Read Drawdown, pages 1-80.
Answer these questions, and then reply to a classmate’s post with a 1- or 2-sentence follow-up.
1) After Googling the author and the book, how credible would you judge this text we are reading to be? Explain.
2) What are your initial impressions about the book’s writing? Do you like it or dislike it so far? Explain. You could comment on the writer’s style, tone, vocabulary level, organization, choice of content, level of detail, etc.
“The stakes for our planet have never been higher. The world is warming, sea levels are rising, and the impacts of climate change are occurring faster and stronger than originally predicted. It is a global crisis with no place for partisan rhetoric, requiring solutions at every scale and across every sector.
We need a rigorous plan to “draw down” carbon, and Project Drawdown’s team of two hundred scientists and researchers worldwide (and counting) has modeled and chronicled one hundred creative ideas. My home state of California exemplifies how multiple solutions can work in tandem to the benefit of our economy and our families. In 2006, California’s landmark climate law pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a goal we are on track to meet. In 2016, our legislature went even further to ensure that by 2030, emissions will be reduced 40 percent from that baseline.”
“The result is clear. Wind and solar, now cheaper than fossil alternatives, are being installed in California at breakneck speed. Urban and rural areas alike are building public transportation projects, including bus rapid transit, subways, and biking and pedestrian infrastructure. Municipalities are greening their streets with urban forests and parklands. The most effective zero-emission vehicle program in the nation is leading the electric car revolution—and many of those electric cars will be produced in our state. Organic waste is being turned into biogas and compost. Utilities are installing storage capacity. Redwood and Douglas fir forests are taking carbon out of the atmosphere.
By accepting our shared responsibility to take climate action, California has reaped a host of economic, health, and quality of life benefits for all: It’s drawdown at the scale of the sixth largest economy on the planet. While California is a compelling case study, the pages that follow explore these existing solutions at global scale.
Many of today’s solutions are technological. From methane digesters to alternative cements, cool roofs to wind turbines, ” “smart grids to bioplastics, market-ready technologies exist that can reduce the global warming impact of energy, buildings, industry, and transportation. But Drawdown also recognizes we must work in concert with natural systems and dynamics, meaning today’s solutions are also ecological. Biological carbon sinks will help pull carbon from the air and reduce atmospheric concentrations. Regenerative grazing can build soil carbon. Agroforestry can produce fruits, nuts, oils, and wood—all while sequestering large amounts of carbon. Most importantly, today’s solutions are social. Educating girls and widening access to family planning increases climate resiliency while empowering half the world’s population. Reducing food waste enables us to feed more of the world while decreasing energy and water waste. Widespread adoption of recycling reduces our need for new raw materials and the energy to mine them. And yes, changing lightbulbs can make a difference.”
“We can never survive in the long-term by despoiling nature; we have literally reached the ends of the earth. Now we must ask how best to organize our coalition and govern our most selfish instincts. It’s high time for new, better ideas and Drawdown offers the world twenty-first century solutions for a twenty-first century problem—using systems thinking and detailed analytics to tackle the biggest environmental challenge of our time.
I am optimistic about our future. Paul Hawken and the Project Drawdown team give us a road map with a moral compass, an extensively researched view of the future we can build together. This book—destined to become a living, breathing plan updated continually by its growing online community—returns us to a vision of cooperation with nature and with one another, of building a cleaner, better world and appealing to the best in us all. It’s up to us to listen.”
“hen came 2013. Several articles were published that were so alarming that one began to hear whispers of the unthinkable: It was game over. But was that true, or might it possibly be game on? Where did we actually stand? It was then that I decided to create Project Drawdown. In atmospheric terms drawdown is that point in time at which greenhouse gases peak and begin to decline on a year-to-year basis. I decided that the goal of the project would be to identify, measure, and model one hundred substantive solutions to determine how much we could accomplish within three decades towards that end.”
