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Episode 161
The Doctor's Farmacy

Is Climate Change Fixable? A Conversation With California’s EPA Secretary

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We’re divorced from nature and disconnected from wild places. I think this has really hurt us in multiple ways, some of which we are still figuring out, but especially in the way it’s allowed people to desecrate the land, air, and water we rely on for life. 

Yet people are so resistant to acknowledging climate change and what needs to be done. This could be because of the doom-and-gloom approach many folks take that can be outright depressing or the overwhelming amount of inputs that cause people to simply shut down. It might also just be hard to wrap our heads around how it’s possible to destroy something as vast as the ocean and sky. 

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I’m hoping to provide you with a different perspective on climate change revolving around hope and positivity. Yes, we still have a long way to go, but we’re seeing some great initiatives and outcomes in places like California where the climate and environment are deemed worthy investments. 

My guest today is the perfect person to share about those projects, challenges, and victories. Jared Blumenfeld is California’s Secretary for Environmental Protection. Appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom in January, he is one of America’s most innovative environmental leaders, with more than 25 years of environmental policy and management experience at the local, national and international levels. 

Jared and I have an in-depth conversation about the actions California has taken to make it a worldwide example for environmental and climate causes. From regenerative farming to electric cars, composting, and renewable energy, we take a look at the many moving parts of a cleaner future and the work it will take on both political and individual levels. 

We don’t have to feel scared every time we talk about climate change. I hope you’ll tune in to get a fresh, positive perspective on the solutions.

This episode is brought to you by BiOptimizers, Thrive Market, and Beekeepers Naturals.

Right now, BiOptimizers is offering my community 10% off their CogniBiotics, a brain and mood-enhancing probiotic that contains specifically chosen strains with a high level of research supporting mental health and performance. Just go to cognibiotics.com/hyman and use code hyman10 at checkout.

Thrive is offering all Doctor’s Farmacy listeners an amazing deal. You will receive an extra 25% off your first purchase and a free gift when you sign up for Thrive Market. Just head over to thrivemarket.com/Hyman

Through the end of March, you can get a free three pack of Beekeepers Naturals B.LXR Brain Fuel when you visit beekeepersnaturals.com/HYMAN. You just pay $5 for shipping and if you don’t love it they will refund your $5, no questions asked.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn:

  1. How Jared became interested in environmental issues
    (3:10 / 7:22)
  2. The detrimental effects of our disconnection from nature
    (6:29 / 10:41)
  3. Simultaneously holding hope and grief around climate change
    (11:12 / 15:24)
  4. The 50th anniversary of The Clean Air Act
    (17:00 / 21:12)
  5. The importance of legal projections, political will, incentivizing good behavior, and punishing bad behavior
    (17:00 / 21:12)
  6. The unequal effects of climate change
    (22:01 / 26:13)
  7. Taking bold action to address climate change and decarbonizing our economy
    (27:05 / 31:37)
  8. How soil can save the earth
    (36:26 / 40:58)
  9. Supporting farmers through legislative incentives
    (41:22 / 45:54)
  10. How to promote regenerative agricultural practices
    (50:05 / 54:37)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Jared Blumenfeld

Jared Blumenfeld is California’s Secretary for Environmental Protection. Appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom in January, he is one of America’s most innovative environmental leaders, with more than 25 years of environmental policy and management experience at the local, national and international levels. From 2009 to 2016, he served under former President Barack Obama as Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Pacific Southwest region. From 2001 to 2009, he was Director of San Francisco’s Department of Environment, where he worked with then Mayor Newsom to make San Francisco “the most sustainable city in the nation.” Prior to government service, Jared led international campaigns for nongovernmental organizations, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Natural Resource Defense Council. He also started an award-winning podcast on environmental topics, called Podship Earth, which he continues to host.

