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Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

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In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here—some are well known; some you may have never heard of. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries to land use practices that pull carbon out of the air. The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. If deployed collectively on a global scale over the next thirty years, they represent a credible path forward, not just to slow the earth’s warming but to reach drawdown, that point in time when greenhouse gases in the atmosphere peak and begin to decline. These measures promise cascading benefits to human health, security, prosperity, and well-being—giving us every reason to see this planetary crisis as an opportunity to create a just and livable world.

256 pages, Paperback

First published April 18, 2017

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About the author

Paul Hawken

53 books251 followers
Paul Hawken is the co-founder of several businesses, and lives in Sausalito, California.

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Profile Image for Kate.
250 reviews51 followers
May 6, 2017
This book is a framework - not only how to stop global warming, but how to reduce carbon levels in the face of population growth and quality of life increases. The author and research team synthesized primary research from thousands of studies and developed a ranked list of the most important actions the globe can take to combat climate change. (I’ve included a one-sentence summary of each solution in this review. The book goes into far more depth about the logic behind the rankings, how each solution works, how much carbon it saves, various pros and cons, and the required financial investment.)

A key plus for many of these solutions is they offer benefits beyond carbon sequestration. In addition to reducing sequestering carbon, the majority offer financial savings, increase industrial yields or efficiency, create jobs, and result in healthier people. There are reasons to act on these beyond saving our environment.

The strength of this framework stems from interdependence. One solution’s weaknesses are balanced by the strengths of another. It’s a symbiotic ecosystem of recommendations – a permaculture, not a monoculture, of ideas.

I do worry that a book like this gives a false sense of optimism. Implementing these policies will take incredible investments, coordination between governments, and massive behavior changes on the part of the individual. Yes, there are personal steps one can take after reading this book, but they aren’t steps anyone who pays attention to ‘green’ issues won’t have heard of before. I’m talking behavior changes on the scale of convincing entire populations to sustain massive tax increases to pay for the infrastructure you’ll need; behavior changes to convince millions of people around the globe to change habits fundamental to their life and culture. Each individual solution will require innumerable persons across the globe dedicating their lives to implementing the chosen recommendation.

This is a brilliant framework for addressing climate change. It is the product of years of synthesizing research on a mass scale, of running the mathematical calculations we needed to chart a way forward. It is the starting point for a real “how-to” guide for policy makers. It is work no one else has done until this point. But don’t read it and think, “oh, we’ll be fine! Technology will save us!” Read it and go start advocating for mass public transit. Go vegetarian. Start blathering to everyone you know. Find international organizations working on these issues and start donating all you can. Take the extra 45 minutes to walk to work. Go to city council meetings and say, yes, we’re willing to have wind turbines in our back yard. This is a framework, but it isn’t a framework to an easy way forward. It’s a framework for hard, hard work.

Thank goodness. Hard work is what we’re going to need.

