Drawdown Utah

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Environmental Politics

Drawdown Utah

A look at local businesses and organizations whose work is already helping reverse global warming and stem the tide of climate change.

What follows is a recognition and a call to support for some of the Salt Lake City and Utah local businesses, nongovernmental and government organizations, and people who are turning this research into living and growing action all around us.

April marks the third anniversary of one of the most ambitious and truly helpful boo­ks on global warming. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, is the bestselling body of work by the nonprofit research organization Project Drawdown (conceived and edited by Paul Hawken) and provides an in-depth analysis of attainable solutions to the climate crisis.

The goal of the book was audacious: Name our mission— the mission is global warming reversal— and show how it is possible through a myriad of already developed innovations led by companies, governments and citizens alike.

The book then details these innovations—mapping, measuring, modeling and ranking them in ability to achieve “drawdown,” the critical point in time when the concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere starts to decline from year to year. Drawdown is the point in time we move away from perpetuating global warming, move past simply halting it, and bound on to reversing it.

Leading climate voices are telling us that we have reasons to believe we can do this. Last month, CATALYST interviewed the 2020 Intermountain Sustainability Summit keynote speaker, Hunter Lovins, who builds her environmental activism and organization around the idea that humans already possess the main tools she believes will rapidly reverse climate change—solar energy and storage and regenerative agriculture (www.bit.ly/2WMoC4g). With these innovations along with 98 more, Drawdown provides a detailed review of substantive solutions, while completing math that warns us that doing nothing is far more expensive than doing something.

At the beginning of this year—and the new decade—Project Drawdown released their second seminal publication, an update to the previous assessment of solutions to move the world toward reaching drawdown. The new publication, The Drawdown Review, is accessible as an open-source digital resource on the project’s website (www.bit.ly/2QN4wTD).

The Drawdown Review is, for the most part, an update to the top solutions from the previous findings of Drawdown. The Drawdown Review focuses its organization and action plan into three connected action plan areas: 1) Reducing sources, 2) Supporting sinks and 3) Improving society.

Within each of these connected areas lie the solutions, which are re-ranked in terms of effectiveness at reaching drawdown by mid-century.

The first category, “Reducing Sources,” focuses on the six most heat-trapping greenhouse gas sectors: Electricity production (25%); Food, agriculture and land use (24%); Industry (21%); Transportation (14%); Buildings (6%); and Other energy-related emissions (10%). Reducing sources has the power to bring emissions to zero.

The second category, “Supporting Sinks,” will uplift nature’s carbon cycle and actually take additional carbon out of the air. The solutions here are grouped into land sinks, coastal and ocean sinks, and engineered sinks.

The last category, “Improving Society,” focuses on health and education, for fostering equality is necessary to support solutions in the other categories.

While Project Drawdown focuses on gathering and testing innovations from all over the world, it is important to shine light on the efforts contributed from within our home communities.

Reducing the Sources

Electricity Production & Buildings

Shift Production

Wind Turbines (ranked #1 in The Drawdown Review) & Solar Photovoltaics (ranked #2)

A shift away from fossil fuel-powered electricity is underway in the U.S. as economics begin to favor wind and sun energy over coal. Onshore, offshore and micro scale wind turbines, distributed rooftop solar photovoltaics, utility-scale solar photovoltaics and an evolution in the grid system will generate clean, emissions-free electricity for homes, buildings and industry.

  • The monopoly utility company Rocky Mountain Power created a plan in 2017 that will have added a total of 1,234 megawatts of new wind energy to the grid by 2020. The Utah-based public policy nonprofit, Utah Clean Energy, intervened in support for wind energy in Rocky Mountain Power’s “Energy Vision 2020” plan. Utah Clean Energy provides expert testimony in technical utility proceedings that has helped to bring multiple utility-sized solar and wind projects to Utah. Utah now has well over a gigawatt of utility-sized solar, wind and geothermal projects, according to their website. www.UtahCleanEnergy.org

Geothermal Power (ranked #36)

Utah is ranked number three in the country in geothermal power but according to the Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development, the state has the potential to harness some 30 times more geothermal power than what it currently produces.

