Drawdown, The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reduce Global Warming, brilliantly edited by Paul Hawken, is just what we need. Its a straight forward narrative providing over 100 solutions to global warming. Simply reducing carbon emissions below an arbitrary percentage, from a randomly selected base year, is not enough to stem the impacts of anthropogenic climate change.
Drawdown is the collective work of a qualified and diverse group of researchers from around the world. They were tasked to identify, research, and model the 100 most substantive, existing solutions to address climate change.
The title of the book is derived from an atmospheric term. According to Paul Hawken, “drawdown is that point in time at which greenhouse gases peak and begin to decline on a year-to-year basis.” Hawken’s goal of the Drawdown project was to identify, measure, and model substantive solutions to determine how much we could accomplish within three decades.
Much of the systems, knowledge and technology we need to deploy to create a meaningful drawdown of GHG (greenhouse gases) already exists. Yet, a blueprint to get them to work in unison did not. Until now. Drawdown provides such a roadmap using systems thinking. Hawken sets forth in Drawdown that “we found a plan, a blueprint that already exists in the world in the form of humanity’s collective wisdom, made manifest in applied, hand-on practices and technologies that are commonly available, economically viable and scientifically valid.”
In fact-filled, one-to-three page vignettes, Drawdown offers and ranks its solutions – most feasible today – and projects the potential impact (in gigatons) of reduced CO2 as well as global implementation costs and potential financial savings. Solutions are organized into seven sectors – Buildings and Cities, Energy, Food, Land Use, Materials, Transport and Women and Girls. The solutions presented range from afforestation, electric vehicles and food waste reduction to recycled paper, regenerative agriculture and refrigeration management.
Drawdown is a must read for business, NGO and government leaders regardless of their organization’s sustainability efforts or positioning on climate change. Each solution is described in concise, superb prose that will inspire practical application for any organization interested in reducing its impact on climate change.
What Drawdown makes clear is that no government, NGO, international conglomerate or philanthropist can solve climate change alone. It is going to require an all-of-the-above strategy with worldwide collaboration. Using Drawdown as a playbook, we have an opportunity, as Hawken states, “…to see global warming not as an inevitability but as an invitation to build, innovate, and effect change, a pathway that awakens creativity, compassion, and genius.”
I encourage you to buy a copy of Drawdown, read it and implement relevant suggested solutions. My hope is that, like me, you’ll come away with a sense of optimism and promise dispelling thoughts of doom that we can’t solve the climate crisis.
About Paul Hawken
Paul Hawken has written seven books published in over 50 countries in 29 languages including four national bestsellers, The Next Economy, Growing a Business, and The Ecology of Commerce, and Blessed Unrest. Natural Capitalism, co-authored with Amory Lovins, was read by several heads of state including Bill Clinton who called it one of the five most important books in the world. He has appeared on numerous media including the Today Show, Larry King, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, and been profiled in articles including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Washington Post, Business Week, and Esquire.
His writings have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Resurgence, New Statesman, Inc, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, Utne Reader, Orion, and other publications. He founded several companies including the first food company in the U.S. that relied solely on sustainable agricultural methods. He has served on the board of several environmental organizations including Point Foundation (publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogs), Center for Plant Conservation, Trust for Public Land, and National Audubon Society.
Want to Read More by Paul Hawken
- The Next Economy (Ballantine 1983)
- Growing a Business (Simon and Schuster 1987)
- The Ecology of Commerce (HarperCollins 1993)
- Blessed Unrest (Viking, 2007)
- Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Little Brown, September 1999)
- Carbon, The Business of Life, to be published by Penguin Random House in 2018.