1. Refrigerant Management: The HFCs found in refrigerators and AC have a 1000 to 9000 times higher capacity to warm the environment than carbon dioxide, and 90% of those emissions come when improperly disposed; substituting in better materials, combined with proper disposals could cool the earth by up to 1 degree Fahrenheit.
2. Wind Turbines: Estimated to be the world’s cheapest energy source by 2030, wind has the potential to cleanly meet nearly all the world’s energy needs.
3. Reduced Food Waste: By reducing food waste – through tightening supply chain logistics in low-income countries and changing consumer habits in high-income countries – resources are saved across the food chain, from fertilizers to transport to energy needed to keep perishables cool.
4. Plant-Rich Diet: Reducing meat consumption lowers methane emissions from cattle, reduces land use and the need to deforest additional land, eliminates fossil-fuel heavy value streams for stock feed, lowers demand for water, and increases the health of populations.
5. Tropical Forests: Restore degraded tropical forests to make carbon sinks, protect watersheds, and offer more resilient livelihood opportunities.
6. Educating Girls: Giving women access to education increases family planning, resilience to climate change, and offers one of the most cost competitive climate solutions, estimated at only $10 per ton of carbon dioxide reduction.
7. Investment in Family Planning: Increase women’s autonomy to decide when and how many children they wish to have reduces the number of births, subsequently reducing global resource demand.
8. Solar Farms: Build massive solar farms that operate on the scale of entire utilities systems.
9. Silvopasture: Combine trees with cattle pasture to sequester carbon in both soil and woody growth, while increasing yields and bolstering both the cattle and the land’s resilience to climate change.
10. Rooftop Solar: Install solar panels on buildings, allowing them to generate their own power.
11. Regenerative Agriculture: Utilize regenerative agricultural practices (no-till, planting cover crops, removing external nutrient inputs) to heal soil, sequester carbon, increase nutrient and water retention for drought resistance, and increase production.
12. Temperate Forests: 1.4 billion of acres of land could be restored to temperature forest, adding even more of an ecosystem that already acts as a carbon sink.
13. Peatlands: Conserve peatlands – while they make up only 3% of the earth, only oceans store more carbon.
14. Tropical Staple Trees: Shift more land to growing perennial food products (and diets to eating them), which have higher carbon sequestration rates and are more resilient to extreme weather. (This solution is currently only viable in tropical regions.)
15. Afforestation: Use afforestation – planting trees where none have grown for at least 50 years – to create new carbon sinks, particularly in degraded areas.
16. Conservation Agriculture: Similar to regenerative agriculture, but allowing use of fertilizers and pesticides, this solution has many of the same benefits on a slightly lesser scale but is simpler to rapidly adopt and may be easier to use on mass-produced annual crops.
17. Tree Intercropping: Intercrop agricultural products with compatible trees or bushes, improving soil health, sequestering carbon, reducing the need for inputs, increasing outputs, and creating resilience to drought and wind.
18. Geothermal: Harness naturally-occurring geothermal energy for power.
19. Managed Grazing: Managed grazing – shifting cattle’s grazing patterns to consider the health of the pastureland – results in improved grasses and a healthier ecosystem, improves cattle health, and allows the soil to sequester more carbon.
20. Nuclear: Continue utilizing – indeed, expand – nuclear power to replace coal. (Note: The authors acknowledge the significant controversy surrounding this power source - both safety and whether it’s truly cost effective.)
21. Clean Cookstoves: Forty percent of the world cooks on stoves which use fuels that release black carbon (although short-lived, it absorbs a million times more energy than CO2), meaning switching to stoves that use cleaner fuel rapidly slows warming (in addition to improving health).
22. See Wind Turbines (#2) – offshore turbines are #22
23. Farmland Restoration: Exhausted and thus abandoned farmland emits carbon, but if restored through regenerative farming practices or cultivation of native species, it actively removes carbon from the air and pulls it back into the soil while increasing land available for agriculture.
24. Improved Rice Cultivation: Adoption of an alternative method of rice production reduces methane emissions, sequesters carbon, reduces input requirements, results in more resilient plants, and increases rice yield per acre.
25. Concentrated Solar: Use mirrors to further concentrate light in already intensely-sunny areas to produce steam, which is cheaper to transmit than electricity and can be stored for high-use times.
26. Electric Vehicles: Switch from fossil fuel powered engines to electric vehicles (for both personal transportation and shipping fleets) that run off energy generated by renewables, a task likely to made easier by an oncoming wave of battery innovation.
27. District Heating: Already well established in Europe, district heating manages heating and cool needs not at the structure level but the district level, using centralized coordination for maximum efficiency.
28. Multistrata Agroforestry: By mimicking the natural layout of the “strata” of a jungle canopy, multistrata agroforestry sequesters huge amounts of carbon while generating multiple valuable agricultural commodities with minimal inputs, even when using land already severely degraded.
29. Wave and Tidal: While still posing technical challenges, waves and tides can be harnessed for energy.
30. Methane Digesters: Use methane digesters to capture the methane emissions from organic waste (agricultural, food waste, and excrement) and use it for fuel, while also reducing the harmful emissions.
31. Insulation: Insulating buildings well would keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter and stop energy loss – currently, most structures lose over 50% of their energy to poor insulation.
32. Ships: Over 80% of global trade happens by sea, leading to huge carbon savings by improving fuel efficiency of ships.
33. LED Lighting: Switch to LED lights, which use 90% less energy yet produce the same light as a standard bulb – in addition to lasting for years longer.
34. Biomass: Harness biomass as a “bridge” solution to provide energy as society shifts away from fossil fuels to truly renewable sources of energy.
35. Bamboo: Cultivate bamboo, which thrives on degraded lands, has economic uses, and sequesters carbon faster than nearly any other plant.
36. Alternative Cement: By mass, cement is the second-most used substance in the world, and manufacturing one ton of produces at much carbon as burning 400 pounds of coal; changing this process to incorporate waste byproducts from other industrial processes could reduce carbon emissions.
37. Mass Transit: Mass transit usage is expected to decline rather than grow as global wealth increases and more people purchase personal vehicles, but ridership habits could be strengthened by utilizing strong design principles and interconnectivity of public transit systems, potentially preventing 6.6 tons of CO2 emissions from cars.
38. Forest Protection: Forest conservation offers a range of environmental and livelihood benefits, and while deforestation is estimated to produce 10-15% of the world’s carbon emissions, stopping deforestation could offset 33% of emissions.
39. Indigenous Peoples’ Land Management: Indigenous people often find themselves on the front lines of environmental battles and managing natural resources in a way that benefits all, yet experience the highest impacts of climate change; as such, it’s crucial to secure their tenure on their own land.
40. Trucks: Major efficiency improvements in truck fleets are needed as incomes, and thus ground freight, continues to increase – already consuming 25% of the fuel in the U.S., trucks are currently responsible for about 6% of all global emissions.
41. Solar Water: Store residential water in tanks heated by the sun, eliminating the need to use fossil fuels to heat water.
42. Heat Pumps: Replace the world’s massively energy-guzzling AC and heating systems with already existing heat pump technology.
43. Airplanes: With air traffic on the rise and airplanes a major carbon emitter, emerging efficiencies in plane design and fuels, as well as regulations around fuel efficiency, are crucial to reducing flight CO2.
44. LED Commercial Lighting: See #33 – similar principles, but for commercial structures.
45. Building Automation: Building automation systems use sensors to automatically control a wide range of building factors, from air circulation to heat to identifying early maintenance problems, offering a host of efficiency savings.
46. Water Saving – Home: A tight link between water and energy means lowering personal home water usage can save energy and relax pressure on local water sources (and saving energy at home reduces water used by the local power plant).
47. Bioplastic: If the entire lifecycle of a bioplastic is considered (when not recycled properly, or land is cleared to grow their source materials, they produce their own problems), bioplastics could replace current petro-plastic that relies on cheap fossil fuels for production.
48. In-Stream Hydro: Place in-stream turbines into rivers to create energy – these free-standing structures create energy without flooding land for reservoirs and have only minimal impacts on wildlife.
49. Cars: Increase the number of electric and hybrid vehicles – while their power sources get far better mileage, 97% of the world’s car still contain only the standard internal combustion engine.
50. Cogeneration: Many energy processes are inefficient and create waste in the form of heat; use cogeneration to capture the excess and harness as a heating source.
51. Perennial Biomass: Use perennial, rather than annual crops such as corn, to produce bioenergy.
52. Coastal Wetlands: Wetlands sequester enormous amounts of carbon – destroying them allows carbon to escape, but through preservation and restoration, they actively capture emissions.
53. See Improved Rice Cultivation, #24 – drops to #53 if a slightly less efficient, but technically simpler, version is used.
54. Walkable Cities: Design cities to encourage walking instead of driving, considering not only distance but pedestrian safety and aesthetic appeal of the route.
55. Household Recycling: Recycling reduces the need for further resource extraction while simultaneously reducing the negative impacts of landfills, in addition to providing economic benefits and job opportunities stemming from value streams created by upcycling.
56. Industrial Recycling: The same effects as household recycling, extended to the industrial sector; for industry, this includes the additional step of planning ahead for disposal of their product, rather than letting the costs of this question be borne by the public.
57. Smart Thermostats: Smart thermostats learn the heating preferences of occupants and automatically adjust temperature as necessary, keeping costs and energy use down and livability high.
58. Landfill Methane: Capture methane emissions produced by landfills to use as a clean fuel source.
59. Bike Infrastructure: Increase trips taken by bike rather than car using a broad array of investments and design tools to support ridership.
60. Composting: When biodegradable waste – think food and lawn scraps – degrades in landfills in the absence of oxygen, it produces methane; diverting this waste for compost injects nutrients back into the soil, sequestering carbon and offering rich natural fertilizers.
61. Smart Glass: Smart glass can change its tint in response to environmental factors and adjust the amount of heat and light it lets into the building, reducing a structure’s energy needs by up to 30%.
62. Women Smallholders: Giving women in the agricultural workforce equal access to land and financial resources would lead to increased food outputs, reducing the need to clear additional lands of forests to meet growing global nutritional needs.
63. Telepresence: Utilize rapidly-improving telepresence technology for business and collaboration needs, drastically cutting down on travel.
64.See methane digesters, #30 – rank drops to #64 if only small digesters are used
65. Nutrient Management: Runoff and overuse of agricultural nitrogen and fertilizers causes a host of environmental problems; improving proper management of application that reduce (although not sequester) carbon emissions as well as save farmers money.
66. High-Speed Rail: Build high-speed rail to support mass public transit for regional distances, while freeing up conventional rail for freight traffic.
67. Farmland Irrigation: Switch to sprinkler or drip irrigation, instead of “flood” irrigation, saving both water and energy.
68. Waste to Energy: Like biogas, this is a “bridge” solution – incinerate waste to make energy (and reduce methane landfill emissions) while shifting to permanent renewable energy sources. (Note: The authors list significant concerns with this solution.)
69. Electric Bikes: Use electric bikes to bridge transportation gaps that are too far to walk but may be too short to financially justify public transit – journeys that people currently take via higher-emission cars.
70. Recycled Paper: Recycled paper products require less energy and less water than virgin paper, reduces deforestation, and provides more jobs than landfill or incineration; overall, recycled paper has a mere 1% of the impact of virgin paper.
71. Water Distribution: A huge cost of water is the energy required to pump it where it needs to go; a systematic and widespread effort to reduce the huge amount lost through leaking infrastructure reduces energy and saves water for millions of additional people.
72. Biochar: Biochar is produced by baking biomass in near total lack of oxygen (think purely organic waste burning under soil), leading to incredibly carbon-rich soils; this evolving technology can be practiced on both individual and industrial scale to recycle waste, sequester carbon, and greatly improve soil health.
73. Green Roofs: Cities – measurably hotter than surrounding areas – can lower temperatures by installing green roofs on buildings, which lower a site’s energy needs as well as contribute to a more pleasant urban environment with cleaner air.
74. Trains: Trains – hugely efficient at transporting freight – could be even more efficient: switch to electric trains powered by renewables, increase carrying capacity, and use more aerodynamic designs.
75. Ridehsaring: Vastly underutilized in the U.S. and Canada, ridesharing reduces emissions and pressure on infrastructure, saves commuters money, and can be facilitated with increasing ease as data facilitation between platforms becomes increasingly common.
76. Micro Wind: Install smaller-scale wind turbines to charge batteries or power individual homes where larger wind farms aren’t feasible.
77. Grid Flexibility/Energy Storage: Develop highly flexible energy grids that can respond to changing usage requirements and energy sources throughout the day (i.e. a peak source at 4 p.m. might drop to nothing at 7 p.m.).
78. Microgrids: Most of the electrical networks are organized in massive “macrogrids” that draw on fossil fuels; reorganize into smaller, more resilient ‘microgrids,” allowing structures to tap into a diversity of smaller, renewable energy sources.
79. Net Zero Buildings: Design all buildings to be net-zero energy; that is, producing as much energy as they use.
80. Retrofitting: Retrofit already-existing buildings with new green technologies like better lighting, appliances, and window insulation offer high energy savings.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
August 16, 2017
For those of you like me in despair about the state of the planet, here is a book that details dozens of things that we know can work to dial down carbon emissions and work toward reversing the current trend to destroy the environment. The point is, we know many things about how to save the planet. What we don’t really know as of today 1) if it is not already too late, and 2) if there is the political will to combat the current capitalist/political complex.

