At the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 Paul Hawken realised that the language around addressing the impact of global warming on our global climate appeared to be focusing on adaptation and mitigation – but no one seemed to be focusing on a comprehensive plan to reverse global warming. As Paul says, “if you are going in the wrong direction, it is not enough to just slow down. You have to stop and go in a different direction”.
Hawkin put out a call to scientists, economists, and social leaders to contribute to research work to identify whether it might be possible to reverse global warming and if so, what it would take. They called it ‘Project Drawdown’ – the point in time when the amount of greenhouse gas emissions reduces year on year. It’s an audacious goal. Some would say impossible. Paul Hawken acknowledges that the odds are against us. But then he challenges us to take on the odds and embrace ‘Game on’!
What the Drawdown Project team came up with surprised everyone. They evaluated a few 100 projects most of which are happening somewhere in the world; and did the math – assessing the impact of each project on greenhouse gas emissions; their net costs and net savings. The conclusion was that if 100 of the projects were scaled up we could reverse global warming by 2050 and save the world trillions of dollars in the process – and what’s more we would end up with a better world to live in for all.
Of the 100 solutions, 80 have already been rolled out and demonstrating impact. 20 are in pilot mode. The solutions range across areas such as food, transport, women and girls, energy, building, land use, and materials. The top solution in terms of positive impact is refrigerant gas management! Of the top 20 solutions, eight are related to food. The sixth top solution is educating girls, and the seventh is family planning. If combined, they become the number one solution. But it is not enough to just focus on the top few. They all need to happen if we are going to reverse global warming – and what is more, everyone has a role to play.
The stakes have never been higher – the future of complex life on earth is in the balance.
But then Paul throws us another teaser – what options might open up for us if we open ourselves to the possibility that global warming is happening for us (rather than to us). If we believe global warming is happening to us, then we can easily drop into victim mode and feel overwhelmed by the enormous challenges we face. If, however, we consider that global warming is happening for us, it’s a whole different perspective.
What if we were to listen to the feedback that planet Earth is giving us – feedback about what works and what doesn’t work in terms of maintaining a healthy ecosystem that supports complex life on Earth? Might we then become partners with planet Earth in healing her ecosystems that enable the extraordinary diversity of life (including humans) to flourish? What might that look like? Some clues lie in understanding and learning more about the 100 projects – and finding where our particular skills, talents, passions and experience connect to which particular projects – and then seeking others to team with to create local, regional or national manifestations of the project, depending on your sphere of influence.
To find out more about the 100 projects, go to www.drawdown.org or purchase the book ‘Project Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan to reverse global warming’. The Pachamama Alliance have partnered with Project Drawdown to create a short one or two hour ‘Introduction to Drawdown’. You can locate a nearby ‘Introduction to Drawdown’ on the Event Map; or download the materials and run one yourself.
Project Drawdown is a scientific basis for hope – not a hope that holds any certainty but rather a hope that is pregnant with possibility. If we are willing to open our hearts and our minds to discerning the role that is ours to play, and have the courage to play it with as much wisdom and love that we can muster, we have the opportunity to live the most meaningful lives that we could imagine.
You are invited to live your life from either ‘Game over’ or ‘Game on’!