It was 2017 when Project Drawdown first released its comprehensive guide to reducing greenhouse gas emissions so that average global temperatures don’t rise high enough to make our beautiful planet uninhabitable for humans. 3 years later, Project Drawdown updated its original plan to incorporate lessons learned since the publication of the first report. Latest update from Project Drawdown group adds 11 new ways to responsibly address the global climate crisis.
The power of planning
A popular saying goes: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” In other words, if you want to get somewhere, you need a guide to help you get where you want to go. It all starts with setting a goal. When we go on vacation, we don’t just get in the car and drive aimlessly. First we choose a destination, such as Poughkeepsie, Peoria or Pocatello. That’s the goal. Then we make a plan how to get to the goal – which way to go, what to pack and where to stay on the way. That’s the plan. With a goal and a plan, anything is possible.
Project Drawdown has a goal – to prevent the Earth from getting so hot that people can no longer survive. He also made detailed plans for how to achieve that goal in ways that are practical and affordable. He defines “withdrawal” as the point in the future when the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop rising and begin to fall, thereby halting catastrophic climate change. Its mission is to provide humanity with the solutions needed for a fast, safe, efficient and fair retreat.
“All solutions are based on extensive analysis of the scientific literature and sophisticated modeling and share six key traits that set them apart from other sets of climate change mitigation strategies,” says Project Drawdown. “They 1) are currently available, 2) are growing in scale, 3) are financially viable, 4) are able to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere, 5) have a net positive impact, and 6) can be quantified by different scenarios.”
11 New solutions
Here are 11 new solutions he presented Project Drawdown team.
- Cultivation of seaweed — Seaweed cultivation is one of the most sustainable types of aquaculture. Expanding seaweed farming increases carbon sequestration and increases the production of biomass that can be used for biofuels, bioplastics, animal feed and human consumption.
- Protection and restoration of macroalgae — Macroalgae forests are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth. Protecting and restoring these habitats increases carbon sequestration in the deep sea.
- Improved fishing — Improved fisheries includes reforming and improving management of wild fisheries to reduce overeffort, overcapitalization and overfishing. This can reduce fuel consumption and restore fish populations.
- Improved aquaculture — Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing animal feed sectors. Since some aquaculture systems are highly energy intensive, ensuring that part of the on-site energy consumption is based on renewable sources would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Protection of the seabed — Huge amounts of carbon stored in seabed sediments risk the release of bottom fishing. Bottom trawl bans and the establishment of marine protected areas can protect this important carbon sink.
- Improved cattle feed — Optimizing cattle feeding strategies can reduce methane emissions produced in ruminant digestive systems. Nutrient-enriched nutrition with high-quality feed, additives and supplements aims to improve animal health and productivity.
- Improved manure management — Livestock manure produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Advanced technologies and practices for manure management can reduce the negative impact of livestock farming on the climate.
- Management of methane leaks — Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, is emitted during the production and transportation of oil and natural gas. Managing methane emissions can reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
- Recycled metals — Metals are extracted from non-renewable ores. Recycled metals capitalize on already extracted materials – enabling more efficient production of goods, reducing the need to extract new resources and reducing energy and water consumption.
- Recycled Plastics — Plastic recycling requires less energy than the production of new materials, saves landfill space, reduces environmental pollution and reduces the demand for fossil fuel-based raw materials.
- Reduced Plastics — The production of plastics has grown tremendously over the past century, mostly for short-term use. Reducing the amount of plastic used in non-durable goods can significantly reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and plastic waste.
Expense vs. Investment
Keeping Earth habitable will cost a lot of money. But not every dollar spent is wasted, as one orange-skinned former president liked to claim. What if a dollar spent today results in $3 tomorrow? It’s called an investment – a concept foreign to Republicans. In their world, the billions spent building the interstate highway system was a classic example of big government squandering taxpayer dollars. In fact, those highways led to an explosion of economic activity that helped make the American economy the envy of the world.
Factories cost a lot of money to build, but they create jobs and wealth far greater than their initial investment. What if spending money today could not only slow global warming, but also create more economic opportunities for millions of people? What if the cost of saving our planet really could be recouped many times over? The Project Drawdown the team says it’s not only possible, but almost guaranteed.
His analysis is divided into two scenarios. The first presents plans to keep average global temperatures from rising more than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. The second focuses on the more difficult goal of keeping global warming to less than 1.5º C. Here are the conclusions from the latest report.
- An initial investment of $15.6 trillion (Scenario 1) would avoid or sequester more than 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases between 2020 and 2050 and save nearly $98 trillion in total operating costs over the lifetime of the solution.
- Increasing investment to $23.6 trillion (Scenario 2) would avoid or sequester more than 1,600 gigatonnes of gases and save more than $140 trillion in lifetime costs.
Economists like to talk about “multiplier effects”. If a dollar invested generates $3 in return, the multiplier effect is 3. If that same dollar returns $10, the multiplier effect is 10. In the first scenario proposed by Project Drawdown, the multiplier effect is greater than 6. In the second scenario, it is only slightly less of 6. If someone offered you the chance to increase your net worth by a factor of 6, most people would be thrilled. Couple that rate of return with the ability to keep Earth habitable for future humans and we’ve structured a win-win situation.
“Overall, we have confirmed that the practices and technologies implemented to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will more than pay for lifetime savings,” the project’s latest withdrawal report says. “In addition, many solutions have the bonus benefits of reducing poverty, increasing equality and protecting endangered animals and ecosystems.” So solving the climate crisis is a move that will save lives and money for future generations.”
It is the power of setting a goal and making realistic plans to achieve that goal. We desperately need leaders who embrace such thoughtful and practical solutions. Wherever you are and whatever you do, make it a point to vote your conscience this year and every year. Remember, if people will lead, their leaders will follow.
Be sure to check out the nearly 100 proposals Project Drawdown has for taming the rise in global average temperatures. There’s something for everyone and every solution is backed by detailed, in-depth research. This is the information you need to make rational, informed decisions when choosing your political leaders.
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