  • The University of Utah Energy & Geoscience Institute is leading research for the U.S. Department of Energy under the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Engineering (FORGE) Project to develop, test and accelerate breakthroughs in the technology. www.UtahForge.com

Enhance Efficiency

Insulation (ranked #24), Retrofitting Older Homes, and Net Zero Buildings

Insulation impedes unwanted airflow in and out of buildings. In retrofitted homes and net zero buildings, heating and cooling become energy efficient with lower emissions. This is especially important in Utah, where, according to the Utah Division of Air Quality 2018 Annual Report, in the next four years pollution generated by homes and small businesses will overtake all other pollution sources in the winter.

  • Current homeowners can look into Rocky Mountain Power and Dominion Energy rebates for insulation. www.bit.ly/2wEFn6W
  • One especially noteworthy insulation business is the award-winning AeroBarrier West, servicing Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah. The company uses an innovative leak-finding technique and an airborne sealant to plug holes as thin as a human hair in homes and other buildings. www.AeroBarrierWest.com
  • For those who are looking to buy or build, Redfish Builders designs, develops and builds net zero homes from start to finish. Their properties, called Living Zenith homes located near Liberty Park are airtight for maximum efficiency. Equipped with solar panels and battery units, they are also clean energy generators. Inside, they contain smart technologies that eliminate air toxins and help automate the process of ensuring energy efficiency. www.LivingZenith.com
  • A “Living Building” certification is the true archetype of a sustainable, net zero building. In 2018, a partnership between Community Rebuilds and ArchNexus kicked off a project that became the first full Living Building Challenge-registered project in Utah. They collect and treat their own water, collect and store their own electricity, and are built from natural, non-toxic materials. Their first Utah project, which CATALYST wrote about last year, is set for completion next May. www.bit.ly/2FnvzzJ
  • Other noteworthy Utah companies include Granite Legacy and Giv Developments that build homes and apartment buildings along the Wasatch Front that are either net zero or to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready specifications for energy efficiency. Perhaps their most notable construction is the 75-home development in South Salt Lake, the Garbett Homes community.

www.ArchNexus.com

www.GarbettHomes.com

www.GivDevelopment.com

LED Lighting (ranked #25)

  • Commercial Lighting Supply is a 35-year-old Salt Lake City local business focused on eco-friendly lighting. Not only do they sell nearly all types of LED lights and fixtures, but they will safely recycle your old fluorescent CFL and HID bulbs. www.CommercialLightingInc.com

Smart Thermostats (ranked #43)

Smart thermostats use algorithms and sensors to become more energy efficient over time, adjusting to your schedule and lowering emissions.

Dynamic Glass (ranked #31)

By responding to outside weather conditions, dynamic glass can reduce a building’s energy load for heating, cooling and lighting.

  • One of the industry’s leaders, View Dynamic Glass, has performed several large-scale installations in Utah, including at Overstock. com’s headquarters in Midvale, a BYU office and the four-story, 100,000-square-foot office building called Cornerstone II in Cottonwood Heights. www.bit.ly/2UDeUP8)

Green Roofs (ranked #69)

Green roofs use soil and vegetation as living insulation, reducing building energy use for heating and cooling. Green roofs have been cropping up atop buildings in most major cities.

Food, Agriculture & Land Use

Address Waste and Diets

(#3) Reduce Food Waste

Approximately one third of food produced in the world never gets eaten. In Utah alone,  over 600,000 tons of food goes to waste every year. Reducing the amount of the food we waste will reduce demand for food production and transportation, preserving the land and resources used in that production while lowering greenhouse gases emitted from it.

  • Waste Less Solutions, a participant in CATALYST’s Clean Air Solutions Fair last month, is one of the area’s most committed leaders in reducing food waste in Utah through their heavy focus on diverting food that is edible from the landfill and to the plates of food-insecure individuals. In addition to educating consumers and food entities on the issue and solutions, the nonprofit and their core of dedicated volunteers runs a successful food diversion program that rescues edible food and delivers it to the food insecure in our community. To date, Waste Less Solutions has saved over 200,000 pounds of food, the equivalent of 216,000 meals. www.WasteLessSolutions.org

But what about food that cannot be saved to eat?

