Conservationist, Activist, and Filmmaker Rob Stewart on the Need for The Revolution
The late Film Director and Conservationist Rob Stewart was well-spoken, armed with facts and driven with an intoxicating optimism that powerfully draws people in. Naming the conservation movement, “The largest movement that has ever existed.” Stewart emphasizes collaboration and unity of all environmentally-minded organizations.
He was convinced that children are humanity’s biggest hope because they will fight the hardest for their rights.
Education through The Revolution
This interview was completed after a Los Angeles screening of the film Revolution.
LA YOGA: Tell us more about how children are humanity’s biggest hope.
Stewart: Creating a revolution is the task of the young generation. We need to change the educational system entirely so kids are taught what’s going on in the world and they can tackle this with everything they’ve got. The more they understand, the more they know, the more rewarding it’s going to be because they are going to get better at changing the world.
The situation’s getting more dire, but the conservation movement is a great filter for amazing people coming into your life by working for good. I’m sure you know that karma. If you start working for good, the Universe aligns behind you. Young people get this right away. They don’t have to deal with the baggage that adults have to deal with, like ‘Really? This is working out so beautifully for me?’
LA YOGA: What do you say to people who feel, “I can’t possibly make a difference. Look at all that pollution in China. Look at all that trash in the sea. What is one more plastic lid or plastic water bottle going to do?
Stewart: It’s always been individuals who are going to change the world. Seven billion individual actions is a lot of plastic bottles. You’re going to incur karmic debt by doing destructive s*** and knowing it morally, so start pushing your world and your actions in the right direction.
LA YOGA: You emphasize creating a unified eco-activism that approaches conservation differently. How do we unite all the different groups out there?
Stewart: I started an organization called United Conservationists. I figured, it’s the biggest movement that’s ever existed. All we have to do is bring everyone together and we will crush the oil and consumptive industries, but it’s so hard to get these organizations to work together. They’re like children in sand boxes, protecting their own little castles.
I think that the reason the environmental movement has failed is because our ambitions are so small. Tell your kid that by the middle of the century there will be no fish, no rainforests and that people will be fighting over what remains. And yet the government and the adults will celebrate a 10% reduction in emissions.
Any child is going to realize that that this small victory will buy you half a percent more time in a hugely degraded world. It’s like Einstein said, “You can’t solve a problem by using the same thinking that created it.”
By fighting against our problems, we are just stooping to the level that the oil industry and the consumptive industry. We need to be immediately radical. You can’t be the biggest conservation group in the world and go up against a $20 billion company and not be radical. They’re funding our governments. They’re entrenched in everything. Fighting against our problems is the main reason why we’re failing.
What if humanity came together and imagined what the world could look like. What if we designed it to be beautiful for us and all species? That might be exciting enough for kids to go, “Wow, what could happen if we could have bears on our roofs and grow food locally and all the rivers and lakes were teeming with fish and that’s where we got food from.”
What if pollution were illegal and we weren’t negotiating over what quantity of toxic contaminants corporations could put into our food water air and bodies? Doing it right, I think, would be inspiring enough to people to fight for it. Moving towards that goal would immediately make pollution illegal. And we’d unleash the genius of corporation to do what it needed to do to make its product without destroying the world we depend on for survival. We wouldn’t have to get down in the trenches with Exxon or whatever. We would just chart our pathway where we wanted to go.
LA YOGA: Your website says, “Revolution won’t stop until a sustainable human population is reached.” What does that mean to you? Does that mean we should be having fewer kids? How do we monitor consumption?
Stewart: We need to decide as a species what our population should be, based on what level of living we want to live at. Knowing the technology that we have now and the technology that we’re using, we’re moving towards having too many people on this planet.
If we did things right, we could probably burn fossil fuels and still capture carbon and soil in the atmosphere. I think that we should have fewer kids. Because more than eating meat or driving a car, putting a whole new human in this world consumes a lot. You might be able to say that my kid is going to be a revolutionary and change the world and save everything. That would be amazing, but right now, we’re in a massive predicament. In putting out another person, we take away from someone else’s ability to survive in an [impoverished] country.
We know that we have a massively consumptive life. And we are so privileged in North America to live the way we live. We live like kings and queens. We have to slow down and have a look at what it means to be a civilized human and think about sustainability.
Sustainability means you can perpetuate into the future. But we’ve gone so far past sustainability that for us to reach sustainability we have to become beneficial. We need to exist in a world where we make nature better, where we put more carbon into the soil, where we put more life into world, where we put more water out there where we make more energy than we use. So how do we do that? If we keep growing our population and destroying s*** everywhere, we can’t.
Advice for Disbelievers
LA YOGA concluded our interview with Stewart just minutes before the screening of Revolution. We asked the following question. “What about those people who are jaded, who don’t believe that we can do it?
He answered, “Just get out of the way.”