I was going to detail some of the great things both going on and ones also that are possible, near future, things in the works, but Kate does the long list here, thanks:


The book is in large coffee table format, with too small print, but the project’s essays are short and still pretty comprehensive, with lots of resources. There are some crazy ideas that require too much tech infrastructure in the small window of time remaining, such as roads paved with solar panels, giant carbon-sucking machines and nuclear fusion plants. But idea generation for creative solutions are one thing we need, so I am not too critical of any of these As with other readers, I in particular like the focus on ecosystem restoration, educating girls, empowering women, but the central focus of the book is as it has to be on working together. Period.

I guess I would say the thing that disappoints me is that it doesn't talk about economic/political solutions, which is the biggest obstacle to our getting things done.

The book includes a lot of resources, and charts to figure out what might happen with the optimum, the “drawdown” (mama bear) approach, and the minimal approach to all of these things.

Here’s a website for the project:

Profile Image for David Rubenstein.
804 reviews2,535 followers
December 23, 2017
This book is a catalog of the hundred or so technologies that could potentially draw down the carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) from the atmosphere. The book was written by a couple hundred expert researchers in all walks of life. Each technology is very well presented, in a manner that is easy to understand by a non-expert. The book is very attractive, flush with color photographs appropriate for each topic covered.

Each technology is rated in terms of the amount of carbon that could potentially be removed from the atmosphere, the net cost of the technology, and the net savings. When these numbers are too speculative for an educated guess, that is mentioned. The technologies are all ranked in terms of their potential for sequestering carbon. Also, since some of the technologies are inter-related, there is an effort made to prevent double-counting the impact.

Some of the technologies are well known to most people, while others are novel. I was most interested in some of the agricultural topics. Most surprising to me was "silopasture". This entails allowing animals--mostly cattle, but other domesticated animals, also--to feed in meadows with trees. Silvopastures yield more livestock per acre than grass pastures, and sequesters five to ten times more carbon than treeless pastures.

A related technology is the managed grazing of pastures by cattle. This technique vastly improves conditions of the pastures, protects organic matter, and the soil becomes more porous and better able to absorb intense rainfalls. As a result, herbicides, pesticides, fuel and fertilizers can be reduced, as well as veterinary costs. And yet another agricultural technique is known as agro-forestry, which is becoming widespread. It is positively transforming the Sahel Desert.

I was astounded by the statistic that there are 18,500 miles of high-speed rails in the world. But, only 28 of these rail-miles are in the United States. On the one hand, high-speed rails are very expensive, and on the other hand, they actually do not reduce carbon emissions very much.

The emphasis in most of the book, is that these are practical, economical technologies ready to be implemented. There are net savings from most of these technologies; sequestering carbon can be cost-effective and help the atmosphere, at the same time. At the end of the book, there are a handful of future technologies that have not yet reached the stage of practicality, each of which has a bright potential for the future.

While I read the book end-to-end, it is actually more of a reference book--a very fascinating reference book! After reading the introductory sections, each topic is self-contained and can be read in isolation without losing the meaning.
Profile Image for Tom Quinn.
545 reviews147 followers
December 13, 2021
This optimistic venture is such a relief. It's exciting to read cutting-edge findings, and solution-focused thinking like this is a welcome counterbalance to the doom-n-gloom daily news cycle. I especially appreciate the option to read casually as a layperson with the ability to then access more technical explanations online.

3.5 stars. Quickly turns into an avalanche of facts and figures, but the chapters are short and sweet and there are fun little asides tossed in along the way to buoy readers' spirits.
Profile Image for Dave.
256 reviews32 followers
May 17, 2017
This has some great stuff in it but unfortunately the "most comprehensive plan" includes a lot of really stupid crap. About half of the book is a pretty good summary of real solutions and the other half is basically a bunch of crazy techno-fixes. On the good side are things like ecosystem restoration (with particular emphasis on the importance of maintaining healthy oceans, peatlands and mangroves), agroecology, managed grazing systems, silvopasture, indigenous land management, lower methane-emitting approaches to rice cultivation and ruminant raising, replacing cotton with hemp, educating girls, empowering women, etc. The crazy techno stuff includes not only the typical electric cars, high speed rail, "green" cities, wind turbines, tidal energy, nuclear plants (how anyone can still support these I have no idea) and automated "smart" grids but also things like roads paved with solar panels, giant machines that suck carbon out of the air, vacuum tube trains and the possibility of nuclear fusion plants. To be fair there are caveats for a lot of these "solutions" but they really shouldn't even be considerations at this point.

I know global industrial civilization can be less destructive, that if we'd used the most efficient technologies and developed perfect recycling, stopped using planned obsolescence and shared things that we rarely use instead of all having our own possessions that sit idle 99% of the time then we could have gotten away with this for a pretty long time. Ignoring the fact that manufacturing these technologies at even a much reduced scale would still depend on horribly unethical behavior, it could technically be a lot better than it currently is. We're already on such thin ice though. If you're going 200 miles per hour towards a cliff that's only a few miles away then it doesn't make much difference if you reduce your speed to 50 miles per hour. Even 1 mile per hour in the same direction won't give you much time. Techno-fixes rely on too much infrastructure to ever be truly sustainable. Therefore better isn't necessarily good enough. What we really need is to wean ourselves off all this high-tech crap by losing our dependence on it. The low-tech solutions, like diversifying farmland with perennial crops and different species of grazing animals, can create human habitats where people are able to get everything they need from close by and without machines. And we're never going to see that happen without adopting degrowth economics (producing and consuming less crap without people being impoverished by job losses, etc.). This book doesn't just leave out a discussion on how inherently unsustainable our economic system is, it actually promotes certain solutions BECAUSE they contribute to economic growth.

