Thinking about the climate crisis can be utterly paralyzing.
I'm painfully aware of the issues but I often feel pretty helpless about doing anything on a meaningful scale.
I like to read more about what I can do but when finishing up yet another article about our impending doom, I leave deflated. Feeling more knowledgeable but also more powerless.
I've just put down the The Future We Choose book and I'd definitely recommend it for anyone, like me, who can get a little despondent about the state of our planet - it's an inspiring read from the Global Optimism co-founders that offers a persuasive vision of a world we can all help to create.
In the face of overcoming monumental challenges such as the climate crisis, it's important for anyone to realise that things are not hopeless.
And in fact, according to a new report from the nonprofit Project Drawdown, the solutions the world needs to tackle climate change already exist.
The Drawdown Review, published Tuesday (an update to the group’s inaugural publication in 2017) offers details on how we can limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures as well as 2 degrees Celsius - both thresholds put forth in the Paris Agreement.
Building onshore wind turbines, reducing food waste, and eating plant-rich diets are among the top 10 actions the world needs to to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But none of these (or the 66 other solutions) alone is enough to successfully solve the climate crisis - their ability to work depends on every single other solution happening in tandem. The report points to the need to approach the climate emergency systemically.
Renewables are the most obvious part of the solution to steer us away from dramatic climate change, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle. Other solutions outlined in the report show we should do everything from redesigning buildings and cities to updating the chemicals in refrigerators.
The fixes aren’t waiting for us in some distant future. They’re readily available right now.
Renewable energy is here; it just needs more investment.
Plenty of people follow plant-based diets, but there are very few nudges to do so beyond individuals’ own morals or desires.
But there’s a benefit to all of us if we implement these suggestions: a livable future.
In fact, Project Drawdown estimates using these 76 solutions alone, we can reach a moment when atmospheric carbon dioxide peaks as early as 2040. Aggressively pursuing these solutions would cost us between $23.4 to $26.2 trillion but would result in $96.4 to $143.5 trillion saved.
That’s, in part, due to healthcare savings from reduced air pollution that’s killing millions a year, but also from all the climate damage we’ll avoid if we can limit warming and all the hellish impacts that go with it. Solving climate change is expensive—because humans took too long to take action before it got this bad—but doing nothing will cost us even more.
The report isn’t meant to simplify the issue - the authors are quite clear about the magnitude of changes they’re proposing. The fossil fuel industry has an extremely unhealthy relationship with policymakers and it's products are so ingrained in everyone's daily lives from bacon at breakfast to the drive home at night, that solving the climate crisis will be not be easy.
The 76 solutions might sound like obvious changes, but it's clear that the solutions are already here for the making.
To stop at 1.5 degrees warming (to stop at 2 degree, the slightly differs) these are the most important things to focus on:
- Onshore wind power
- Utility-scale solar power
- Reduced food waste
- Plant-rich diets
- Health and education
- Tropical forest restoration
- Improved clean cookstoves
- Distributed solar power
- Refrigerant management
- Alternative refrigerants
Onshore wind power and utility-scale solar power are the first two on the list of Project Drawdown’s plan to end the climate crisis with existing technologies, but there are plenty of other unglamorous ones too. We really do need to do it all to successfully fight the beast that is the climate crisis.
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We work exclusively in clean technology and partner with innovative companies across the world (who are leading the way across many of the 76 solutions mentioned above) to find extraordinary talent.
“There is this idea that there is going to be one or two or five or 10 solutions or technologies that can somehow be invented and going to solve the climate emergency that we’re facing now,” Chad Frischmann, Project Drawdown’s vice president and research director “The reality is there’s no such thing as a silver bullet ... because there are too many areas of human activity that need to be addressed.”