Finding Climate Hope with Drawdown Solutions

(A summary of the Project Drawdown presentation at the Sebastopol Carbon Conversation on September 4, 2019)

By Pauline Allen [posted September 18, 2019]

On September 4th more than 80 people gathered at the Sebastopol Grange to hear Crystal Chissell of Project Drawdown speak at the first Sebastopol Carbon Conversation, a series of talks on climate solutions hosted by The Rahus Institute, The Sebastopol Grange, and 350 Sonoma. Project Drawdown, a non-profit born in Sausalito California in 2014, has created an ongoing research collaboration to model solutions that go beyond merely halting the increase of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere and go one step further to drawdown those atmospheric GHGs, thereby reversing global warming. After reading Drawdown The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed To Reverse Global Warming, or reading about these solutions on Project Drawdown’s website people feel hopeful in a way that they don’t typically when talking about climate change. Another unique aspect of Project Drawdown’s work is that it includes sectors not typically considered when talking about solutions to the climate crisis, such as gender equity and food systems. Chissell shared that of top 20 Drawdown solutions 12 are about food systems and land use, so we don’t need a technological fix; we need to live in better cooperation with the earth. 

Since 2017 when the Drawdown book came out, Project Drawdown has continued to strive for comprehensive research, building new partnerships, and inspiring change. Chissell pointed out that to be really comprehensive the continued research would look at solutions such as reducing consumption, peace, and an equitable and just transition; however there isn’t data available for these yet. Excitedly, Chissell shared that new research which will be released soon includes ocean solutions. Project Drawdown has partnered with Penn State University, which offered a scholar program this summer and is hosting the first Drawdown Conference, called Research to Action: the Science of Drawdown.

“The era of the hero is over. There is no one solution or one organization that will fix the climate crisis. All the drawdown solutions are important because they are designed as a system.”

Drawdown is a great resource for educators around the globe. Local teachers have found that it is a great tool for students to start their own research projects and design climate solutions for their school community. To share ideas for teaching climate solutions, teachers in Sonoma County have begun meeting in the Teach Climate Soco group. Nationally, Drawdown Learn is hosting their second annual Drawdown Learn Conference for educators in New York on October 18-20th.

In Bamenda, Cameroon, one man was inspired to share Drawdown solutions. He recruited a team of volunteers to educate people about these solutions in urban and rural areas. He’s estimated that they have engaged with about 10,000 people. With agriculture employing 70% of the population in Bamenda and  poor education for girls, the solutions that are most appealing here are afforestation, regenerative agriculture, educating women and girls, reducing food waste, and forest protection. 

Project Drawdown was asked to sponsor a booth at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair. The man that hosted the booth shared that many people in Zimbabwe believe in climate change since cyclone Idai hit in March. They are already implementing many Drawdown solutions including; reducing food waste, family planning, educating girls, regenerative agriculture, rooftop solar, afforestation, conservation agriculture, clean cookstoves, led lights, water saving, recycling, and eating a plant-rich diet. With a smile, Chissell shared that this is a great example to keep things in perspective; we may find it difficult to cut emissions or change our behavior, meanwhile in one of the poorest countries in the world some of the people who have contributed the least to global emissions and are feeling the effects the most, have already implemented myriad solutions.  

Drawdown is meant to be a starting point, a shift in the climate crisis conversation from despair to reality based hope. There is work to be done at every level– individual, community, national, global– beginning with informing ourselves and others, then implemented solutions. An example of Drawdown inspiration at the city level is the City of Cincinnati, which looked at Drawdown solutions when revising their Green Cincinnati Plan. All of the Drawdown solutions exist, yet they still need politics to support their implementation, which is why it is important to continue communicating with your representatives. 

What steps should we take going forward? Chissell again emphasized the importance of cooperation. “The era of the hero is over.” There is no one solution or one organization that will fix the climate crisis. All the drawdown solutions are important because they are designed as a system. We should inform ourselves. Visit drawdown.org. Read the actual text of the Green New Deal resolution. Find someone to work on this with and hold each other accountable. Join a group. Join a movement. Be willing to change your attitude and behavior. 
Visit solarschoolhouse.org/sebastopolcarbonconversations to see the schedule for upcoming Sebastopol Carbon Conversation talks