Show Notes

  1. Listen to Jared Blumenfeld’s podcast, Podship Earth

Transcript

Jared Blumenfeld:
On the one hand, we’ve got planetary decline and the other we have incredible innovation and leadership and different thinking and many different ideas about where we can go. We have to grieve for what we’ve lost. If we’re not grieving for the species that we’re losing, if we’re not grieving for the impact we’re having on the planet, I don’t think we can move forward.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy, that’s Farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y. A place for conversations that matter. If you care about the world we live in, if you care about the environment, if you care about how to fix the problems that are really facing our total global environment, including America, then this conversation is for you, because it’s with an incredible man, Jared Blumenfeld, who’s California’s Secretary for Environmental Protection, basically the EPA for California.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom, and he has been one of America’s most innovative environmental leaders. He has 25 years of experience of environmental policy and management, although he looks about 25. So, I’m not sure how that works out. He’s really worked at the local, national, international levels, and he’s a bit of an anomaly, because he’s a Brit, who is in American politics, which I find fascinating.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
From 2009 to 2016, he worked under President Obama as the Regional Administrator for the US EPA for the Pacific Southwest. He was also working from 2001 to 2009 as the Director of San Francisco’s Department of Environment, when he worked with Mayor Newsom, who’s now the governor to make San Francisco the most sustainable city in the nation. He’s also led international campaigns for NGOs, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare and National resource Defense Council. He’s a graduate of Cambridge College of Arts and Technology, has law degrees, both from University of London, UC Berkeley, and he has been advising on clean tech strategies and strategic planning.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
One of the favorite facts about him that I love is that he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. For those of you don’t know it, it’s a 2,650 mile trail that goes from Mexico to Canada, which is an amazing feat, and I admire you just for that alone, and I’m jealous, actually. The other thing he does, which everybody should check out is he is the host of an award winning podcast on environmental topics called Podship Earth, and I just got to be on that. So, check that podcast out. Welcome, Jared. It’s great to have you.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Thank you, Mark. It’s great to be here.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
All right. First of all, I just have to ask you, how you got into being so focused on the environment. You grew up in the UK, obviously, you end up in America, but you spent two decades fighting for environmental protection, preservation, and really making a difference, which we all hope we can do in our lives, but you made a difference for communities and ecosystems. How did you get interested in the environment? What was it for you that you went, maybe I should do this.

Jared Blumenfeld:
I grew up in a small village in England called Grantchester to two American parents who left the US out of frustration with the Nixon administration. Depending what happens, there may be a few more like me, maybe people who moved to New Zealand and have Kiwi children. It was a small village, my only escape from the village was bicycle.

Jared Blumenfeld:
I would bicycle with my friends into the fields, and that sense of escape and freedom and nature is something that has carried with me to this day. I only feel like I can truly be myself at a certain level when I’m in nature. Then I went to law school, I was really focused on human rights. With the time that I was at Berkeley, it was this big UN summit in Rio de Janeiro, called the Earth Summit, the biggest gathering of heads of state in human history at the time.

Jared Blumenfeld:
It was the beginning of the… There was everything from climate, to biodiversity, and I was writing this report on human rights. We were asked by the UN, could we do a study of the relationship between human rights and the environment? Namely, if you’re an indigenous community, and how are your rights to life, to prosperity affected by environmental contamination?

Jared Blumenfeld:
It was the first time that anyone who looked at this intersection between human rights and the environment. After that, that has really been a focus of mine, which is, we often have thought about the environment as somewhere else, Mark, we’re going to go and protect nature somewhere else. But what we really realize is our environment is all around us, as you’ve so eloquently described, it’s the food that we eat, it’s the water that we drink, the air that we breathe, that is our environment. That urban interface has been really the focus of what I’ve worked on.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
[inaudible 00:05:31] striking that in this time, we have, in just a few generations become so divorced from nature, and from wildness and wilderness. David Attenborough’s new special on Netflix about the Earth, describing his lifetime of 93 years, and the changes that have happened in the natural world, the disappearance of biodiversity, the disappearance of wildness, the growth of our population, the increases in environmental damage, and climate change is staggering.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think we are so disconnected from wildness. I have the same connection as you do. Clearly, it wasn’t just riding your bicycle, you walk 2,000 miles on a trail by yourself in the wilderness. I used to backpack and hike for days and days in the wilderness. It was really the thing that connected me to nature. We’re so divorced from nature, we live in a little bubble of technology and comfort and lack of resilience in the face of our environment. It’s really prevented us from really having a real relationship to sacred wild places.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That has really, I think, hurt us, and has hurt us in a way that has allowed us to desecrate this place that we live in, in a way that it’s to our own detriment. Can you talk a little bit about the ways in which our neglect of the environment, or pollution of the environment, our over reliance on fossil fuels, our destructive agriculture, which is driving climate change, how big are those problems? Can you lay out the issues for us in a way that people can understand about what we’re facing today in 2020?

Jared Blumenfeld:
Well, before we get to that doom and gloom, I want to answer your earlier question that you asked, which is about why we’re divorced from nature, because I think it’s the single biggest feature psychologically, that allows us to basically commit planetary suicide. We rely on all these systems to be alive. So, how could we be destroying the very things that we need to keep us alive?

Jared Blumenfeld:
For me it started, and if you or your readers have read Sapiens, when you think about why we evolved faster and different than others in the animal kingdom, we’ve gotten to a point that our communication, our collective ability to work together and our consciousness has led us to this precipice, which I’ll describe in a minute. But to think back to when we were hunter gatherer, cave dwellers, there were some real threats, and those real threats have created as you know, a sense of flight or fight that’s so integral to how we think.

Jared Blumenfeld:
If you look back to Genesis, the beginnings of a consciousness and religion is really about dominion over nature-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That translation is not, I think, a good one, right?

