“Thank you for caring.” The benefits of changing your mind about climate.

Thank You for Caring.   Her clear, youthful voice floated up to the trees above us. Sincere words of a college freshman, Ashley Ambrocio, who had stepped up to the mic, smiling, soft brown curls escaping her pulled back hair. It was a Friday noon, about 75 of us were assembled at Southampton Town Hall park, a show of support for students striking world-wide for climate action.

What did she mean? I looked around. We were writers, artists, a retired school principal, a minister, a surfer, a landscaper, a nuclear engineer, gathered for a rally. A white pickup, bannered with Drawdown East End Global Climate Strike, parked earlier in the circular drive, worked as a message-backdrop for our speakers. Dorothy Reilly, Drawdown East End’s originator had scouted the spot, and I had helped color in her lettering. The mostly white-haired crowd was dotted with about a dozen school age kids. They brought home painted signs: Help fight against global warming. Save the environment. Ashley’s was neon pink.

Thank you for caring. I started. Maybe these young people think we don’t care? Our silence. Our inability to focus on climate change. To talk about it. That we don’t care? Not caring, avoiding, doing nothing — will this be our generational legacy?

Her words seemed a wake up call, like one of those hashtags twittering around the globe, communiques from her generation alerting us to the crisis, the urgent need to act — #FridaysForFuture #ActOnClimate — to create conversation, community, connection.

Ashley spoke about the need to talk about the climate crisis.Make it real.I leaned in to catch her words.She sounded upbeat, appreciating our support. That we wanted to do something.

“Staying home and complaining will not change anything, but coming out to these events can,” she said to the East Hampton Star, and to the East End Beacon.

This is Drawdown East End.

Or one sliver of it anyway.

One slice of the pie — a rally, a film festival being planned, a community compost in the works — rays streaming from a central hub, activated by a core concern, the heart of something called Drawdown. 

Have you ever read a book or watched a talk that gave you an “aha” moment — changed the way you viewed a situation, helped you solve a seemingly unsolvable problem?

That is what happened to me, and many of us who spoke at that May Friday gathering. A stunning new book has radically changed our view of the climate crisis. Crisis yes, but do nothing? No. Why not see this as an opportunity — to build, innovate and effect change? Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming tells us how. 

Yes.  Reverse.  

Fact: We have existing today methods and practices when scaled up can not only reduce our overload of atmospheric carbon, but draw it down to safe levels.  It’s the power of scale. 

Drawdown in a Nutshell.

For the curious Project Drawdown complete with useful tedtalks and podcasts, gives a fuller picture of an interlocking and very do-able system. What is Drawdown? My 3-point synopsis:

  • the point in time where carbon begins to draw down from the atmosphere to safe healthy levels.  It is a reachable goal. 
  • a path, a roadmap  — 100 top solutions, best-practices and technologies we already use now, when scaled up can achieve drawdown (in two ways: 1) not emit carbon by substitution with clean energy, efficiency, reduction, conservation, and 2) bring carbon overload down and sequestered back into soils.)  Actions that can be taken personally, locally, and on a national level that all fit together to reverse global warming. 
  • a philosophy — a new way of seeing.  As Hawken says in a NYT interview, “a primary goal” of his research, book, and website “is to help people who feel overwhelmed by gloom-and-doom messages see that reversing global warming is bursting with possibility.” He sees this moment as an invitation to invent and create, to move into a renewable energy economy humming with innovation, and its cascading health and security benefits.  Rather than game over, it’s “Game on!”

I didn’t know much about Paul Hawken, the editor who summoned over 200 leading scientists, economists and research fellows to peer-review the 100 reversing solutions, but gardeners know him from Smith & Hawken fame.  He is also author of a popular college textbook, The Ecology of Commerce.  His compendium of carbon-drawdown fixes complete with benefit and cost analysis is very credible.

Game On.

So a cluster of us are meeting at the Southampton Library to discuss ways to bring Drawdown into our lives. It surprised us to learn that the top 100 solutions are both tech and non tech. Some are focused on wind, solar, building materials and refrigerants (i.e. tech), others, amazed that non-tech fixes are equally important, are delving into the chapters on food, farming and forestry, even, yes, educating girls. (More on this in future posts.) 

The exciting part is realizing our personal acts matter. What we do daily can lead to drawdown. It’s a bit like learning a new language, or seeing through a new frame, “through the lens of Drawdown” says Dorothy. 

For example, a big piece of the carbon puzzle is food waste.   Did you know that in the US we waste 1/3 of our food?  Thus reducing food waste is ranked as Drawdown Solution #3 reducing 70.53 carbon gigatons.   If we started to reduce our food waste, just by 50%, we would reach drawdown. If we do it better, we reach it faster.  Again, the power of scale. 

Here’s another big pay off. Once you see drawdown as visible, a reachable goal, how all the dots are connected, the true costs and benefits of our actions and inactions, the power of our purchases, then you can make meaningful choices about how you want to live. You start to see how what you do leads to (or not) drawdown. In many cases you find it’s healthier, cheaper and, you know, kind of fun and creative. Choose a food or energy remedy, make it a habit, tell your friends about it, call it a drawdown solution and, then, see if the millennials in your life, who have so much to lose by our silence and inaction, notice that you care.

Hey, game on!  

What can I do?  

Talk about it.  I find useful Drawdown’s 3 levels of engagement:

1) Personally & with your family  –  First, talk about the climate crisis, hear about how others are feeling.  And while you’re at it, take a stab at reducing your food waste. 

2) Community – talk about it, with your friends, in your community.  Ask your favorite news-source to cover climate crisis solutions.   Actually there is a lot happening locally (including the start-up of a sister Drawdown North Fork.)

3) Worldwide – if you look, you will find lots of good news and conversation including 2040 a new film featuring Drawdown.

This post first appeared June 20, 2019 on Resist and Replace

About Mary Foster Morgan Co-founder, Drawdown East End, (DrawdownEastEnd.org) a grass roots group with a mission to inspire our community to actively engage in solutions that reduce greenhouse gases and achieve drawdown. Mary has deep roots in the East End, for generations her family lived and farmed in East Hampton. She currently lives in Orient.

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