Next Creative Conversation
in December? (The two also reportedly spoke by phone in May.) Well,
I appreciate and respect the question. But I have followed a policy of not
violating the privacy of those exchanges. I believe that any president who
enters into a set of confidential exchanges deserves to have them treated
privately. And so forgive me if I don’t violate that rule. It also safeguards the
opportunity for a continuation of the dialogue.
In order to fix the climate crisis, you believe that we need to fix the de-
mocracy crisis. Do you think we can restore political discourse quickly
enough to address climate change? I sure hope so. Already we see every
important policy-reform movement living and breathing on the internet.
We see bloggers affecting policy debates. We see digital fact-checkers blowing the whistle on these big lie campaigns that still flourish in television
advertising—the climate deniers, for example. I’m optimistic that this trend
will continue. And you know, the Bernie Sanders campaign last year. I’m not
endorsing his platform—I agreed with some of his ideas and disagreed with
others—but I want to give him all the credit he deserves for proving that a
serious nationwide presidential campaign can be mounted without any
special-interest money, relying exclusively on small contributions over the
internet from people who agree with the ideas a candidate expresses. Ideas,
the best available evidence, vision, a sensible course for the future—that
should count for a lot more than some fat cat’s contributions of money in
return for special favors in policy designed to support their source of revenue.
I’m very fond of the wisdom expressed by the late economist Rudi Dorn-busch, who I had the privilege of knowing. He once said that things take
longer to happen than you think they will. But then they happen much faster
than you thought they ever could. The civil rights movement, the women’s
suffrage movement, the abolition movement long before, antiapartheid, gay
rights—all of these revolutions seemed at times almost hopeless to many of
the advocates. But once the underbrush was cleared away, and the
ultimate choice was resolved into
a binary decision between what’s
right and what’s wrong, then it
began to happen with lightning
speed. And I think that’s where the
climate movement is now. We are
right at that inflection point.
Climate change is a topic you’ve
been talking about for years.
What have you found to be the
most effective way to communicate your message? Among the
lessons I’ve learned is the importance of conveying realistic hope.
Because despair can be paralyzing,
and the fear of these consequences
is not necessarily the most effective way to change minds and motivate
people. But when you can convey hope in a realistic way, that unlocks a
higher fraction of the potential for change.
How do you make climate change a priority for people worried about
more immediate issues, such as their job? First of all, jobs in the solar
industry are growing on an annual basis 17 times faster than average job
growth in the economy as a whole. The single fastest-growing job description over the next 10 years is predicted to be wind-power technicians.
Second, more people are actually beginning to make solutions to the
climate crisis one of their top pri-
orities. One reason is that Mother
Nature has joined this discussion.
Climate-related extreme weather
events are increasingly impossible
for people to ignore. After a while,
people say, Wait a minute, this is
not an abstract debate. This is affecting my life.
You run an investment management firm that focuses on sustainability. How long do you think it
will take for sustainability to be
a standard consideration for all
investment firms? I think there is
a big movement now that is gaining
speed. When sustainability is integrated properly into the investment
process, the evidence indicates that
returns can improve. There is voluminous academic research now
showing that in most sectors of the
economy, companies that fully integrate sustainability into their
business plans are outperforming
their competitors. For example, it
helps tremendously in recruiting
and retaining the best employees.
Because people want to work for a
firm that shares their values.
What would you tell someone who
wants to support climate action
but doesn’t know where to begin?
Learn about it. Don’t let climate-change denial go unchallenged.
Be a conscious participant in the
marketplace, because your choices
not only help incrementally, but
also exert leverage on businesses.
And participate in the political
process. The threshold for popular
democracy making a difference
may be higher in an age when big
money contributions still play an
unhealthy role. But that threshold
can be crossed, and we’re seeing the
impact of all the people showing up
at these town hall meetings already.
There are now 30 Republican members of the House of Representatives
who have changed their positions to
be supportive of solving the climate
crisis. We don’t need many more before we have a working majority in
Congress. And it never should have
been a partisan issue anyway.
“Many parts in the
are way ahead of
most of the political
world, at least in the
U.S. However, the
pace of change
can be profoundly
accelerated with the
Cofounder and chair of
Management; partner at
Kleiner Perkins Caufield
& Byers; founder and
board member of the
Climate Reality Project;
board member at Apple
Bachelor’s degree in
government from Harvard University; studied
philosophy and law at
Former vice president
of the United States
and congressman from
of the former Current
TV network, which
sold for a reported
$500 million in 2013
Nobel Peace Prize,
together with the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, in
2007; Primetime Emmy
Award for Current
TV in 2007; star of the
An Inconvenient Truth,
which won the Academy Award for best
documentary in 2007