Exhausted by doom-and-gloom environmentalists with contradicting complaints about global warming? Too smart to buy into climate deniers’ “it’s-all-fake-news” proclamations? Searching for a glimmer of hope amid increasing ecological and political volatility? Grab a copy of the ambitiously titled Drawdown—The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. The 256-page compilation of research by leading scientists and policy experts offers 100 existing solutions for reversing global warming. Even if you’re unconvinced that carbon causes havoc, there’s no harm in learning about ways the sharpest folks on the planet are working to make the world more livable.
Edited by author/activist Paul Hawken—of garden supply company Smith & Hawken fame—the book is drawn from a larger entity, Project Drawdown, and outlines the nonprofits’ no-regrets, scientific, big data-supported, peer-reviewed solutions in seven categories: energy, food, women and girls, building and cities, land use, transport, and materials. A most inspiring section profiles “Coming Attractions” in 20 solutions that hold promise but are too new to have substantive proof of efficacy. Essays by scientist and environmental experts, lucid explanations of the language, methodology, and charts revealing the carbon reductions and costs related to each solution combine to make the book personal yet fact-filled. Hawken writes, “Very few people actually understand climate science, yet the basic mechanism of global warming is pretty straightforward.” Climate, he goes on to say, is physics and chemistry in the sky and biology on earth. Simpler yet: “[Climate] is the prevalent weather conditions over time.”
Perhaps most remarkable—other than avoiding emotion-laden shaming—are the striking simplicity and eye-opening savings of several solutions. Microgrid electrical networks and other doable renewable energy solutions are projected by 2050 to add up to trillions in savings; reduced food waste, clean cook stoves, and improved rice cultivation leads to billions of dollars saved; supporting women as small-farm owners, educating girls, and providing family planning worldwide is hard to monetize but contributes to the overall prosperity of countries and communities worldwide. New technology and innovative use of existing tools are at the root of most of the topics addressed, especially in the sections covering transport, materials, and Coming Attraction’s smart highways, hyperloop, autonomous vehicles, and the like. Drawdown will leave behind a feeling of empowerment—we can do this—and hopefully, far less carbon in Earth’s atmosphere.
Drawdown—The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming edited by Paul Hawken (Penguin Books, 2017, 256 pp., $22).