Jared Blumenfeld:
Right. It’s not a good one.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Stewardship, it’s really meant to be more around stewardship, as opposed to domination.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Right. That’s our interpretation now, but unfortunately, for 2,000 years, it’s been interpreted as dominion. That dominion included, over animals, over children, over women. It was a very, very, very wrongheaded way of looking at our relationship to the world, but it basically created a line, Mark, between us and nature. Most people, I think, don’t view ourselves as animals. We’re not part of the animal kingdom, we are distinct.

Jared Blumenfeld:
There’s this whole theory… Myth of human superiority that we are somehow so much better than the rest of the world, that it is here to serve us. We’re not connected in an integrated fashion to the world around us, we are separate and it’s here to serve us.

Jared Blumenfeld:
The sense of stewardship that I would I completely concur with you is the way that we need to think about our relationship with nature, isn’t how we actually view it. I think it actually pervades into issues like evolution. But we can’t believe in evolution because that links us back to our lineage of animals. How could we possibly be connected to anything that’s related to an animal? We’re so much better than that, we’re humans.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Anything that reminds us of our humanity, especially in our society, like mortality, we don’t talk about. It’s almost taboo to think about the end of life, or even lots of different facets of anything that connects us to feeling like an animal, I think we’re afraid of, and we push away. People have a fear of water, people have a fear of night and darkness, people have a fear of going into wilderness. That’s really pushed, people want horror movies are all around the terrible things that are going to happen in all these different situations.

Jared Blumenfeld:
That’s where we’re at. In this march towards progress, I think we saw this infinite space of our planet, we didn’t realize until 1969 how small we are, what a small dot in the universe we are. That we thought of resources as inexhaustible. It doesn’t matter, the oceans, we could never pollute the oceans tomorrow, because they’re just so big. We could never pollute the sky, because it’s everywhere. I think this convergence that we now have of understanding the planetary health at a very granular level is too much for most people, and it actually is too much for me. It’s almost… There’s so many inputs telling us how much is going wrong, that people close down. There’s only so much bad news that people can take before they freeze up and calcify.

Jared Blumenfeld:
I think we’re there. I really do, I think people don’t want to hear the next bad thing about climate change, or soil health or species decline. Actually, I overheard someone talking about the David Attenborough movie and saying, “Jesus, it was just such a downer.” Some of us are able to process it and understand a positive vision of where we want to go. But I think for many people, it’s just like, good God, we, what does that mean? We’ve diminished the planet, we’ve diminished these resources, we have kids. What does it mean, and what’s my accountability, responsibility for that?

Jared Blumenfeld:
It’s tough. I think, psychologically, my response to people when they ask me is mental health is being able to hold opposites in balance. On the one hand, we’ve got planetary decline, and the other we have incredible innovation and leadership and different thinking, and many different ideas about where we can go. We have to grieve for what we’ve lost. If we’re not grieving for the species that we’re losing, if we’re not grieving for the impact we’re having on the planet, I don’t think we can move forward, because we are losing a lot. But we also have to move forward. In many conversations that I have with people, they’re just feeling like how can we move forward? Well, why are we even. Why… People are depressed, I’m depressed often.

Jared Blumenfeld:
This will come out later, but in the lead up to the election is like, there’s a lot of anxiety. I think the issues that you and I focus on, that you focus on, on food fix, that I deal with every day, the wildfires, COVID, the issues of the economy, greenhouse gas reductions, all these issues, let alone the 80,000 chemicals that are not known, that are used in commerce every day. The issues of recycling, markets collapsing. I could go on and on, but I’d rather think about how we get out of where we are right now.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I think that’s fair. I think we can be in the doom and gloom of it all, and I certainly flooded my neurons with a lot of that as a way of helping myself wake up to the urgency of this existential threat to humanity. I say humanity because I remember sitting in a talk by a leader in the American Indian Movement in 1978, John Trudell.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We were just young, idealistic crew and we’re like, oh, the Earth, we’re destroying the Earth, we’re destroying the Earth. So bad, it’s terrible.” He stopped us and… This was back when it wasn’t even that bad, it was ’70s. He said, “The Earth will be fine, it’s us we have to worry about. That we are facing the sixth extinction of our human species.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It was so beautiful in the David Attenborough movie was he started the movie in Chernobyl, showing the massive destruction that happened as a result of human activity. At the end of the movie, he was still in Chernobyl, but he showed how nature was reclaiming Chernobyl, and it was now full of wild animals and trees and nature.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think, the Earth will reclaim itself, it will clean itself, it’s a self-repairing organism. But we might not survive. I think that’s really what we’re facing. I think we can’t keep crapping in our own house or peeing in our own bed, we have to actually come to grips with what’s going on.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The good news is, that you have been acting for decades to make inroads to make the real changes that need to happen. From your perspective, working in the federal government and state government, being immersed in these issues for years, one of the points of light that we can look to, to say if we can act in these ways, if we can change the trajectory, what actually are we already doing? That is starting to change the trajectory? Maybe you can, instead of the doom and gloom picture, which might depress people and I haven’t turned off the podcast, Talk about the the points of light and hope that you’re seeing in your job every day in the EPA, both federally and state?

