Episode 63 Transcript: The Earth Shot Prize

CLARICE:  Good morning, everybody, and welcome to this week’s episode of Environmentally Speaking.

MARISA:  Hi, everybody.

CLARICE:  [inaudible].

MARISA:  What?  [inaudible].

CLARICE:  Yeah.  Compared to last week’s manic.

MARISA:  Oh, yeah.  Last week was a little manic.  But I’m Marisa Desautel an environmental attorney in Rhode Island.

CLARICE:  And I’m Clarice.  I’m coming in with questions, topics.  And this week I suggested we do something that’s relatively recent, fairly new in the news.  We’re going to talk about The Earthshot Prize.  Have you heard of this?

MARISA:  I have never heard of it and didn’t know what the heck you were talking about, so I spent some time looking at the website and there’s a lot of information there.  In fact, I would say it was a bit overwhelming.


MARISA:  But I think that I now understand generally what Earthshot is, but, no, I’d never heard of it.

CLARICE:  And truth be told, I had never heard of it either.  For folks that don’t know, we’re going to get into it in a little bit more detail.  But The Earthshot Prize has an award ceremony attached to it and this past Friday the award ceremony was presented in Boston with Prince William and Kate Middleton or Duchess Kate.  I don’t know what her official title is.  But Will and Kate were there and I had to be in Boston that day and selfishly I was checking the traffic and that’s the only reason why I know it exists.

MARISA:  Oh, okay.  Well, that’s funny.

CLARICE:  Yes.  And David Attenborough was there, as well.

MARISA:  Wow.  I was looking at the website and recognized that some of the words were spelled in the English fashion, realize with an S, that kind of thing, so presumably then this is a UK-based program that just happened to have its award ceremony in Boston likely to bring more awareness to the program obviously.  I mean, we’re talking about it.  But it seems like a global program where the prizes are awarded based not on any criteria.  They’re really looking at everyone in terms of location, size of the type of project.  They do have categories, but I was interested to see the variety of who won this year’s prizes.

CLARICE:  Yeah.  So going back, The Earthshot Prize was inspired by and in partnership with the Kennedy Foundation, so it does have times to America, but I don’t believe it is solely an American-based program.  But they were inspired by Kennedy’s Moonshot challenge of can we get a human on the moon in a year, so that’s where that name comes from.

[0:03:07] MARISA:  Oh.

CLARICE:  And every year they select five winners in five different categories and each winner receives a million pounds to help progress and continue their project.  And like you had talked about, there’s five different categories.  There’s protect and restore, cleaner air, revive our oceans, build a waste-free world, and fix our climate.

MARISA:  Small tasks.


MARISA:  Tiny.

CLARICE:  I like the fact that build a waste-free world is just like – like that’s a gigantic category.

MARISA:  Yeah.  I mean, they’re all gigantic categories.  Was there one that you gravitated towards more than another?

CLARICE:  Well, what I thought was interesting is when I started to read about the winners I was very intrigued about the fact that they were tackling – I don’t want to say necessary a small problem but one facet related to that overarching category.  Specifically cleaner air I thought was really interesting.  And I apologize.  I’m going to mispronounce names, but Mukuru Clean Stoves was the winner and they were from Kenya.  And, you know, when I first read the top title, it was talking about how this women-based, woman-founded company is providing clean stoves to families out in Kenya.  And I was like, okay, well, how does that really help the air.  Like how is that really going to touch the bigger picture.

And then I read a little bit more about it and these clean stoves save ten million in fuel costs.  They burn cleaner.  They’re only $10 a stove and they have safety mechanisms built in to prevent accidents.  Apparently there are tons of accidents associated with the types of stoves traditionally used throughout Kenya and those accidents being fume problems, people getting poisoned by what’s being burnt off, people getting burned and hurt from the way the stove is built.  The owner and founder Charlot Magayi – again, apologies.  I’ve probably pronounced that terribly.  Her own daughter got burnt by one of those stoves and that inspired her to make this massive change.  And it sounds like such a small problem, but when you look at it it’s going to have a big impact.  It’s kind of cool.

MARISA:  What are they using for fuel, do you know?

CLARICE:  It didn’t go into a ton of detail, but let me see.  It processes biomass made from charcoal, wood, and sugar cane.

MARISA:  Okay.  Yeah.  It sounded like it wasn’t fossil fuel based.

[0:05:58] CLARICE:  Uh-uh.  And it sounds like it’s more sort of natural and accessible resources that are going to burn cleaner.  But I thought that was – and all of these projects are — like I had said, they’re not small in any way, but they really do focus on one specific facet of this larger issue.

MARISA:  Yeah.  I saw that, as well.

CLARICE:  And overall I like the fact that this program is encouraging people to chip away at the bigger problem.  And it’s that idea of lots of chipping away will eventually make a dent.  Nobody needs to wake up with the perfect answer to fix all of it.  It’s that idea of, let’s do something.

