By Kristin Riott
Executive Director, Bridging The Gap
If you, like me, have been worried about climate change for a long time, the publication of the book Drawdown is a deep draught of water during a long walk through the desert: you can go on with renewed hope and vigor. Drawdown, edited by leading environmentalist Paul Hawken, acknowledges that rapid conversion to 100% renewable energy is necessary, but insufficient, to stop destabilizing climate change. To reverse intolerable warming of our planet, it’s not enough to stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere — we must “draw down” gases that we’ve already put up by, for examples, sequestering carbon in trees and soil. (Drawdown, like take-away, is a nominalization — the conversion of a verb into a noun — annoying to linguistic purists, but a small price to pay for preserving the web of life on earth.)
The book is a compendium of 80 global solutions to climate change, posited by scientists around the world, ranked by greenhouse gas reductions in gigatons, and accompanied by budgets. It is encouraging that there are “only” 80 solutions, and that they are concrete, doable, and relatively inexpensive–in fact, over the long run, cheaper than business as usual. The first Drawdown solution is a surprising one: not renewable energy like wind (that’s number 2), but refrigeration — reducing the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are better for the ozone layer than older refrigerants, but are among the most potent greenhouse gases when they leak with age. Solutions like this are by no means easy — every refrigerator in the world is involved. But unpack each Drawdown solution and you’ll find they solve not only climate change, but scores of other problems as well, representing a virtual blue print for world peace and progress. Solutions like the education of women would drive down birth rates, reduce infant mortality and the spread of disease, and stabilize communities around the world. Solutions like topsoil protection, had they been in place in time, might have prevented genocide in Rwanda, where food shortages led to deep ethnic tensions.
It’s to the great credit of city councilwoman Lindsey Constance, and Mayor Mike Kelly of Overland Park, that they recently founded a group called the Metro Kansas City Climate Action Coalition (MKCCAC). The group has swung into action quickly and decisively, and they have smartly used Drawdown as their guiding light. To their further credit, they’ve engaged Paul Hawken himself to talk about Drawdown at the first MKCCAC summit, on September 14 at Johnson County Community College (Link). Bridging The Gap’s entire team will be there.
So, as my Irish grandmothers would say, let’s not be sad–let’s be busy. There’s work to do. And with Drawdown, now we have the map and tools we need to do it.
Join us for the 2019 Metro KC Climate Action Summit
On September 14th, elected officials, business, nonprofit, and organizational leaders; and advocates for climate action will convene to celebrate regional successes, collaborate, and hear expert strategies on ways to advance climate mitigation and adaptation. The Summit will focus on solutions that effectively mitigate greenhouse emissions and share co-benefits that improve the quality of life for Kansas City regional residents. Although full day registrations have SOLD OUT due to high demand the afternoon keynote session is FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
The afternoon session (2:15 – 5:00) includes:
Rep. Sharice Davids
Mayor Quinton Lucas (Kansas City, MO) and Mayor James Brainard (Carmel, IN)
Keynote Speaker – Paul Hawken (Sponsored by the Polsky Practical Personal Enrichment Series)