#158 Dr. Rob Moir President & Executive Director of the Ocean River Institute
Dr. Rob Moir is a nationally recognized and award-winning environmentalist and president and executive director of the nonprofit Ocean River Institute. He continues his several decades of tireless efforts to make the planet bluer and greener. Rob and Ocean River Institute has assisted environmental groups on a local, national and global scale including Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, the Coastal Bird Program of Cape Cod, Sunshine Wildlife (Florida), the Campaign for Environmental Literacy, the British Virgin Islands Environmental Council, and Sea Change, Friends of the Wester Ross Marine Protected Area (Scotland).
THE TRANSCRIPT: BIGGER THAN US EPISODE 158
This transcript has been lightly edited.
Host Raj Daniels 01:05
Rob, I like to start the show by asking about Doodlebug. Can you share with the audience what Doodlebug is?
Dr. Rob Moir 01:47
Yes, Doodlebug was this old robo that was at our house, and we would take it down to the beach. And my dad, we had a little sail that went into Doodlebug and a little tanbark red sail. Dad would hold the boat standing in the water. And I’d sit in the back of the boat and hold the sail with one hand and the steering stick with the other. That’s how I learned how to sail a boat. He said always go windward. So you can always come home again. So Doodlebug was the first sailing boat.
Host Raj Daniels 02:21
Now you mentioned sailing windward. For those of us who are land-bound, can you explain what that is?
Dr. Rob Moir 02:26
Right. So the most amazing thing for me about sailing is that you take the energy of the wind. And by using sails and a vessel, you manage to go into the wind. You take its energy and you go against it. So that place you want to go, like a buoy––if you’re racing, you’re gonna turn the boat around to buoy––if it’s upwind, that’s called windward. And so to go windward is very difficult in a sailboat. And sometimes you can do it by zigzagging back and forth. But sometimes you just can’t because the wind is too strong, or the tide is against you, and it’s too narrow to attack back and forth. So it’s for me, it’s a life learning of how to tackle things. You take one approach as far as you can, then you shift directions and try again, a different approach. And it’s no one’s fault that it takes many times; you just got to keep doing it. And sometimes you don’t succeed.
Host Raj Daniels 03:25
How have you translated that experience into your experience with Ocean River Institute?
Dr. Rob Moir 03:31
Right, so the Ocean River Institute was created to help people make a difference in cleaning up the environments, especially clean water and wildlife. And so we’re looking for opportunities where there are bills or their efforts to make a difference. And we bring people together and we try to push in that direction. And we have our setbacks. But overall, we’ve been moving to windward to clean up the environment.
Host Raj Daniels 03:58
And how do you do that?
Dr. Rob Moir 03:59
That’s a good question. One way is that I’m in communication with decision-makers. For example, in Washington, now, they want to do an ocean-based climate solutions bill. And so I learned the details of the bill. And then I explain that to people. We set up a competition, where we ask people to comment on the bill. And this is important, is that 90% will just sign it, and that doesn’t mean much. But when people take the time to understand the issue, and ask the decision-maker to do something that he’s thinking of doing anyway, and giving him more reasons for it, that personal relationship helps us to get bills passed.
Host Raj Daniels 04:43
So what kind of questions do you like to see asked by people that are interested in the bill?
Dr. Rob Moir 04:48
You don’t ask your decision-maker, “Do you believe in climate change?” You’d say, “I am upset with climate change because the crocuses are coming up early. Can you do something about them?” And that way, the politician will indicate they understand the problem. So that’s one example. Whether or not they move is another thing. We also have a plastic pollution bill. And so there people will explain about how plastic is upsetting them when they go swimming, or while they see it clogging up the beaches. And so these specific stories; also, suggestions of why it’s important to have a nickel charge for single-use plastic bags that are made from virgin plastic. So people talk about that. Another question that we’ve had a lot of good feedback on is, what would it be like if the bag pass was passed? If there was less plastic pollution. And it’s not just a tax; we are also asking producers to be responsible for recovering the plastic and making it reusable and so forth. So it’s a complicated bill. But the important thing is to show the decision-makers how life would be better if they acted this way. And that helps them do the heavy lifting of crafting legislation, which is not an easy thing.
