? If we could hear from you about that, then it’d be great.
GARY HIRSHBERG: Well, having been a small business through much of my career, this is all very real. My entire corporate budget is a rounding error next to what they spend on marketing. I did not get to this position of being the number three yogurt brand in America by out-spending them. I got there through what I call the First National Bank of Conservation, minding my activities to drive profits by reducing my use of fossil fuels. That was true when it was $26 a barrel. It’s ever more so now at $100. And any small business knows that there are two costs that are most uncontrollable these days. One is health care, and the other is energy. And by the way, they're related in my mind.
Let me give you a very hopeful statistic, just to kind of pick up on your last point, Renee, and I’ll mention a large business as a role model to small businesses and businesses much smaller than my own. My favorite two words are -- except when my 15 year old daughter utters them -- is “Why not?” I don’t so much like it when she’s hitting me with it. [laughter] But this is the entrepreneurial credo, right? Why not have business be part of the solution to the planet? Why not have policy that actually considers future generations? Why not consider our role in the spiritual context of the planet in terms of future generations and so on? A couple of folks at UPS -- and you all may know the story -- asked why not avoid left-hand turns? Now, this is 95,000 [inaudible] and what's happening when you're going left? You're waiting for the cars to go by. By the way, I was giving this example in England last week and no one knew what I was talking about. [laughter] But now I'm home, you all understand, right? But you're waiting for cars to go by, you're idling, it's unproductive. What they discovered is they could save 3.3 million gallons of gasoline a year -- that was, by the way, $9.9 million last year -- at $4 a gallon diesel. Well, that’s $12 million by asking why not. Now, large companies don’t have the franchise on asking why not. In fact, the advantage of small business is we're quicker, we move faster, that is our competitive advantage. In my book, this is perhaps my plug here, but there's two ways you make money as a business person -- big, small or in between. You drive your costs down, and I think one could make the case that any time you reduce your climate footprint, your dependence on fossil fuel, you're driving your cost down. And I agree with Mindy that [inaudible] real cost on what we do. Because we have this false economic system that doesn’t measure externalities; it says if it isn’t on the income statement or the P&L, it doesn't exist. This is another human myth. But the other way you can drive your profits is by growing your top line. And by that I mean building loyalty. Because any time you get loyalty, if a person tells you to buy something, somebody, a friend, a local, tells you to buy something, that's far more powerful as a purchase influence in advertising. Loyalty is a result of emotion. Emotion is a result of feeling a connection. And when you as a small business person are doing things that show that you're trying to be responsible, that you're taking care of the community, there are a [inaudible] that show that you can be more competitive on the top line. You can drive your revenue, drive your loyalty, drive re-purchase without having to advertise by just doing the right thing. That's just the beginning.
ROBIN CHASE: I agree. Two quick things to add: it occurred to me that the old saw, reduce, reuse, recycle, that we remember in that order, each one of us, and small businesses can be looking at our inputs. Reduce, saving money. Buy less, save money. Reuse. Instead of ditching it, can you use it again? And recycle being the least. And small business, when I look at all of my workers trying to make more efficient use of resources, and we can all look at our own internal way with businesses and live with those -- reduce, reuse, recycle.
And the last piece I’d like to see small business do, and us as individuals, is I would like them to tell people that they are doing those things. Because we need to make this a cultural norm and that it’s not just Robin Chase who lives in Cambridge who’s doing this, but all this diversity of people, big and small, all these businesses. And I would really love to see all the signs in every small business that says, “I do X and Y. I turn down my thermostat. I insulated. I paid money for that thing and I'm using recycled paper and we flip it to the other side,” whatever, that we really need to tell people, “I'm doing it,” and so it becomes a cultural norm.
