Editor’s  note: This posting was authored by Pat Ford. Many years  ago, Pat served as the executive director of ICL. Most recently, he was  the executive director for Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. Pat lives in  Boise, Idaho, and periodically contributes to the ICL blog.

I try to imagine, frame up in my mind, an Idaho climate change strategy. It isn’t easy. Preceding the real-world challenges Idaho will confront are large challenges inherent in the creation of a strategy. For example, any strategy for a state, region, or city must:

  • anchor one of its ends firmly in the global context and needs;
  • anchor the other end as firmly in local tasks and conditions; and,
  • guide work at many stops and stages along that continuum.

Drawdown is a book for that challenge. It calls itself "the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming." It is organized and overseen by Paul Hawken, who gathered some 200 people into the team that developed it. I offer two reasons among several that Idaho climateers should read and use it and its website.

First, Drawdown seeks to measure, in tons of atmospheric carbon reduction, the top 80 actions/strategies to reverse global warming. Its top 10 are: refrigerant management; wind turbines (onshore); reduced food waste; plant-rich diet; tropical forests; educating girls; family planning; solar farms; silvopasture; rooftop solar. If some of these challenge our own thinking, so much the better, since climate change will do so constantly.

Using this 80-item list, we can ask, what contributions to the global imperative is Idaho best suited to make? It’s a start for the constant toggle between global need and local conditions that an Idaho strategy must contain.

Second, Drawdown persuasively defines what the global imperative is: to reverse global warming, not just stop it. This has many effects. Notably, it connects work to stop carbon emissions, draw down atmospheric carbon levels, and buffer or surf the turbulent effects on people and ecologies. Janine Benyus puts it nicely in the book: "To help reverse global warming, we will need to step into the flow of the carbon cycle in new ways, stopping our excessive exhale of carbon dioxide and encouraging the winded ecosystems of the planet to take a good long inhale as they heal."

To simplify a bit, the core of stopping global warming is slashing human carbon emissions so they stay slashed. The core of reversing it is healthy lands and waters, sponging up as much atmospheric carbon over decades as their health allows. Climateers in Idaho know healthy lands and waters are center stage in resilience. Alongside that we can put their leading role in reversal.

Assuring Idaho’s intact lands and waters are durable carbon sponges is one more reason to protect them. The companion and larger task is to restore those that are winded or prostrate, helping reverse warming globally and building resilience locally. I have not made measurements – I don’t think anyone has – but I suspect the Snake River and its feeders, from western Wyoming to 140 miles into eastern Washington, will be a top priority on a combined reversal/resilience scale. Think of wetlands, sloughs, riparian areas, floodplains, farming. Forests, reforestation and afforestation on urban, suburban, private and public land will be another top priority for reversal and resilience. I am just guessing; it looks to my non-technical mind that Drawdown‘s methods may offer one way in to actual measurements (more humbly and truly put, informed estimates) on an Idaho scale.

I also like this book for its care with language. For example, there’s a reason it uses "reverse global warming," not "reverse climate change." Paul Hawken explains, "Global warming refers to the surface temperature of the earth. Climate change refers to the many changes that will occur with increases in temperature and greenhouse gases…. What we measure and model in Drawdown is how to begin the reduction of greenhouse gases in order to reverse global warming." (See page xiii.)

Get information about the book:  Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken