If our current administration’s head-in-the-sand approach to climate change leaves you with a sinking feeling, I’ve got just the book to buoy you. Paul Hawken’s Drawdown declares its wildly ambitious agenda right up front in all caps: “THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE PLAN EVER PROPOSED TO REVERSE GLOBAL WARMING.”
Wait, what?!!! Reverse global warming? Is that even a thing? It could be, if enough of us embrace the proven solutions and promising innovations that Hawken and his coalition of researchers and scientists document in Drawdown.
Hawken finds the notion that we can only reduce the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, rather than actually reverse them, simply unacceptable. If you’re driving your car off a cliff, he asks, what good is it to do so at a slower speed?
But aren’t we struggling just to mitigate and adapt to all the unwelcome changes that global warming has already unleashed? This week’s high temperature highlights: the planes in Phoenix unable to depart because of extreme heat; the deadliest wildfire in Portugal’s history, which was apparently started by a phenomenon called a ‘dry thunderstorm,’ which occurs in extreme heat; the toxic air alert issued in London in the wake of soaring temperatures that brought dangerously high ozone levels to much of England and Wales.
And the Gulf Coast is bracing for tropical storm Cindy, set to kick off an early start to a hurricane season that forecasters are warning could be unusually severe.
Plus, there’s this week’s installment of Swamped!, the unreality show we can’t turn off, starring the fossil fuel industry’s dutiful deniers: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s apparent attempt to purge the EPA’s advisory board of pesky scientists who want to, you know, protect the environment; Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s climate denial declaration that ‘the primary control knob’ turning up the heat “is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in,’ even as he lays the groundwork to slash funding for renewable energy programs and promotes nuclear power as a wiser allocation of resources.
Alarmed? You’re not alone. Millions of people all over the world share your concerns. Hawken believes that together, we have the means to reduce and potentially even reverse global warming, even if our President and his policy advisors aren’t on board. Drawdown is a campaign to harness that energy and channel it into a movement that will flow right past the stone-faced stonewallers. Who knows, as this current gains strength, it may even erode their resistance. But either way, the naysayers can’t stop the forces of nature and her allies. (Tweet this)
Drawdown leapt onto the New York Times top ten bestseller list in its first week of release, validating Hawken’s belief that a positive, idealistic approach to this potentially overwhelming crisis is the best way to address it. He characterizes global warming not “as an inevitability, but as an invitation to build, innovate, and effect change.”
The Project Drawdown campaign invites you to join this global community of passionate, visionary individuals who’ve got an astonishing range of ideas on how we can tackle our climate crisis, no matter where we live or who governs us. Even if you just leaf (or scroll) casually through the list of amazing breakthroughs that Hawken and his Drawdown colleagues have so painstakingly compiled and ranked according to their potential effectiveness, you can’t help being inspired and encouraged by all these ‘silver bb’s.’ It makes for a surprisingly fun and fascinating read.
Lego (yes, the toy company) is doing wind power in Liverpool? The French have invented photovoltaic pavement? More universal solutions we can all adopt include limiting food waste and embracing a plant-based diet, which Drawdown ranks as the 3rd and 4th most powerful strategies to reduce our emissions. Drawdown provides an extensive list of agriculture-related climate change solutions being developed or already in use all over the world that we can encourage through our food choices.
One of the most unexpected conclusions of the Drawdown researchers was that the empowerment of women and girls through family planning and education rank as the 6th and 7th most effective solutions.
Why is this? In developing nations in particular, women are the “stewards & managers of food, soil, trees, and water.” How we utilize these resources plays an integral role in determining whether we are contributing to, or reducing, our carbon footprint. As Drawdown notes, “the barriers are real, but so are the solutions.”
Closer to home, women have experienced a level of attempted disenfranchisement under the new administration that is deeply disconcerting. Drawdown’s findings only add an additional incentive to be vigilant on behalf of women and girls everywhere.
I apologize to Hawken for comparing Drawdown’s list of solutions to silver bb’s. Hawken is explicitly anti-hawkish; he’d rather avoid all ammo metaphors, including, presumably, the proverbial, eternally elusive ‘silver bullet’ that so many people seem to be waiting for as the mercury and the oceans rise.
Hawken thinks framing these challenges as a battle does nothing to engage people who aren’t already on board, and it may even alienate potential allies. How do we enlist more conservatives to help us move forward and transcend turbulence on this front? (I’m using the term ‘front’ as in ‘weather front,’ not ‘battlefront.’)
Drawdown points out that the Latin root of “conserve” means “to keep together.” A true conservative, then, would presumably want to keep this planet we all share from being torn apart by greed, ignorance or fear. Or rendered uninhabitable, as it may be in a few generations if we don’t take action now.
In the book’s introduction, Tom Steyer, the philanthropist and founder of NextGen Climate, describes Project Drawdown as “a road map with a moral compass.” It’s hard to know where this country is headed, but I’d love to see Drawdown steer millions more of us onto Hawken’s hopeful highway. Traffic jam? Bring it on! We could get out of our cars and dance, a la La La land. Doesn’t that beat feeling defeated?