RICHARD CIZIK: By the way, there are 300,000 churches, synagogues, mosques in America. If they were to reduce their energy by 10 percent, it would be the equivalent of taking a million cars off the road. Now, I read a lot, I get many books sent to me. One of the best writers around is a man at the University of Oregon by the name of Bob Doppelt; he’s got a new book out on these subjects. But what he says -- and it's very interesting, for both small business as well as everybody else -- he says that climate change will determine the winners and the losers in our society. Because if you adjust your way of thinking, you will survive. If you don’t do that, you won't. And so there is an incentive.
By the way, he also says everything, as a systems analyst and a climatologist, he says everything in society is going to have to change. And he says we're at one of those defining moments in human history, not unlike when man first learned how to use and control fire [inaudible] protect against disease and the rest. This is one of those moments. Well, we went from burning organic products to heating our homes with electricity. Now, we even have nuclear power and the rest, but everything is going to have to change, from the [inaudible] all the other alternatives. And it’s because power shifts from one form of energy, ultimately, and it’s going to have to to another, that he said every system is now in play. And he says as an analyst, those that don’t shift will lose. And what's really [inaudible] and I've been to two dozen campuses, is they understand this is their world. They are going to live in it, and they are going to hold us accountable. And thus I say if my father’s generation was the greatest, as Tom Brokaw says, generation, I have to confess that my generation has been, if not the most, one of the greediest and yet they have to be, to be the greatest, to be the greenest generation. And if they are, they will be the greatest.
RENEE LOTH: Okay, thank you.
RICHARD CIZIK: And I think they're up to it.
RENEE LOTH: I asked the questioners to be succinct, so I have to ask the same of my panelists. There are several people who are waiting to ask questions. Sir?
AUDIENCE: An observation before I introduce myself. One thing about religion is that religion has long ago decided that externalities need to be paid attention to. You could reflect on that. My name is Jim Antol, and I'm with United Church of Christ, which is the largest protestant denomination here in the Commonwealth and I serve as its leader here in the Commonwealth.
And the point I want to make is a challenge to everybody here in the audience and ask for comments by any of you. The most organized time of the week is when hundreds of millions of people go to their house of worship every week and are influenced in one way or another. Of course, if you listen to the current press about the UCC and Jeremiah Wright, you would think that we all march in lockstep to our pastors, which we don't. But listen in one way or another to their pastors. If this is going to happen, if this kind of change that we have just been talking about is going to happen, pastors, clergy of all stripes, must preach on this every other Sunday. That has to happen. And the only way that'll happen is just like a vote is when you do a bar scan. A vote is when you go to your house of worship. You must demand this of your clergy. You must demand it of the higher reaches of the church because, in fact, in human history the most powerful entity for social change has been religious institutions. We have the power to change this, as was said earlier, and the vehicle to change it, including everything that has been said, is through what happens when we worship together. I would love some comments from people other than Richard, because Richard’s a pro at this. I'm going to have breakfast with Richard tomorrow. But Richard’s a pro at this. I’d love to hear what the others of you think about this. Thank you.
ROBIN CHASE: Can I have one sentence? One sentence which is the company that I currently founded and running, golocal.org, 30 percent of the church’s footprint is people getting to church. You just pointed out how people are coming -- same time, same place -- with their friends. They should be using golocal.org, or a similar one and create your church community and ministers should shame their congregation if they're not posting. [laughter]
AUDIENCE: Surely not the best motivator.
ROBIN CHASE: He can tell them how many CO2 emissions they can save by doing so.
GARY HIRSHBERG: My comment is I don't disagree with a word that you said, but except I would argue that that is not the most organized that we are. The most organized that we are is our commerce because we're voting, we are exercising our spiritual will every time we consume, and we do that seven days a week. We do that with leaving our lights on. Every time you click a light switch on, a puff of smoke of radioactivity goes up somewhere.
The problem, in fact, is that you are right in the sense that we're not that organized in how we organize ourselves. And that's really what Mindy and I spend our time calling for, is exercise the power of your vote.
