Some of us have been meeting at the Southampton library to discuss ways we can scale up existing efforts that draw down carbon from the atmosphere, based on the top 100 solutions outlined in the New York Times bestseller Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.
The book’s 100 best practices and technologies measure and model ways we are already substituting fossil fuels with renewable clean energy, being more efficient, conserving, and even sequestering CO2 emissions. It is a matter of scale. The science reveals if we scale up our best practices, big-time, we can roll back greenhouse gas emissions — reverse the buildup of CO2 — reverse global warming by 2050.
There is much laughter at the meetings, and sometimes I tear up. So, we can actually cut the gloom and doom, and see our reality as an invitation to build, innovate and effect change? A pathway for creativity, an opportunity for an economy humming with innovation, for a renewable energy future with cleaner air, better health, more involved communities?
I share this 3 minute video, a positive hi-tech and low-tech overview.
Reading Drawdown I was surprised to learn that top solutions (#3 and #4) have to do with food —what we eat, what we throw away, where we buy our food. Individually, in our families, and as a community, we can make choices that have huge impacts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
Food waste alone is big (#3), generating 4.4 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year (8% of GHG emissions). Food waste from farm to fork generates emissions at every stage. We Americans throw out 1/3 of our food. If 50% of food waste is reduced by 2050, 26.2 gigaton emissions could be avoided, also avoiding deforestation needed for additional farmland. How? Willful food waste dominates at the consumer level. So then, eat what you buy, make delicious “leftover” soups, buy “ugly” produce, enjoy kitchen creativity — all big CO2 reducers and money savers. I can do that.
On a community level, buying locally and encouraging markets and restaurants to reallocate unpurchased food for reuse by farmers, entrepreneurs, food banks, even business or community composting efforts will reduce GHG. Can’t we do that?
Composting, by the way, is the CO2-smart way to handle any food waste. From backyard bins to commercial operations, composting creates an incredibly valuable fertilizer. Allowing your organic waste to end up in a landfill, absent oxygen, produces the potent GHG methane (34x more powerful than CO2). Note: Copenhagen has not sent any organic waste to landfills in 25 years, reaping savings, fertilizer production and carbon mitigation. Can’t we do that too?
Perhaps the healthiest lifestyle change you can make is not-doing something — what I call the Fish+Farmstand Diet, or Once A Week Red Meat. Surprise: beef cattle are 1/5 of global emissions. Eating the Mediterranean diet, more fish, fruit, veggies, grains, will keep you from heart disease, stroke, diabetes and you will feel great. Source your red meat from silvopasture farms, which reduce methane emissions 10x more than treeless farms (storing carbon in the trees and soil and 0 fertilizer use). From enriching a pasture with trees for shade to grazing in relatively dense wooded areas, Cornell Extensions across the state are helping expand silvopasturing to economically benefit farmers — a win, win, win. Why not silvopasture here?
Finally, the big accelerator for drawing down carbon from the atmosphere, the top #1 solution, is a national effort. Rather than have government subsidize oil companies as we do now, a 2019 bi-partisan bill would provide an economic incentive to substitute fossil fuels with clean renewable energy. Wouldn’t that jump-start be terrific?
Updating here from a previous blog, the bill’s full name is H.R.763 – To create a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund for the American people in order to encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy technologies and market efficiencies which will reduce harmful pollution and leave a healthier, more stable and more prosperous nation for future generations. It is sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), and co-sponsored by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) and 11 Democrats, including most recently Yvette Clarke of New York.
Carbon emissions would reduce 90% by 2050 exceeding the Paris Climate goals and the Clean Power plan. American households would receive monthly dividend checks increasing from $600, $1,400, and $2,600 for each household in the first, fourth, and ninth years of policy implementation. Yes, gas would go up 19 cents a gallon, and a Yale study found that seniors, lower and mid-income and small towns benefit the most financially. The bill is transparent, market-based, does not enlarge government, leaves energy decisions to individual choices, provides thousands of clean energy jobs, cleans the air, and gives us a dividend check, each month, for 30 years. A healthier you chooses how you spend it.
Interestingly, the Green New Deal does not include carbon pricing. As Josh Siegel of the Washington Examiner, noted in “Republican lawmakers face pressure to propose ‘Green New Deal’ alternative” this leaves an opening for Republicans like Mr. Rooney and other Floridians who have taken the lead in co-sponsoring carbon tax legislation.
More movement is taking place in Washington, as Madame Speaker Pelosi has reconstituted the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which she had created as speaker in 2007-2011.
H.R. 763 is a well-researched bi-partisan jump-start to reverse global warming and importantly gets our economy humming with innovation. The timing is good now to make it happen and Senators/Congressman needs to hear from you. Call. Write a post card. Write a letter to the editor.
More information on our local Drawdown East End effort to be posted soon!
Mary Foster Morgan
Citizens Climate Lobby NYS – LI East