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!
I strongly recommend this article: Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful To Women?
If you find it too long, here are a few highlights:
- The percentage of women in tech is falling.
- “Workplace conditions, a lack of access to key creative roles, and a sense of feeling stalled in one’s career” are the main reasons women leave.
- “The researchers found that telling participants that their company valued merit-based decisions only increased the likelihood of their giving higher bonuses to the men.” …in an experiment designed with exactly equal male and female employee performance.
- Unconscious bias training is ineffective.
- Intel has had substantial success in improving diversity since it linked bonuses to explicit diversity hiring goals.
And as a bonus, yet another reason to hate whiteboard coding: “It is, for example, a hallowed tradition that in job interviews, engineers are expected to stand up and code on whiteboards, a high-pressure situation that works to the disadvantage of those who feel out of place. Indeed, whiteboard sessions are rife with opportunities for biased judgment.” I have always disliked these because the situation is so far removed from how anyone actually performs the work they’re interviewing for (unless they’ll frequently be improvising presentations in front of investors or other audiences that want to judge them instead of collaborate with them). I only use whiteboards for collaborative design work in interviews—just like I would at work.
Here’s a case where you can’t know whether the instance indicates latent sexism, even though you know the trend does.
We received an email in response to our last press release. The press release listed our Community Manager as the contact person and attributed a quote to me, the CTO. The email was received by a list containing me and the Community Manager. Yet the email was addressed directly to our Chairman (we don’t have a CEO), using his name multiple times. The Community Manager and I happen to be female and the Chairman male.
How much should I attribute to sexism and how much to a misguided desire to bypass the provided contact point and reach the top of the food chain, even though he’s called “Chairman” and not “CEO” because he only has a couple hours a week for this project?
These sorts of things happen to women in business all the time. And it’s because of the constant barrage of instances where you can’t feel comfortable calling it out (because there are other explanations of the actions) that it’s all the more important to call it out when you’re fairly sure of a sexist motivation.