Just a quick plug, and I know Renee wants us to be quick. We created a nonprofit which I urge you to go to, and I have some brochures I can give the audience later, called climatecounts.org. And what it does is it celebrates the power of the vote. It celebrates the fact that the most powerful social change I've seen in my lifetime was the anti-apartheid movement where a small group of people truly changed the world. As my late and wonderful friend, Anita Roddick said, anyone who thinks they're too small to make a difference has never been in bed with a mosquito. [laughter] And I know all about them from New Hampshire. Let me tell you, it’s our state bird. But seriously, what it does is it scores the largest companies in America by way of saying be conscious. When you're buying a pair of sneakers or gasoline or an automobile, and I'm certainly with Robin, don’t buy it if you don’t need to, this gives an actual, objective third party validated score of whether these companies are committed to climate or not. It’s a very powerful organizing tool. Even if it doesn't change your purchase, it allows you to send an email to Steve Jobs, for example, or others, who may or may not be committed to this stuff.
RENEE LOTH: So God and mamman (sic) both at work here in the service of the environment. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Thank you. There seems to have been a bit of a theme running through this conversation of individual responsibility versus bigger, strategic goals and I have a specific question for Gary Hirshberg and Mindy Lubber. Sometimes those two seem somewhat irreconcilable. And in your specific fields, I was wondering if you could address, Mindy, carbon trading and how that seems to be in some people’s mind, a way of outsourcing your cleanup. So, for example, you can build a wind farm a lot cheaper in Mexico than you can in western Massachusetts. Industry would be a fan, but some might say that that doesn’t work with the personal responsibility.
And then for Gary, organic food is great -- I love the yogurt -- but what about the question of land use? You can’t feed as many people using organic means just because the land is not quite as productive. So some would say if you want to go organic to feed the world, you're going to have to use a lot more land. So if you could address those? Thank you.
MINDY LUBBER: Well, to be quick, there is no perfect system. And for me, this problem is going to require all of us, unlike almost any problem we've seen. So is it what are the larger potential impacts versus the individual? I do often want to start with where we could have the biggest bang for our buck, the largest impact. And that may be more than what we could do as individuals in our home. But we need to do all of those things. For large companies, I want Bank of America who is doing good things on their facilities and giving $3,000 credits to any employee who buys a hybrid car and reviewing their loans based on carbon footprint and looking at the higher risk and doing many good things. But they also touch one out of every four people in this country. So, we need companies, we need all of us to act in every way. Large companies can act as large institutions, they can worry about their real estate, they can worry about their suppliers, their transportation, their energy use and they can engage each of us as individuals. The 400,000 people who work for Bank of America, and the list goes on and on. I think we need to do everything. Individuals need to act, small businesses need to act, and in so doing might actually save some money. Large companies need to act because capital markets are extraordinarily powerful and government must act to have a one shot, big bang for our buck, meaning mandatory controls across the United States, at least, saying there will be a cap on carbon, carbon has a cost. And we might allow for some trading.
So you asked specifically carbon trading. It’s like other trading we've done. You put a cap, a limit on carbon and for some people who stay under that cap based on complex formulas, can they either at their plant in another country emit more carbon because they've been under here? Or for that matter, can they trade through a commerce system with a company who wants more emissions? I think that's a good tool, but in the end, I'm interested in a cap. There are limits to which we shouldn’t have more carbon emitted. I think there is some convenience to having a cap and trade system, and that is the system that's being considered by the United States Congress. It’s complex, but it could work and we ought to make it work. But beyond worrying about trading, we ought to worry about limits. There need to be limits to the amount of carbon.
RICHARD CIZIK: And by the way, CFCs works very successfully -- Montréal Treaty on fluorocarbons, CFCs. And it has been done and it can be done.
RENEE LOTH: Gary, very quickly?
GARY HIRSHBERG: Yeah, sure. Two points.
RENEE LOTH: Use of land.