I can agree with some of the "bridge solutions" and "regrets solutions" that are brought up. Clearly during a transition stage between the status quo and something sustainable we'll still be required to do some less than ideal things (like typing angry rants on internet sites). But there's a difference between things like properly disposing of HFC's from existing refrigerators and air conditioners and continuing to promote the manufacture of new refrigerators and air conditioners ("refrigerant management" is listed as the number 1 solution). A real solution for that problem long-term would be to use drying or root cellars for food storage and maybe PASSIVE cooling for houses. Cooling boxes can even be made with clay pots and sand, where evaporating water significantly cools down the contents without any power at all. Also capturing methane from landfills makes sense since it causes more damage if allowed to float away into the atmosphere but without addressing the growth imperative of our economic system it just becomes one more thing that people depend on for their livelihoods rather than something that can be intentionally phased out. Ignoring economic growth is just totally unforgivable for a book like this.

Part of me wants to give it a better rating for the good half at least (It's actually kind of surprising that with so much techno-utopian logic it doesn't promote GMOs, vertical urban farms with hydroponics and LED grow lights, more tech-based geoengineering schemes, etc.). I expect most people who read this book to just get excited by the wrong things though. Let's face it, science fiction tends to be a little sexier than farm animals. Overall, the good just can't make up for the bad.
Profile Image for Brian Clegg.
Author 203 books2,568 followers
March 27, 2018
When I was at university there was a book (sometimes classed as a magazine) I often thumbed through in Heffers, though I could never bring myself to buy a copy as it was too expensive. It was called The Whole Earth Catalog, and combined ecological articles with reviews of products, many of them for living an independent lifestyle. I find it hard to believe that it's accidental that the look and feel of Drawdown, with its large format, coarse paper covers and heavily illustrated interior, very different from a typical Penguin paperback, is so reminiscent of The Whole Earth Catalog.

So apart from the gimmick of the appearance (as it makes it very clumsy to read), what does the book provide? We are promised 'the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming', which sounds promising. What we get is a range of 80 solutions, each presented as a separate article, plus a collection of (sometimes more interesting) articles on what are described as 'coming attractions' which range from nuclear fusion to the Hyperloop.

There's a lot that's quite interesting here, but there are two big problems. One is the format. This kind of edited collection of essays is very difficult to get the big picture from. It's not really giving us the plan it promises, so much as the building blocks for a plan. If you were to encounter one of the individual articles in a magazine it would be interesting. But 80 of them are mind numbing enough to be unreadable. There are a couple of short sections pulling it all together, but they don't give us enough. The other problem is what's missing. There's nothing about active technological solutions to reduce the impact of climate change other than a couple of articles in the futures section, where some of them could have made a huge difference by 2050 - what we're given is all about doing what we do differently, which leaves an awfully big hole. It also shows its colours when it comes to nuclear - the numbers look impressive (especially with a misprint that gives the cost of nuclear to 2050 as $.88 billion) but it's the only section that has so much negativity.

Overall, the result is frustrating. There are snippets that are fascinating - I would never have guessed, for example, that improving refrigeration disposal would have the biggest possible impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There's a lot of work gone into this book but the format makes it more like struggling through a charity's report and accounts (only 20 times longer) than reading a comprehensible narrative. It only real works as a reference book, and even then, the structure makes it difficult to get the big picture.

I would have much rather the book had been presented in well-written, narrative form that gave us a better overall picture. It feels to be written by committee. And that's a shame.
Profile Image for Cwiegard.
154 reviews5 followers
June 22, 2017
To be very honest, I only skimmed this book. There are interesting tidbits galore here. But glancing over it, I said to myself, let's see what they have to say about carbon fee and dividend, or cap and trade, border adjustment, or whatever economic pricing schemes they may prefer as a means of actually getting people to DO something to reduce their carbon footprints. It was not there.
Nowhere in this book do I find any mention of real-world methods that would actually compel humans through the laws of supply and demand to change their way of life in a way that would prevent their grandchildren from living in a diminished world.

With all due respect, dear authors (that is to say, zero respect) we already know what the problem is and some of the potential solutions. But people have been writing books with pretty pictures on this topic for 30 years and nothing has changed. Here is yet another work that assumes all we need is to understand that climate change is a problem and that there are ways to make it smaller and we will instantly jump to it. Nothing good has happened in those 30 years. why? Because climate change is not a science problem, it is an economic problem. It requires good intentions to connect with economic methods to reward survival and penalize unsustainable ways of life- in the same way that the smoking problem in the United States was largely solved through cigarette pricing.
if you are tempted to buy this book, save your money
Profile Image for Ryan.
990 reviews
July 15, 2021
Drawdown focuses on not only responding to but also moving beyond climate change. It offers a set of ranked plans. Anyone who is inclined to give up in the face of climate change should read this book.

Hawken mostly offers a cost benefit analysis associated with a variety of plans and the results are nearly always interesting. Reducing meat from one's diet (#4) still seems to be a good idea. My own experience has been that a "meatless Monday" is nearly impossible because upending my daily routine just once a week is very irritating. Having said that, one meatless meal a day is doable and often leads to two. (Update 2021, I rarely eat meat, so starting small with, say, meatless lunches really worked for me.)

I didn't love how each energy alternative was presented individually. First, very few energy sources are comprehensive, so we'll need a mix. Annoyingly, it's not uncommon for people to dismiss all energy alternatives by dismissing one. Instead of relying on just one of solar farms (#8), onshore wind (#2), etc., we should aim to rely on a variety of energy sources.

Hawken's #1 solution was, and I was surprised by this, refrigerant management, which is mostly air conditioning and climate control systems.

Finally, I rarely encounter a dialogue on what to do with the carbon that we've already released into the atmosphere, and Hawken explores solutions there as well.

Drawdown is clear and comprehensive, and it's easily organized as a reference guide that readers can return to. I liked that it avoided war and combat metaphors. I also liked that it was willing to consider "regrettable" solutions in addition to its "no regrets" solutions.

There's a website here: http://www.drawdown.org/solutions
Profile Image for Hákon Gunnarsson.
Author 29 books131 followers
November 9, 2021
I've been reading this book on and off for about a year now, and I think it really is a book that is best taken in small doses over some time. Reading it in a weekend would probably result in a brain explosion, or something like that. Okay, that is taking a bit over the top. Lets just say it would get very boring, very soon because of how much information there is to get through. It is basically a reference book, but it is a absolutely great one at that.

I'm writing this as the second week of COP26 is in full swing, and it's been interesting to watch that from afar. Some of what has been going on there looks to be PR stunts at best, but to be fair, there seems to be more money on the table to finance the changes we need to make, than ever before. The downside is that we now seem to be aiming to stay under 1.9ºC warming instead of the 1.5ºC that a lot of people had hoped for. The difference may not sound that big, but it is considerable.

