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The Plan to Reverse Global Warming: In Praise of Paul Hawken’s Drawdown

While I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Paul Hawken, he has had a uniquely positive and profound effect on my life. From Ecology of Commerce to Blessed Unrest, I have been consistently motivated and reinvigorated by his insights. And now he and his impressive network of concerned world citizens are about to have a profound effect on the greatest challenge facing all of us – global warming. As usual for Mr. Hawken, his thinking, his insight and his voice rise well above the clamor all around us.

His current “Paperback” DRAWDOWN is, to be sure, a very BIG paperback. And that befits a work with the subhead, “The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming”. Does that sound like puffery or hype or at the least self-inflating? Not on your life. It’s a work – not by any means just a book – that elevates the entire discussion of global warming to a level never before experienced. It truly is a Plan in the best sense of that word, the very idea of which would be intimidating enough to make most of us mortals retreat from, but Mr. Hawken instead, advanced, and has admirably pulled it off.

What DRAWDOWN does is nothing short of amazing. Hawken formed a highly-credentialed network of contributors – 70 DRAWDOWN Research Fellows from 22 countries, 128 Advisors and some 40 reviewers (all esteemed scientists) who tested the models and fact-checked the work. This formidable brain trust identified, researched, and ranked the top 80 solutions currently known, that can, when deployed, achieve drawdown – “that point in time at which greenhouse gases peak and begin to decline on a year-to-year basis”. The well-devised matrix for determining the top solutions is driven by the goal: identifying each “based on the total amount of greenhouse gases they can potentially avoid or remove from the atmosphere.” But Hawken and company don’t stop there. As Chad Frischmann, one of the chief contributors, says in his “NUMBERS” introductory section detailing the methodology of their calculations, DRAWDOWN also “…(enumerates) the total incremental cost to implement the solution, and the net cost or – in most cases – savings.”

The spectrum of solutions is comprehensive. “All is connected… no one thing can change by itself”, Hawken has previously said. Each one comprising several solutions, the organizing Solution categories are: Energy, Food, Women and Girls (yes, even social phenomena like educating women and family planning are calculated and included as a category), Buildings and Cities, Land Use, Transport and Materials. Judiciously interspersed through the book are articles and excerpts that further inform the subject, including an excerpt from Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, “On Care for Our Common Home.” There is also a tantalizing section called “Coming Attractions” which touches on some of the more futuristic, less likely and predictable solutions (not figured into their Top 80) that may become viable over time. My favorite is the Elon Musk-inspired Hyperloop – a significantly updated version of the pneumatic tube designed for transporting humans.

Our organization, EnerChange, has as our Mission Statement: Transforming information into action. Through some initial communication with the DRAWDOWN Team, facilitating action is apparently going to be a big part of Phase 2 in their development, once they feel they have successfully enough launched the amazing book I feel fortunate to have and to hold. Assuming appropriate action takes place in support of these Top 100 Global Warming Solutions, the future – at least to me – seems brighter than I saw prior to DRAWDOWN.

You can learn more about Project Drawdown and the book by visiting them HERE.

Steve Seidl

Executive Director, EnerChange