GARY HIRSHBERG: One is this is a myth that chemical agriculture is more productive in the use of land than organics. First of all, I, from thousands of family farmers who provide everything from milk to fruit, and in my book I actually give many dozens of examples where, indeed, yields, when you get off the chemical dole, for the first year or two, yields do drop, but they come back up again. But we get back to this issue of externalities. Conventional agriculture exploits far more than the land that you're growing on. The harvesting of the Earth’s crust to bring in nutrients that you're applying to this land that we're abusing because we're not halting soil erosion and so forth. The [inaudible] is that result from excess applications of nitrogen. We've got 146 of them around the world. These are zones of no oxygen, no plankton, no algae, no birds, no nothing. In the Gulf of Mexico, for example, off of New Orleans, it’s the size of Rhode Island and growing 20 percent annually.
So when we talk about yields, we have to look at the full measure of what's in and what's out. And the reality is that in conventional agriculture, we put 16 to 20 calories of fossil energy in to get one calorie of food energy out. And economists have a word for that, it’s called bankruptcy. And that's what we're doing as a species. So, in fact, with organics -- and by the way, there's a wonderful article in World Watch a year ago, and I’d be happy to give you the reference after -- that really debunks the myth that organic cannot feed the world.
RENEE LOTH: Thank you. I want to move quickly through the next couple of questioners, because we only have a few minutes left and C-SPAN is broadcasting this and they’ll go dark after a certain point. Sir?
AUDIENCE: Thank you, Renee. My name is Rick Patil and I work at Genzyme Corporation and have a role in our environmental department. And I do have a unique opportunity in my role in influencing or having the opportunity to influence what we do. But the premise of what we do is we do it because it’s the right thing to do, and we have the opportunity to be leaders in whatever we do. And what I would argue is that everyone here, not just when we think of what we do as individuals, we immediately think of what we do at home in changing a light bulb or not using our vehicles as much as Robin pointed out. But then what is our role in the community, in our towns if we go to town meetings? How do we affect every decision we make, and how is that going to influence our carbon emissions as a result of that decision? Or our job in whatever company or institution or wherever we work is talk to others and say, “Well, what can we do in my particular job to influence that?” And, therefore, the company, the group, the institution, the company will then look at that and say, “Our employees want us to do something. What are we going to do about it?”
And I see this positive, very positive aspect of what's going on in business. Gary pointed out, too, and Richard in institutions, and I believe, and I wanted to have a comment especially from Mindy, is this movement, which is continuing to grow, within people within institutions, whatever level they are-- whether they're the CEO of Wal-Mart or an individual working in a company-- that that will change and will change things more rapidly and that government will follow that. Because I fear the government moves too slowly regardless of whoever’s in charge of the government, and that needs to move it and then government will see what's happening and move after that. I’d like your comment.
RENEE LOTH: Okay, first because we're smart people in this panel, I think they can hold two questions in their head at once, so I am going to ask for your question very briefly, and then we’ll try to answer them both. Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Hi, I'm a junior in high school, and I was wondering -- I've been so inspired by all of you, but especially by Mr. Hirshberg and Mrs. Chase. I was wondering if you had any advice as to the best way to become really involved in environmental business, especially? Because I know there's a million different ways that you can help the environment by driving less and all sorts of things like that. But in business, what would be the best way to do that?
RENEE LOTH: Two questions on the floor.