Host Raj Daniels 06:06
Now with all of your experience with Ocean River Institute, how do you feel about the probability of these bills passing?
Dr. Rob Moir 06:13
Well, the less comprehensive the bill is, the more precise, the more likely you can pass. So we’ve been making great strides to have people not put down fertilizer in the summertime because we say, “Just don’t do it in the summertime.” That’s when the harmful algal blooms are happening off of this. We did this in Florida. And there, the fertilizer is made up of nitrogen and phosphorus. And rather than saying to just use nitrogen and don’t use phosphorus—because you don’t need the phosphorus. In Florida, there’s so much phosphorus in the ground that they’re mining it to put into the fertilizer. So rather than have a list of items to do, which is making the perfect the enemy of the good, I guess we just said three things: don’t spread in the summertime, use some slow-release fertilizer, and respect the setbacks from the waterways. And so the decision-maker, the county commissioner came back and said, “Okay, we expect the setbacks, we’ll use at least 50% slow release. And we won’t fertilize from June first to September 30.” So that’s four months. I wouldn’t have known to ask for that. But I’m thrilled because the lawn owner realizes that, “Well, gee, I’m supposed to use 50% slow-release, but maybe I should try 100% slow release. It costs a little more, but it might save me money in the long run.” Or, you know, “If I’m not supposed to fertilize in this time period, maybe I should wait and treat my lawn the way the golf courses do,” which is that they only feed the grass when it’s hungry. And they make sure that none of the fertilizer goes anywhere but to the grass. So you break it down into small parts.
Host Raj Daniels 07:54
Now, why did you specifically target that algae bloom in Florida? What did you find there?
Dr. Rob Moir 08:00
Well, I started in Massachusetts. My son and I were sailing in a small boat, and we got halfway to Nantucket and the wind died. I had a paddle. And when you put your hand in the water five miles out—the water got to my elbow—I couldn’t see my fingertips for all the blooming algae in there. The green-brown algae stuff. So I’ve made it my mission to try to be able to see my fingertips when they’re up to my elbow in the water. And so one of the sources is fertilizer. The other is septic and sewage. And the third is agriculture. So they’re working on the other two. So I made it my business to look at the fertilizer. In Massachusetts, you have to go town by town. But in Florida, they have counties. Indian River Lagoon is this shallow lagoon that’s 156 miles wide. And it’s only got six counties around it. And there, the dolphins were dying from skin-eating fungal infections. There’ve been a lot of manatee deaths. It’s just really polluted with a harmful algal bloom. It looks like guacamole sometimes. So that’s why I went to Florida, was that we could do it county by county. It’s a good question.
Host Raj Daniels 09:12
And the reason I asked that was because last night I was doing some research for this conversation. And my youngest daughter was looking over my shoulder, and I was watching the video where you were speaking about the dolphins that were being killed by the bloom.
Dr. Rob Moir 09:26
Yeah, it’s really sad. So the dolphins are dying from the skin-eating fungal infection and also by other diseases. So it’s not like the bloom itself is killing them, but it’s making conditions that are aggravating and worsening the situation and it’s something that’s so easy to in terms of putting fertilizer down elsewhere. Dogs have gone into harmful algal blooms and died from exposure to it. So it is a serious problem.
Host Raj Daniels 09:57
So if I’m understanding this correctly, and please do correct me If I’m wrong, this is all due to mostly individuals putting fertilizer on the grass.
Dr. Rob Moir 10:05
No in Florida, it’s mostly due to all the nutrients that have settled into something like black mayonnaise at the bottom of Okeechobee Lake in the middle of Florida. And when there’s a lot of water in there, they release this black sludge into Indian River Lagoon, and also into the Gulf of Mexico on the other side. And so that is 90% of what’s feeding the harmful algal blooms. But there’s no need to be putting fertilizer on it. So why put straws on the camel’s back when it’s about to be broken anyway?