  • SLCgreen, Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department, has made diverting food waste a priority in their citywide sustainability plan. As part of their recycling division, the department has instituted a curbside compost collection that accepts all forms of green waste, including food scraps from fruit and vegetables, eggshells, tea bags and coffee grounds, with no additional fee to your monthly garbage bill. The waste is then processed at a compost facility right in the city and turned into wood chips, mulch and compost that is then put up for sale year-round (www.bit.ly/3dxTMCw). Through citywide composting, approximately 17,877 tons of food waste is diverted each year.

www.Slc.gov/Sustainability/

 

Yet there is still another gap in the food waste dilemma: What to do with food that cannot be saved to eat, but is cooked, prepared or processed and thus cannot be composted? What about beverages and packaged foods? Oils and fats?

  • Wasatch Resource Recovery is on a mission to close that gap. It is Utah’s first and only anaerobic digestion plant with two 2.5 million-gallon oxygen-free tanks that break down waste to produce biogas and biofertilizer. Operational since late 2018, the project is not only greatly reducing the amount of food going to our landfill but is also generating clean energy for the local grid.

www.WasatchResourceRecovery.com

Grocery stores, food and beverage manufacturers, cafeterias, restaurants and other entities across the valley are transporting their food waste to the facility, many through Wasatch Resource Recovery’s collaboration with Momentum Recycling. www.bit.ly/33UzwXh

Aside from diverting food waste, WRR also fulfills another one of Project Drawdown’s top solutions: Methane digesters (Ranked #47).

Food waste itself, when left to decompose in a landfill, can become a harmful environmental pollutant. According to Stanford Earth, half of the gas emitted from landfills is methane, a greenhouse gas that warms the planet 34 times as potently than carbon dioxide. In addition to methane, organic waste breaking down in landfills produces another harmful gas: ammonia. Ammonia is an especially nasty gas in Salt Lake City, where it combines with nitrogen oxide produced by vehicles, furnaces and industrial equipment to create ammonium nitrate, a compound that makes up a significant portion of the dreaded PM 2.5 that hovers over our valley in wintertime.

At Wasatch Resource Recovery, the anaerobic digesters contain and capture the various gases produced in the breakdown of organic matter. Methane is separated, purified, converted into biomethane (a renewable natural gas), fed into the nearby gas pipeline and sold into the market as renewable power. According to their website, at full capacity, the digester can supply enough natural gas for approximately 40,000 people—all of the homes in a community the size of Bountiful. The ammonia is condensed and used to form a natural and nutrient-rich, carbon-based liquid fertilizer sold to farmers.

See Mary McIntyre’s March 2019 CATALYST story: www.bit.ly/2UxSGwN.

Plant-Rich Diet (#4):

The meat-centric, Western diet accounts for roughly one-fifth of our global emissions. Much of this detriment is attributable to the way we raise and feed our meat sources in the industrialized agricultural system. Industrial animal production is inhumane, polluting, and much more costly than price-distorting government subsidies make it seem.

Favoring plant-based foods, provided they are not highly processed, lowers demand for meat and dairy, reducing land clearing, fertilizer use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Critically, when we do buy meat, we need to buy from farmers and ranchers raising grass-fed animals. Grass-fed, grazing animals can be key to creating a healthy soil ecosystem as well as healthy humans.

  • Local growers and producers online with ordering and pickup options during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Canyon Meadows Ranch Beef. CmrBeef.com

Blue Tree Farms www.BlueTreeFarms.com

Clifford Family Farm Poultry, pork, eggs. www.CliffordFamilyFarm.com

Lau Family Farms Lamb and beef.  https://laufamilyfarm.com

Old Home Place / McDowell Family Farm Beef, yak, pork, lamb, llama, pastured poultry. www.oldhomeplaceheritagefarms@gmail.com

Handsown Homegrown Vendor Co-op Veggies, yogurt, microgreens, kombucha, bread, mushroom and more. Online ordering with delivery and pick-up options available. www.handsownhomegrown.com/collections

  • Utah Natural Meat and Milk Beef, lamb, pork, poultry, raw milk, eggs. www.UtahNaturalMeat.com
  • Local retail outlets that are still open and offering local products

