December 13, 2018 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Project Drawdown is a book edited by Paul Hawken, and a plan, that ranks the top 100 solutions to global climate change. "The list is comprised primarily of “no regrets” solutions—actions that make sense to take regardless of their climate impact since they have intrinsic benefits to communities and economies."

A New Book on the Climate Crisis Makes the Persuasive Case That We’re Not Doomed - "Not for technological reasons, anyway."

An ambitious plan to leverage existing solutions to global warming is short on analytic rigor

A Clash of Paradigms, Eric Utne
Climate Crisis: Eric Utne and Paul Hawken Debate Path Forward

Solutions by Rank

1 Refrigerant Management: The role of refrigerants in climate change. How Can Refrigerant Management Combat Climate Change? Climate-Friendlier Air Conditioning Chemicals Hard to Find as Nations agree to ban refrigerants that worsen climate change, while China insulating chemical said to be source of rise of CFC-11

2 Wind Turbines (Onshore): Potential contribution of wind energy to climate change mitigation even as a recent study puts the wrong spin on wind power

3 Reduced Food Waste: The climate impact of the food in the back of your fridge as an esimated one-third of all food produced never gets eaten[PDF], equivalent to 5.4 million square miles of land used.

4 Plant-Rich Diet: a plant-based diet could be the most effective way to combat climate change as livestock is a huge user of land and resources and generator oh greenhouse gases that presents immediate opportunity for mitigation.

5 Tropical Forests: Tropical deforestation may reverse the carbon cycle and the Amazon may no longer be a hedge against climate change.

6 Educating Girls: How Climate Change in Bangladesh Impacts Women and Girls, so education leads to opportunity and resilience

7 Family Planning: The obvious relationship between climate and family planning and how voluntary family planning could be part of the answer - Women's Rights Issues Are Climate Change Issues

8 Solar Farms: Sprouting up around the world, growing crops and synergistic management to help communities reduce fossil fuel dependence.

9 Silvopasture: the combination of trees, livestock and forage plants into an integrated robust whole that is more than cows and trees

10 Rooftop Solar: California is requiring new homes to have rooftop solar and cost drops making redcutions in greenhouse gas and urban heat island effects possible.
posted by the man of twists and turns (18 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
A universal SNAP program could help with wasted food at the store level, and a more aggressive production side composting program (there’s a consumer side NYC composting program that shoukd be bigger and extended to all major metro areas, I kind of feel like it exists to make me feel better but it is interesting how quickly I got very good about collecting food waste)
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 AM on December 13, 2018 [5 favorites]

I would just like to point out that according to this, the "Solar Farms" solution would cost us net negative eighty-one billion dollars. It's a total no-brainer.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:06 AM on December 13, 2018 [10 favorites]

Also, here in sunny Massachusetts, we're already at 10% of our electricity generated by PV. No sign of a plateau yet, either—there's one out there for sure, but it has yet to rear its head. The solar part of this plan is achievable right now, today and would have incredible economic benefits in addition to the environmental ones.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:12 AM on December 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

As mentioned in previous threads ... it’s important to remember everyone thought FDR’s prediction to how productive the country could be was pure propaganda, like wildly inflated, totally unrealistic numbers to gin up support ....until they got met and surpassed.

When a goverment acts like a goverment and not merely an enforcement arm of The Market, it can do pretty amazing things.
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 AM on December 13, 2018 [20 favorites]

The other thing about all this is that so, so many of these solutions are—as intended—things that I would want for the world anyway, because they would just make the world a better place to live. Unfortunately they would probably not help funnel wealth into the pockets of the tiny number of people who already own almost everything, so I guess we'll just have to live in a bleak shithole of misery instead.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:26 AM on December 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

I would just like to point out that according to this, the "Solar Farms" solution would cost us a net negative $81b

In the most sensible definition of us, yeah, but not the operative one
posted by lalochezia at 10:33 AM on December 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't see "sequester billionaires underground indefinitely" anywhere on the list. (I would also be okay with only sequestering their carbon, if pressed.)

The problem isn't that solving climate change is all that difficult—there are lots of reasonable ways to solve it with a minimum of fuss, though this is getting less true every day—the problem is the fucking reptiles standing in the way.

That said, this is really good data and you bet I will be using it when I end up arguing for green solutions in my area. I was discussing silvopasture just yesterday with an interested neighbor.
posted by ragtag at 10:53 AM on December 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

Also restoring Tall grass pasture sequesters more carbon then trees in places that can’t support large forests.
posted by The Whelk at 10:58 AM on December 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

The solutions that are being blocked politically because of established interests have, at least on a casual inspection, two paths forward: one, you can try and run over the opposition. This is what we have largely done so far in the US—we have a sort of political trench warfare, where periodically one side or the other goes on the offensive and captures some territory, only to lose it a few years later, leading to negligible progress much of the time. It hasn't worked and I am not sure I see that changing in the time that we have before things become irredeemably fucked.