Host Raj Daniels 10:38
Dr. Rob Moir 10:39
And in Boston Harbor, it’s the other way around. In Boston Harbor we had menhaden, small fish, being chased by—1000s of menhaden were chased—by the striped bass up into the Mystic River. And right below the Amelia Earhart Dam, they swam into an ocean dead zone, and they all rolled up dead onshore there. And there, the septic and sewage are being treated by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, and the agriculture is being managed—what little there is, is being managed—by the conservation commissioners. They put up hay bales and keep them from seeping into the water. So here in the Mystic River Watershed in Boston, what you’re putting on your lawn is playing a bigger role than it is on Cape Cod or some other places.
Host Raj Daniels 11:21
Very interesting. So let’s go back to Ocean River Institute for a minute. Can you tell us how the organization started?
Dr. Rob Moir 11:28
Yes, I was contracted by a bunch of organizations to gather people in that residence of Massachusetts to support an ocean planning bill. And so these three organizations—Conservation Law Foundation, Mass Audubon, and the Ocean Conservancy—worked with the politicians who were writing the law, and I was to get everyone to support the bill. So that’s when we started, you know, with a petition. Sign the petition and start commenting. So I was the first one to get people to write about it. And I also set up evening gatherings with different community groups to talk about the bill and also support their work. And eventually, I rented the statehouse. That was the clincher when they said, “Yeah, rent the statehouse and bill us for it.” And I said, “Okay, I’ll be my own nonprofit. And we can do that.” And so we rented the house, and they said, “Oh, yeah, bring in all these environmental groups to tell the politicians about why they should be ocean planning.” Now, if you’re the Marine Biological Laboratory, for example, are you going to want to leave the ocean to go talk to a politician? Capitol Hill, the Beacon Hill? I don’t think so. So I ended up having a budget. So I could have Legal Sea Foods serve raw oysters and clam chowder. And then they went to the organizations and said, “You have people who know your organization working in Boston. Could they come over and man your table?” And that way, we got 47 tables to do that. And then Leon Panetta came and talked about how his grandfather was in the Cannery Row fisheries when the sardine fishery crashed. And so he talked about the importance of ocean planning. We had these student volunteers from a high school running around outside getting petitions. And they actually saw Cameron Diaz, the movie actress running down the street. And so they ran her down and got her to sign it and stuff. So we made the whole process a fun one.
Host Raj Daniels 13:24
So can you share what this organizing principle of—I’m going to pronounce it—subsidiarity is?
Dr. Rob Moir 13:31
Yes, subsidiarity is an old term that developed at the same time as federalism. And basically, federalism was top-down management or governance. And subsidiarity was to respect the smallest unit, and then help them as they need it. The highest-trained group of the Roman legion was called the subsidiary, and they were ready. So when there was a break in the front line, they would step in and close the break and bring the expertise to battle off that particular tough part. And then they would step away and leave the frontline back in business. Environmental subsidiarity means, we’ve got all these clams out there. And then the town will have a clam warden, but the town doesn’t have the ability to test the clams for cleanliness. And so the state is the next level up. They test the clams and decide whether they’re edible. And if they’re not, they close down that stuff. I saw this happening in Alaska, where these big ocean groups would go up there to save the beluga whale. They’d organize the locals and as soon as they got their law passed, they would just leave. And it’s better to organize the locals as I did starting Salem Sound Coastwatch, to manage their area and know how to operate it. And so that was another reason for starting the Ocean River Institute: these small organizations are living hand to mouth. And suddenly they have a budget snafu or the equipment breaks. We can step in and help them through that period and then step away because they have the capacity to continue on without us. We’re not an empire. And oddly enough, the first group that needed that help was the big Mass Audubon because they had a shorebird program. The shorebird person became the shorebird person for the state of California. And she left in January, and they decided they’d bring in their new employee in June to write the grant reports. But meanwhile, the birds had to be managed for the breeding seasons. Ocean Rivers got to step in and help coordinate the volunteers and keep that program.
