Donna Quesada: Well thank you again…I know David has already thanked you, but we really appreciate you sharing your time with us and with the Awaken community.
I’m Donna, and I’m very interested in what you’re doing over there. Can you clarify something for me…is it “air-day?” Am I pronouncing that right?
Chip Comins: Well, you are for you. It’s spelled A.R.E.D.A.Y. That could be “air-day” or “are-day.” I also like to say, “our-day.” Everyday is our day. The metaphor is American Renewable Energy. But also “air” is where all the pollutants are ending up in our atmosphere and crashing the biosphere and forcing the six-grade extinction that we are experiencing right now. We know one of the main solutions is American Renewable Energy. And that’s because America is responsible for 25 percent of the carbon put into the global atmosphere. And America has the world’s largest economy. Number one. 20 Trillion out of an annual 80 trillion GDP. And the third reason is that we are only four percent of the world’s population. So, it is incumbent upon us to come up with the solution—since we have the most money and we put out the most pollution per capita and we have the biggest ability to solve the problem.
DONNA: And by America, you mean The United States…not South America or Canada or Central America?
CHIP: Correct. However, I’m not discounting the rest of the world in this conversation. America needs to take the lead. And that’s what we aim to do here at A.R.E.D.A.Y. A.R.E.D.A.Y. is a program of the American Renewable Energy Institute. Of which, I am the founder and the chairman. And my partner, Sally Ranney is the president. You might want to bring her on the show at some point.
DONNA: We’d love that. And I would like to ask you…before we get into the practical solutions…I’m really interested in what you are doing, specifically—I was reading about some interesting programs at AREDAY. But would you mind sharing the history of Climate Change for our listeners, who might not be as familiar with how Global Warming, how Climate Change has come to be the problem and the crisis that it is today?
CHIP: Sure…so, I’m going to take you back to a time in history. We’ll start in 1859. What is happening in the United States of America? Well…Our population is about 31 Million people. And we’d never been more divided, except perhaps, how divided we are today. And we were about to go into the great civil war. And at that time, a man in Pennsylvania found Oil. And with that discovery, we were able to substitute the Oil we were getting from Wales for all of the uses that industrial oil had. At that time, John D Rockefeller was a clerk in a small mercantile in the mid-west. But when he figured out that oil was going to become the fuel for the growing population of The United States of America…
So began the modern industrial revolution with oil fueling it. And by the time we hit 1900, we were about to make the transition from horse and buggy to automobiles. And it’s noteworthy that it took all of human history for the World population to hit 1.6 billion inhabitants on the planet and that was in our revolutionary war time. The World population went from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 7.5 billion in the next 117 years. So it’s really important to note that we are on an exponential growth curve and the population is fueling this issue.
My point is…to understand…we’ve got two hockey stick graphs that we need to be concerned with. One is population. And the other is the exponential burning of fossil fuels that have now become the leading threat to our life on the planet. Not just the Human Race. So, when we talk about Global Warming and the collapse that we are experiencing over whole regions of our country…and we talk about how the world has got to immediately transition from a world wide economy that is based on the extraction and burning of fossil fuels…to a rapid transition to an economy based on renewable and sustainable regenerative technologies.
That’s what’s before us as the human race. As the human experiment. As we look now…perhaps a couple of hundred thousand years according to paleoanthropology, or perhaps four million years, depending on how you look at it. The ascent of man. Which perhaps now has reached an apex and is now on the descending side of that curve. I like to think not. I think we can solve the problem. I think we’ve got to get the political will to do it.
So you might notice that we are having this conversation on the same day or right around when Al Gore is releasing his next film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power…and it’s speaking truth to power. And he really is and the timing couldn’t be better. For him to make his most fervent up-to-date statement in the face of the Trump Administration…in the face of Neo-Fascism, that is spreading across the world, fueled by fossil interests that want to keep the status quo in place.
We’ve got to come to terms with the fact that if we don’t change our direction we’re going to wind up where we are headed.
DONNA: And in that sense, what do you say to the nay-sayers who argue that there have always been natural variations in Climate Change. Does that even hold any weight?
CHIP: You know…these people. Most of them are paid shills. And they actually drank the koolade and now have become brain washed. I want to make sure that everybody listening understands that science doesn’t care whether you believe in it or not.
DONNA: It’s happening anyway.