Redmond Heritage Farm Stores (Sugar House, Orem, Heber Valley, Redmond) Full-service natural foods grocer selling locally raised grassfed meats and raw milk. RedmondFarms.com

Caputo’s Market Local meats, cheeses, chocolates, eggs, etc. https://caputos.com

Liberty Heights Fresh Local meats, cheeses, produce, eggs, etc. www.libertyheightsfresh.com

With the farmers market season ahead uncertain, you may wish to join one of the Valley’s many  local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, for weekly produce delivery. Not only will you be sure to up the plants in your diet this way, but you can lower your food-carbon-footprint and help strengthen an important local economy.

The Urban Food Coalition, presenters of SLC’s downtown farmers markets, is compiling a list of area CSAs. www.SlcFarmersMarket.org

Protect & Restore Ecosystems

Forest Protection (#6)

Forests are one of our most powerful allies in harnessing carbon from the atmosphere. But more than 15 billion of these “carbon storehouses” are cut down every year. According to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, timber harvesting on state and private lands in Utah has only increased in recent years.

  • The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) is one of several organizations that have been successful in their vigilance on preventing de-vegetation and forestation in Utah. Just this February, under pressure by SUWA, the Bureau of Land Management surrendered on plans of multiple major vegetation removal projects in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. www.Suwa.org
  • One useful way to reduce reckless deforestation is eco-certification programs that inform consumers and affect our purchasing decisions. When buying wood floors or furniture, an FSC (Forest Certified Council) certified wood promotes responsible forestry practices. www.bit.ly/3bp7x4o. The hardwood floors at Salt Lake City’s Underfoot Floors are FSC certified. They also offer other sustainable options such as bamboo. (See Use Degraded Land for more on bamboo.) www.UnderfootFloors.net

Indigenous Peoples’ Forest Tenure (Ranked #30)

Around the world indigenous communities have long been leading voices and actors in resisting deforestation, resource extraction and monocrop agriculture. The Drawdown Project commends this resistance for preventing land-based carbon emissions and believes that by securing land tenure to protect indigenous peoples’ sovereignty, their traditional practices will continue to preserve biodiversity, land and forest health, and carbon sinks.

Indigenous peoples have lived in the area now known as the state of Utah for thousands of years. Traditionally, they’ve grown crops as diverse as native potatoes, beans, berries and teas, raising animals all along the region’s water bodies. As urbanization and habitat degradation have threatened the area’s biodiversity, honoring and learning from traditional and indigenous agricultural and land management practices is as important as ever.

  • In revitalizing indigenous food heritage, Utah Diné Bikéyah has launched an innovative Traditional Foods Program directed by Cynthia Wilson, a Navajo Tribal member from Monument Valley, Utah. The program is restoring traditional food practices with the aim of healing the Earth by preserving the cultural and natural resources of ancestral lands. www.bit.ly/2WSrrB7

Use Degraded Land

Bamboo production (#21)

Bamboo is an excellent alternative to other woods, whose harvests destroy essential forests, and has the potential to substitute for more emissions-intensive products from aluminum and plastic to concrete and even steel.

By purchasing items made of bamboo, you help promote bamboo production, one of the top ways Project Drawdown has found to support sinks (See Support Sinks, nearby). Bamboo supports sinks because it is an extremely effective CO2 absorber, faster than almost any other plant, and can thrive on degraded lands.

 

  • Nature Ponics, a family owned company based in Orem, Utah, pioneers “all-natural growing solutions” in order to help “eradicate problems associated with unhealthy growth practices.” The company builds 100% natural, indoor/outdoor bamboo vertical gardening towers aimed at helping people grow their own food in small spaces while eliminating the need to use plastic.

www.NaturePonics.net

 Shift Agricultural Practices

Conservation Agriculture (#39)

Plowing or tilling is the norm in industrial scale agriculture. Farmers rely on this practice to quickly destroy weeds, aerate their soil and fold in their fertilizer. But in doing so, water in their freshly tilled soil evaporates, nutrients are destroyed, and the carbon held in that soil is released into the atmosphere.

Instead, conservation agriculture uses cover crops, crop rotation and minimal tilling, thereby protecting soil and avoiding carbon emissions.

