“It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.” –Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist and peace activist who was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, died this week from cancer at the age of 71. Maathai was best known as the founder of The Green Belt Movement, a group she started in 1977 that encouraged poor women to collect native tree seeds in the wild in order to ensure they had access to sustainable firewood for cooking and potable water. Eulogies came pouring in from around the globe upon news of her passing. Fellow Nobel Prize laureate Desmond Tutu described her as a “visionary African woman” and Al Gore said that Maathai “overcame incredible obstacles to devote her life to service – service to her children, to her constituents, to the women, and indeed all the people of Kenya – and to the world as a whole.”
Sea Change Radio co-founders Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon sat down with Maathai in the spring of 2009. This week, we remember the spirit of Wangari Maathai by bringing that conversation to you in its entirety.
In part one of this two-part interview, British journalist George Monbiot discusses his new book, Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning, with CWR co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon. Monbiot applauds the acknowledgment of the climate crisis in awarding of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, but criticizes recipient Al Gore for undermining the Kyoto Protocol when he was in office. He also presents the case for carbon rationing under the “Contraction and Convergence” framework. He emphasizes the necessary role of government regulation in solving the climate crisis, and discusses the paradoxes of how “regulation enhances the sum of human freedom” and how our carbon-intensive lifestyles create a “fantasy of freedom.”