CHIP: This is not a choice. The physical world is what it is. That’s all there is to it. I don’t know whether it’s in the arrogance of the human evolution, or the disconnection from nature. There are many, many reasons why we are at this point…the desire to be wealthy and to attain wealth at any cost.
The desire to control our fellow human beings and exert our will over them. These are the issues that have been written about since Plato and Socrates. And we’re still trying to figure it out, but now we’re at the point where we are just not killing ourselves. We are now taking down all of life on the planet with us. And that’s the difference.
DONNA: In preparing for this interview, I read that there are only 3 percent of scientists who disagree…that are putting up some skeptical arguments. So, if I were to ask you, what is the deal with the 3 percent…when 97% understand what is happening…the deal with the three percent is that arrogance? Or, do they actually believe their arguments?
CHIP: They may. I’m not sure. I doubt it. I think that they…I’ll tell you, that 3% are a lot wealthier than the 97%!
DONNA: (Laughing) Understood.
CHIP: I’ll make an analogy between the 3% of scientists that don’t believe and the 1% of the population that has 50% of the wealth. So, that is a very important connection to be made. When 1% of the population has half of all the wealth…of the rest of humanity. So what are we talking about here? Seven and a half billion people on the planet. So, we are talking about 7.5 million people having half of all the money. And then the 1% of the 1%…we all know what the numbers are. And it is incumbent upon the philanthropists….the billionaires. There’s only 2000 billionaires on the whole planet. It’s up to them to see that it’s their children, it’s their families that will be impacted as well.
Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.
DONNA: Can we take one step backward before we go forward to solutions. Would you mind explaining the science behind Global Warming to our community.
CHIP: Sure. Basically, the Carbon Dioxide and the Methane…there are other Greenhouse Gases…many, many. But those two primarily are released from the burning of fossil fuels. They basically pack our atmosphere and they create a magnifying glass by which the sun begins to heat the planet. And we have experienced drastic heating. Particularly in the last 15 years, with each year being hotter than the last. And I’m sure this year will be the hottest year on record by the time we end. So basically, we are turning up the stove when actually we are in a period of glacial and inner-glacial. So for the last 34 million years, we’ve been in an ice-house Earth. Ice caps on the poles. However, it’s also important to realize that for 500 million years…we are in Green House Earth 85% percent of the time. That means, no ice on the poles anywhere! The average parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere is 2000. That’s the norm. So people in our community don’t really like to hear this information. Because basically the human race is turning us back to that norm very quickly. This time humans are the comet that took out the dinosaurs 60 million years ago.
DONNA: Nice analogy. Well, I think it’s getting to the point where the average folk are recognizing that it is undeniable. There was something that I saw about farming in Texas. And the corn simply cannot thrive because it’s too hot. There are too many days where the temperature is exceeding 100 degrees, where that has never before happened. And of course, the fires in Colorado. I think we are seeing it in these every day scenarios. Every day farmers. Everyday people, whose work has been affected by this warming. It’s not just theory.
CHIP: To quote Churchill, “we have now entered into an age with consequences.” We’ve known about this since the 50’s…even before that. We’ve chosen not to act. To continue growing the economy based on extracting and burning fossil fuels and endless supply of resources. That’s just a false premise. It’s articulated very well in the book Natural Capitalism written by Amory and Hunter Lovins with Paul Hawkin. And you might know that Paul has a new book called Drawdown, that is getting a lot of attention, and that he’s come up with many different ways that we can solve this problem. We have to do it. We have to implement it.
I’ve been doing A.R.E.D.A.Y. for 14 years and we have been talking about the same thing for 14 years and yet we have a net increase in greenhouse gases. And 14 years has also added an enormous amount of human beings to the planet and everybody has got to make a living. And each and every one of us burns fossil fuels when we get in our cars or hop on an airplane and when we are heated and cooled in our homes. We have to own that. We have to realize that. That’s how we live our modern lives. Nobody is exempt unless you are a bushman from the Calahari or you’re living down in the middle of the jungle making a living with fish and so forth. There are very few indigenous people of that stripe left on the planet. And I think it is indigenous wisdom that we want to get to.