The alternative is to figure out some way to capture that, shall we say... market interest. If there was a way that people could get rich—I mean filthy, stinking, fuck-you rich—off of renewables, there might be more interest in it. The Koch companies only promote fossil fuels because they think there's more money in burning the planet than saving it. If the incentives were reversed, they'd do the other thing. Capital is absolutely predictable.

At this point, I think climate change is enough of an existential threat to civilization that I don't really give a shit who fixes the problem as long as it gets fixed. If we have to hand out some subsidies such that Exxon-Mobil decides building offshore wind turbines instead of oil platforms is financially the way to go, fine. I'd rather live on a planet with a manageable amount of climate change and a bunch of filthy rich assholes congratulating themselves than one where we get to say "I told you so" with perfect ideological purity right before the water reaches our mouths.

As a model for this, look at war economies. The big companies never seem to mount a ton of opposition to wars, do they? No, of course not, because they get rich. And there's an understanding that when we tool up for the war, they're going to get cut in on the deal. So bring on Mephistopheles and start bargaining: we need to get off carbon, and there's money in it for them if they stop fucking around. Yes, it's negotiating with terrorists. But they evidently have the power to kill all of us as a civilization, so probably time to start negotiating.

All the fantasizing about guillotines and brick walls pockmarked with bloodstains isn't going to get us anywhere before it's too late. At least in the US; in other places it might be different, but here the social-political system is geared very specifically to push back against that sort of disruptive change. Push too hard in that direction, and you'll be the one looking at the business end of a gun, not the other way around.

And hey, we can always pay them today and tax them later. Easier to levy taxes when you're not dead.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:33 AM on December 13, 2018 [13 favorites]

Kadin2048: I agree with you except that I believe you're missing an axiom: the rich as a class aren't just at war with the other classes, they're also at war with each other as individuals.

As the old saying goes, you don't have to outrun the bear, just the other guy. That's especially true in a climate change situation: when there's a shrinking number of seats on the lifeboat, you absolutely need more insurance than all the other rich people in order to secure a seat. The richer and more rapacious you are, the better you can jockey for a walled city in the arctic.

As a consequence, I don't think any Faustian class bargains can succeed: any group of rich people that bargain with the other classes harm their own individual chances in the struggle among rich people, so we end up with this awful prisoner's dilemma where almost everyone except the richest and most rapacious monsters make out about as badly as possible.
posted by ragtag at 11:58 AM on December 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Dear the man of twists and turns: Thank you for creating this post. I generally drop out of climate change discussions as fast as possible because it's always so set on fear and despair. It's not that I don't believe, but rather that the despair does me no good. I'm much more interested in hearing about solutions and paths forward. If I saw more stuff like this, I'd probably be more engaged.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:05 PM on December 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

The book is beside my bed, and I get to dipping into it from time to time.
I hope this post will encourage me to keep reading. Glad that there's a website out there.
posted by MtDewd at 3:46 PM on December 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I particularly like the Drawdown approach because it avoids the depressing, futile-feeling emphasis on trying to convince people that climate change is real, terrifying and matters to them in favor of Here are effective strategies..
posted by theora55 at 6:59 PM on December 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Market-based solutions might work if we had a free market economy in which the most cost-effective solution generally prevailed through successful
competition. However, what we actually have is a kleptocratic oligarchy in free-market drag, and competition is seen as a threat to business as usual. See also regulatory capture, the revolving door of politics and lobbying, etc. People in power want to stay in power, and because they have power, they usually succeed.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:29 AM on December 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Hooray, I'm glad someone posted this here! Just yesterday I recommended Drawdown over on the green though it didn't quite address the question being asked there. For those who are looking for analytical approaches to solutions, Saul Griffiths gives some good talks about individual energy use and what that means for climate change, and Our Renewable Future gives a good overview of what needs to be addressed for higher renewable energy generation.
posted by BeHereNow at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

As a model for this, look at war economies. The big companies never seem to mount a ton of opposition to wars, do they?
If you had to guess, what’s the biggest potential contributor that you had to leave out for lack of data?


Because it reduces population?

No, no, no — just the footprint of maintaining standing armies and militaries around the world. It must be extraordinary.

Oh, the carbon benefit of…

Of peace. Yeah. There is one.
I hadn't thought about it this way before. Huh.
posted by asperity at 12:25 PM on December 14, 2018

I'm seeing an increasing use of a "12 years left" meme. This isn't useful, what's much better for understanding is the carbon emissions budget graph, showing how fast we have to ramp down to stay under the 'budget' for a good chance of staying under a possibly-safe temperature rise, depending on when we start.
Here. ( or, read the RealClimate post on it, Why global emissions must peak by 2020)
posted by ClimateCal at 12:31 PM on December 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

One thing that surprised me about Drawdown was that (correct me if I'm wrong, please) it didn't look at increasing cities' density. Yes it has 'walkable cities' on the list, halfway down, but nothing along the lines of 'don't make lower wage workers commute in from Stockton'.
posted by ClimateCal at 12:52 PM on December 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

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