Host Raj Daniels 15:52
Now, not directly, but it reminds me of the Japanese manufacturing principle. Essentially, in Japanese manufacturing, if you’re familiar with it, the person closest to the line has the authority to stop the line at any time, if he or she sees there need to be changes made. And in business, there’s often a saying about talking to the person closest to the problem. So it sounds very similar to that.
Dr. Rob Moir 16:15
It totally is that because they know what’s going on. Exactly. And they are, they’re bought in. They’re the people on the ground. And we had this problem with environmental management, where the scientists would come in and say, you know, this happens, for this reason, so you must do this. And then they leave, and the manager keeps doing the same thing over and over. And the system changes and evolves. And so the animals start going rare or something. They come back, and they shoot the manager, instead of looking at the system and being able to adapt to it. So it’s better to be asking the manager, “What do you see today?” It’s called adaptive management. You know, like you’re talking about the front line there.
Host Raj Daniels 16:53
And I see that you’ve coined the term “ocean stewardship places.”
Dr. Rob Moir 16:57
Yes. We’re trying to look at areas that communities are taking care of and give them recognition for it.
Host Raj Daniels 17:05
I like that idea. Again, putting people close to the problem.
Dr. Rob Moir 17:08
Well, yeah, and the answer is the solution. You get all these politicians who are saying, “What’s the number one problem?” And then they say, “I have fixed the number one problem. Elect me,” and it’s like, no. It’s like saying, you’ve got five kids. Who’s your favorite kid? No. You got to take care of all of them, and you’ve got to just do stewardship. You know, just don’t pollute when it comes to the environment. It isn’t a question of what’s the worst pollutant. Don’t pollute, guys.
Host Raj Daniels 17:32
Speaking of stewardship: recently, you launched a natural lawns for healthy soils competition. Can you share what that is?
Dr. Rob Moir 17:40
Yes. So we had this problem of if they would not fertilize the lawns, it—at first when I was looking at the harmful algal blooms, it was like, “Okay, just don’t fertilize in the summertime because that’s when the waters the warmest and the algae’s blooming is. And then in Falmouth, Massachusetts, which is on the south coast of Cape Cod, there was this little pond. They found 16 striped bass dead on the shore that had chased fish in there. And they blamed the lawns stretching down to the waterfront. And so they passed an ordinance saying, “Don’t fertilize your lawns, except us some 100% slow release in the spring or fall.” And that was a real eye-opener. A, they were upset because striped bass are good game fish, and they’d hate to see them die. But for the lobstermen, there was so much blooming algae in Vineyard Sound that they had to carry a boiling vat of water in the back of the boat. They would dump their lobster pots into that to rid the weed, to make it not so heavy, as the lines would break when they were trapping lobsters. So they were all geared up for this. And then the industry came in and said—the fertilizer industry said, “Oh no. Towns don’t know the science of lawn care the way the state does.” Although we wrote to the attorney general office, she had a rule that the state has some better science than a town does. And so I struck down the law, and they said, “If you don’t fertilize frequently, your lawn will die.” Well fortunately Falmouth’s state Senator was Therese Murray, who was the President of the Senate. And so she put the Falmouth bylaw into the state budget bill and passed it. So Falmouth, for the last seven or eight years, has not been fertilizing their lawns. And they’re just as green as everyone else. But we can’t get any other town to follow suit. Because of this ruling, the towns don’t know this stuff. The town of Harvard, Massachusetts, increased the setback from the waterways and where you could spread fertilizer, from some—I think it was 25 feet to 100 feet—and they took it through town meeting and they’re all set to go. And then the state came in and said, “No, you can’t pass that rule because you don’t know lawncare the way we do.” So instead, we have to do a voluntary program. And the other