Editor’s Notebook

Support the yay-sayers: Seeds of reversing global warming are here in our own communities

By Greta Belanger deJong

We (almost) never have covers that relate to specific stories or themes beyond seasonal. This month is different.

The cover relates to “The Living Building Challenge” (p. 12)—a Moab project guided by a Salt Lake architect that is garnering international attention. It’s listed in  Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, brainchild of (and edited by) journalist and entrepreneur Paul Hawken. The book details 100 tools and techniques with which global warming can be not just reduced but reversed, including a number of “coming attractions,” of which the Moab project is one.

The Drawdown team, an international coalition of researchers, gathered and tested ideas. They did not invent anything new. They studied and appraised existing practices from around the world. The results were tallied, and the actual rankings of the various best practices were revealed and entered into the book manuscript just days before press.

“What was uncovered is a path forward that can roll back global greenhouse gas emissions within 30 years,” Hawken writes. “The research revealed that humanity has the means and techniques at hand. Nothing new needs to be invented, yet many more solutions are coming, due to purposeful human ingenuity. The solutions we modeled are in place and in action.”

This book is important because it shines a light on what’s actually going on—practices that need to be applauded, supported and promoted.

I started paying attention to this book right after CATALYST’s Clean Air Solutions Fair last year. I was astonished to see the variety of practices in place right here in Utah, seeds of many of the projects Hawken and his crew rated highly: Wind, geo­thermal, rooftop solar, methane digesters, regenerative agriculture, composting, managed grazing, net zero buildings, bike infrastructure, LED lighting, insulation, heat pumps, mass transit, electric vehicles, telecommuting, house­hold recycling and more.

l noticed that many of the stories we write relate to one or another of Drawdown’s winning strategies.

When I heard that Paul Hawken would keynote the 10th Annual Intermountain Sustainability Summit in Ogden March 21,22, I decided to note which stories relate to practices in the book.

In this issue alone, in addition to Living Buildings, you’ll read about earthships (net zero buildings, #79; insulation, #31); our valley’s new anaerobic digester (#59), and a farmer who practices regenerative agriculture (#11). The Legacy Parkway, while at risk as a parkway right now, can still be celebrated for provoking the success of Front­Runner (mass transit, #37) and the Legacy Trail (bike infrastructure, #59).

The Drawdown Project now exists beyond the book. As a living, growing entity, it’s also on the internet (which is a good thing because, though the book is very attractive, its text is sized for Millennial eyeballs). When you’re done reading this issue, go there. For a good overview, watch Paul Hawken’s talk at the Seattle Town Hall. He’s an engaging speaker.

Better yet, come to the Summit on March 21 and hear him in person.

Greta deJong is founder and editor of CATALYST.

This article was originally published on March 1, 2019.