Expert Paul Hawken ranks top 100 climate change solutions in his new book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.
Instead of the usual preaching involved in books on this topic, he presents the material more as a reference based on well-researched estimates of the carbon impact of each solution. I am excited that several of the top ten methods overlap with other desirable goals that individuals might have, and that several are easy for individuals to contribute to.
The top ten solutions
- Refrigerant management
- Wind turbines (onshore)
- Reduced food waste
- Plant-rich diet
- Tropical forests
- Educating girls
- Family planning
- Solar farms
- Rooftop solar
The number one single solution, refrigerant management, is getting underway worldwide as of late last year. Not much that we can do as individuals to further or accelerate that strategy.
The number one combo solution is already near and dear to me for reasons other than carbon emissions: educating girls + family planning. If you are looking for ways to help, Educating Girls Matters has a large list of organizations aimed toward educating girls and women worldwide. I’ve had some difficulty finding a good list of organizations supporting family planning internationally, but here are a few that I’m aware of:
- The Gates Foundation—as a rule, the Gates Foundation has been doing a stellar job of crunching the numbers and finding high-impact causes that provide a huge bang for the buck worldwide
- The World Health Organization has a very detailed description of their approach to this issue
- USAID works on a variety of causes that contribute to increased voluntary family planning and educating women worldwide.
- CARE also contributes to both causes.
I’ve been working in my own small way to reduce food waste at home (anyone want some soup or stir fry made from whatever’s left in the fridge?) and to move to a more plant-rich diet. I already ate less meat—especially beef—compared to most Americans, but consuming a wider variety and larger volume of plants regularly has definitely boosted my energy and my immune system. Feeling better is a much bigger motivator for individual action!