[GVCP] “Drawdown”

October 16, 2017
Dear GVCP member,

This important document is from GVCP member Hank Stone.

Arnie Matlin for GVCP

September 21, 2017

Hank Stone

On the evening of September 17, a meeting was held in Rochester, NY – to save the world.

The gathering was convened by Sue Staropoli of the Pachamama Alliance, a global community offering people ways to create a sustainable human future that works for all.

Drawdown is the title of a book, edited by Paul Hawken.  Its subject is reversing climate change by removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.  The book brings together peer reviewed scientific articles on reducing greenhouse gases.  The result is a list of the top 100 ways to draw down greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, ranked by their effectiveness.

The point of the book is, taken together the measures described WILL REVERSE the buildup of greenhouse gases that are threatening the human future.

Short videos were shown in which Paul Hawken talked about the project.

Hawken said people are afraid to think about climate change, because they realize at some level that the “trivial actions” being taken to slow climate change mean “we’re screwed!” In fact, any steps that only slow down the buildup of global warming gases mean the end of human civilization.

“If you’re going the wrong way, you have to stop.  And then reverse.  We don’t want to go down like Thelma and Louise. (reference to a movie in which said ladies drive over a cliff).”

Every spring the warming of the northern hemisphere leads to new plant growth, which takes massive amounts of carbon dioxide out of the earth’s atmosphere.  But every winter an equivalent amount of CO2 is released as plants die back.  The point is, greenhouse gas concentrations can change.

Hawkens’ “Drawdown Team” is a coalition of over 200 contributors from 22 countries.  Their ongoing project is to identify, measure and model the 100 most impactful solutions to global warming.  

Some of the 100 solutions remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.  Others reduce or prevent greenhouse gases that would otherwise be added.

Different greenhouse gases, like methane, are considered. Scientists have calculated the “carbon equivalent” warming potential of other gases, for consistent comparisons.

“The project focused on existing solutions with sufficient data available for global modeling.  The solutions were then evaluated based on their current performance, scalability, economic viability, potential to reduce greenhouse gases over 30 years and the balance of other positive/negative impacts.”

The list of 100 solutions is available at the project’s website, Drawdown.org <Drawdown.org>,  or from Sue Staropoli <suestar1@rochester.rr.com>, who has additional information and is creating a course on Drawdown.  The book Drawdown describes the solutions in detail.

We might expect the list of solutions to divide neatly into the “vital few” and the “trivial many.”  A graph showed that none of the solutions by itself could solve the problem.  Each solution made a small difference.  So, Hawken says, all of the solutions must be pursued, and each is important.

Most of the solutions are “the usual suspects,” technical improvements to land use, energy, food production, transportation, and lifestyle.  These hold out the hope that we can continue our prosperous way of life in some form.

But lurking in the top ten solutions are three that could run afoul of deeply held cultural stories.  #4 is Plant-Rich Diet.  If taken seriously (which is the point), this could upend the beef, pork and dairy industries, and McDonalds, and give average people the sense that “normal life” is being denied them.

Solution #6, Educating Girls, is nothing new in the US, but in other countries would significantly disrupt the social order.  Where men call the shots and women stay at home and have babies, the idea of educated, employed and independent women is unacceptable.

Solution #7, Family Planning, is obvious to some, but looks like scary population control to others.  “Be fruitful and multiply,” according to the Word of God.

These three solutions mean to me that Hawken understands, but would rather not say, that we must change our whole way of life to protect the human future.  “The Great Turning” expresses this idea. We must trade in a collection of cultural stories that have accompanied extraordinary freedom and prosperity for a hundred years – because taking those stories to their logical conclusion is destroying human civilization.

Not mentioned among solutions is a system for providing and maintaining world peace.  The US military alone is a massive user of fossil fuels, manufacturing and operating everything from handguns to aircraft carriers.  We don’t talk about alternatives to the war system, because those are countercultural, going against the stories we tell ourselves about who are.

Of course, the great push to rebuild society for sustainability requires a national conversation about who we are and what future we want.  Is human survival worth the effort and expense?  And giving up our comfortable notions of entitlement? Anything we can do to speed up that conversation is to the good!

For my part, I have bought and will read Drawdown, and urge you to join the conversation.


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