 

  • Wasatch Community Gardens hosts educational programs on how to implement conservation techniques for managing healthy growing here (www.bit.ly/3akU1ic) they have compiled tips and resources for using cover crops. www.WasatchGardens.org

 

  • Looking for alternatives to tilling? In a recent CATALYST gardening column, local farmer James Loomis offers some helpful guidance (www.bit.ly/2ImkUpQ).

Regenerative annual cropping (#20)

Building on conservation agriculture, regenerative annual cropping enhances and sustains the health of our soil by restoring its organic matter. Healthy soil with healthy organic matter is a successful sink, sequestering and storing carbon from the atmosphere (See Support Sinks nearby).

Practices include no tillage, diverse cover crops, crop rotations, animal grazing, and no pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or external nutrients.

 

  • Onchenda Open Global Food Cooperative is a Utah-based benefit corporation guiding the deployment of regenerative agriculture methods to local farmers and connecting those farmers to marketing and delivery infrastructure . Existing farmers can find free resources such as help building their own online stores. Start-ups and transition growers can join free mentorships. www.Onchenda.com
  • Farmers across the country have cut their costs by abandoning fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and mechanical energy, and instead have yielded higher profits from a dramatically increased productivity via regenerative agriculture. In 2019, CATALYST wrote about Bob Quinn, a 71-year-old Montana wheat grower and regenerative farming activist. (www.bit.ly/2TFdfpN)
  • Utah has tested its own success at the practice. In the summer of 2018, Park City began to initiate regenerative agriculture at McPolin Farm. With help from Bill White Farms, cattle were introduced to this relatively undisturbed land and made to eat its grasses and weeds. Park City Sustainability writes about the effect:

“The disturbance by the cows’ hooves, as well as what comes out of their tail ends, helped to mix dead matter with the soil and facilitate the decomposition process. This accelerated decomposition is key in releasing nutrients, thus creating a healthy environment for microbiota to trap more carbon away from the atmosphere and build up the health of our soils. The healthy soils are also more able to retain water and allow for better growth of native species instead of noxious weeds.”

www.bit.ly/3apXGeA

Farm Irrigation Efficiency (#64)

One of the best ways to avoid the energy intensive pumping and distribution of agriculture irrigation is to install drip systems. Drip irrigation is not only much more precise and efficient but is the preferred method of irrigation for dry desert regions such as Utah.

  • Wasatch Community Gardens has helpful guidelines for gardeners and farmers to install their own drip systems cost effectively. www.bit.ly/2vWMNSM

Industry

Address Refrigerants

Refrigerant Management (Ranked #9)

Refrigerators and air conditioners, domestic and industrial, contain chemical refrigerants that absorb and release heat. While the especially harmful CFC and HCFC refrigerants, once culprits in depleting the ozone layer, have been phased out since 1987, the HFC replacements release fluorinated gases that have a potent greenhouse effect. Substitutes such as propane and ammonium are now on the market to help phase out HFCs.

Effective disposal of older refrigerators is extremely important as 90% of refrigerant emissions happen at end of life. You can help avoid emissions in landfills by disposing of your old fridge, freezer or air conditioner responsibly.

  • The Salt Lake Valley Landfill accepts hard-to-recycle items including refrigerators, freezers and a/c units, disposing refrigerants according to federal regulations before the items are recycled. www.bit.ly/2UIYdBI

Use Waste

Composting (#62) and Recycling (#48)

According to Project Drawdown, nearly half of the solid waste produced globally is organic or biodegradable. Without proper composting or recycling, much of this waste ends up in landfills where it decomposes in the absence of oxygen, producing a greenhouse gas (methane) that is up to 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

From backyard bins to industrial, city-scale operations, Utah is trying to divert some of this waste through composting and recycling programs.

