It's these unseen, unsung heroes that Hawken is celebrating with the Drawdown project website and book of the same name. In order to put the list together, he called on dozens of research fellows across 22 countries to help compile all the climate research out there, and present it a way that people who aren't in science fields can understand. First, the team whittled down every action humanity is taking to lower environmental impact into a list of 100 scalable solutions. Fellows conducted deep dives into each one, reviewing the literature and peer-reviewed science to map out exactly how much greenhouse gas it can reduce by 2050 under three possible scenarios: the plausible scenario (in which it is adopted at a "realistically vigorous" rate), the drawdown scenario (in which it is adopted at an even faster rate), and the optimum scenario (in which it is adopted to reach its full potential). They also present a conservative forecast of how much money each initiative could save in the long run. The final product is filled with actionable ways individuals, utilities, businesses, and governments can help reverse global warming—with more than 5,000 citations to back it up.
This comprehensive new way to approach climate change is already making waves. Perhaps most notably, Patricia Scotland, the secretary-general of the Commonwealth of Nations and a personal hero of Hawken, has adopted Drawdown as a template for an ambitious climate plan she will be announcing for the nations next year.
While sweeping, government-backed adaptations like this one are particularly exciting, there is plenty of Drawdown-inspired action we can take on an individual level too. Things like reducing food waste (No. 3 on the list), composing (No. 60), and eating a plant-based diet (No. 4) can start with your next meal, while switching over to an electric vehicle (No. 26) and supporting wind energy (No. 2) are longer-term goals. No matter how seemingly small, every action taken on this list will ultimately have far-reaching effects. Reducing food waste has an impact on hunger, methane emissions, and deforestation, for instance. And if you're looking to skip ahead straight to action No. 1, it's time to get proactive about managing refrigerants. Yep, it turns out that disposing chemicals used in refrigerators and air conditioners is the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gases in the environment.
Hawken remains cautiously optimistic that we can band together to carry these solutions to their full potential. And until then, he'll be longingly dreaming of his next mountain ascent—a voyage 15,000 to 20,000 feet to a place where his eyes get big, his lungs get bigger, and he's immersed in the nature that started it all.
mbg is honored to share that Paul Hawken will be speaking at revitalize 2017—a three-day event where the top minds in wellness will gather to hash out the future of health. Click here to learn more about how you can tune in, get involved, and ask Hawken and the rest of our incredible speakers your burning questions.