Environmental Heroes: Bob Perkowitz
Bob Perkowitz. Image by ecoAmerica.
Bob Perkowitz is dedicating his career to working on climate change, and he talked with us as part of our continuing #WorldWow celebration. As someone who works with our changing environment every day, Bob has unique insight into how we interact with nature.
Before serving as president of ecoAmerica, he worked as the CEO of some larger consumer products manufacturing companies. Bob’s wife, Lisa Renstrom (former President of the Sierra Club and an environmental superstar in her own right) converted him and he’s now dedicating his work to climate. Today, he uses his marketing skills and works with a great team to produce high-impact climate work including, the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment and MomentUs.
We caught up with Bob and talked about how his personal interactions with nature have influenced his career.
Gobi Desert, Mongolia. Image by Einar Fredriksen. Via Creative Commons.
Findery: Where were you the first time you were truly in awe of nature?
BP: I don’t remember the first time, but I was always in nature as a child. When I grew up, you went outside and played. There were no video games. I lived a couple of blocks from a forest, and that’s where we played.
Some great memories include: Taking a shower under a waterfall in western North Carolina, being attacked by thousands of bugs in British Columbia, riding my bike across the Gobi desert in Mongolia and sitting in my backyard. I am constantly in awe of nature.
Findery: What was it about growing up so connected to nature that moved you and continues to drive you?
BP: Camping in nature, without the sounds, sights and comforts of the manmade world. The raw world as it was—and as much of it should remain—taught me respect for nature. Trying to preserve and protect what preserves and protects us is my full time occupation right now.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Image by Christiann Triebert. Via Creative Commons.
Findery: What’s one place in the world that you haven’t been that you’re dying to see? Why?
BP: I want to go hiking and camping in the African jungles before they are gone. Climate threats and population growth are challenging even the most remote places of diverse life on the planet.
Findery: Why is reconnecting with nature on a personal level so important in terms of the work you do on climate change?
BP: We really have lost our connections, and thus our understanding of and respect for nature. After millennia of close connections and deep dependency on nature, we’re now living in that futuristic world with the first generations of humans that can go weeks, months or every years without touching dirt or a natural tree. Many of us are afraid of nature now. And if you’re afraid of something, how likely are you to want to protect it? That’s why connecting or reconnecting with nature is so important.