When his six children were growing up, the President and CEO of Earth PBC, Andrew Dudley, set out as a concerned parent to become a light-hearted environmental activist to bring attention to the global challenge of deforestation and the impact it was having on our planet’s forests, a key frontline defense against climate change.
His first big publicity stunt was in 2012, when he snuck onto the 18th green of the Olympic Club in San Francisco, just as Webb Simpson was receiving his trophy for winning the 112th US Open. Wearing his trademark Union Jack Mohawk hat, Andrew, or Jungle Bird as he is known, jumped out in front of the camera and let out a few “OOWWAA” birdcalls, to alert the world to stop deforestation before being hauled away by Mike Davis, the President of the USGA.
Another stunt was to run around the bases during the ninth inning of a New York Mets vs. Nationals baseball game in Washington, D.C. Whisked away when he arrived at home plate, he was freed following 18 hours in jail after the judge decided he was a harmless activist.
The purpose of all this was just to get attention for his cause. And he got it. Making good use of his notoriety, Andrew was on Jimmy Kimmel Live, made a cameo appearance on the Jay Leno Show, and Bob Costas acknowledged him during an interview with Conan O’Brien. In this way, he began to bring focus on the devastating loss of forests around the world.
Both he and Kirsten, his business partner and wife, grew up in Liverpool, England. Their four boys and two girls range from 17 to 25-years-old. Although they were already conservationists, it was a New York Times article in 2013 that made them decide to go all out to convince the world of the deforestation danger. “It got to the point where we needed to do something,” Andrew says. So, they co-founded Earth PBC, a public benefit corporation, working to develop strategic partnerships and technology for the protection of our forests and oceans.
In 2001, Andrew discovered Marin County while on a trip to San Francisco, and when he and his family received visas in 2015 they took the leap and moved to East Corte Madera. Their younger children went to Del Mar Middle School and Redwood High School.
Since founding Earth, Andrew has travelled throughout the equatorial tropics, working with such groups as indigenous communities in Colombia and artisanal fishing communities in the Philippines. “By using our technology, communities can undertake biodiversity monitoring of their local forest or report illegal fishing boats that enter their community waters and use dynamite, cyanide and dragnets to fish with,” he says.
One of his most memorable moments was escaping from an illegal fishing boat in the South China Sea after being threatened with a gun.
“When you see reports that every single day, we’re losing one football pitch worth of forest every second, which is an area the size of New York City, you realize that we’re not just accelerating greenhouse gas emissions and the climate crisis, but also increasing human exposure to wildlife’s infectious diseases and becoming unwitting hosts to pathogens for which we have little or no defense.
With 2020 marking the fifty-year anniversary of Earth Day, Andrew says there’s an important opportunity for us to reflect and put the protection of our natural environment at the forefront of the choices we make each day.
Since agriculture is a primary driver of global deforestation, we need to vote with our dollars and only buy products that have been sourced responsibly and sustainably. From our morning coffee to our favorite shampoo and chocolate, and even the tires on our cars, the sourcing of the underlying commodities like coffee, palm oil, cocoa and latex can have a significant impact on the long-term health of our planet’s forests.
Looking ahead, Andrew is excited by the emergence of the nascent climate technology space and how proactive social impact investing can help turn the tide on environmental crime and the unsustainable degradation of our natural environment which, to date, has been seen as a distant problem in a distant land.
This is especially important when we consider that since our climate doesn’t recognize international borders, what happens in these distant forests and oceans is having a direct impact on our wellbeing and quality of life in Marin.
Earth’s mission is to:
- Work on the frontline of conservation to help maintain healthy forests and oceans as a key frontline defense against climate change.
- Utilize the latest in smartphone and satellite-based technology, to support indigenous communities, smallholder farmers and artisanal fisher folk throughout the equatorial tropics.
- Help protect these important biologically diverse ecosystems for future generations.
They operate within four guiding principals:
- Earth - We’re 100-percent about the planet.
- People - We prioritize those people working on the frontlines of conservation.
- Data - Our customers’ data is owned and controlled by them.
- Cost - Conservation technology shouldn’t cost the Earth.
Currently, Earth PBC is headquartered in San Francisco, but Andrew’s intention is to have the corporation based in Tiburon by next year.