“The subtitle of this book—the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming—may sound a bit brash. We have chosen that description because no detailed plan to reverse warming has been proposed. There have been agreements and proposals on how to slow, cap, and arrest emissions, and there are international commitments to prevent global temperature increases from exceeding two degrees centigrade over preindustrial levels. One hundred and ninety-five nations have made extraordinary progress in coming together to acknowledge that we have a momentous civilizational crisis on our earthly doorstep and have created national plans of action. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has completed the most significant scientific study in the history of humankind, and continues to refine the science, expand the research, and extend our grasp of one of the most complex systems imaginable. However, there is, as yet, no road map that goes beyond slowing or stopping emissions.”
“To be clear, our organization did not create or devise a plan. We do not have that capability or self-appointed mandate. In conducting our research, we found a plan, a blueprint that already exists in the world in the form of humanity’s collective wisdom, made manifest in applied, hands-on practices and technologies that are commonly available, economically viable, and ” “scientifically valid. Individual farmers, communities, cities, companies, and governments have shown that they care about this planet, its people, and its places. Engaged citizens the world over are doing something extraordinary. This is their story.”
“In order for Project Drawdown to be credible, a coalition of researchers and scientists needed to be at its foundation. We had a tiny budget and oversized ambitions, so we sent out appeals inviting students and scholars from around the world to become research fellows. We were inundated with responses from some of the finest women and men in science and public policy. Today, the Drawdown fellows comprise seventy individuals from twenty-two countries. Forty percent are women, nearly half have PhDs, and others have at least one advanced degree. They have extensive academic and professional experience at some of the world’s most respected institutions.”
“Together we gathered comprehensive lists of climate solutions and winnowed them down to those that had the greatest potential to reduce emissions or sequester carbon from the atmosphere. We then compiled literature reviews and devised detailed climate and financial models for each of the solutions. The analyses informing this book were then put through a three-stage process including review by outside experts who evaluated the inputs, sources, and calculations. We brought together a 120-person Advisory Board, a prominent and diverse community of geologists, engineers, agronomists, politicians, writers, climatologists, biologists, botanists, economists, financial analysts, architects, and activists who reviewed and validated the text.”
“lmost all of the solutions compiled and analyzed here lead to regenerative economic outcomes that create security, produce jobs, improve health, save money, facilitate mobility, eliminate hunger, prevent pollution, restore soil, clean rivers, and more. That these are substantive solutions does not mean that they are all the best ones. There are a small handful of entries in this book whose spillover effects are clearly detrimental to human and planetary health, and we try to make that clear in our descriptions. The overwhelming majority, however, are no-regrets solutions, initiatives we would want to achieve regardless of their ultimate impact on emissions and climate, as they are practices that benefit society and the environment in multiple ways.
The final section of the main part of Drawdown is called “Coming Attractions” and features twenty solutions that are nascent or on the horizon. Some may succeed, while others may fail. Notwithstanding, they provide a demonstration of the ingenuity and gumption that committed individuals have brought to address climate change. Additionally, you will find essays from prominent journalists, writers, and scientists—narratives, histories, and vignettes—that offer a rich and varied context to the specifics of the book.”
“We remain a learning organization. Our role is to collect information, organize it in ways that are helpful, distribute it to any and all, and provide the means for anyone to add, amend, correct, and extend the information you find here and on the drawdown.org website. Technical reports and expanded model results are available there. Any model that projects out thirty years is going to be highly speculative. However, we believe the numbers are approximately right and welcome your comments and input.”
“Unquestionably, distress signals are flashing throughout nature and society, from drought, sea level rise, and unrelenting increases in temperatures to expanded refugee crises, conflict, and dislocation. This is not the whole story. We have endeavored in Drawdown to show that many people are staunchly and unwaveringly on the case. Although carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion and land use have a two-century head start on these solutions, we will take those odds. The buildup of greenhouse gases we experience today occurred in the absence of human understanding; our ancestors were innocent of the damage they were doing. That can tempt us to believe that global warming is something that is happening to us—that we are victims of a fate that was determined by actions that precede us. If we change the preposition, and consider that global warming is happening for us—an atmospheric transformation that inspires us to change and reimagine everything we make and do—we begin to live in a different world. We take 100 percent responsibility and stop blaming others. We 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. This is not a liberal agenda, nor is it a conservative one. This is the human agenda. —Paul Hawken”
“Confucius wrote that calling things by their proper name is the beginning of wisdom. In the world of climate change, names can sometimes be the beginning of confusion. Climate science contains its own specialized vocabulary, acronyms, lingo, and jargon. It is a language derived by scientists and policy makers that is succinct, specific, and useful. However, as a means of communication to the broader public, it can create separation and distance”
“I remember my economics professor asking for a definition of Gresham’s law and how I rattled off the answer mechanically. He looked at me—none too pleased, though the answer was correct—and said, now explain it to your grandmother. That was much more difficult. The answer I gave the professor would have made no sense to her. It was lingo. So it is with climate and global warming. Very few people actually understand climate science, yet the basic mechanism of global warming is pretty straightforward.
