He took on the KKK now Mr Nice Guy plans to save the planet ...

Sunday Herald - - PROFILE - PRO­FILE BY RUS­SELL LEADBETTER http://www.draw­down.org/

MANY per­sua­sive, in­formed, high -pro­file peo­ple have pub­licly con­fronted cli­mate change. Naomi Klein, with her book This Changes Ev­ery­thing: Cap­i­tal­ism Vs the Cli­mate. Al Gore, with his In­con­ve­nient Truth doc­u­men­taries. Leonardo DiCaprio, with his own sub­stan­tial doc­u­men­tary, Before the Flood, and his re­cent $20 mil­lion do­na­tion to cli­mate-change char­i­ties.

You might not have heard of Paul Hawken, but a new book he has edited could be our best hope yet to save the world. It is called Draw­down and its sub­ti­tle is The Most Com­pre­hen­sive Plan Ever Pro­posed To Re­verse Global Warm­ing. A few months ago, Hawken was in­ter­viewed at the Bay Area Book Fes­ti­val in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia. The in­ter­viewer – jour­nal­ist and au­thor Mark Herts­gaard – ex­pressed the hope that every­one in the au­di­ence would buy and read the book, and “treat [it] as if your life de­pends upon it. Be­cause it does. And my life de­pends upon it, and my 12-year-old daugh­ter’s life de­pends upon it”.

Hawken, a youth­ful-look­ing 71-yearold from San Francisco, is an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, en­tre­pre­neur, au­thor and ac­tivist who, in his own words, has ded­i­cated his life “to en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity and chang­ing the re­la­tion­ship be­tween busi­ness and the en­vi­ron­ment.” He has estab­lished suc­cess­ful and eco­log­i­cally-con­scious busi­nesses and has con­sulted with heads of state and chief ex­ec­u­tives on eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, in­dus­trial ecol­ogy and en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy.

In 1965, he was press co-or­di­na­tor on the Martin Luther King his­toric March on Mont­gomery, and a pho­tog­ra­pher for the Congress of Racial Equal­ity, fo­cus­ing on voter-reg­is­tra­tion drives. He also pho­tographed the Ku Klux Klan in Merid­ian, Mis­sis­sippi, af­ter three civil rights work­ers were tortured and killed – help­ing bring the story to the world’s at­ten­tion. He is now ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Project Draw­down, a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that ex­am­ines when and how global warm­ing can be re­versed. The aim is to achieve a draw­down in CO2 emis­sions.

The project reached out to re­searchers across the world to iden­tify and model the 100 most sub­stan­tive, ex­ist­ing so­lu­tions to tack­ling cli­mate change. “What was un­cov­ered,” says its web­site, “is a path for­ward that can roll back global warm­ing within 30 years. It shows that hu­man­ity has the means at hand. Noth­ing new needs to be in­vented. The so­lu­tions are in place and in ac­tion. Our work is to ac­cel­er­ate the knowl­edge and growth of what is pos­si­ble. We chose the name Draw­down be­cause if we do not name the goal, we are un­likely to achieve it.”

The so­lu­tions sweep across di­verse fields – elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion, food, women and girls, build­ings and cities, land use, trans­port and ma­te­ri­als.

Project Draw­down points out that in­equal­i­ties mean women and girls are dis­pro­por­tion­ately vul­ner­a­ble to the im­pact of cli­mate change, from dis­ease to nat­u­ral dis­as­ter. But they are also key to global warm­ing be­ing suc­cess­fully ad­dressed and to “hu­man­ity’s over­all re­sis­tance”. Ed­u­cat­ing girls lays foun­da­tions for vi­brant lives and is also a pow­er­ful tool in the fight against emis­sions by curb­ing pop­u­la­tion growth – put sim­ply, ed­u­cated women have fewer ba­bies. Se­cur­ing women’s right to vol­un­tary, high-qual­ity fam­ily plan­ning would ben­e­fit the life ex­pectancy of them and their chil­dren while also af­fect­ing green­house gas emis­sions. A third so­lu­tion is to in­crease the yield of fe­male farm­ers around the world (there are more women farm­ers in the world than men, in­ci­den­tally), mean­ing less pres­sure to de­for­est ex­tra ground and thus fewer emis­sions. Draw­down’s so­lu­tions pro­pose in­creases in on­shore and off­shore wind tur­bines, so­lar farms, wave and tidal en­ergy, and geo­ther­mal power. On the lat­ter, the project notes that the heat en­ergy con­tained be­low the Earth’s sur­face is about 100 bil­lion times more than cur­rent world en­ergy con­sump­tion. Other so­lu­tions in­clude more high-speed rail, in­creased elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of freight rail, more use of hy­brid cars, elec­tric bikes re­plac­ing cars for ur­ban travel, in­creased us­age of mass tran­sit for city travel, and “walk­a­ble cities”, which pri­ori­tise two feet over four wheels through plan­ning and de­sign. Cut­ting food waste is also im­por­tant, as is get­ting more peo­ple to switch to plant-rich di­ets. (The project re­minds you of the star­tling fact that if cat­tle were their own nation they would be the world’s third-largest emit­ter of green­house gases.) The top-rank­ing, stand­alone so­lu­tion in terms of re­duced CO2 emis­sions (89.74 gi­ga­tons) cov­ers the hum­ble fridge and air-con unit. Old re­frig­er­ants – CFCs and HCFCs – that dam­aged the ozone layer have long been banned, but while hy­droflu­o­ro­car­bons, their main re­place­ment, spare the ozone layer, cau­tions Hawken, they “have a global warm­ing po­ten­tial that’s thou­sands of times greater than CO2’s”.

The choice of “re­verse” in the new book’s sub­ti­tle is no ac­ci­dent. Cur­rent lev­els of CO2 emis­sions are be­yond any­thing pre­vi­ously en­coun­tered on Earth, Hawken says. “The idea of mit­i­ga­tion, re­duc­tion, sta­bil­i­sa­tion, to me seems kind of ab­surd and kind of weak as a goal ... The only thing that makes sense is to re­verse it. Let’s go back the other way. I just felt, like, if you don’t name a goal, there’s lit­tle chance you’ll achieve it.”

Ear­lier he put it this way: “When words are used like ‘mit­i­ga­tion’ and ‘re­duc­tion’ and ‘slow­ing down’, it’s re­ally like Thelma and Louise in slow mo­tion. If you’re go­ing over the cliff and you slow down, you’re gonna go over the cliff more slowly. If you’re go­ing down a wrong road and slow down, it’s still the wrong road. So the lan­guage around why we should ad­dress this prob­lem has been weakkneed, not re­ally help­ful.”

Draw­down is not a mere am­bi­tion “it’s about pre­serv­ing civil­i­sa­tion”.

Paul Hawken helped bring the hor­rors of the KKK to the world’s at­ten­tion Pho­to­graph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Im­ages

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