Carbon Likes to Party

Excellent short point of view from Project Drawdown founder Paul Hawken about how we have been looking at carbon in completely the wrong way.


“Carbon has been consigned to dirt, dust, something in the air – something that is really wrong. Carbon is the element that holds hands and collaborates. It’s so fascinating when you follow the life of carbon, what it does where it goes. It will go to a party, and if it’s a good party it will stay there and if it’s not it will leave and go to another party. And there it goes, into waterways, into air, into oceans, into dish, into algae. It takes any number of forms from diamonds to exhalation of CO2 as a gas – so reimagining carbon to me is realising that it is such a gift, it is such a sacred thing.

Carbon dominates the science around climate change, it also dominates the discussion around fossil fuels and combustion and the atmosphere. It’s not really well understood actually, and it has been pretty much demonised as an element – which is interesting since all of life is based upon carbon and it’s hardly a demon!

Usually productivity is measured in dollars or in labour output and that really omits or excludes nature or natural capital (sky, earth, water, creatures), it excludes just about everything else that matters besides wages and profits.

It’s not just the element of carbon, it’s carbon as the holder of flow on the planet, of chemistry in the atmosphere, of water and creatures and plants and soil – it opens upon possibility, it opens up ideas, it opens up innovation and different ways of looking at commerce – and we haven’t really changed the way we have looked at carbon for a long time”.


Paul Hawken