Aug 11, 2021
I’ve been a choir boy and a lawyer, a construction labourer and house designer, a recidivist husband and a single time father. But it was another state in life that brought me notoriety – and wealth – a prisoner. At 17 in 1969, I was arrested for selling hash and LSD to cops dressed up like hippies. And forty years later, I was arrested again for co-founding and operating a business that, the year I was arrested, was tracking to transfer over $14billion dollars, mostly American, between online gamblers and internet bookies and casinos.
For the first notorious experience, I was immersed in a world-changing culture, on the cusp between respecting all authority, all elders on the one hand, and only respecting who we thought deserved it on the other, between taking things for granted and finding out for oneself. We had sock hopped to the Beach Boys and wound up raging around the fire to “Ooh a storm is threatening my very life today” showing our elders they had a new batch of young to respect.
For the second, I was sinking dishearteningly in meaningless legal files, struggling to get to some peaceful shore and to get back to net-worth zero, when the material pearly gates busted wide open for me. When we went public, I owned about a quarter of a company whose market capital went up to $2 billion. I was buying private jets and Malibu Beach houses without having to check my balance. I would get up in the morning, decide to fly to Ireland in my jet to see my daughter, and was flying through the aurora borealis over Iceland by nightfall.
I was introduced to David Suzuki and the rapidly mounting climate emergency by my friend Jim Hoggan, and to His Holiness the Dalai Lama by my friend Victor Chan.
Jim and I co-founded the DeSmog group of blogs, “Cleaning up the PR pollution that clouds climate science.” I remain a committee member of the David Suzuki Foundation and a founding director of the David Suzuki Institute.
I was founding funder of the Dalai Lama centre for Peace And Education in Vancouver. And I decided to devote the remainder of my time here on Earth to encouraging environmental awareness, consciousness generally, and to the appreciation of the boundless miracle that has befallen all of us humans but, that toward which, so few of us barely even glance while immersed in our “world” of acquisition for the main purpose of self-indulgent leisure.