For some years now, I have been reading quite a bit about our climate crisis, and in a way I get why some of the people in these conferences are having such problems wrapping their heads around our climate crisis as something tangible, as something that is happening, as something other than an abstract idea. It is complicated to say the least. There are so many things that come into play with it. Essentially, you can look around you anywhere in the modern world, and pretty much everything you see has had some impact on what is happening, the house, the food, the car, the paper in the book, the electricity for the computer, and so on and on and on.

What I think is best about Drawdown is that the authors of that book manage to tackle it all in one 241 page book. That in itself is quite a feat. And they tackle it in a pretty neutral way in my view. It is not a book about blame. It doesn't go into all the political reasons that has got us here. It isn't about how we got here. It is about how we could get out of this. It's about solutions.

Like I said, I've read quite a few of these books, and what I've started to understand is that most of them have some bias, the authors are more for some solutions than others, and it shows up in the way they present the information. Just to be clear though, apart from a few authors that really abuse statistics, misrepresent science, and so on to get the "right" reason why this is not happening, most authors go into this subject with good intentions. They are not wrong, they're not distorting the information, but the scope of the problem is such that it is quite difficult for one person to get the complete picture. Drawdown doesn't have one author, it has a team of them, a large team even, and because of that, the scope of the work becomes bigger. By reading it you do get a more complete picture of the solutions that could be used to take on our climate crisis, than I have seen in any other book.

We can turn this around. That is what this book shows so very well. Its subtitle is "The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming" and it really is exactly that. At the very least it is the most comprehensive plan I have ever come across. Most of the solutions they present in this book are already here. Some of them are still being developed, and of course what hasn't been proven to work can't be relied upon, but still, most of it has been proven. So we have a way out. This book presents a very good blueprint of that way. Weather or not we take the road, remains to be seen.

The people that are behind this book, also run one of the best websites about solutions to the climate crisis. It's called drawdown dot org, and has a lot of information for those that are interested in the subject.
Profile Image for Numidica.
371 reviews8 followers
July 22, 2019
Well, this is exactly what the doctor ordered. After reading The Uninhabitable Earth and Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, I was really looking for a book with solution recommendations that are backed up by rigorous scientific and engineering analyses. Drawdown is that book. What is interesting, and in many cases startling, are the solutions we haven't heard of, including the solution that has the single largest impact on reducing greenhouse gases, which is.....wait for it.....replacing the kind of refrigerants we use in air conditioners. Not increased solar / wind, but moving away from HFC's that are the key ingredient in refrigeration and AC, because they are > 1000 times more powerful as greenhouse gases than is CO2. And who knew that reducing food waste is more impactful than massively ramping up solar farms, as is preserving existing tropical forests. Indeed if we lump together afforestation and preservation of tropical and temperate forests and preserving peatlands, the combined effect on reducing greenhouse gases is greater than any other single component in Drawdown's list of solutions. But on the other hand, if solar and wind are combined as one component, then it would be the largest impact.

The great thing about this book is its organization: each component of the list is treated with a separate article, and there is a summary in the appendix. I should say "summaries", because the good engineers and scientists who compiled the data have helpfully organized the summaries in multiple ways; if you just want to look at solutions, ranked, that's one list. If you want to look at solutions by group, such as Energy, or Land Use, or Food, they have those. If you would prefer to tinker the data yourself and do your own subtotals, they have a website. By the way, the title, Drawdown, is a reflection of the fact that reducing CO2 emissions is not enough; we have to actually begin to reduce the concentration of CO2 (and methane & HFC's, et al.) in the atmosphere.

One thing that surprised me was how big an effect our diets have; if we all ate less red meat (as we should for our health anyway), the positive effect of that is greater than all the solar farms we are likely to build. And there are many other agriculture-related positive impacts that are available, such as no-till farming, moving away from chemical fertilizers to using cover crops and other related methods, managed grazing, developing perennial crops, and silvopasturing for cattle. Almost all of the recommended solutions are win-win or, as the authors call them, "no regrets" initiatives. A few, like nuclear power, are necessary evils, but those are a small minority.

All of the solutions are evaluated with a 30 year timeline (2020-50), which is, if our current understanding of the situation is correct, literally all the time we have left to reverse our march toward an uninhabitable earth. But it is ominous that the "optimistic" case (of three possible "vigor of implementation" cases) is the only one that gets us to drawdown of CO2 by 2050. The others help a lot, but..... Which leads me to think we are going to need at least some geoengineering to avoid catastrophe and buy us time for all these great solutions to work. That could be orbiting shade, or direct air capture of CO2, or several other possible man-made solutions to a man-made problem, but I'm beginning to believe we will need them in addition to the 80 proposals in Drawdown.

This is a great book for anyone, but particularly so for people who, like me, have a preference for rigorous analysis and solutions backed by science and numbers that add up. Now, if we could just elect some politicians who would take all this seriously, because it is in fact the most serious issue of the next 50 years. It needs the WW2-style effort that has been outlined in this book. Individual effort alone by willing volunteers won't save us; governments will have to be elected that will vigorously engage and scale that effort into a global commitment - that might save us.
9 reviews1 follower
April 27, 2017
This is the first time I have felt positively about our ability to stop climate change. The solutions presented in this book are feasible and clearly explained. I found several things I could implement myself, like switching to LED light bulbs, and I am looking for ways to support some of their larger-scale approaches.
Profile Image for H.M. Ada.
Author 1 book387 followers
December 8, 2018
“Movements are dreams with feet and hands, hearts and voices.” – Paul Hawken

It’s no secret that we humans are destroying our world. But this book isn’t really about that. Rather, it’s about what we can do as individuals and collectively to build a better society and a better world. “Drawdown” refers to the reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by reducing current emissions and sequestering the carbon already up there through proven land and ocean practices. The solutions in this book are well researched, the estimates are conservative, and the pros and cons are presented together.

One thing that really impresses me with this book is its optimism. It views climate change as an opportunity to reexamine ourselves and our relationship with the environment, and it shows that we can do much better. Often, the socially just thing to do is also the most economical, and, as this book demonstrates with painstaking research and concrete numbers, many of the solutions to climate change are more profitable than continuing with current practices. For example, you wouldn’t know it from following our current politics, but more people in the U.S., as of 2016, are currently employed by the solar industry than gas, coal, and oil combined.

And there are so many things that all of us can do. For me, this book was also an education on the scope of the problem itself. For example, I had no idea that food production and food waste were such major contributors to the accumulation of greenhouse gases. But they are, and this information is empowering, because it means that I and everyone can take action immediately. As individuals, we can all reduce our food waste, eat a little less meat, ride public transit a little more, stop using fertilizers on our lawns, install a smart thermostat, and reuse things just a little longer before tossing them in the trash. And as a society, there is even more. Almost everything humans do consumes energy, materials, or some other resource from our environment – and that means opportunity to improve. Energy and transportation are important, but there are so many other sectors that can implement solutions. Farmers can use more sustainable practices, builders can design smarter buildings, scientists can create more efficient materials, and on and on.

As some reviewers have noted, this book doesn’t address how to implement these solutions in a political climate harshly opposed to change. But I think that telling you who to vote for or how to get a bill through congress is beyond the scope. This book gives us the most important tool of all for change – information. And, like so many of the solutions presented within, it is itself is a living thing. All of the analyses are updated and expounded upon at www.drawdown.org, where you can also give your email address to get on their newsletter. Paul Hawken’s essay toward the end talks about building a movement, and I for one am on board.