aspect is that it turns out when you do put the fertilizer on top, the grass greens up quickly because the roots are sprawled on the surface and are very thirsty, and they’re holding the other plants away from each other. So there are these sun still spots in between that can bake and dry, and it’s only permeable by weeds. And the flimsy plants are easy to be chewed on. So the industry says, “Oh, let us overseed,” which means they’ll put more seed in and they’ll put herbicides and stuff. So if you don’t put the fertilizer on, instead, the grassroots go down into the soil and develop symbiotic relationships with the fungi and the bacteria so that the bacteria fix the nitrogen and send it along its way through the mycorrhizal roots to feed the grass. I mean, grass has been growing great for millenniums, you know. And you know, like the prairies and stuff. And salt marshes. So, a lawn that’s not fertilized can build an inch of soil in a year by pushing out of the root tips liquid carbon, in the form of carbohydrates. And to do that, to put out a ton of carbohydrates through photosynthesis, the grass plants are pulling four tons of carbon dioxide out of the air. So if we could just turn our lawns into natural lawns, we would dramatically increase the drawdown of CO2 out of the atmosphere and also build more soil, which then holds more water. So four inches of healthy soil will hold seven inches of rainwater. And so this is protecting our homes from extreme weather events. So there’s a whole kind of roundabout system. But people are told that lawns are bad. They blame the grass for polluting, and for needing lots of water, when it’s actually the fertilizer we spread that causes the thirstiness and is the pollution. So it’s not the lawn’s fault, but it’s a huge sea change for people’s way of thinking. A lot of environmental groups say, “Pull up your lawns and put in, you know, plants and gardens and stuff.” However, lawns take the trampling on and when you step on the grass, it signals through the mycorrhizal root system that it needs more nutrients and other elements. And it increases photosynthesis when it’s been disturbed or when it’s fighting something off. So by walking on the grass, you’re helping to clean up the air.
Host Raj Daniels 22:33
So is this competition a team effort? And is there a winning besides the obvious benefits to the environment?
Dr. Rob Moir 22:38
Yeah. So I want to introduce you to my summer interns, and Susanna Buckley is from Wellesley, Massachusetts, and I was really thrilled why Suzanna came on board. I think I stole your thunder Susanna about some of the fertilizer, but maybe you can add about some of the problems with fertilizer too.
Host Raj Daniels 23:01
Okay, Rob, thank you for that. I’d like to introduce Susanna Buckley to the show. Susanna, can you give the audience an overview of your role with the organization and the lawn care competition? Yeah, so
Susanna Buckley 23:12
Hi, I’m Susanna Buckley. I’m an intern with Rob this summer at the Ocean River Institute. And I’m focusing on the natural lawn care for healthy soils competition this summer and getting people to sign the pledge to stop fertilizing their lawns.
Host Raj Daniels 23:26
And I was asking, Rob, is there a winning? Is there a team effort? How does this work?
Susanna Buckley 23:31
There will be a winner eventually at the end. We’re pitting towns against towns, watersheds against watersheds, and then organizations against organizations. And so for example, any organization or group with environmental ties could create a team and compete. But we’re also calculating the percentage of participants per town. So technically, there could be a winner for every town, every watershed, and then an environmental group that gets the most pledges as well.
Host Raj Daniels 24:00
And when is the competition over?
Susanna Buckley 24:02
We don’t have an exact date for when it will be over. We’re expecting it to continue in the fall. The main goal is to more so get as many people to pledge as we can, rather than determine a winner as soon as possible.
Host Raj Daniels 24:14
It makes sense, and I appreciate you sharing that. Welcome back, Rob. I appreciate Suzanna sharing that.
Dr. Rob Moir 24:19
What I’d like to do is introduce Adibah.
Host Raj Daniels 24:22
Adibah, welcome to the show. Can you share your role in the organization and the competition?