Jared Blumenfeld:
Well, a great example of what we’ve done is around clean air. This year, actually, is the 15th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, which is kind of amazing, this federal piece of legislation, but it has impacts in innovation, it has in impact in actual measurable reduction. Our air is in places like LA about 80% cleaner than it was 50 years ago, even though we have significantly more vehicles on the road.

Jared Blumenfeld:
We’ve used the legal system to innovate. Innovation has come from catalytic converters that we have on internal combustion engines, all the way through, right now, we’re at a place that the state of California just announced that by 2035, all new vehicles have to be electric vehicles. That has led not… We’re in some ways following but in some ways leading. We need to send market signals. I think 50 years ago, there was a clear sense that government was the regulator, and the private sector would do whatever the government said.

Jared Blumenfeld:
We’re now at a place where in many cases, the private sector has the power to lead and also the power to prevent leadership. Engaging that innovation has now, just for an example 34 electric vehicle manufacturers in California. 60 suppliers of electric vehicle parts in California. It’s the number one export from the state of California, and more than 50% of all the electric vehicles sold in the United States are sold right here in California.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Those kinds of revolutions take a combination of innovators like Elon Musk, regulators that really understand here in California, we have a regulator, Mary Nichols who is just retiring after 40 years of pushing for this. And consumers and voters that are educated and energy companies that are saying, “You know what, our future isn’t in oil and gas, it’s in providing clean, renewable energy generation.

Jared Blumenfeld:
California’s energy mix, we have a goal that 100% of our energy will be clean by 2045. We have a goal that will be as a state, carbon neutral. So, zero net carbon emitted from the state. Literally, even now we have the Chinese government, the Indian government doing Zoom calls with us understanding how do you make those mechanics work? How do you do enforcement actions?

Jared Blumenfeld:
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the Europeans that caught VW in their cheating scandal around emission, it was California. It’s investing in institutions and people and a mission that allows us to move forward on these issues with progressive legislation. We often get cynical and think it doesn’t matter who’s in power. It doesn’t matter, in the case of the environment, there really has never been a president as bad as Donald Trump.

Jared Blumenfeld:
We’ve sued him, I think we’re on our 58th lawsuit, and we haven’t lost one, yet. Legal protections are important, the political will to get stuff done, market signals that allow us in a system that we exist in to incentivize good behavior, and punish the polluters. When I talk to businesses, Mark, the number one critique is that there’s too many of their competitors that are adhering to the letter of the law, that they’re, polluting and we as a good company, are paying more money, because we want to do the right thing, so go after the bad company.

Jared Blumenfeld:
I feel like people are waking up to a place of understanding that they can have an individual role. But we’re never going to solve this. I think back in the ’70s, there was the sense of individual action alone can make a difference. It is indispensable. We need everyone to focus on voting, to focus on what they can do when they’re consumers. But we also need big government action, because these problems are huge. As you said, the word existential, which came from [inaudible 00:21:34] and Sutra, and others is really about the expression of free will, how do we exercise a sense of free will?