Profile Image for Aaron.
196 reviews36 followers
August 30, 2017
You cannot save the planet with "just a carbon tax". The math of climate change screams that at you. Even if you were able to wipe out $27 trillion in fossil fuel assets, there's already too much carbon in the air. We have created a peak carbon dioxide parts-per million that humanity has never seen since we diverged from Chimps. We have to- as the title suggests- drawdown the very carbon in the atmosphere.

And yet, the possible solutions are all very politicized, at least in the United States. District heating and insulation regulations? Who cares if it decreases my heating bill, ain't no way the filthy liberal, commies are going to touch my air.

Reduced food waste? Eating more plants? God gave me those animals to eat and throw away as I see fit; ain't you read a Bibble?

There are ultimately two types of solutions: (1) decreasing/eliminating carbon output, or (2) pulling out carbon from the air. Of the former, there are three subtypes. (1.a) become more energy efficient, (1.b) replace carbon-based energy with a non-carbon based energy and (1.c) forgo a carbon luxury.

The solutions the book comes up with are, in general, wonderful. Any reasonable person would look at them and think, "Oh yeah, of course." A three pronged approach by the government would easily force society to reorganize itself around these lines: You start with (1) a carbon tax to punish energy inefficiency, force people to give up carbon luxuries and replace their carbon-energy systems. You then (2) create a trust or government organization that the government partially funds with the carbon tax and (3) a strong, robust regulatory authority that is able to measure, collect, and analyze the carbon production of companies and other countries.

But the seeming reasonableness of these three over-arching solutions ignores the point: large sections of the population hate them on a moral level. Regulatory agency? Tax? Government trust? These are ideological non-starters. However, without them, there are no other solutions:

Silviopasture is the #9 solution. The tl;dr of it is"put cows into forests". But guess what? That costs money, and that cost is going to be baked into each pound of beef that the silviopasture produces. Then you have to figure into the fact that the entire world simply can't be turned into a cow forest! People will have to eat less meat, which they'll do... because why?

Each solution presented is ultimately the same: there is no reason for mass adoption (which is necessary for the solution to work) unless there is an external force to incentivize adoption. And, given that the market will only begin reacting to most of these forces when it is too late, there has to be an incentive force.... which we've already found to be politically blocked off.

Sure, some of the ideas are hazier and less market based: educate women! give birth control to the developing world! That doesn't save them from the toxic cloud of ideology that hangs over this whole situation though.

That's why Drawdown ultimately failed to be the great hope it was painted as. It's not so much a comprehensive plan as it is an assembly of ideas that would get implemented by the market in reaction to an outside force punishing it. Each idea is presented in a very simple way. A 2-3 page description of the solution and its carbon savings, net dollar cost and net dollar savings... but nothing about it necessarily scream, "This solution will work and pan out!" except for the solutions that were agreed upon before 2016.

This assembly of ideas does have hope. It does have the nuggets of hope. It says what we've always known: "We can fix this. It is possible." But it doesn't give us any hope at all that it is probable.
Profile Image for Camille McCarthy.
Author 1 book27 followers
July 22, 2019
This book covers a lot of the ways we could actually reverse global warming by keeping carbon in the ground and storing it. I liked some aspects of it, such as the farming and land use chapters, but I was disappointed by other sections, such as the section on electrical cars, because it assumes a lot of things. I understand that they wanted to follow a path of "what is possible and achievable today" in terms of technology and society, but the fact is that those assumptions also assume that capitalism is going to continue the way it already has, that industries will change because they will save money or make more money by changing, and that it is inevitable that people will change their habits if there is just the technology to do so. The truth is, to reverse global warming we will have to change nearly every aspect of our lives, from what we eat to how we grow food to how we travel to where we travel to how much we work to what our jobs are. The main thing holding us up from changing those things is not technology, it is the idea that profit is the most important thing and the fact that corporations have much more power than people in our political systems. Nowhere in the book did they mention these two things, therefore I think they are missing a lot. If they can list "family planning" as one of the solutions, why can't they mention rampant inequality, redistribution of wealth, or a revolution of how resources are managed? There are 100 companies that have created 70 percent of greenhouse gases, yet that wasn't mentioned either. It also assumes that certain gains we have made will continue, such as how deforestation of the Amazon had slowed down considerably at the time this book was published - but that assumption did not work out, because under Bolsonaro it has sped up 60%. I would suggest reading "Ecology and Socialism" in lieu of this book, because I am afraid this book will give false optimism that the change is inevitable and will ignore the underlying causes of environmental degradation, namely a capitalist system of exploitation for profit.
Profile Image for Mary.
290 reviews18 followers
September 6, 2017
"The logical way to read this book is to use it to identify how you can make a difference," Paul Hawken writes at the conclusion to this stunningly important work. I can only echo his advice: use this book to educate yourself about potential solutions to our global climate crisis, then use your knowledge to advocate your elected representatives to do more and better. That's what I plan to do with what this book taught me.
Profile Image for Amanda.
208 reviews4 followers
September 11, 2017
Outlines some of the most significant ways we can cut carbon emissions and stop global warming. Really interesting, liked how it was accessible to your average Joe/Jane (i.e. me). Some cool things I enjoyed during my read:
- For each solution we were given an estimated/projected reduction in carbon emissions if the solution were to be implemented (rough ballpark figures, but enough to give you an idea of how much impact it could make!).
- The section called "An Opening" towards the end of the book- it talks about how economics is stunting implementation of any of these solutions (true), and how there needs to be a movement of individuals working together to enact change.
- The short little guest essays that were sprinkled throughout the book (Michael Pollan, a short essay on Humboldt, etc.)
Profile Image for Teo 2050.
840 reviews80 followers
April 6, 2020


Hawken P (ed.) (2017) (18:52) Drawdown - The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

Foreword (Tom Steyer, Founder and President, NextGen Climate)

Origins (Paul Hawken)
Language (Paul Hawken)

Numbers (Chad Frischmann)
• what you will see on the page
• ranking of solutions
• gigatons of carbon dioxide reduced
• total net cost and operational savings
• to learn more


01. Wind Turbines (#2 onshore, #22 offshore)
02. Microgrids (#78)
03. Geothermal (#18)
04. Solar Farms (#8)
05. Rooftop Solar (#10)
06. Wave and Tidal (#29)
07. Concentrated Solar (#25)
08. Biomass (#34)
09. Nuclear (#20)
10. Cogeneration (#50)
11. Micro Wind (#76)

Alexander von Humboldt (Andrea Wulf)

12. Methane Digesters (#30 large, #64 small)
13. In-Stream Hydro (#48)
14. Waste-to-Energy (#68)
15. Grid Flexibility (#77)
16. Energy Storage (Utilities) (#77)
17. Energy Storage (Distributed) (#77)
18. Solar Water (#41)


19. Plant-Rich Diet (#4)
20. Farmland Restoration (#23)
21. Reduced Food Waste (#3)
22. Clean Cookstoves (#21)
23. Multistrata Agroforestry (#28)
24. Improved Rice Cultivation (#24 improved rice cultivation, #53 system of rice intensification)
25. Silvopasture (#9)

Why Bother? (Michael Pollan)

