The #1 Thing We Can Do To Reverse Global Warming Isn't What You Think
Hill Harper's opening address at revitalize 2017 was a rallying cry to the wellness community to take care of others like they do themselves, complete with music, lyrics, and a guest appearance from his adorable baby boy. The dynamic performance inspired an immediate standing ovation and needless to say, it was a tough act to follow.
Paul Hawken was up for the challenge. From the moment the respected environmentalist and best-selling author took to the stage, he captivated the audience with a straightforward, digestible portrayal of climate change and humankind's role within it. He suspected that the wellness leaders in attendance—like the vast majority of the population—were overwhelmed with the talk of natural disasters, climbing temperatures, and polluted splendor we're bombarded with today. While these things may well be happening, such gloom-and-doom messaging leave us feeling a mixture of guilt, fear, and disengagement. In reality, he said, we needed to realize that the answers already lie within us—and there is reason for optimism.
That's why Paul and his team of research fellows compiled a comprehensive list of climate solutions, called Drawdown. In ranking the initiatives that everyday people are already taking around the world in terms of their ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the team laid out a toolkit that we can use moving forward. In an intimate peek into the project, Hawken told us that the data they compiled was richly complex and not even the smartest minds in science could have predicted which initiative would reign supreme. In the end, phasing out refrigerants was the most effective action. Hawken went on to note, though, that the combination of educating girls and family planning—two complimentary solutions—could prove even more powerful in the long run.
By setting up more clinics to empower young women to take ownership over their bodies, we would also be doing the planet a huge favor. "Educating girls is a path to family planning—but it's her path," Hawken explained. As it stands now, many girls are taken out of school at puberty and womanhood is forced upon them based on cultural and familiar norms. If these girls received more education, they could have less children, save more money, and ultimately make choices that are better for themselves and the greater environment. And they could pass these values onto the next generation, too.
In reframing the climate conversation around solutions like these instead of problems, we can create a new mantra of the climate movement: "Reversing global warming should be about coming home," Hawken finished, to a beaming crowd.
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