The latest book by Paul Hawken, “Drawdown” with its auspicious subtitle “The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” is a New York Times Bestseller and for very good reason.
By way of a quick refresher, Paul Hawken is an American environmentalist, entrepreneur and highly respected author. He’s considered one of the most influential leaders in the field of regenerative thinking, sustainability (a word he abhors) and positive action on climate change.
A perfect example of his personal impact would be his mentoring of some of the planet’s most brilliant minds, not least, the late, great, Ray Anderson. Ray, Founder and Chairman of Interface, often called the “greenest CEO in America” for his crusade to turn his billion-dollar carpet company into an environmentally sustainable enterprise, spent many an hour with Paul transitioning the business together.
100 realistic solutions
Paul’s most recent book “Drawdown” has been co-created by Paul and an international coalition of leading researchers, scientists and policymakers who have come together to offer a set of 100 realistic solutions to address climate change.
Of the title, Paul will tell you in his charmingly self-deprecating way that “we called it that because it’s the only plan ever proposed to reverse global warming” yet he has, is his usual way, set a very high bar.
It’s an incredible achievement. A colourful, digestible, authentic, action-oriented piece of hopefulness. And this really is a plan, and a simple one at that.
Every solution in the book, spread across two pages, coloured with beautiful photography, is accompanied by a simple set of numbers. The small chart atop each second page tells us just how many gigatons of carbon each of these ideas, when activated, can be removed from the atmosphere; and how quickly that particular solution can help us, the human race, reach “Drawdown”.
Sustainability is not the answer
You see that’s what “Drawdown” is: the point at which the amount of greenhouse gases, made up of carbon molecules, in the atmosphere have been reduced to such a level that our current state of planetary warming-up becomes one of cooling down.
I spoke with Paul after his recent visit here. He maintains that his book isn’t about sustainability, because “sustaining the current situation is no solution at all. This book is a roadmap to a regenerative ecology, one that supports a regenerative society”.
We’re going the wrong way
“Why would we continue down a road that we know is wrong?” Paul said “Any talk of mitigation, reduction, slowing down climate change is just rubbish. Really, none of that makes any sense. We know we’re going the wrong way with this so what we need to do is turn around and go the other way.”
As soon as my copy arrived I dug in, and out, and back in again. Like a story book of fables with powerful morals, I would read one ‘solution’ and find myself closing the book, sitting back and thinking through the very pure simplicity of that one idea, the achievability of the numbers (the team behind Drawdown have absolutely ‘done the math’ ) and the way we might be able to contribute to its activation.
The daunting monster
There’s a ton of commentary, and plenty of fabulous reviews for Drawdown out there yet it was this one from David Roberts of Vox Magazine, when referring to the daunting ‘monster’ that is unchecked climate change that, I feel, sums it up perfectly:
“There’s been no real way for ordinary people to get an understanding of what they can do and what impact it can have. There remains no single, comprehensive, reliable compendium of carbon-reduction solutions across sectors. At least until now. The public is hungry for this kind of practical wisdom.”
Interview with Paul Hawken
So, if this morsel has you wanting more, here’s Paul Hawken sharing his thinking in his usual down-to-earth and candid manner on why this book really matters.
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