MINDY LUBBER: I'm going to take a shot at the first one and leave the other one to others. I think that businesses are moving and they are finding that leadership breeds success. An example, PG&E’s chairman was in for lunch a couple of weeks ago, a guy named Richard Peter Darby, very good guy. He went out and became quite active on climate change with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California. And he came back and said to me, “The most shocking thing happened to me, which I never expected and I never experienced. I got just an outpouring of support from my workforce, my workers who have never contacted me individually or anecdotally, talking about how proud they are to work for PG&E, how much of a difference it made, how they're going to help recruit their friends to come work for the company.” His HR office now puts a price on how much cheaper it is to recruit the best and brightest at the top business schools because they're a leader on climate change. So we are seeing the kind of reinforcement Gary talks about it at the cash register. People are buying certain kinds of products, that's good. Employees are absolutely proud to work at a place where there's leadership happening in the company. Peter Darby said as well, he heard from customers he never hears from. He runs an electric utility company, although largely doing energy efficiency work due to smart laws in the state of California. But the reinforcement that he’s gotten from customers, from regulators and most of all from his employees, has made a huge difference. And others in the electric utility sector are absolutely following, so leadership is good. That said, I don't think we have the time for one by one companies to come up to the level that Peter Darby or Sun Microsystems or Dell is showing in what they're doing. That we need a statute that says, “This is the levels that we could afford.” It provides a level playing field, everybody needs to come up to that level. It doesn’t suggest that those who are out front, and maybe even costing money, ought to act before they're sort of recalcitrant competitors; that everybody’s got to act. And that's where government does come in. That's not to say that business won’t be, in the end, the leaders and major contributors. But we can’t do it without government mandating a requirement for all parties.
RICHARD CIZIK: And here is the reality, Mindy. I sat next to Senator John Warner, who is the co-sponsor with Joe Lieberman of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. And what did he say? He said, “Richard,” he said, “I'm an old Navy man. I have to get on the [inaudible] amongst my fellow Republicans.” Actually, there were none at the subcommittee, and at the full committee level, this is a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, he was the lone Republican that voted to [inaudible] on the reform which we will see in a few weeks and again next year.
But the fact of the matter is, to the young woman who asked the question, the high school student, too many young people today are indeed incredibly willing to go overseas, to give charitably, to aid the Katrina victims and all the rest, but they're in many respects the quiet generation, and politics is virtual. It can’t be done by computers. You can join an online petition and you can do the rest, but politics? I can tell you as someone who spent 30 years in Washington, D.C., it’s virtual. Unless you get into that politician’s face -- that means your House and Senate member -- this is not going to happen. It is not going to happen because one party, let’s face it, has held this up by leadership in the White House for eight years, and it will hold it up in the future if we do not change the Congress, either the legislators who are in Congress or the way they think. [applause] And it is a time frame explained to you today that is perilous. And it means the lives of not just tens of millions, but hundreds of millions of people. This is the civil rights issue of the 21st century.
RENEE LOTH: I'm going to give you a minute to respond to that young woman if you can, Gary?
GARY HIRSHBERG: Well, sure. Quickly, I want to say there's a connection here to campaign finance reform. You know, when I think about campaign finance, the way we do it in this country, I’m reminded of my favorite [inaudible] no matter how cynical I get, it’s hard to keep up. [laughter] You know, until we have comprehensive campaign finance reform, I have to say I do believe business has the control of the politicians and we've got to actually check that control.
Having said that, this young lady is a junior in high school, folks. I want to acknowledge. You say we inspire you? I’m inspired by you and I’m giving you a book. [applause] You just got yourself a free book. And really, that's where the answers are. I mean, I just need to say a very quip clearly to you. You say how can I be valuable to business again? I've got a million ideas that are in the book. But the bottom, bottom line is remind business that business is there to meet the needs of us, and so you say to a business or CEO, “My generation wants your products and we’ll buy if you do the right thing by way of climate, if you reduce your footprint.” If you show overtly that you're measuring, that you're committed to the community, you're expediting evolution, you're moving things further along. Do we need policy to do that? Yes. Do we need campaign finance reform? Yes.
But fundamentally, business will go where the money is. And you can speak for the voice of your generation that this is where the money’s going. We are not investing in companies who are not investing in our future.
RENEE LOTH: Well, thank you. I’m actually getting a high sign that we need to wrap this up now, and I regret we can’t take any more questions. The book signing is right outside, Mr. Hirshberg’s wonderful book. And a number of us will be standing around for a while, so we can answer further questions. I want to thank everybody for their so thoughtful and patient questions. [applause]