Adibah Shaikh 24:29
My name is Adibah Shaikh, from Lincoln, Massachusetts. I am leading different towns and different watersheds—Susanna, Jacqueline, and I all have different watersheds. And town-wise. I am from Lincoln. So there is a Lincoln Sudbury team competing with other towns that are nearby, like Concord and Carlisle, joined as a team, and Acton and Boxborough joined as a team. We all have about 8000 households with each in combined towns. So it works out very nicely in terms of calculating who’s ahead and just getting different groups involved and coordinating with the different towns to get more momentum for the competition.
Host Raj Daniels 25:18
Thank you so much for sharing that. Jacklyn, can you please give a brief introduction and your role with the organization?
Jacklyn Norris 25:22
Yeah, definitely. So I’m Jacklyn. I’m also interning at the Ocean River Institute this summer with Rob. And like Adibah, and Susanna said, I am working to kind of play as a team captain of some watersheds, some towns, and some organizations. And my role is going to facilitate the organizations and towns in generating pledges and just really help foster a movement of pledging not to spread, which is our ultimate goal.
Host Raj Daniels 25:53
Thank you so much, Rob, I appreciate the introduction to the interns and their roles playing with the organization. I want to step back to you now. The crux of our conversation is the why behind what you do. You kind of mentioned your love of the water as a child with Doodlebug. But it’s been a long ride. Why? What keeps you going? What motivates you?
Dr. Rob Moir 26:13
Well, two motivations. One is the love of sailing. It’s fun bidding against the wind. Each one is an interesting challenge and how you find solutions where it’s easy for people to do. So the lawncare natural lawns for healthy soils campaign. Here’s the situation, where by not spending money on lawn care, you’re doing good. And the other part that keeps you really going is the relationships, starting with the relationships of being able to have student interns. I meant to have them say where they went to school. But you know, Susanna Buckley is at Connecticut College, and Jackie Norris is at Bridgewater State University, and Adibah is up at UMass and Lowell. And so both UMass Lowell and Bridgewater State have university teams that work on vital action teams. And so it’s really fun to get in some of that energy. And then on the flip side, all the decision-makers I’m working with, I have relationships with. So when I go to talk to senators and congressmen in Washington, I’ll meet with the environmental legislative aide. And as a former science teacher, that’s like a parent-teacher conference where I’m learning the legislative style of the legislator. What are his concerns? And also what the constituencies are into. And then I want the legislative aide to look good to his or her boss. And so that’s really where we do the shop talk. And then I can talk to the legislator on a more social level because the nuts and bolts will be done in conference when I’m not there. And by staying on topic. So years ago, Scott Brown was a Republican senator from Massachusetts, and I went down to the senator and said, “Would you let the EPA regulate?” And he goes, “Oh, no, we can’t do that. Because the EPA caused the Gulf oil spill.” And so I just said, “Okay, how’s your family?” And this enables me to come back six months later and say, “Senator, would you support an ocean environmental trust fund that’s very much like the Massachusetts environmental trust fund,” that he knows that I know that he’s supported as a state senator. And again, he can’t say yes or no. He has to check upstairs. But he can then pivot and say, “Rob, I’m really proud of my daughter who works for the animal humane society.” So I’m known around Washington and I become an access point for the big environmental groups like NRDC and EDF to have access to these people because they know where they’re coming from. The relationships are very rewarding. And, you know, I’ve been doing this—I was in high school for Earth Day—these things take time. And it’s very pleasing how far we’ve come. I never thought that I’d see so much wildlife that we have around us, you know, I live in the most densely settled urban area of the Northeast called Somerville municipality. And we have a pair of Cooper’s hawks out there and bald eagles coming up the Merrimack River. It’s just phenomenal. So it’s very rewarding work.
Host Raj Daniels 29:27
So speaking about how far you’ve come, what’s the most valuable lesson that you would say you’ve learned about yourself on your journey?