  • For basic guidelines on what you can recycle, where and in which bin for Salt Lake County, visit the Salt Lake County Recycling website. www.Slco.org/Recycle/
  • Also based in Salt Lake City, the Utah Recycling Alliance stands by its mission to “empower people, organizations and communities statewide to create a Zero Waste culture by building successful models and encouraging practices that promote reuse, recycling and resource conservation.” They host CHaRMs (collecting hard-to-recycle materials) and Fix-It Clinics around the Valley and every year present awards to local businesses making noteworthy progress towards eliminating and diverting waste. See here (www.bit.ly/35SxPca) for stories about recent awardees).

www.UtahRecyclingAlliance.org

  • The Recycling Coalition of Utah in Park City is the State of Utah’s official resource on recycling. The coalition promotes awareness of waste reduction, supports legislation that promotes effective recycling and provides technical information about recycling and com­posting to improve Utah municipalities. www.UtahRecycles.org
  • Salt Lake City’s Compost Program, offers curbside compost collection service for most of the year, for residents who pay a general monthly garbage fee. Toss in all forms of green waste, including food scraps from fruit and vegetables, eggshells, tea bags and coffee grounds. www.bit.ly/3dxTMCw) (See Reduce Food Waste and SLCgreen above).
  • Or, start your own backyard composting with help from Wasatch Community Gardens. Read their guide here (www.bit.ly/2UlzXXz).

Transportation

Shift to Alternatives

Public Transit (#19)

Efficient, easy to use, accessible public transportation helps keep car use to a minimum and averts greenhouse gases.

  • Visit the Utah Transit Authority’s website for bus routes, TRAX, ski bus, FrontRunner and more. Note: Regularly scheduled FrontRunner and Trax service continues as of this writing, March 24; many bus routes have been limited or suspended. www.RideUta.com

Bike infrastructure (#45)

Biking is another important part of our transportation system as an alternative to driving.

SLC.gov provides some useful links to bike resources:

Electric Bikes (#55)

E-bikes have become popular in Utah in recent years. For around $1,000 to $2,000, you can purchase your own and stay out of your car even for longer or more strenuous trips.

Here are some links to local e-bike businesses:

Electrify Vehicles

Electric Cars (#27)

According to Project Drawdown, “Compared to gasoline-powered vehicles, emissions drop by 50% if an [electric vehicle’s] power comes off the conventional grid. If powered by solar energy, carbon dioxide emissions fall by 95%.”

Locally, transportation accounts for nearly 50% of the pollutants that accumulate during winter. Electric vehicles including cars will be a huge part of protecting our regional air quality on top of reaching global drawdown.

The good news is that the city has reported an uptick in EV use in Salt Lake City.

Incentives might make it possible for you, too, to purchase an EV.

  • Live Electric incentive list (www.LiveElectric.org/Incentives)
  • Utah Department of Environmental Quality incentive programs (www.bit.ly/2UCZkD7)
  • The Federal Plug-in Electric Drive Vehicle Tax Credit (www.bit.ly/39kWCr9)
  • U Drive Electric, though closed, deserves a gracious nod for bringing over 76 EVs into Utah in less than two months in 2015 (www.bit.ly/2UGZ5qq). The program, through the University of Utah, sponsored community group purchasing or leasing at a dramatic discount, the first university program of its kind in the nation.

Part one of Project Drawdown’s framework for climate solutions is to, first and foremost, reduce sources of emissions.

Improving Society

“Climate solutions are never just climate solutions.”

The last overarching area of action aims to foster equality for all. “Climate and social systems are profoundly connected, and those connections open up solutions that are often overlooked.”

Health and Education (#5)

Securing gender equality and advancing human well-being through health and

education means, in large part, promoting

educational opportunities for girls and young women and access to reproductive healthcare. When this happens, women’s political,

social and economic empowerment

expands, increasing positive ripple effects.

Access to education/economic opportunities:

  • Started in 2016, Wasatch Community Gardens’ job training program, the Green Team, “aims to simultaneously revitalize an underutilized urban area while providing opportunities for women who are experiencing homelessness” during a 10-month period (www.WasatchGardens.org/Green-Team-Farm).

Last year, Wasatch Community Gardens launched Seeds of Success, an additional job training and placement program to assist single mothers living in poverty.

CATALYST wrote in more depth about these programs here: www.bit.ly/36we1wZ.

