Dispatches from the Frontlines of Sustainability

American Resource Center in Helsinki, Hunter Lovins & Gregory Miller Present

A block from Paddington Station in London is the Frontline Club, a haven for journalists and NGO activists who work on the front lines around the world. In its chic restaurant hang photos from wars its founders covered. And the original of the solitary man facing down a tank in Tiananmen Square.

I belong, having worked on front lines, times past, in places like Afghanistan, and stay there whenever in London, curling into the club room upstairs, with its rickety chairs, delicious whisky and the best mutton pie anywhere.

Wars proliferate and the club was packed the other night for a presentation on the revolutions raging in the Middle East. But these days my frontlines are the global battlegrounds for whether there’s a future – the boardrooms and city halls where companies and communities are implementing more sustainable practices. I was in London keynoting a conference on corporate sustainability. And en route in service to the U.S. Ambassador to Finland, a dear friend and energy activist from Boulder. We delighted last night in his new WindStream installation whirring furiously away on the parapet of the US embassy overlooking the Baltic, as we discussed his work to green U.S. embassies around the globe.

Because these are the real frontlines today. Winging west now to begin a spring’s worth of speeches, consulting, teaching, and burning carbon to save the climate, I grin at the lovely evenings spent in London with my friend, Dr. Jim Thompson munching mutton pie at the club. We’ve built the Solutions@theSpeedofBusiness tool to enable mainstreet businesses to cut their carbon emissions profitably. And another evening downstairs with Jim and another friend, Tom Rivett Carnac of the Carbon Disclosure Project, as he revealed how much opportunity exists: the average sized companies who report to CDP can capture $30 to 40 million in savings profitably! Or meeting with the Mayor of Lahti, advising his staff on how to make this old Finnish industrial town a green city. Or lecturing with my partner Gregory Miller at the Ministry of Education on how our Madrone Project can bring affordable digital sustainability education to scale globally.

As I write, we’re crossing Greenland. I’m startled to see so much bare ground. And from Godthab to Iqaluit the sea ice of the Davis Strait is fractured like paint peeling from on long neglected windowsill, great slabs graying, like lakes that get that slushy consistency as ice loses its competency.  The bright white snow submerges into darker water, breaking finally into fissures of open ocean.

In less than a month, my new book Climate Capitalism, hits book stores, and my travel will hit warp speed.

So welcome to my world. I’ve promised many of you for years I’d start chronicling this life going down the road. And here it is “Dispatches from the Frontlines of Sustainability.” There are plenty of blogs about the science (Climate Progress and RealClimate); the announcements (Greenbiz.com and Environmental Leader); the field (Treehugger and Business Green)… This is not like that. This is for you who’ve asked to saddle up and come along. Sure, I’ll share the great news, the scary stuff, and give the urls of what I’m reading, but this’ll focus more on the work, and the times with colleagues whom I see so rarely but so sweetly. You’ll meet Nancy, my loyal Exec who’s been with me since the bygone days at RMI: she quit, I got fired and we’ve been together ever since. And Toby, our CEO at Natural Capitalism, Nick who shoots me research before every gig, and Lily who oversees our great gang of interns, and Kara, Steve, Margo… all the team.

And on those rare times, I’ll bring you home with me to meet Rob, my partner of 21 years, and Brooke, who looks after the horses while I ride airplanes. And Peet the cat who loves to sleep curled by my side, and Wrangler the little bull terrier clown, and loyal Stalker, my cattle dog, and Tigger and Coon and Jack and Pig…. Horses, dogs and a way of life I sometimes think I must to be crazy ever to leave.

Imagine we’re settled in a corner of Frontline club, or sitting side by side on a 777. Tomorrow you’ll join our team from Natural Capitalism Solutions as we work with the mayor of Des Moines, and the Iowa state energy office to help Iowa businesses implement profitable climate protection. Then on to California to meet the Madrone Project team.

C’mon along. It’ll be fun having a friend to share this with. Thanks for caring.

*****

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