MARISA:  I spent some time looking at the clean our – or excuse me – Revive Our Oceans section because I do a lot of work in that area and looked at this year’s winner and last year’s winner and both had to do with decline in the organic population of coral reefs and seagrass.  The two winners from last year and this year were both responsible for engineering man-made versions of coral and seagrass and then transporting those products to areas in the ocean that they’re needed in.  So those are lab generated or – I’m calling it inorganic – but man-made options that folks came up with and they’re very successful.

CLARICE:  It’s very cool to see.  This year’s winner was the indigenous women of the Great Barrier Reef, like you had said, focusing on that creation of man-made sort of building back as well as folding in indigenous practices to sort of revive the land which I thought was another really cool option.  But the Earthshot is actually really young.  This is only its second annual.

MARISA:  That surprises me because the website is so comprehensive.  There’s a lot of information on there.

CLARICE:  Yeah.  I was reading on, I believe, their – just right up on the homepage they were talking about how their goal is to make massive global impact in the next ten years, so they are on a tight schedule, I think, as it said.

MARISA:  Well, the planet is on a tight schedule, as well.

CLARICE:  Yeah.  I want to see if I can find the actual language, but it was really interesting about – I think they were – what I thought was interesting was how intentional they were about their language.  It was sustainable, global practices that are going to help combat climate change and put us on a path to rebuilding.  So it was very mission focused which I thought was not something you see all the time.

[0:09:09] MARISA:  Yeah.  Especially with planet stuff.

CLARICE:  Yes.  I think, yeah, a lot of the times the things that we read and the things that we talk about oftentimes talk about, well, we want to improve the trees and the ocean and the air.  And this group had a very solid time frame and mission and what they’re measuring success.  You don’t see a lot of definites and that was something cool.

MARISA:  No.  Not even in international agreements that are meant to target improvement like the Paris Accord.  That’s a very narrative agreement that does not have teeth, so it’s difficult to enforce.  It’s difficult to implement.  It’s interesting.  You know, it means well, but it’s not particularized.

CLARICE:  Yeah.  No.  I think you hit the nail on the head.  It means well.  That’s just kind of it.

MARISA:  So the Earthshot is different in that it’s targeting specific companies and different governments, quasi-municipal groups, nongovernment, nonprofit, individuals.  It covers the whole gamut of types of entities that are engaged in this industry.

CLARICE:  Yeah.  They said they had thousands of applicants, met and interviews and narrowed it down to 15 and then on the award day selected their five winners.  So maybe later today I’m going to actually – you can watch the award ceremony online, so I might do that later.  Also something interesting and maybe a little bit pop cultury, but knowing that Will and Kate were going to be going to this environmental award, they have recently – and not terribly recently, not like as in response to Earthshot – but recently they have pledged to fly less on their private jet and more economically.  And to follow it up, they’ve released, you know, their private jet’s emission statements and have pledged to reduce that, so.


CLARICE:  I don’t know.  Maybe they’re flying British Airways now.

MARISA:  Good for them.

CLARICE:  I mean, they are only two people, but depending on how often they travel it can make a big dent, so I do like to see it.

MARISA:  No.  And every little bit helps.

CLARICE:  Yeah.  But it’s a private jet.  That’s a big bit.

MARISA:  All right.

CLARICE:  Taylor Swift did get slammed for her private jet use.  But to any Swifty listeners, apparently she loaned her jet out or people rented it.  It wasn’t all her.  Don’t come at me, please.  Swifties are scarier than any other audience we have.  So that’s Earthshot.

[0:12:07] MARISA:  Earthshot.

CLARICE:  It was something cool, something topical.

MARISA:  Thanks for bringing this up.  I had no idea it existed and it’s pretty neat.

CLARICE:  Yeah.  Well, we’ll see what they do next year.  You know, if you think about it it’s five winners every year.  They’re planning on doing it for ten years.  Every winner is getting a million pounds.  That’s – oh, Lord help me above.  That’s like 30 companies.

MARISA:  Yeah.  And they’re getting a platform to market and try to make connections with other companies and finance options.

CLARICE:  Uh-huh.  And hopefully [inaudible] each other.  There’s some overlap.

MARISA:  Kind of like Shark Tank but –

CLARICE:  Kinder.

MARISA:  — kinder, gentler, better for the planet.

CLARICE:  I would love to see the Shark Tank version of this.  That would be awful.  Well, on that note, some maybe good news, hopeful horizons.

MARISA:  Yeah.  I had some negative things I was going to say, but I kept them in.

CLARICE:  Don’t worry.  The Swifties will say it.  They’ll come at me.  Have a good week, everybody.  If you want to write in with your thoughts, comments – have you heard of Earthshot?  Have you seen or heard of any of these winners?  Reach out to us.  You can hit us up on the socials.  We’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.  You can hit us up via e-mail at Help@Desautel.ESQ.  And that’s it.  We want to hear from you guys.


CLARICE:  Did I do it wrong?

MARISA:  You did it wrong.  You did it wrong.  It’s Help@DesautelESQ.com.

CLARICE:  Oh, yeah.

MARISA:  You know, because e-mails usually end in a dot com or a dot gov.  All right.  Thanks, everyone.

CLARICE:  Oh, dammit.  Bye, guys.



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