|Eearth in Society|
A woman swims with a manta ray in a sea choked with plastic off the coast of Bali, Indonesia.
Cyril: how was your lunch? You eat light, you eat heavy yeah? Something like that. So, ah, the French way to call you is Gui?
Cryil: But over here we call you Guy.
Cyril: Ok Guy, I am going to go with Guy.
Guy: You can call me anything, but don't call me late for dinner.
Cyril: So Guy, I think has a really interesting topic for you. Ah, raise your hand if you are maybe concerned or aware of how we need to protect our Earth. You know, that planet where we are living. And you see, the thing is, sometimes we really want to make a change, we really want to improve the environment, but sometimes they might come across as the way that is too broad. “Oh I have to do that… I have to do it that way… and it might not plan the best way. And Guy has a really deep program for having the broader reach the people they say may connect with what you have to share. I'm just like, really like, when I was in France, they call me the green guy. Something a little bit different, but the green guy. If I see someone sending a piece of cigarette on the snow when it was snowing [I tell them off]. So give a big round of applause for Gui please!
Guy: What's that. Watch out for that blue screen of death – yeah. Thank you very much for everyone for allowing me here. I'd like to sharing a quick story. Shaun invited me to speak in an event like this in Melbourne about 2 weeks ago, and l learned a very valuable and somewhat expensive lesson which I am going to share with you all right now, so you get value from me straight away, OK?
If you get a domestic flight through a international terminal you need to get there an hour before the fight departs, and not half an hour before the flight departs. I got there 40 minutes before the flight departed, 20 minutes after they'd closed the gate. So I just wanted to share that story this morning with you guys, if you fly a domestic flight from an international terminal get there earlier. That is why I didn't get to do this in Melbourne, this is why this is the first time I am doing this presentation. So it's actually pretty exciting.
I want to say also a thank you to phytoplankton. OK? Now is anybody here brave enough to put their hand up and say that they could speak competently for a minute – I'm not going to ask you to do this, but I'm asking you whether you have this knowledge – whether you can speak competently for one minute about phytoplankton. Has anybody here heard of phytoplankton? OK, what is a phytoplankton?
Woman 1: It's in the ocean.
Guy: Excellent, that's good, it's in the ocean.
Woman 2: It's a type of plant
Guy: Its a plant. From over here? Phytoplankton anybody?
Woman 3: My husband is a scientist of the waterways, he might know.
Guy: Call him. Get him on the phone to check my science. I am science trained so my frame of reference for all of these things is science, and when I talk about sustainability - let me give you my heritage in sustainability to give you a sense that I am the right guy to listen to, to talk about sustainability.
My father when he was in his 20's, used to work with aeroplanes in the British Royal airforce. He worked with strategic bomber command on the Victor Bombers. Now if you know your cold war military aircraft, the Victor Bombers were these huge planes that were designed specifically to drop nuclear bombs on Russia. And my father's job was the air-frames. So he maintained the aeroplanes. And these planes would be sitting on the runway all over England, half a dozen of them at any one time, engines running, bomb in the bay, ready to take off and nuke Russia. So this is the stuff we used to talk about: nuclear posture, strategic arms control, mutual destruction. And that when I was 12.
And when I was 13 or 14, he gave me a present which was a book. A book called Earth Abides. And in the story, it's set in about 1955 - and in the story, there is a character called Isherwood Williams, and he is doing a research project in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. He goes away and is bitten by a snake. And by the time he gets back to civilization, he has been away for months. And all the people have disappeared off the planet. Because a virus like Ebola times a thousand or something. And the story is Isherwood putting together the remnants, the few people who have survived to re-establish society.
So this stuff has been in my head, this sort of conversation about the humans and the planet since before I was a teenager. You know, when I was 12 years old this stuff was being discussed. And then when I was in my 20's – the age when my father was working on nuclear bombers - I was working in the oil industry. And I had an experience when I stood on the bow of an oil ship off the coast of Taiwan. ,You had to see Taiwan 20 years ago. They’d turned rivers in to concrete trapezoidal watercourses - they turned the air of the city into blue mist - they turned hill sides into barren deserts. And 20 miles off the coast on this boat, there was plastic bags drifting past. 25 years ago now. As though there a submarine throwing the plastics off. It was profound. And what I realised then, at age 23, was that you don't need nuclear bombs, and you don't need ebola times a thousand to separate the humans from the planet. All we've got to do is not pay attention to the planet. All we gotta do is continue to treat the planet the way we treat the planet.
And when I have conversations like this with a lot of people often people go “you going to tell me off for driving my car?” you know, I'm telling the whole planet off for driving their car. That's the point. And the point is we are all part of this. We are all part of the machine. I'm part of the machine.