26. Regenerative Agriculture (#11)
27. Nutrient Management (#65)
28. Tree Intercropping (#17)
29. Conservation Agriculture (#16)
30. Composting (#60)
31. Biochar (#72)
32. Tropical Staple Trees (#14)
33. Farmland Irrigation (#67)

The Hidden Half of Nature (David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé)

34. Managed Grazing (#19)


35. Women Smallholders (#62)
36. Family Planning (#7)
37. Educating Girls (#6)


38. Net Zero Buildings (#79)
39. Walkable Cities (#54)
40. Bike Infrastructure (#59)
41. Green Roofs (#73)
42. LED Lighting (#33 household, #44 commercial)
43. Heat Pumps (#42)
44. Smart Glass (#61)
45. Smart Thermostats (#57)
46. District Heating (#27)
47. Landfill Methane (#58)
48. Insulation (#31)
49. Retrofitting (#80)
50. Water Distribution (#71)
51. Building Automation (#45)


52. Forest Protection (#38)
53. Coastal Wetlands (#52)
54. Tropical Forests (#5)
55. Bamboo (#35)

The Man Who Stopped the Desert (Mark Hertsgaard)

56. Perennial Biomass (#51)
57. Peatlands (#13)
58. Indigenous Peoples’ Land Management (#39)
59. Temperate Forests (#12)

The Hidden Life of Trees (Peter Wohlleben)

60. Afforestation (#15)


61. Mass Transit (#37)
62. High-Speed Rail (#66)
63. Ships (#32)
64. Electric Vehicles (#26)
65. Ridesharing (#75)
66. Electric Bikes (#69)
67. Cars (#49)
68. Airplanes (#43)
69. Trucks (#40)
70. Telepresence (#63)
71. Trains (#74)


72. Household Recycling (#55)
73. Industrial Recycling (#56)
74. Alternative Cement (#36)
75. Refrigeration (#1)
76. Recycled Paper (#70)
77. Bioplastic (#47)
78. Water Saving—Home (#46)


79. Repopulating the Mammoth Steppe
80. Pasture Cropping
81. Enhanced Weathering of Minerals
82. Marine Permaculture
83. Intensive Silvopasture
84. Artificial Leaf
85. Autonomous Vehicles
86. Solid-State Wave Energy
87. Living Buildings

On Care for Our Common Home (Pope Francis)

88. Direct Air Capture
89. Hydrogen-Boron Fusion
90. Smart Highways
91. Hyperloop
92. Microbial Farming
93. Industrial Hemp
94. Perennial Crops
95. A Cow Walks onto a Beach
96. Ocean Farming
98. Smart Grids
99. Building with Wood

Reciprocity (Janine Benyus)
An Opening (Paul Hawken)

Methodology (Chad Frischmann)
• scenarios
• general assumptions
• system dynamics
• double-counting
• rebound effect
• more about the research

What Do the Numbers Tell Us?

Summary of Solutions by Overall Ranking
Summary of Solutions by Sector

Drawdown Fellows
Drawdown Advisors

Photograph Credits
Profile Image for Mindaugas Mozūras.
293 reviews158 followers
May 8, 2021
For really bad ideas—from totalitarianism to fossil fuel dependence—saying “never again” isn’t enough.

Drawdown is the third book this year I've read about climate change (the other two are "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster" and "The Future We Choose"). Out of the three, this one is the most practical. The whole book boils down to a list of things we have to invent and invest in.

I liked it overall. But my enjoyment was lessened since it's the third book I've read in four months on the same topic. As always, if I would rate the book on climate change only on importance, it would be an easy 5 stars. If you haven't read any books on climate change, Drawdown is a good first choice.
Profile Image for Sharman Russell.
Author 25 books245 followers
August 1, 2017
Brilliant idea for a book! Well-executed. And optimistic in its specific solutions. Who knew that refrigerant management would be so important--the number one action for the greatest effect in mitigating greenhouse gases emissions--or that people were already seriously working on this very thing. Refrigerant management. In an interview, Paul Hawken said, "Global warming is not a curse. It's feedback." And this is not to ignore or diminish the pain some people--smallholder farmers in Africa, say--are already experiencing with climate change. This is more like a candle bravely held up for light. Let's look at solutions. Let's look at how the environment and social justice and the world we want to live in are all connected. Another nice quote from Miya Yoshitana from the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, “The climate justice fight here in the U.S. and around the world is not just a fight against the biggest ecological crisis of all time, it is the fight for a new economy, a new energy system, a new democracy, a new relationship to the planet and to each other, for land, water, and good sovereignty, for indigenous rights, for human rights and dignity for all people. When climate justice wins, we win the world we want.”
Profile Image for JG (Introverted Reader).
1,113 reviews482 followers
July 1, 2022
I needed to read a book about climate change for a nonfiction reading challenge that I'm taking part in. I didn't want something that was going to depress me so I decided to read a book focused on solutions rather than problems. Drawdown fit the bill but I still got a little depressed. We know what needs to be done, we have feasible ideas for how to do it, but, at least in the States, we don't have the political will or impetus to implement many of these solutions. Most of them are only practical at the industrial or national scale. Even ideas that are more personal in scope, like electric cars or solar panels, would be implemented more quickly if we could have better tax breaks or if startup companies had better government subsidies.

The book got a bit too long and detailed for my level of interest. Others will disagree. The editor tried to keep each of the 100 solutions to just a few pages, giving a rough overview of the science, the benefits, and the negatives. I probably had the attention span for about 50 of these solutions. I would recommend buying a copy so that you can dip in and out as your interest and time allow rather than checking it out of the library and trying to finish it all before the due date.

Speaking of negatives, I feel that they were glossed over a bit. I understand that we do need to do something to start addressing the challenges facing us and if we wait around waiting for perfect solutions, we'll never change anything. But still. It seems negligent not to mention destructive mining practices and battery disposal when talking about electric cars, for example.

Drawdown was published in 2017, which doesn't seem that long ago in some ways, but technology changes so quickly, parts already feel dated. In the book, Tesla cars seem like an anomaly and their buyers still get a tax break (which I believe is no longer the case). You can't throw a rock without hitting a Tesla in bigger cities now. But there is an associated website, drawdown.org, that provides updates to the material.

The organization of the book was a bit odd for me. Solutions were divided into topics like "Energy" or "Food." I can follow that. But from there, I don't know why the solutions were organized the way they were. The "Energy" section begins with "Wind Turbines" which is ranked in effectiveness at #2 for onshore turbines and #22 for offshore turbines. Then we went to microgrids, #78, then back to geothermal energy, ranked #18. It was all over the place.

There were a few things that I did really like. There was one section devoted to cultural changes, specifically related to more feminist topics--women smallholders, family planning, and educating girls. There was a section at the end describing "Coming Attractions"--tech that is in the research and development stage. It might not ever lead to concrete solutions, but I liked taking a peek sort of behind the scenes. Interspersed between the solution essays were excerpts from books that relate to the science of climate change and caring for the planet. For example, there were excerpts from The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben and The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf. I really liked these sections and added some of the books to my TBR.

I don't recommend this for everyone, but if the topic interests you, it's definitely worth a read. It's nice to know that we have solutions for climate change. Now if we can only start implementing them on large scales.
Profile Image for John.
271 reviews17 followers
January 7, 2019
"To be effective, we require and deserve a conversation that includes possibility and opportunity, not repetitive emphasis on our undoing."-from "Drawdown"

"Drawdown" is a transformative book, bringing not just hope but offering the threads of a real way forward. The subtitle makes clear what the contents are about: "The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Produced to Reduce Global Warming". It not only lives up to its title, but goes beyond that promise by exemplifying the most forgiving and inviting ethos for approaching climate change that I've ever seen.

