Ominous images of global warming are everywhere, as are opportunities to mitigate our personal impact on the planet. But until recently, there has been great debate over which solutions should take precedence over others.
Ecology of Commerce author Paul Hawken’s new book answers this question, providing consumable, actionable data for the public and governments alike.
Grain of Sand
The world is full of moments that have changed history. From Civil Rights in the 1960s to the Feminist and Anti-Apartheid movements, cultural change has been made by those who fought for the materialization of a better world. Yet, in a global economy where everything is interdependent, there are few issues that loom larger than global warming, and few that offer such a tremendous challenge. From coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef to Peru’s monumental flooding, the impacts of climate disasters can be felt everywhere. Decades after the introduction of solutions, governments and activists alike have failed to pinpoint an exact recipe for addressing humanity's most overwhelming challenge.
In DRAWDOWN: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, environmentalist Paul Hawken lays out a menu for putting the solutions to work. Leveraging exhaustive research, Drawdown proposes 100 solutions that, until now, have existed in isolation from one another, and puts them together as a comprehensive strategy for tackling greenhouse gases.
When it comes to large-scale change, there are a number of things that can drastically reduce our emissions in gigatons each year. From refrigerant management (89.74 GT) to solar farms (36.90 GT), and onshore wind turbines (84.60 GT) to alternative cement (6.69 GT), there’s no shortage of ideas for reducing our footprint. But, as Hawken states, “All is connected…no one thing can change by itself.” So, how can we be part of the solution? And what do these solutions offer us as individuals in contributing to the larger whole?
Undoubtedly, there is a necessity for the adoption of large-scale solutions by governments and countries, but true change – comprehensive, cultural overhaul – must exist as a holistic way of being and resonate beyond us. Without an adjustment to how we see ourselves, we cannot expect any overarching change. As activist and journalist Naomi Klein says in This Changes Everything, “The earth is not our prisoner, our patient, our machine, or, indeed, our monster. It is our entire world. And the solution to global warming is not to fix the world, it is to fix ourselves.”
Fortunately, our individual actions do not exist in a vacuum and there are scalable solutions we can utilize in our daily lives to make a difference. According to Drawdown, half of the waste created exists at the household level. By recycling our plastic, paper, glass and metal; composting our organics; and reducing our food waste, emissions can be reduced by 75.58 GT each year. As cattle are the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, partaking in a plant-rich diet can lower emissions by a further 66.11 GT. Beyond recycling and food consumption, improvements can be found in LED lighting (7.81 GT), mass transit (6.57 GT), water savings (4.61 GT) and ridesharing (0.32 GT).
Small actions, while they can feel insignificant, make us accountable to the earth and resonate with our communities, creating the conditions for large-scale movements that would not be possible without them. It is in harnessing the power of everyday change, the little things, that can change the world. As Hawken tells National Geographic, “This is not a path to retrogression or a future that we won't like. What climate change is offering us is actually a new way of seeing ourselves… which can be extraordinary in terms of imagination, innovation, creativity, and real breakthroughs in human thinking.”
Expect them to build a worldwide coalition with spaces for massive, online collaboration.
Learn more at drawdown.org.
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