I actually walked here today but if it had been in Melbourne I would have flown to it in an airplane powered by kerosene. So the sustainability conversation needs to be handled in a manner which is very broad, but it also recognizes the fact that we are all part of this machine. And one of the problems that we've got is that we can’t see the problem because Western people have got a culture that doesn't allow them to see it. Culture is something that you see through. It's like a pair of glasses. Have you ever looked for your glasses and somebody points out that you are wearing them? Because you can't see the culture.
So somebody needs to step back and take an objective look at Western Culture and say – what we need to do with Western Culture is change this bit here, we need to tweak that a bit, this bit here is just plain silly - get rid of that. That bit there needs to be tweaked. And that is what Eearth Culture is. It is like a plugin to Western Culture.
I want to go back to the phytoplankton story? So in the mornings, I always like to say “Thanks plankton, thanks plankton”. So these little creatures - there are millions of types of plankton, OK? And these are little creatures that drift around in the ocean. The root name, plankton comes frome the Greek work planktos - to wander. They can't swim against the current, they just drift around the place. And there are two broad types, the zooplankton, which is the animal plankton, and then there is the phytoplankton, which is the plant plankton.
So let me tell you something about the phytoplankton. This is a picture of the phytoplankton here. So many thousands of different types. But because they are little plants, what they do is they produce oxygen. And the phytoplankton produce more than half of the oxygen that we all breath.
So I am going to do a little experiment now. This is called a Plankton Experiment, I invented this in the 20 minute walk here, ok? So if it fails terribly, you'll forgive me. What I want you to do, on the count of 5, I want you all to hold your breath until I tell you to inhale again, OK. So if you pass out, just lean against the person on your side. If you feel any intense pain you can take breath but make it quick. So, on the count of five, what I am going to to is ask you to hold your breath, and hold that breath until I tell you to breathe in again. So on the count of five – one, two, three - I'm watching you – four, five. Now hold your breath, hold your breath while you think about plankton producing half of the oxygen in the atmosphere. And I want you to continue to hold your breath for the next 12 hours. Ok? Hold on, I heard a snigger over here. Somebody passed out. Ok, you can let it go. My point being... my point being – you can breathe in now - we need to understand how the system that we live in works. And one of the parts of the system is the phytoplankton. And phytoplankton produces half the oxygen. And if there were no phytoplankton, then we would have to hold our breath twelve hours a day. Skip every second breath, there would be half as much oxygen.
And so, we live in a big and complex living organism that is attached to a rock, Ok? We keep talking about save the planet, we are not talking about save the rock. The rock is pretty robust. It is the living skin on the surface. And the living skin on the surface provides all of these benefits to us that we don't pay for.
Put your hand up if you have ever received in the mail an invoice from the phytoplankton for this oxygen? Have you ever received in the mail an invoice from the phytoplankton? No? Has anyone every had a bill from nature for the provision of ecosystem services?
Cyril, I think we have a business opportunity here. I am going to register Phytoplankton Incorporate and I am going to send an invoice to everybody on the planet - say $1 a day - for the oxygen that we use. Ok, now only a couple of more things about phytoplankton and there is a reason for me being Phytoplankton Obsessed.
The other thing about phytoplankton, because they are plants, they sequester carbon, which means they pull carbon - CO2 gas – out of the atmosphere. Which means they help to stabilize the climate. And we have now got 7.4 thousand million people on this planet, and we have grown this thing called civilization – which is only about 12,000 years old, it goes back 12,000 years to the retreat of the last ice age. And the reason we have been so successful in populating this planet, is because the climate has been extremely stable, and part of the reason it has been so stable is because of the phytoplankton. What they do is they pull excess carbon out of the air, and it sinks down to the sea bed.
The other thing that the phytoplankton do is – do you like calamari? No? You don't like it? You're probably the only person in the whole country who doesn't like calamari and I pick you. Ok, anybody here like calamari?
Nathan: Pick me.
Guy: What is your name? Nathan? Nathan likes calamari. What is a calamari? Tell me, what is calamari.
Nathan: It is a squid.
Guy: And what does squid eat?
Nathan: Little prawns, fish, fish…
Guy: Sustainability made easy. So what does the fish eat?
Guy: No, no no. Fish. Little fish. So what does the fish eat.
Nathan: Littler fish.
Guy: What does the littler fish eat?
Guy: Squid eat the fish, the fish eat littler fish, little fish eat zooplankton, and zooplankton eat phytoplankton.
