Drawdown: Game Over or Game On?
What is Drawdown? “Drawdown is that point in time when the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begins to decline on a year-to-year basis.” This is the point, the purpose, and the plan of Project Drawdown—the book, the website and the 100 solutions presented to us to reverse global warming by cutting CO2 emissions. The book, edited by Paul Hawken in collaboration with 70 professionals, researchers and scientists from 22 countries, describes in great but accessible detail 100 solutions to effectively address climate change. These are regenerative and substantive projects and ideas already underway
Referring to this graph of CO2 emissions, Hawken says, “No human has ever existed on Earth (primates included) when CO2 has been greater than 300 ppm. We are now at 402 ppm. We need to drawdown our CO2 emissions if we are to continue as a productive, creative civilization.”
Hawken considers language such as “mitigate,” “slow down” or “stabilize” climate change to be counterproductive because, as he says, “If you’re going over a cliff and you slow down, you’ll go over the cliff more slowly. If you’re going down the wrong road and you slow down, it’s still the wrong road.” He says that, “It’s really important to name the goal. If you don’t know the goal you’re not going to hit it.”
It is difficult to watch the accelerating breakdown of our environmental systems or witness the breakdown of civility into camps, ideologies, and wars. What stands before us, however, is not the choosing of sides but the gift of seeing who we are as stewards of the planet. We will either come together to address global warming or we will likely disappear as a civilization. —Paul Hawken
Do you believe in climate change? This is a complicated question because, as Hawken points out, science is not a belief system. But suppose you disagree with or dispute the science that documents our CO2 levels? It doesn’t really matter because I’m sure we can all agree that we want clean air, clean water, healthy food, a healthy biosphere, basic needs met for all. We can cooperate to solve problems such as conserving water to mitigate drought or reducing air pollution or reducing food waste whether or not we call it global warming or climate change.
Climate change refers to the many changes that will occur with increases in temperature and greenhouse gases. That is why the UN climate agency is called the International 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
Global warming and climate change are happening for us, not to us. . . Game over or game on? This is the challenge Hawken puts to us and how we can rethink our situation.
If we consider that global warming is happening for us instead of to us—that is, 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% 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.
If what we tell ourselves is that we’re screwed, it destroys our imagination, our creativity and innovation for solutions. We’re screwed if we believe there’s nothing we can do. —Paul Hawken
More excerpts from the book and talk by Paul Hawken
To be effective, we require and deserve a conversation that includes possibility and opportunity not repetitive emphasis on our undoing.
The profit that can be achieved by instituting regenerative solutions is greater than the monetary gains generated by causing the problem or conducting business-as-usual.
We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future rather than stealing it.
Movements are dreams with feet and hands, hearts and voices.
A video presentation of Project Drawdown by Paul Hawken
Pie chart showing how different solutions contribute to reducing CO2 emissions
Thanks to Paul for providing the graph and pie chart.
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