'Drawdown' offers climate action solutions
At a time when the Trump administration is dismantling federal efforts to combat climate change, Paul Hawken's new book swoops onto the scene like a knight in shining armor.
The San Francisco-based environmentalist is coming to Portland just before Earth Day to present and discuss the April 18 release of his book, "Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming."
A compilation of the work of 200 researchers and scientists spanning the past four years, "Drawdown" is a solutions-based playbook with 100 specific actions people and governments can use to fight climate change.
Hawken, a prolific author, entrepreneur and lecturer, focuses on moving toward "drawdown" — what scientists call the point at which atmospheric gases peak and begin to decline on a year-to-year basis.
The list of climate solutions — from adopting a plant-rich diet to building bike infrastructure, installing ecoroofs to family planning — were reviewed and vetted by a 120-member advisory board of scientists of all stripes as well as economists, financial analysts and activists.
Each solution made the list for its potential to reduce emissions or sequester carbon from the atmosphere, Hawken explains in his introduction.
The solutions — both big and small — are organized by type — food, energy, transport, land use, materials, building cities, and women and girls.
Each comes with a number ranking that weighs its potential impact (in carbon emissions saved by 2050), as well as its price tag and net savings in cost.
Many of the rankings are not a huge surprise, with wind-energy turbines, reducing food waste, plant-rich diets and preserving tropical forests in the top five.
Yet the No. 1 solution is somewhat of a head-scratcher: refrigerant management, as the ironic rise in air conditioner use in homes and cars to combat rising temperatures brings a dangerous level of hydrofluorocarbons, which have a 1,000- to 9,000-times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than a similar concentration of carbon dioxide.
Hawken gives props to the city of Portland in his discussion of bike infrastructure (No. 59), citing that while bike commuting grew 60 percent throughout the country between 2000 and 2012, "in places such as Portland Oregon, where infrastructure investment is high, it jumped from 1.8 percent to 6.1 percent of commutes during that time."
"Drawdown" was born out of a curiosity Hawken had back in 2001, when climate change was hardly the subject of national conversation. He started asking experts for a shopping list of sorts of actions that would arrest and reverse global warming.
Hawken was told that such a road map did not exist, and still does not today, despite the work of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to which 195 nations belong.
Hawken launched his research team in 2013, and the book's release couldn't come at a better time. Refreshingly absent of political analysis, it's grounded in scientific reality and likely will go a long way toward inciting people to action.
"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," Hawken writes. "This is not a liberal agenda, nor is it a conservative one. This is the human agenda."
Check it out:
Paul Hawken will speak about "Drawdown," and Ecotrust founder Spencer Beebe will speak about the Portland organization's work to address climate change.
• When: 6 p.m. Thursday, April 20
• Where: Ecotrust, Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center, 721 N.W. 9th Ave., first floor
• Cost: Tickets: $20, plus $25 for a signed copy of the book
• More information: ecotrust.org