Deconstructing drawdown

Avatar of Julius Braun
Features Column

Project Drawdown is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to stopping global warming and aiding the world in achieving “drawdown, the point where greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere start to decline.” Project Drawdown’s website presents a “solution library,” consisting of 93 articles explaining the answers, as well as the drawbacks, to the biggest problems that climate change poses for our future. These articles are classified by the topic area of what the solution aims to achieve, such as buildings, electricity, transportation, land use, agriculture, etc. “Improving Aquaculture”, “Bioplastics”, and “Waste to Energy,” caught my eye. The website also presents six educational videos in episode format for easy and accessible information.

In the first episode, called “Setting the Stage”, the narrator explains correlating graphs that help us better understand how aspects of climate change are connected. As the global population not only rises but skyrockets, land occupation and water consumption also increase exponentially. The episode also explains how even though the graphs may indicate our future is certain doom, humans have improved and we can still turn this ship around. The second episode, which is called, “Stopping Climate Change,” explains what the goal of “drawdown” actually is. In the third episode, which is called, “Reducing Sources”, the main contributors to greenhouse gasses are named, like industry, electricity production, food and agriculture, transportation, and more. The fourth through sixth episodes (“Supporting Sinks and Improving Society,” “Putting It All Together”, and “Making It Happen”) are the episodes that provide more focused information on actual solutions, and Berkeley High School students should definitely watch these for themselves to find out some of the most important and hopeful information that Project Drawdown offers.

Some of this information and hope can be found in the 93 articles mentioned in the Solution Library, like aquaculture, bioplastics, and turning waste into energy, which I will give a brief overview of here. Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing ways of growing food for animals. Ensuring that part of their energy consumption of is based on renewable energy would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most plastics today are made from fossil fuels, but bioplastics utilize plants as an alternative source of carbon. They often have lower production emissions and are even sometimes biodegradable. Finally, waste-to- energy processes burn waste to produce heat and/or electricity. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions by reducing dependence on fossil fuels and using up the waste in landfills, which create tons of greenhouse gases. Because of the side products of waste-to-energy solutions is often toxic pollutants in air and water, these solutions are really just a stepping stone towards getting rid of dependence on fossil fuels and coal, and “is not part of a clean energy future.”

Check out the website: This is a great resource for BHS students to explore how climate change solutions are happening in real time.