A Conversation with Gunter Pauli

In a wide ranging conversation, the author of The Blue Economy speaks to Cazmir Leenheer, Earth 300’s Head of Student Advisory about the myriad challenges facing the planet, the need for action and how we all want to dream big.

Cazmir:

It is commonly said that we know more about the stars than our seas. What oceanographic research do you find lacking and crucial for Earth300 to conduct?

Gunter:

We have been fascinated by the stars and this is no surprise because the stars are such a magical moving show of lights that emerge every night in a different format, so let’s not compete with the stars but let us compliment the fascination of the stars with the fascination of our seas. The first thing we need to understand is how do the seas really work? And this is really fundamental, let’s just say it the way it is. Water is about 800 times more dense than air, that means the laws of physics play a very different role in the water than in the air, just about when you look at sounds, let’s think about the transmissions of data by radio waves, let’s think about radar, let’s think about the penetration of light. When you have a difference of density, I think there is a lot of fundamental research required to understand what the grand opportunities are. These are the laws of physics and these are determined on land by the law of gravity and here you are at sea and everything is exempted from the law of gravity, Fascinating! How come we haven’t explored the absence of the law of gravity in the sea as compared to the law of gravity that is dominating all life on land. So therefore, I think Earth300 must study the laws of physics, the fundamental differences in opportunities that emerge when you don’t have law of gravity applied to life, to growth, to development and when you have such a difference in density that so much either becomes impossible that we are used to doing in the air or so much becomes possible because we have this density.

Cazmir:

What can we learn from the Blue Economy about successfully and sustainably integrating ecosystems with economic systems?

Gunter:

The Blue Economy really celebrates the color blue, I mean when you look at the earth from the universe this little earth is blue. She has a few green spots, and a few brown spots and perhaps a few white spots but fundamentally she is blue. And the ocean is blue and the sky is blue and it is within that blue environment that we have to look at how this existence works, it is not about how a plant works or how an insect functions, or how a seaweed grows, it is about how ecosystems work together and this is the big new lesson for economics. Economics has been forcing everyone to look at monocultures to look at core business and what we are seeing is how an ecosystem integrates all the things of life, uses all the laws of physics and develops an environment that promotes life. So, we need to learn from ecosystems that promote life willing to learn how to design economic systems that promote life.

Cazmir:

Collaboration is the name of our game. Where lies the potential in multi and cross-disciplinary, open-sourced innovation?

Gunter:

Life is about joy, joy is about discovering things you didn’t know. Life is about surprises and one of the beautiful things of being surprised is you will share, share the incredible things you are learning and surprised about and you are enjoying. I mean who keeps joy for oneself, so collaboration is not the name of the game, it is the way of life and life is about joy and to enjoy is not about having more than you ever need, to enjoy is knowing how to make the best out of what you have. Now that is the basis for getting very multidisciplinary, very cross disciplinary because joy cannot be just on the basis of one matter, one project, one animal, one plant. The discovery of joy is always open sourced, innovations are discoveries and when you are enthused about something, you will share. So open sourced innovation is really the enthusiasm to discover things you didn’t know before and which seem to be so fantastic and special and such an opportunity that you feel like you want to be the one who’s in charge to make it all happen.

Cazmir:

Global frameworks and national policy makers have set new climate goals for the next ten to twenty years. But, what can be done now? How do we couple immediate action with long-term objectives?

Gunter:

Global frameworks and national policy makers have set new climate goals for the next ten to twenty years. I just don’t understand how we can think for the next ten to twenty years from today. We have to think about NOW! I mean today, now, is a split second. What can we do now? Here is a very important differentiation between the long term and now, not even the short term. The long term has to fall within a framework that sets clear objectives like zero emissions, the economy of happiness, I mean these are the long term frameworks in which we work. This can only be realised when you have thousands of small little steps that you can take now, and not you alone but thousands of people taking thousands of steps or millions of moves now and this is what we want to achieve now by taking millions of steps by thousands of people all the time.

Cazmir:

Earth300 was built on a dream and will hopefully, not only inspire more dreams but also tell stories of those dreams that were achieved along the way. Myth, fable, legacy… How does storytelling and legacy building come together for you?

Gunter:

Nothing in the world has been created, has been built, has been made without having gone through the creative mind. Every simple artifact around us from your watch, your headphones, your socks, your cufflinks to your backup discs. Everything has been created through a vision, a dream, an idea, a creative mindset that has given content to something we think can be done, will be done, has been done. This needs to be told and the telling of the story of the making of a watch or the making of a cufflink or the knitting of a sock is not something that has to be described with a lot of technicalities, with a lot of laws of physics, chemistry and biology. We have to do it by telling the story of the incredible yarn that was obtained from these great sheep that were grazing in the South of Argentina next to the coast and they were eating algae, and the algae they were eating gave them the right nutrition and the natural green color that allowed us in ( – addition to the nutrition to the food (this part is a bit confusing and I don’t understand what he is trying to say) to have some insects and larvae growing around there and they were providing an animal protein that was giving us chickens next to the sheep. We have to weave the web of life together and storytelling at the end of the day is not the story about one thing you do, but is always a part of the web of life. You can only build a legacy when you understand the web of life but understanding the web of life takes a lifetime, that is why life is about discovering, sharing, being surprised and learning how to be happy and joyful with what you have.

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