First, let's talk about the promise it lives up to: offering the most comprehensive plan every produced. This book was put together by a team of researchers determining effective responses to global warming, and is an initial survey of their findings.

This book is primarily composed of short (usually 2 page) summary reports on each of the eighty most currently effective solutions to reverse climate change that the team was able to find. These solutions are backed by scientifically confirmed data, and ranked by their projected effects on the climate using defensibly conservative parameters. Each of these eighty solutions are also given cost and savings estimates, and most of them are worth doing on their own merits independent of their climate effects. None of these solutions are complete by themselves, but instead the suggestion is that they should all continue to be adopted worldwide.

These eighty solutions end up being refreshingly cross-disciplinary, covering the categories of "energy", "food", "women and girls", "buildings and cities", "land use", "transport", and "materials". The results and their rankings have a kind of "who knew?" quality: no matter how long you're been thinking about global warming solutions, there's going to be something in this list you haven't thought about or something about the order of the solutions that will surprise you. For example, the top ten solutions in the most conservative scenario are: 1. refrigerant management, 2. onshore wind turbines, 3. reduced food waste, 4. plant-rich diets, 5. tropical forests, 6. educating girls, 7. family planning, 8. solar farms, 9. silvopasture, and 10. rooftop solar. Who knew?

The solutions also seem very balanced across other categories: neither personal or institutional changes are favored, technology is neither favored nor shunned, and infrastructure and landscape solutions were both appropriately represented.

It's useful to know that this is a book of physical solutions: each of the listed items have to actually reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted, whether by avoiding emissions or capturing them. Policy changes, such as carbon taxes, are not included as solutions here. This gives the book a certain grounded quality: before we say how we get there economically, politically, and socially, we have to know where we are going to go, and that going there is effective.

After the initial "ready for prime time" eighty solutions are twenty "coming attractions" solutions: approaches that are under development but not ready for deployment. Each of these solutions also gets a summary, though not an assessment. These are as diverse and balanced the eighty solutions, and I found them exciting in their freshness.

In between the solutions, there were also a few essays or excerpts, also limited to a few pages, sometimes to better contextualize the solutions, but more often just to offer some contrast and set a tone.

Admittedly, this survey of solutions is not a plan in the conventional sense of the word. In a video discussing the project, Paul Hawken described the book as not describing a plan produced by him or the Project Drawdown organization, but instead as describing the emerging plan the world is already manifesting. This kind of plan offers less direct guidance, but many more potential points from which to engage.

Given that, let's turn to the ethos of the book. In addition to the solutions, there are equally small sections about the origins, language, methodology, and scenarios used in the Drawdown project, as well as an "opening" at the end, for further engagement. That the "opening" comes at the end of the book tells says a lot: the book is intended as an introduction, a start, an invitation, a provocation: the first word and not the last word. Similarly, the book claims it is not the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming because it summarizes all the previous work, but instead because it is the first ever such plan.

That structure reveals the ethos of this book: it's not to bring you to rest because you can be secure that there is a plan, it's to bring you to inspiration because you know you are needed to manifest, extend, adapt, and enable the plan as it is emerging.

Here's a quote from the front section reflecting that shift: "... can tempt us to believe that global warming is something that happens *to* us: that we are the victims of a fate that was determined by actions that precede us. If we change the preposition, and consider that global warming is happening *for* us: an atmospheric transformation that inspires us to change and reimagine everything we make and do, we begin to live in a different world. ... We see global warming not as an inevitability but as an invitation to build, innovate, and effect change..."

While optimistic, this is not a book about being hopeful, but instead about the work that is necessary and the recognition this work is significant and worthwhile. To paraphrase what it says elsewhere, it would be an embarrassment to call it "game over" before even starting with "game on". This book is the initial report for an ongoing project.

The quote I started with was from the "opening", near the end of the book. "To be effective, we require and deserve a conversation that includes possibility and opportunity, not repetitive emphasis on our undoing." This book opens these kinds of conversations about global warming, and these are the kind of conversations I will work to keep having.
Profile Image for Abigail Advincula.
229 reviews51 followers
September 25, 2022
Drawdown is a collection of different solutions to reverse global warming. Topics range from energy collection/management, agriculture, manufacturing, to re-thinking social structures. The self-given adjective "comprehensive" is apt, and there are many large, beautiful photographs in the physical copy.

What I enjoyed most about the book was the sheer diversity of potential solutions to the complex problem of global warming. The Anthropocene era (age of man) has been a time where mankind has been wildly successful at cultivating Earth for our benefit. Unfortunately, Earth's climate and ecology suffered. Thankfully (mercifully) there are many potential paths for redemption. Indeed, many of the technologies needed by such paths are close to maturity in terms of technology. What I also enjoyed was how advancements in the field of chemistry/materials science are core to many of these solutions.

Profile Image for Bryan Alexander.
Author 4 books275 followers
August 23, 2021
Drawdown is a heartening book. It offers nothing but things humanity can do to address the climate crisis.

Those things fall into categories of changes to energy, transportation, women's rights, and more. Each item is clearly and concisely described in 1-3 pages. Some are admittedly more speculative.

I am interested in what the book holds back. There isn't anything on geoengineering. Nothing about social revolution or civilizational transformation.

Actually, it feels like the Whole Earth Catalog as a set of tools to consider.
Profile Image for Daria .
16 reviews25 followers
September 10, 2019
This book lists the solutions to the climate crisis, ranking them in terms of their impact. There are many eye-opening insights that put things into perspective. The most effective measure? Properly disposing of air conditioning units. The 4th most effective? Educating girls. It is inspiring and makes it clear that we have ALL the answers. We know what to do. We just need to start doing it.
Profile Image for Lauren James.
Author 16 books1,439 followers
December 3, 2020
I read a lot of climate change non-fiction in 2020, as research for a book I'm writing. This was one of the best - comprehensive, without fearmongering, it just lays out in clear terms exactly what needs to be done to fix things. Ignoring the politics, and the drama, and the chaos - this is just pure solutions. Which, I don't know about you, is very comforting when you feel helpless about the planet's future.
Profile Image for Gregg.
460 reviews4 followers
November 2, 2020
Finally, a comprehensive and holistic approach to the problem. Any talk of a green new deal needs to be rationally grounded in science as outlined in this book. A political solution to a scientific problem will not work.
Profile Image for Lara.
476 reviews38 followers
March 21, 2022
Finally, a little hope. I liked this fresh perspective, learning of all the amazing already existing techniques and ways to stop or at least slow down climate change. It's an exhausting read though due to all of the detailed information, probably better to just occasionally skim through.
Profile Image for Annie Bacon.
Author 48 books32 followers
January 14, 2021
C'est un livre important, réaliste, bien documenté, et accessible aux néophytes. Devant toutes ces solutions, on alterne entre un grand espoir en l'avenir et une grande frustration devant le présent puisque, si les solutions sont déjà si bien quantifiées, qu'est-ce qu'on attend pour les mettre en pratique?
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