Guy: The zooplankton eat the phytoplankton. I'm earning my dollars here, that's for sure. My point is, if you don't have phytoplankton, there is nothing that lives in the sea. Because the phytoplankton are the food chain of everything. The base of the food chain. I have one more thing to tell you about phytoplankton is that phytoplankton…
If you ever go down the beach and you smell that seaweed smell. That is called di-methyl sulphide. The di-methyl sulphide is a gas, it comes out of the sea and goes into the air. And when it is in the air, the water vapor attaches to it, and forms water droplets, and when you get lots of those, you get clouds. The phytoplankton make clouds.
Now why am I telling you this amazing story. Because we have lost 40% of the phytoplankton in the last fifty years. Marine scientists have been following these trends for decades, and they say that 40% of phytoplankton are now gone. Because the water is too hot. And the water is too hot because there is too much CO2 in the air.
And now they say, the skeptics, they go but the CO2 is plant food. Yeah, it is plant food, it is what the plants eat. Have you ever seen someone on the Biggest Loser, hacking into a mountain of hamburgers we know that too much of a good thing isn't good for your health.
And what CO2 also does in the atmosphere is traps heat, and most of that heat goes into the ocean. And the ocean heats up, and that is not some scare tactic, that is not some conspiracy theory. That is what the world leading scientists are saying. And we Western Culture people are a big part of that. We've got the largest carbon footprints. We consume the most stuff, we buy the most toys. We invented it. Let’s face it. We western people invented the coal fired power station. So we have got a responsibility here, and I think there is an opportunity, a massive opportunity than rather than us being the victims of this situation that we have brought upon ourselves, we can actually be the ones that save the planet, and lead the way, and there is a huge movement around the world in the development of sustainable technology, electric vehicles.
We've got to replace every coal fired power station on the planet, my friends. We've got to replace every single internal combustion engine on the planet, my friends. And we have to do this in a very, very compacted time. Space of time. And all the big powerful corporations, they are holding out as long as they can. I have one of my business associate works at a high level with these guys, and he was sharing this story the other day about this big mining company's planned sustainability program – what the hell, you know. Whose planet are they trying to sustain, Mars?
So what I am saying to you is that there is a movement that has already started, the technologies are being developed. We've got to replace 300 million tons a year of unsustainable petroleum based plastics with something else. And so there is this vast, economic opportunity which is sitting right there. But what is holding it back is that the Western Culture does not see it.
When you go outside, you don't go, “Wait a minute, 410 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. There is an opportunity for some renewable energy technology.” That is what an earth person would say. A Western Person would say oh, that's a nice Mercedes, or oh look, a labradoodle”
We don't see it. It is invisible to us. What Eearth Culture seeks to do is to help people see this vast opportunity for shifting. And if we don't shift, we are going to go the way of the plankton. And if we do shift, we are going to end up with things like cities where you don't have to worry about getting cancer. I'm not saying that this is a cure for cancer, what I am going to say now, but consider this, the most toxic chemical known to mankind was found by the Japanese in 2003 I think. It was 3 nitrobenzathrone and this thing is so toxic, it is 20% more toxic that whatever the previous one was – like dioxins. And that was produced by diesel engines. So if we can pull all the diesel out of the cities, remove all the petrol out of the cities, stop using the coal and the gas, go to all renewable, and machines that generate electricity from the waves, and the machines that generate electricity from the wind.
The wind turbines now have this amazing green jobs, jobs in the sustainability industry. Where these guys, the technicians, they chopper them to the wind turbines, and winch them down onto the top of these monstrous wind turbine. And the jobs for the scuba divers to maintain the machines that generate on the electricity in the ocean. And this extraordinary opportunity is multi- multi- multi-billion dollar opportunity is just sitting there. But it is jammed up because the Western People haven't got on board yet. Because they have these filters on and can't see the problem.
And that is what Eearth Culture is about. Trying to help people to see these things, and when they can find their path, seeing to this sustainable future and be a part of this grand transition. And let me say this one thing, if you have an interest in business. When this transition happens, and at the moment imagine that bell curve - the diffusion of innovation curve all the stuff that goes on the left hand side. The innovators and early adopters, are playing with it. Ok so when the early majority, and it is starting right now, Ok? There will not be billions, my friends. There will not be billions. There will not be billions.There will be trillions of dollars of commerce in exchange for goods and services as we reinvent the entire planet as we need to, otherwise we go the way of the phytoplankton.
If you want to learn more about this stuff, then I am a font of knowledge. And I trade under a number of different brands, and do consulting work. What I am proposing here today is that there is an afternoon masterclass in Eearth Culture so you can come along on 20th of May, so about four weeks away. There are some brochures here that Cyril is going to hand out now. I will stick around if anyone wants to talk to me about this stuff. And I want to say thank you to the team, thank you to my audience, and thank you to the plankton. Thank you.
Audience: Thanks Plankton.