You know that “game” that people play sometimes? The one where someone gives you three or four seemingly unrelated concepts or things and then asks you to guess what they all have in common? And it is completely unfair, because the common thread is so obscure and out-of-left-field that you don’t actually have a chance in guessing it? And after you fail miserably or completely refuse to play the game, the other person tells you the answer with a note of triumph in their voice? And all you are left with is the thought, “Hey, jerk, couldn’t you have just told me this fact without turning it into an obnoxious piece of trivia?”
You know the game, right? Yeah, let’s play that one.
So what do alternative concretes, grazing and pasture management, smart thermostats and girls’ education in the developing world have in common? Actually, let me add a few more to the list: biochar, afforestation, micro-grids, smart glass, improved child healthcare, commercial recycling, living buildings and airplane fuel efficiency.
Project Drawdown is a nonprofit on whose Board of Directors I am proud to serve. It is led by Paul Hawken and Amanda Ravenhill, my two Principles of Sustainable Management professors when I studied for a semester at the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. They started Project Drawdown with a simple belief: we don’t need to wait for technology to save us from our climate challenges. We have enough innovation, techniques, products and methods to measurably draw carbon down out of the atmosphere. Our challenge is to simply scale them up globally (admittedly, a big challenge). But which technologies are the most impactful, the most cost-effective, and the most likely to scale in the ways that we need? That is what Project Drawdown sets out to answer.
In 2016, Project Drawdown will release a book, in print and electronic format, that demonstrates their findings on 80 to 100 different technologies or processes that can measurably reduce the parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere if successfully scaled globally over the next 30 years. This is good news for our earth. It is also good news for socially and environmentally attuned investors, because early indications suggest that every single technology in the book will have a positive return on investment over these 30 years.
As individuals, we CAN do our part on climate change. So too can our communities and our businesses and our governments. Too often though, we just don’t know where to start. We stall because we don’t have a how-to guide to show the way. Fortunately, one is being written right now.