Jared Blumenfeld:
The existential threat to us as a species is real. I don’t want to say… I do sometimes get worried that people feel like there’ll be no people left. It probably will just be, and this is the sad part, we need to think about equity in this regard. I think the 1% are going to be fine. They’re going to move from their waterfront houses to the Rockies. They’re going to get on their boats and planes. But it’s low income communities of color that are already feeling the biggest impacts. We don’t all feel climate change the same way. We don’t all feel the effects of air pollution the same way. We need to double down because any solution that we have that doesn’t have equity, as it’s core, will fail.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, you’re right, Jared. I think that one of the glaring examples of this is the problem of climate refugees, that the developed world is producing most of the greenhouse gases. I think were 5% of the population in America, we produce 25% of the greenhouse gases. The populations that are being most affected are the low and middle income countries, even though they’re not the ones producing the problem. They’re the ones at the short end of the stick with increasing famine, and droughts, and food insecurity that are driving climate refugees, which the UN estimates maybe 200 million people. look at the instability just in Syria, which was a combination of climate and food, and also war, 1 million Syrian refugees, you stabilize Europe. Imagine 200 million trying to find a place to go.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We can’t live in our little bubble anymore, we have to understand we’re part of a global ecosystem of humanity, and that the environment and climate don’t have national borders. But there are there are a little pockets of hope.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I remember speaking to a key leader in Abu Dhabi, who said that they are heavily investing in solar. I’m like, “Why are you investing in solar, you’ve got more oil than anybody needs for hundreds of years.” Is all because it’s cheaper for them to desalinate their water using solar than it is using oil that they have. In Morocco, they used to have to import all their oil. Now, soon, they’ll be exporting their solar energy from their power grids to Europe as net energy exporters.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In Holland, which is one of the smallest countries, not only does it feed its own population, but is one of the largest exporters, I think, is the second largest exporter of food grown in greenhouses and using technology and innovation. I think there’s so much hope when you look at the solutions out there, there’s not a lack of knowledge about what to do and how to do it, but there is a challenge dealing with the business of large corporations that profit from doing the wrong thing without being held accountable to the real costs of their activities. I think that’s what you’ve done in terms of the work that you’ve done.
Speaker 3:
Hi, everyone. Hope you’re enjoying the episode. Before we continue. We have a quick message from Dr. Mark Hyman about his new company, Farmacy and their first product, the 10 Day Reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Hey, it’s Dr. Hyman. Do you have FLC? What’s FLC? It’s when you feel like crap. It’s a problem that so many people suffer from, and often have no idea that it’s not normal, or that you can fix it. You know the feeling, it’s when you’re super sluggish, your digestion is off, you can’t think clearly, or you have brain fog, or you just feel rundown. Can you relate? I know most people can.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But the real question is, what the heck do we do about it? Well, I hate to break the news, but there’s no magic bullet. FLC isn’t caused by one single thing. So, there’s not one single solution. However, there is a systems based approach, the way to tackle the multiple root factors that contribute to FLC, and I call that system, the 10 Day Reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The 10 Day Reset combines food, key lifestyle habits and targeted supplements to address FLC. straight on. It’s a protocol that I’ve used with thousands my community members to help them get their health back on track. It’s not a magic bullet, it’s not a quick fix. It’s a system that works. If you want to learn more, and get your health back on track, click on the button below or visit getfarmacy.com. That’s getfarmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y.com.
Speaker 3:
Now, back to this week’s episode.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Let’s just talk about climate for a minute, because I think it’s becoming more and more of an issue. I think Joe Biden just announced a $2 trillion climate initiative that he talked about as being a source of jobs and economic revitalization. Do you sense what’s happening globally, in this country and in California, as moving in the right direction? Are you hopeful? Do you feel like you’re seeing signs of us dealing with this effectively?

Jared Blumenfeld:
Some days I’m hopeful. In our world, in my job, particularly, we just had 4 million acres of California burn, we’re in the middle of COVID, and we have a $54 billion budget deficit. Some days I feel a little more positive than others. Ultimately, Mark, I think bold action is needed, like the incremental working in the margins is not where we have to be, we have to be bold actions that result in meaningful reductions quickly.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s not just about people having electric cars and changing their light bulbs and recycling, you’re talking about much bigger actions that are needed.

Jared Blumenfeld:
We had to transform our economy and decarbonize it, Decarbonizing, if you imagine carbon in every aspect, from fertilizers, all the way through the energy we produce, the cars we use, the transportation, the entire system is built upon fossil fuels, and we have to decarbonize. The pace of that, if we’re going to have a chance of living on a habitable planet has to be between now and 2045.

Jared Blumenfeld:
You saw China recently commit 2060 carbon neutrality last week, South Korea and Japan both committed to 2050, with the European Union. There’s more and more commitments. The commitments are hopeful. I think what California offers is a model of once you’ve committed, what do you do? It really isn’t going to be one thing, it isn’t just going to be electric vehicles, it’s going to be the entire way we think about the distribution of products in commerce.

Jared Blumenfeld:
The goods movement system is huge, and that’s going to evolve not just passenger vehicles, but trucks all the way through ships and planes and locomotives. Then thinking about how we build our new homes. Should new homes have connection to natural gas? Should we be having homes use natural gas in 2045? How do we… If you work back from what we need in 2045, which is zero carbon emissions, we also then need to look at sequestering carbon, because we’re not going to get… We’re going to try but we’re unlikely to get to zero carbon emissions in 2045.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Healthy soils, the more carbon you have in soil, the more water is retained in the soil. We basically have emitted so much carbon into the atmosphere and into the oceans, and ocean acidification is an issue that is often neglected. But where the calcium carbonate in the ocean is getting removed through the carbon dioxide that’s being absorbed into the oceans.

Jared Blumenfeld:
There isn’t any room left for carbon anywhere other than the soil. The soil has an incredible potential to absorb. But when I think about hope, I think the large corporations, thanks to things like the UN sustainability goals and millennial goals, large corporations have stood up and made commitments to sustainability, they’re now finding that they actually have to make good on those that they’re going to be held accountable.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Corporate behavior is changing. I think the debates that we saw last time between Hillary and Trump didn’t even mention climate change. Now, it became a big issue. For Democratic voters NPR poll recently showed climate is the number one issue for Democratic voters in this election. Incredible.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s amazing.

Jared Blumenfeld:
The level of consciousness has increased, as the impacts have increased. We used to think here in California, that we’ll be dealing with the impacts of things like drought and wildfire and sea level rise 40 years from now. That climate related impacts are in the future, and we can plan for them. Our agency alone spent $2.5 billion last year, cleaning up from wildfires. Just to clean up, that isn’t rebuilding the homes, that’s just getting rid of the destroyed landscape, and allowing homeowners who could go back in.

