by Wendy Gabriel
Editors Note: I was thrilled to first interview Adam Shake in March of 2009. I felt it would be great to catch up with him again since there have been a lot of exciting changes going on in his world.
Adam Shake is a Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Simple Earth Media and founded Twilight Earth and Eco Tech Daily. He is an environmental writer, advocate, entrepreneur, speaker and Washington DC based activist. In addition to many of his accomplishments, he is most proud of having risked arrest at dirty coal powered power plants and the work he has done to raise money for homeless kitchens and environmental non-profits. He spent over a decade in the U.S. Army and has worked with Homeland Security and the Defense Industry. When not working on Pennsylvania Avenue, he can be found in the woods with his Wife and Rhodesian Ridgeback, kayaking, sailing or on the Appalachian Trail. Adam is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and is an active participant in a number of environmental and social media clubs and organizations.
There have been a lot of exciting changes for you during the past few months including the creation of the online media company, Simple Earth Media. What makes Simple Earth Media different from other environmental blog networks?
That’s a great question. I think it’s important to let people know the differences between a website and a network. There are some really great environmental websites out there like Mother Nature Network, Treehugger and Planet Green. These are single sites that put out a huge amount of original content on a day to day basis. Then there are Environmental “Networks.” Networks have a number of websites under one company.” Simple Earth Media is one of those.
I think the biggest (and best) difference between us and other networks is that each one of our websites started out as a strong and popular site, with its own loyal readers, community members and social media followers, before joining the network. Put simply, we didn’t just create a bunch of new websites, or take some start-up sites and put them together. We also didn’t take a huge infusion of cash and start this company up from scratch. Simple Earth Media, and all of its sites were created organically.
Where other websites have one social media identity, we have 6 facebook pages, 6 twitter accounts, a podcast site that interviews everyone from environmental writers, CEO’s of sustainably conscious companies and environmental hero’s like the Cousteau’s and Ed Begley Jr.. and a social media presence that spans the globe. This means that as a group we are reaching out to hundreds of thousands of people across the Internet. That’s why our tagline is “New Media Making a Difference.”
You are very passionate about the Climate Change debate especially as it relates to coal energy. What would you tell people who still believe Clean Coal is a possibility?
It’s important to understand that “Clean Coal” is not a thing, it’s a concept. It’s not something that you can hold in your hand. What it really is, is a marketing ploy paid for by Big Coal. Back in the 1940’s and 50’s, there were people who went on record saying that everything from Asbestos to Cigarettes were actually good for you. These people were paid by the Asbestos and Cigarette lobbies. We’ve come a long way since then, but “Clean Coal” is only more of the same.
What the term Clean Coal really means, is that Big Coal wants to take the CO2 that comes out the top of the power plant stacks, and bury it in the ground instead. This sounds good in theory, until you realize what it takes to do that. First, it takes 3 times as much coal to make this happen, for the same amount of electricity. You see, it’s coal that would power this process. This means that Big Coal orders would go up 300 percent.
Not only does this mean that the average consumer could end up having their utility bills possibly triple, but there would be three times the environmental devastation. The fact is, all the easy coal has been taken. I mean, we wouldn’t be ripping the tops off of mountains and dumping the fill in valley streams and rivers, if there were easy and available seems of coal running near the surface like there were 40 years ago.
Clean Coal is a sham, and does nothing but hurt the consumer, hurt the environment, and make coal companies even richer.
Sean Daily recently did a wonderful interview with you on Green Talk Radio. During the interview you mentioned that you were a people hugger not a treehugger. Can you explain that a little?
I recently heard a parent say “My kids keep telling me that I should do more to save the environment. I tell them that when they are working, they can save the environment.” My response to him was “Instead of doing the right thing for the environment, how about doing the right thing for your kids?”
We did a disservice to ourselves until about a decade ago. For a long time, environmentalism was more about saving animals and plants than it was about saving people. The common consensus was that “Those treehuggers care more about the spotted owl than they do about people.” It hit its head about 10 years ago when “Treehuggers” chained themselves to trees to keep the loggers from chopping them down and ruining the habitat of the owls.”
Since then though, more and more of us are saying that environmentalism is about saving ourselves more than it is about saving the environment. We need clean air, water and soil to survive. By protecting those things, we protect ourselves.
When you look ahead at where we are headed, especially in the area of Climate Change, what gives you the most hope for our future?
David Suzuki, the famous Canadian environmentalist recently berated himself, saying “I’m a complete failure. I’ve been fighting the fight for over 30 years, I’ve started a foundation, I’ve been on the radio and television for over 30 years, and we are in worse shape now than when I started.”
I watched David say this during an interview, and I was torn between getting choked up and wanting to scream at him “We may be worse off now than 30 years ago, but how much MORE worse off would we be if you had not done what you did?!”
I look at history and I see people like Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, each of them by themselves didn’t solve our problems of environment desecration and over consumption, but together, they started the movement. Now we have people like Cousteau’s, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCapro, Ed Bagely Jr, and Mariel Hemingway all using their star power to further sustainability. There are thousands of people just like my business partner Sean and I. There are writers (just like you), journalists, owners of businesses and people who make it their life’s work to protect their children and children’s children. There are billions of people who are starting to realize that it’s not about the name on the outside of your shopping bag or purse, but about whats in it. It’s not about the size of your car, but about how far it can get you on the least amount of gas. This is what gives me hope. Billions of us working together, to bring positive change to a planet in peril.