If you want to change something, you must have a plan. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed To Reverse Global Warming, a free website and New York Times bestselling book, will help you start thinking about how to transform our planet and economy based on environmental responsibility. Created by a team of experts led by Paul Hawken, a lifelong environmentalist who founded the Smith & Hawken gardening business, Drawdown covers emerging and well-established technologies for reducing humans’ carbon footprint. You’ll find fascinating articles about energy alternatives, building sustainably, food security, and prosperity — based on developing new industries that restore the planet.

Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken, is a must-read for informed citizens.

It’s a positive and pragmatic book everyone should read. Although many of the projects Drawdown describes are massive investments, readers will learn how they can influence change through their personal leadership and actions. When we modify our purchasing habits based on the environmental impact of a product or service, it exerts pressure on business and governments to respond with more sustainable options.

Removing Greenhouse Gases

The clearly described options for removing gigatons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases make Drawdown an entertaining and inspirational read. Each carbon reduction strategy is explained and the Drawdown team provides estimated costs and the resulting financial savings compared to unsustainable alternatives, as well as the impact on greenhouse gas emissions. For example, micro wind installations that produce less than 100 kilowatts of power can replace electrical production for a building, saving the family, farm, or small business on utility bills. If micro wind were installed widely, increasing from today’s 0.2 percent of electrical production to just one percent of the total, the resulting savings after costs would be $19.9 billion and a reduction of 0.2 gigatons of CO2. 

Addressing the Costs

The challenge is thinking through the costs of these programs. For instance, raising micro wind’s contribution to global electrical output will cost $36.1 billion. That sounds like a lot of money. It is a lot of money, but these costs will be distributed. In the case of micro wind, individual families and businesses will likely provide the investment upfront, but society can help by sharing the cost through subsidies. Converting to LED lighting is another massive investment that will remove 7.81 gigatons of carbon output annually at a cost of $325.5 billion globally — that spending will happen a light bulb at a time over many years. 

Some projects, such as increasing household recycling (our focus at Earth911), will require business and government investment to achieve. Drawdown explains:

The household and industrial recycling solutions were modeled together and include metals, plastic, glass, and other materials, such as rubber, textiles, and e-waste. Paper products and organic wastes are treated in separate waste management solutions. Emissions reductions stem from avoiding emissions associated with landfilling and from substituting recycled materials for virgin feedstock. With about 50 percent of recycled materials coming from households, if the average worldwide recycling rate increases to 65 percent of total recyclable waste, household recycling could avoid 2.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.”

We Need To Act Now

Unfortunately, U.S. recycling rates hover at about 34 percent and our recycling system is in crisis. It is time to act, starting at home.

Each of us can take part in these migrations to sustainability. Drawdown provides fascinating stories and many actions we can take, especially becoming informed about the options we have as a society. Check out the website or order the book for a life-changing view of the possibilities within our grasp and be part of the plan for an environmentally responsible global economy.

By Mitch Ratcliffe

Mitch is the publisher at Earth911.com and Director of Digital Strategy and Innovation at Intentional Futures, an insight-to-impact consultancy in Seattle. A veteran tech journalist, Mitch is passionate about helping people understand sustainability and the impact of their decisions on the planet.