Jared Blumenfeld:
The costs of not doing anything, Mark, are so huge, so huge, right now, that I think everyone’s realizing the cost of taking action is going to pale in comparison to not taking action. I am hopeful. I believe that we have momentum, we have to capture that momentum, and we also have to be really thoughtful about helping communities. Whether it’s the Appalachian coal miners or oil and gas workers in Texas or California, we need to have a plan for a just transition. So that the industries that are most affected by us decarbonizing have a pathway, so they see a job in the future, and those jobs definitely exist. In California, for instance, the ratio of clean energy to the fossil fuel energy is about five to one. There’s five times more people working in solar and in energy efficiency than there are in fossil fuels.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s extraordinary. You said something that caught my attention, which was the need to decarbonize our economy, which means a reduced reliance on fossil fuels. That’s essential. It’s difficult. But you also mentioned the soil. I’ve heard a lot of different stats thrown around, even up to the fact that we could remove 120% of the current emissions if we scaled up regenerative agriculture and recarbonized the soil.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The striking thing to me that I didn’t know was that a third of all total greenhouse gas emissions that are in the atmosphere of the 1 trillion tons, a third of that has come from the destruction of our soil and the release of stored carbon in the microorganisms, literally, the microbiome of the soil.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That is because of our industrial agricultural methods. I guess what I’m asking you is, how, as the EPA Secretary of California, are you communicating with the Secretary of Agriculture to talk about how to use California, which is the nation’s largest agricultural state, to be a model for the world to transform from a extractive, destructive agricultural system that adds carbon to the atmosphere to a carbon sink, that literally can stop climate change?

Jared Blumenfeld:
I often like to think of the fact that under our feet can save the Earth. It really can. There’s, I think, more than 200 different types of soil in California alone. Soil type, obviously, and then applications. There’s range land where you have cattle, there’s row crops, there’s all kinds of different soil. We just spent a lot of time and the Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross has been a real leader in climate and agriculture, and thinking about these solutions.

Jared Blumenfeld:
But when you go to a farm, and there’s a dairy farm in Visalia, that I visited fourth generation farmer, Dino [inaudible 00:34:35] Dino is a libertarian. You don’t have to be a Progressive Democrat is my point. You have to believe in these practices. He started with no till agriculture. Your point is every time, every pass over the land, where you’re digging up that soil and the way that we think about our culture is, he said from 17 passes on his field for corn to one.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Basically disturbing the soil and you lose the carbon by tilling.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Exactly. You just imagine, you got that piece of farm equipment and you’re pulling behind it with something that rips the soil up and turns it. To your plane, if we’ve got a third of the carbon in our atmosphere from doing that, it releases it each time.

Jared Blumenfeld:
We want to keep the carbon in the soil, and no till practices are incredibly effective. If you’re a farmer, you just saved the labor, Mark, of paying someone to go over that same field 17 times now you’re paying them once to do it once. You’ve reduced your labor costs. The gasoline or diesel that you’re using, you’ve saved significant money.

Jared Blumenfeld:
A lot of these practices, farmers are starting to realize, wow, they actually save us money. And here in California, it isn’t carbon that is attractive, first and foremost, it’s the water benefit. For each percentage of carbon that you add back into the soil, the water retention benefits are huge. I was just at-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It was like 25,000 gallons per every percent of organic matter in the soil, which is a lot for acre. Yeah.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Yeah. I was just with the governor in Winters, California with a farmer, McNamara and his walnut farm, because of increased… He said he went from I think 1% soil carbon to five.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Jared Blumenfeld:
In 20 year period. He doesn’t have to water his walnuts for a month and a half longer than the neighbor who has poor soil health. That amount of water is money. We’re living in an era of really scarce water resources. On every level, how do you do that? As you know, one of the ways which is really interesting in California, is you take food scraps. About 25% of all the fresh water in the United States is used annually, Mark, to produce food that we throw away.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow. A quarter of all the water that we use, which is a scarce resource is used to grow food that we throw in the garbage.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Correct. Upwards of 40% of the food that we buy. That produces methane, which is 71 times more potent a greenhouse gas, when the food is rotting in the landfill than CO2. If you took that and composted it, and then apply it to land, that’s actually how you create the sea state change in the soil, for it to be able to absorb the carbon.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Taking that urban food waste, composting it, putting it on the soil is actually a recipe for planetary health.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s unbelievable. I think the innovations around ways in which government can get behind farmers to do this, and it’s not a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian issue is really about the economic viability of farming, it’s about addressing the risk of food insecurity, because of the way we’re farming will prevent our ability to grow food.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
When you look at it, it’s just like a no brainer. I’m just going to [inaudible 00:38:36] a list for a couple of minutes for people to understand that, the potential of this it’s not just about soil carbon, which is important, but it’s about the biodiversity of these lands that brings back pollinators and wild animals and increases diversity which we need to thrive and increases yields and increases the nutrient density. As a doctor what I care about is the food my patients are eating.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you’re eating broccoli today, it’s probably 50% less nutritious than it was before. If you’re growing food in a rising climate temperature situation, you’re actually putting more carbon in the plant which creates more starchy vegetables and more starch in the food which makes people gain more weight. Doing regenerative agriculture will create resistance to climate shocks and drought and floods and reduce the risk of wildfires. It’ll actually create more jobs and farm workers will be healthier and happier. There’ll be reduced reliance on agrochemicals, which will prevent the destruction of a lot of species through pesticides and agro chemicals, and nitrogen fertilizers, which pollute our waterways and create climate change as well. It’s 300 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Farmers, you said, make more money, they make up to 20 times more money, and then these rural communities will come back to life. It seems like, if you present this to a policymaker, they’re like, “This is a win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win. Why isn’t there more effort driving this movement through policy across the country, because it just seems so obvious to everybody who’s looking at this.