Just to kind of wrap up on the frame and understand the condition of the human race in 2017. With 7.5 billion people heading quickly to 9 Billion by mid century, we’re already seeing climate refugees. We are already seeing droughts. In the state of California, you will note that you just came out of a four year drought. But you really haven’t come out of it, you just got 39 feet of snow in the Sierras. That alleviated it briefly. But you haven’t gotten your aquifers filled up. And I know the forest fires are burning in Central California terribly. So you can see how Climate Change works. It’s a very quick oscillation between extremes. That’s exactly how the weather is happening on the planet.
DONNA: Could you elaborate on that. For example, I was reading that even the pine trees…the winter trees, aren’t thriving anymore because it’s not cold enough at those elevations. Fire season is not just limited to July and August in states like Colorado anymore. It’s becoming like California, where it’s year round. And at the same time, it’s not only drier in some places but flooding in other places. So, it creates these polarities in our weather systems. A kind of insanity that affects people in low lands and high lands equally. What are some other things people will see…these everyday events and fluctuations that touch all of us?
CHIP: Right. You know, one of the things that people need to see besides Al Gore’s new film is a film called Chasing Coral. If you go watch that movie. Very important film by Jeffrey Orlowski, one of my coleagues. You will note that we have lost half of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Why is that? Why are the corals bleaching all over the planet? It’s because the waters are warming. It’s also because the oceans are becoming acidified. You have to realize that oceans are 80 percent of the surface of planet Earth. And they give us two out of every three breaths that we breathe. The Oxygen comes mostly from the ocean. Because of the diatoms and photoplankton that take in the carbon and put out the oxygen. The trees and the plants do the rest of it. As we acidify the oceans…the oceans become the biggest Carbon sink on the planet. They are by far the biggest Carbon sink. They sequester far more Carbon than all the soils put together on the planet. So, the fact that we are now crashing the oceans…the biosphere of the seas is indicative of what’s coming at us. We’ve got to come to terms with the fact that we are also using the oceans as a dumping ground for plastics. We have produced, I believe, 8.5 billion metric tons of plastics since we invented it. That’s enough to shrink wrap the earth three times. Most of that plastic doesn’t go away. It’s made out of oil. Let’s remember that. And it doesn’t go away. It just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Then all the fish and the birds eat it and we are plasticizing the biological life on the planet.
So at this point I think I’d like to move into a metaphor for this whole situation that I call carbon and spirit. And the preamble to the metaphor is, you can’t see it, you can’t touch it, you can’t smell it, you can’t taste it. Yet it’s ever present everywhere. What is it? Carbon…spirit. And what is Carbon? Science tells us that it’s 500 million years of everything that’s ever been alive. It’s the plants, it’s the animals, it’s the trees, it’s our grandparents, it is us. I am that. I am carbon and that is what I’ve become. As a mortal being who is born, lives and dies. And then my body becomes part of Mother Earth again.
DONNA: That’s a beautiful metaphor.
CHIP: So what are we doing? We are drilling into Mother Earth in the last 150 years since 1859. And we’re extracting the oil, the coal and the gas and we’re burning it. In a very short term of evolutionary time. In the last 100 years. Mostly in the last 50 years. ‘Cause remember, the population when we started, was two billion. When I was born, it was about four billion. Now, it’s doubled again. So in 60 years we are in a situation where we are literally crashing the atmosphere. We’re extracting the fossil fuels, our grandparents, all the life on the planet. And we’re burning it into the atmosphere. Very quickly crashing the biosphere and in effect, committing ecocide. Why? Why are we doing that? Well, I like to talk about Mother Earth, Mother Nature, the sacred feminine. The aspect of the planet that gives birth and nourishes and suckles at her breast, all of life itself. And now we are at this critical moment where we are now sacrificing the sacred feminine for short term money, power and all the rest… Political gain, avarice, ignorance, arrogance. The list is long.
And, so, how can we shift very quickly…like…yesterday, and turn this bus around? And that’s what the organization I chair is all about, and what A.R.E.D.A.Y. attempts to do at our annual summits and conferences and gatherings of thought leaders.
Chip Comins is the Chairman and CEO of the American Renewable Energy Institute, (AREI, Inc), Founder of the AREDAY Summit, Expo and Film Festival, Managing Director of American Spirit Productions, President and CEO of W Energy, Inc. and Co-founder of the Green Girl Minute. He has produced and directed both long and short form documentary films for educational and broadcast television markets, including The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, DOE Wind Powering America, PBS, Link TV and BET.