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Serious Drawdown: Why we are optimistic about reversing climate change

by | Feb 15, 2019 | Climate Change, Environment, Trees

“Real change occurs from the bottom up; it occurs person to person, and it almost always occurs in small groups and locales and then bubbles up and aggregates to larger vectors of change.”

– Paul Hawken

Climate change is arguably the most significant challenge facing us today. The United Nations warn that if we don’t act now, we will be dealing with catastrophic weather events within the next 12 years. But what kind of action should we take? Can we really reverse climate change?

At World Tree we are optimistic that together we can start to repair the damage we have done to our air, soil, and ecosystems.  Are we naive – or even crazy – to think that we can make a difference? Not according to environmentalist and best-selling author Paul Hawken.

Drawdown

Paul Hawken is the author of Drawdown – perhaps the most highly researched, comprehensive and positive book of the modern environmental movement. Drawdown maps out a comprehensive plan to not only slow climate change but reverse it.

The primary cause of global warming is carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, currently at 410 parts per million¹, is higher than it has been in the last 20 million years. Rising temperatures will inevitably lead to an increase in storms, flooding, wildfires and drought.

Hawken explains that, despite this gloomy forecast, there is hope. Carbon is not the enemy – it is, in fact, the very building block of life. Plants, trees and all green things use carbon to grow. The premise of Drawdown is that to reverse climate change all we need to do is to pull carbon out of the atmosphere using natural, already existing systems and processes.

Within the pages of Drawdown, you’ll find 100 solutions ranked on the level of carbon that they would sequester from the atmosphere as well as other factors including cost and savings. What all the solutions have in common is what’s good for the planet is good for the economy. We can literally repair the earth and make money at the same time.

Watch Kiss The Grounds “The Soil Story” to learn more about carbon sequestration and its important role in restoring our ecosystems –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvAoZ14cP7Q

Meeting of the minds

This fall, Wendy Burton (Founder and CEO of World Tree) had the opportunity to meet Paul Hawken in Palm Springs. They were both speaking at Wanderlust and sharing their vision for the future to a packed conference. However, they had not met before and Wendy was interested to find out what Hawken would think of what we are doing at World Tree.

Hawken ranks Afforestation – planting trees for timber – in the top 15 solutions for carbon drawdown. The facts are staggering:

  • Establishing timber plantations on an additional 204 million acres of marginal lands can sequester 18.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050²
  • At a cost of $29 billion to implement, this additional area of timber plantations could produce a net profit for landowners of over $392 billion by 2050²

 This is the business we are in at World Tree. Wendy was delighted to discover that Hawken had already heard of us. 

“What you are doing is brilliant,” he said. “It is one of those solutions that really could work.”

The conversations since then have continued, and we are looking forward to bringing Hawken to one of our World Tree events later this year. 

A tree meant for afforestation 

At World Tree, we stand by a vision that a very special tree, the Empress Splendor, will be a solution to global warming. The Empress Splendor is a very fast growing tree, and the reason for this fast growth rate is that it uses a special super-powered method of photosynthesis called C4. This method of photosynthesis is found more commonly in plants but is a major factor in why the Empress Splendor sequesters more carbon dioxide than any other tree. 

The Empress Splendor reaches harvestable maturity between 7-10 years and its regenerative qualities allow for it to grow back from the stump and continue to yield higher grade timber. The trees high-speed growth increases the rate at which its leaves sequester carbon from the air we breathe.

Healthy soil is also a key factor to drawing down the Earth’s carbon dioxide from the atmosphere³. The Empress Splendor can be grown in very desolate soil conditions, such as sandy clay loams, and will rejuvenate the soil in the process. It’s important to add that the Empress Splendor can also be intercropped with other plantation crops, such as coffee, providing much needed shade for the plants. You will also be able to find Intercropping on the Drawdown list at #17.

These special and unique properties make the Empress a front runner for afforestation projects and regenerative timber production. If we begin to plant trees specifically for timber production, then we indirectly prevent deforestation. Trees that have been growing for hundreds of years can continue to sequester carbon dioxide.

Our vision is to plant millions of trees, with the help of our investors and farmers, so that we can restore the lungs of mother earth.

Ready for action?

There are many solutions to reversing the disastrous effects caused by greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. In Drawdown, we get a look at many ways individuals, businesses, governments, and nations can begin putting habits and structures in place for the future of our planet.

One of the first steps to accomplishing a goal is to create and write down a plan. Now that we have our plan, it is time to get to work. We can no longer be bystanders in our own future and in the future of those we care about.

1. https://climate.nasa.gov)

2. https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/land-use/afforestation

3. http://www.fao.org/soils-portal/soil-management/soil-carbon-sequestration/en/

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