Jared Blumenfeld:
There’s a great book, Mark, that you should read, it’s called Food Fix. In that book, the guy’s got the same name as you, actually. The reason is, is that there’s a lot of interests vested in the status quo of farming. Farmers are actually innovators. Farmers, every small farmer that I’ve met, small scale farmer in California, they’re eking out a living, they’re worried about why their kids don’t want to become farmers. They’re feeling overwhelmed. They’re trying to just make a living, but they’re adaptors, they’re feeling climate change right now.

Jared Blumenfeld:
They want the tools they want the incentives… We were talking things like crop insurance. If you have crop insurance, you can only get it for conventional AG, you can’t get it for Regenerative, that’s a problem. If you don’t have the equipment to do no till ag, then you’re just going to use the old equipment that you have.

Jared Blumenfeld:
We need to help support farmers. This is really about not demonizing farmers. Farmers, I think of as conservationists, they’re environmentalist. Often, I think, there’s been a temptation to make them seem like the bad guy. Farmers want to do the right thing, we want to give them the tools to do the right thing. That comes in the Farm Bill, but how you make sure you get the right incentives in a massive piece of pork, like the Farm bill is tough, but some of them are in there. And there’s even federal agencies even during this terrible four year winter, that has been the Trump administration, the Department of Agriculture has actually been the ones still talking about climate change, still talking about soil health, even in this administration.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Even in these times, I think farmers are realizing climate change is real, they want to be part of the solution. One thing that I know you’re very bullish on, that also helps with soil health is your microbiome. If we are sterilizing the soil, that same piece of broccoli that you eat, is going to be sterile as well. Understanding this whole relationship with the soil is important. Our goal, I think, as policymakers needs to be to raise it up, because yeah, it is a win, win, win, win, win, win. At the same time, you meet with a lot of resistance. Amazing.

Jared Blumenfeld:
People are willing to fund a lot of other things before unfortunately, soil health. They don’t connect that, people will immediately connect, Mark, “Yes, we should incentivize electric vehicles in California.” But when you say, how should we incentivize farming practices that lead to healthier soil? People will think it’s too technical, too complicated, and it is going to take a big education campaign to get people to the level of awareness that we need them to be at, and we just don’t have time for that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay. We’re recording this before the election, we’re going to release this after the election, let’s just assume for argument’s sake that Joe Biden wins, and you are nominated for the EPA Secretary, you pass the Senate confirmation, and you have a job to fix what’s going on. What are the top five things that you would do for environment, climate, agriculture. If you really had autonomy to implement a set of policies, what would they be? What are the priorities?

Jared Blumenfeld:
One, you need functioning institutions again, because we can have all the great goals. So, really investing back in the people, in the science, in the law at US EPA Ag. Because I think we often forget that there are thousands and thousands and thousands of people that make this all work in government. Often, we just jump to what we should be doing.

Jared Blumenfeld:
The second, I think is what Joe Biden framed up, but didn’t say it, maybe with the eloquence that we would like in terms of transition, is we need to get rid of the negative subsidies. You’ve been very bullish on this, Mark. But you look through the federal government, there’s so much negative that we’re funding with our taxpayer dollars and reorient those towards the things that really can be demonstrated through science and evidence to actually improve.

Jared Blumenfeld:
We need to set a national goal for getting to net zero carbon. It needs to be 2045 or sooner. It really needs to be backed economy wide with the tools to help get there. Underneath that is everything from our renewable portfolio standard that says, energy has to be… Joe Biden has already said 2035 is the goal that he wants to achieve. So, that’s very bold, but actually getting there is important. We need to do all the things that we talked about in terms of decarbonizing.

Jared Blumenfeld:
On this particular thing, I think everything… I was talking to Alice Waters, who’s been pushing, and I think it’s a really important place to start are schools. Day one, you have 100% organic regenerative school lunches for every kid in America, you really think about the food system in a way that produces the health outcomes for all of us, you make issues like obesity, a national emergency that needs to be tackled seriously, as opposed to ignored.

Jared Blumenfeld:
You really invest in people. This has to be economic revolution. I think we’ve talked about the clean economy for so long, that somehow we think that it’s just a potential alternative to the status quo, of burning fossil fuels and destroying the planet and communities. We have to have an equity economy linkage that’s rebuilding our economy. Whatever anyone tells us in the news, unfortunately, our economy is in really bad shape-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Even though the stock market’s going up, the income inequalities and income disparities are going up.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Yeah. When a company like Amazon does well on the stock market, it’s not really affecting that many people, maybe Jeff Bezos and his wife are doing well, but it’s not really being spread around the entire economy. We need an economic stimulus, which will come, that really focuses from the bottom to the top. When we’re building a new road, how do we make sure that it’s enabled for zero emissions? When we’re building a new wastewater treatment plant, how are we making sure that it allows us to process food scraps so that we can land apply those?

Jared Blumenfeld:
I think on AG, the big AG transformations really need to be around moving away from fossil fuel inputs towards a regenerative system. Being there to support… We often pay lip service to supporting workers, supporting farmers, but they need to be trained and feel invested in that new clean economy. I would put… He’s talked about $2 trillion, I think that’s appropriate, I think we should embrace the Green New Deal. I know there’s some trepidation in the debates. It’s an incredible platform that brings together equity, jobs and the environment.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Within all of that conversation, and I’m going to be honest, I’m not very familiar with the Biden’s climate plan. From my understanding, the Green New Deal doesn’t really include much of this. If it’s true, what the UN says, if we took the 5 million degraded hectares of land globally, we took 2 million of those and scaled up regenerative AG, it has to be location specific, it has to be measured in a way that is adaptable to each context.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If we scale that up, which would cost $300 billion, which, in the context of $4 trillion for COVID relief seems like a very little amount of money. It’s less than we spend on diabetes every year in this country. If we did that, we could literally stop climate change for 20 years and give us a runway to innovate and adapt. If that’s really true, is this part of that platform, and is it part of the Green New Deal? If not, why not, and how do we get it to be at the top of the list? Because if that’s true, and I am asking you if it is, then it seems like there’s no other place to start than that.

Jared Blumenfeld:
I think we lived for, unfortunately, and I think the last four years have contributed to this, Mark, shiny technology, silver bullets that are cool and we understand them. Electric vehicles are plain example of that. People want something that is new, that they can invest in that is different than the old. The issue with soil health, with regenerative farming is that, just sounds like farming, but somehow hippie farming. I don’t know. People, they don’t quite know what it is.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Building those foundational elements, like, how do we actually help farmers buy the equipment they need? How do we support the practices and get companies to make sure that they’re procuring food that is regenerative only? How do we sensitize people to the real opportunities of removing pesticides and fertilizers from the food? You’ve done an amazing job on that. I think it’s incumbent on all of us to continue that so that decision makers understand 300 billion can be transformative.

Jared Blumenfeld:
I would say-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s globally, that’s not just in America, that’s globally.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Right. We haven’t really put a setting on global leadership on any issue, but agriculture is a perfect one where we could. One, just to clarify, I don’t want to be the US EPA administrator. But all of this, the summary of the five points, and this is we have to act like our lives depended on it, because they do and with a sense of urgency. That requires prioritization. Your point is regenerative AG should be on the top of every single person’s list of top five in every country.

Jared Blumenfeld:
I think farmers feel victimized, they feel left behind, and they actually are, because we’re not saying these very real practical solutions can help solve the planetary crisis of climate change, and they can, as well as the list that you gave of maybe 20 items that are not tangential. They’re pretty meaningful, increase our health, increase soil health and help pollinators. All these things are good for the planet. The more we can keep elevating this debate, the more attention it will get.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, Jared, thank you so much for the work you’re doing, for the decades of service to the environment, and for really being such a steward of what we all care about, which is the Earth. I hope that you get to be the EPA Secretary. That may not be what you want, but I certainly would be first in line to push you for that job.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’m grateful for what you’re doing. Really, we could talk for hours, but you have to get back to work because you’re saving California from all its disasters. But if people want to learn more about what Jared is doing, I encourage you to all check out his podcast, Podship Earth, it’s fantastic. He goes into all these issues and more. He’s just a real hero of mine. There are not that many heroes in government right now, and he’s one of them. Thank you for what you do, thank you what you’re doing for all of us and for trying to make the world a better place every day. Thank you for being on The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Jared Blumenfeld:
Thank you, Mark. That means a lot to me. Definitely check out the next episode because Mark is the guest.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay.

Jared Blumenfeld:
He’s awesome.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
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