Dr. Rob Moir 29:35
Uh, listen. Listen, observe, and look for areas—and also, you kind of break the problem down so that it’s into manageable—so you can find bits that are doable and not get hung up on the big stuff. But I’m working on getting people to save the environment and they say, “Well, I don’t know what to do.” So I recommend they talk to a kid because they’re closest to the ground and they see what’s going on.
Host Raj Daniels 29:58
Like that. Listen. And the other part sounds like systems thinking,
Dr. Rob Moir 30:01
It’s very much systems thinking. And that’s sort of where I got the name Ocean River was from Rachel Carson and The Sea Around Us. At the end of the book, she talks about how it’s Oceanus, the ever-flowing ecosystems, or something. And so it’s, to me, it’s not about defining where the world of the salmon or the otter ends and begins, but rather how everything all is interconnected together. So we just have to be thinking systemically and holistically because if we deconstruct stuff, it isn’t as simple as clockwork. These are living systems. Cells organize into organs and organs organize into bodies and bodies organize into populations and populations organize into communities, and communities and ecosystems. And so there’s this unfolding complexity of organization. And the more we’re organized, the more of us there can be. And the more it’s all interconnected, helping each other survive. So it’s really exciting work.
Host Raj Daniels 30:59
I like the idea of helping each other. You’ve been with Ocean River, if my math serves me correctly, 14 years or so? What are you most proud of?
Dr. Rob Moir 31:08
Susanna, Jackie, and Adibah.
Host Raj Daniels 31:11
What a great answer. Rob, what a great answer. Okay, so let’s jump into the future. It’s 2030. What does the future hold for Ocean River Institute? What kind of headlines Would you like to see written about the organization?
Dr. Rob Moir 31:23
Yeah, more wildlife saved, cleaner environment, more carbon captured. Right now it’s, you know, “Can we pass the ocean-based climate solutions bill?” And if you’d like to help us with that, please go to www.oceanriver.org. And when you go to that homepage, there, you’ll see there are six different campaigns there. And that’s one of them. Pick whichever one—we’d love to have you help with any one, you’re a hero. And the more the better. You know, right now we’re putting a lot into this natural lawns for healthy soils campaign. That’s a real kind of sea change to get people to understand to value lawns when they’re natural, and not shame people for having lawns. But in Massachusetts, we have over 2000 square miles of lawns, a residential lawn. So if we could turn those into drawing carbon dioxide out of the air, and increasing our water retention, and restoring local water cycles, that would be enormous. And then, if other areas could follow suit and treat their lawns more naturally. Grass is just so amazing, the way you can build soil and capture carbon.
Host Raj Daniels 32:31
And I will definitely put a link to the website in the show notes. My last question, then you kind of said something earlier about listening and relationship. So I’m going to take that as advice too. But this could be professional or personal. What if you could share some advice or words of wisdom with the audience? What would it be?
Dr. Rob Moir 32:48
Oh, well, that’s my mantra is that, you know, originally on Earth Day, we were saying to think globally, act locally. So I say and think locally, act locally. And by acting locally, we make a global difference. So it’s really important that you listen, think about it, and keep it local.
Host Raj Daniels 33:08
I love the idea of keeping it local. I’ve also heard that the most important politics is local politics, too.
Dr. Rob Moir 33:13
Yeah, and this is why the people writing comments are so effective because the decision-maker knows that comment Person A has thought about it, and has friends, family, religious groups, those are the tip of an iceberg for different people. And our politicians never hear from their constituents except for the top three issues. And so they are so thrilled to get feedback to hear that ways to serve.
Host Raj Daniels 33:38
Rob, Adibah, Jacklyn, Susanna, thank you for your time today. And I look forward to catching up with you again soon.
Dr. Rob Moir 33:45
Well, thank you. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to talk with you and thank you.
Host Raj Daniels 33:50
Before we go, I’m excited to share that we’ve launched the Bigger Than Us comic strip, The Adventures of Mira and Nexi.
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