  • Politically, it is important to support women running for office. A recent report by WalletHub and covered by the SL Tribune ranked Utah worst state in the country for women’s equality. A large part of this analysis stemmed from the political category, which includes the number of women elected to federal and state political positions and executive jobs. https://bit.ly/3dxnmbe
  • The Utah Women’s Coalition is statewide, made up of nonprofit organizations, women’s groups, medical professionals and policymakers working toward expanding economic opportunities, educational equity and ending gender-based violence in Utah. Check their website for upcoming events and how to get involved. www.UtahWomensCoalition.org

Access to reproductive healthcare:

Title X, the government program that reduces costs for services, is no longer available to Planned Parenthood patients because of a new rule from the Trump Administration. Even so, PPAU is seeing patients insured or not and uses a sliding fee scale with a minimum $10 co-pay while still ensuring that they will not turn any patients away.

PPAU is currently fighting the rule change and has a list of ways you, too, can help: www.IStandWithPp.org.

Supporting Sinks

Part two is to uplift nature’s carbon cycle through supporting natural carbon sinks that will further return atmospheric carbon to living vegetation and soils. Several practices that support sinks have already been discussed under Food, Agriculture & Land Use such as plant-rich diets, reduced food waste, conservation agriculture and regenerative annual cropping, reminding us that many of our climate solutions are indeed intertwined.

Land Sinks

Shift Agriculture Practices

Silvopasture (#11)

Integrating trees, pasture and forest into a single system improves land health while significantly increasing carbon sequestration. Silvopasture is the practice of integrating forestry and the grazing of livestock. Because livestock grazing is already common in Utah forests and woodlands, silvopasture has great implementation potential in this state.

  • The Utah State University Forestry Extension has created an extensive fact sheet detailing the relationships between trees and forage and providing Utah-specific suggestions on managing land for forest grazing, a helpful resources for interested ranchers (www.bit.ly/2xuih2M).

Engineered Sinks

Remove and store carbon

Biochar Production (#51)

Biochar, a product of biomass, has the potential to produce “2.2-4.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions reductions by 2050,” according to Project Drawdown. When biomass (anything from peanut shells to wood chips) is baked in the near or total absence of oxygen, the carbon that normally would have been released into the atmosphere in surface level decomposition becomes stored in biochar. When biochar is buried, it can hold that carbon stable in soil for centuries while simultaneously enriching the soil and improving its functions.

Check out CATALYST’s coverage of biochar, “Garden Like a Boss: Biochar 101.” www.bit.ly/2Uz2oQE.

  • The Southern Rockies Fire Science Network is currently collaborating with Utah State University Forestry Extension to study an innovative approach to removing hazardous fuels through biochar kilns that results in the production of useful biochar. www.bit.ly/2QP83RA
  • Park City’s biochar program has been incorporating biochar into community tree plantings since 2017 and has hosted community demonstrations about the production of biochar. www.bit.ly/3dxaeD3
  • Interested in purchasing your own biochar as a way to help recharge your soil? Here are some online listings in the Salt Lake area:

Biochar soil amendment: www.bit.ly/2xq7J4Q

GOBiochar (John Webster) www.bit.ly/3bFj0gH

Conclusion

While extensive, this guide to forward-looking local climate businesses and organizations is certainly not complete. The take-away, though, is this: Viable solutions for reversing global warming are plausible and economically realistic even in our home state—and we know this is true because it is happening now.

What more? This report shows that a significant community here is ready to undertake the challenging task of cultural transformation necessary for bold climate action. Capitol is moving from the problems to the solutions, and so is human energy and spirit.

“A transformation that moves us toward drawdown is possible, as demonstrated here, but it will require much more than the right technologies and practices being available. Genuine evolution is in order—evolution in what we value, how we treat one another, who holds the reins of power, the ways institutions operate, and the very contours of our economies.” (page 79)

In learning from Project Drawdown and compiling this guide, what most stands out for me is that the necessary divergence from our dangerous course will not come from implementing one or two major solutions, even if we threw all of our collective energy toward them. There is no panacea, no cure-all. Instead, the healing and reversing will come from an accumulation of acts implemented in parallel. Change here, growth there, stepping forward, continuing on.

Emily Spacek graduated with a degree in political science. She is a CATALYST staff writer.

 

 
 
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