We have sought to make Drawdown understandable to people from all backgrounds and points of view. We endeavored to bridge the climate communication gap by the words we choose, the analogies we avoid, the jargon we stay away from, and the metaphors we employ. As much as possible, we refrain from acronyms and lesser-known climate terminology. We generally spell out carbon dioxide instead of abbreviating it. We write methane, not CH4.”
“Let’s consider an example. In November 2016, the White House released its strategy for achieving deep decarbonization by mid-century. From our perspective, decarbonization is a word that describes the problem, not the goal: we decarbonized the earth by removing carbon in the form of combusted coal, gas, and oil, as well as through deforestation and poor farming practices, and releasing it into the atmosphere. When the word decarbonization is used, as it was by the White House, it refers to replacing fossil fuel energy with clean, renewable sources. However, the term is often employed as the overarching goal of climate action—one that is unlikely to inspire and more likely to confuse.”
“Another term used by scientists is “negative emissions.” This term has no meaning in any language. Imagine a negative house, or a negative tree. The absence of something is nothing. The phrase refers to sequestering or drawing down carbon from the atmosphere. We call that sequestration. It is carbon positive, not negative. This is another example where climate-speak removes itself from common parlance and common sense. Our goal is to present climate science and solutions in language that is accessible and compelling to the broadest audience, from ninth graders to pipe fitters, from graduate students to farmers.”
“We also avoid using military language. Much of the rhetoric and writing about climate change is violent: the war on carbon, the fight against global warming, and frontline battles against fossil fuels. Articles refer to slashing emissions as if we had machetes. We understand the use of these terms because they convey the gravity of what we face and the tightening window of time to address global warming. Yet, terms such as “combat,” “battle,” and “crusade” imply that climate change is the enemy and it needs to be slain. Climate is a function of biological activity on earth, and physics and chemistry in the sky. It is the prevalent weather conditions over time. Climate changes because it always has and will, and variations of climate produce everything from seasons to evolution. The goal is to come into alignment with the impact we are having on climate by addressing the human causes of global warming and bringing carbon back home.”
“The term “drawdown” needs explanation as well. The word is conventionally used to describe the reduction of military forces, capital accounts, or water from wells. We use it to refer to reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. However, there is an even more important reason for the use of the word: drawdown names a goal that has been hitherto absent in most conversations about climate. Addressing, slowing, or arresting emissions is necessary, but insufficient. If you are traveling down the wrong road, you are still on the wrong road if you slow down. The only goal that makes sense for humanity is to reverse global warming, and if parents, scientists, young people, leaders, and we citizens do not name the goal, there is little chance it will be achieved”
“Last, there is the term “global warming.” The history of the concept goes back to the nineteenth century when Eunice Foote (1856) and John Tyndall (1859) independently described how gases trap heat in the atmosphere and how changes in the concentration of gases would alter the climate. The term global warming was first used by geochemist Wallace Broecker in a 1975 Science article entitled “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” Before that article, the term used was inadvertent climate modification. Global warming refers to the surface temperature of the earth. Climate change refers to the many changes that will occur with increases in temperature and greenhouse gases. That is why the U.N. climate agency is called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the IPCC, and not the IPGW. It studies the comprehensive impacts of climate change on all living systems. What we measure and model in Drawdown is how to begin the reduction of greenhouse gases in order to reverse global warming. —Paul Hawken”
“WHAT YOU WILL SEE ON THE PAGE
Behind every one of the solutions in Drawdown are hundreds of pages of research and rigorous mathematical models developed by some very bright minds. Each solution includes an introduction that draws on history, science, key examples, and the most current information available. Every description is supported by a detailed technical assessment available on our website for further exploration. Each entry also features a summary of output from the models, including a ranking of the solution by its emissions-reduction potential. We enumerate how many gigatons of greenhouse gases are avoided or removed from the atmosphere, as well as the total incremental cost to implement the solution, and the net cost or—in most cases—savings. In the models, we rely on peer-reviewed science for inputs. In some areas, such as land use and farming, there is a plethora of anecdotal facts and figures, some of which we refer to but we do not use in our calculations.
At the end of the book, you will find a summary table presenting the combined impact of solutions, grouped by sector.”
“ANKING OF SOLUTIONS
There are several ways one can rank solutions: how cost-effective they are; how quickly they can be implemented; or how beneficial they are to society. All are interesting and useful methods with which to interpret the results. For our purposes, we rank solutions based on the total amount of greenhouse gases they can potentially avoid or remove from the atmosphere. The rankings are global. The relative importance of one solution may differ depending on geography, economic conditions, or sector.”
“GIGATONS OF CARBON DIOXIDE REDUCED
Carbon dioxide may get the most press, but it is not the only greenhouse gas. Other heat-trapping gases include methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases, and water vapor. Each has long-term impacts on global temperatures, depending on how much of it is in the atmosphere, how long it remains there, and how much heat it absorbs or radiates back out during its lifetime. Based on these factors, scientists can calculate their global warming potential, which makes it possible to have a “common currency” for greenhouse gases, translating any given gas into its equivalent in carbon dioxide.
Each solution in Drawdown reduces greenhouse gases by avoiding emissions and/or by sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. The degree to which a given solution has a bearing on greenhouse gases is translated into gigatons of carbon dioxide removed between 2020 and 2050. Taken together, they represent the total reduction of greenhouse gases that could be achieved by 2050, compared to a fixed reference case, a world where very little changes.”
“But what is a gigaton? To appreciate its magnitude, imagine 400,000 Olympic-sized pools. That is about a billion metric tons of water, or 1 gigaton. Now multiply that by 36, yielding 14,400,000 pools. Thirty-six billion tons is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in 2016.
TOTAL NET COST AND OPERATIONAL SAVINGS
The total cost of each solution in this book is the amount needed to purchase, install, and operate it over thirty years. By comparing this to what we typically would spend on food, fuel for cars, heating and cooling for our homes, etc., we determined the net costs or savings from investing in a given solution.
We err on the side of being conservative. That means assuming costs associated with the solution that are on the high end, and then keeping them relatively constant from 2020 to 2050. Because technologies are changing rapidly and will vary in different parts of the world, we expect the actual cost to be less and the amount of savings higher. Even taking a conservative approach, however, the solutions tend to offer an overwhelming net savings. For some solutions though, the costs and savings are incalculable, as in the cost to “save a specific rainforest or support girls’ education.
How much are we willing to spend to achieve results that benefit all of humanity? In the back of the book, we summarize the net cost and savings solution-by-solution for comparison. Net savings are based on the operating costs of solutions after implementation from 2020 to 2050. This calculation reveals the cost-effectiveness of the solutions presented. When considering the scale of benefits, the potential profits and savings, and the investments needed if conditions remain the same, the costs become negligible. The payback period for most solutions is relatively short in time.
“TO LEARN MORE
The solutions presented in Drawdown are only a summary of the full research conducted to support our findings. A more detailed outline of our approach and assumptions can be found in the section “Methodology.” We also provide a full description
“of our research at drawdown.org—how all the data were generated, sources used, and assumptions made.
As you read the book, what will become apparent is how sensible and empowering these solutions are. Rather than a lengthy technical manual, impenetrable to all save experts who have spent their lives immersed in the science behind these technologies, Drawdown aims to be accessible to anyone who wants to know what we, collectively, can do and the role each one of us might play. —Chad Frischmann”