#5 Tropical Forests

This article looks into tropical forests as a climate change solution. It is based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative to map the top 100 most effective solutions to reverse global warming.

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As I begin this article, I am minded to quote the brilliant opening line from Alan Grainger’s seminal 1993 work Controlling Tropical Deforestation when stated simply that “the tropical rain forests are falling at human hands.” This was true at the time of publication and it is unfortunately still true now.

The Drawdown authors open with their own bleak assessment of the situation:

In recent decades, tropical forests – those located within 23.5 degrees north or south of the equator – have suffered extensive clearing, fragmentation, degradation, and depletion of flora and fauna.”

But the authors do point towards a brighter future:

Yet even as deforestation persists, the regrowth of tropical forests sequesters as much as six gigatons of carbon dioxide per year. That is equivalent to 11 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide or all those emitting from the United States.”

Despite this, the authors highlight that: “tropical forest loss alone is responsible for 16 to 19 percent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity.” This is a significant impact.

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed tropical forests to be ranked as the 5th most effective climate change solution by Project Drawdown. They calculated that restoration on 435 million acres of tropical forests could reduce CO2 emissions by 61.23 gigatons by 2050. They stated that global cost and savings data was too variable to be determined. Regardless, this is a big solution, with the potential to absorb massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.

The authors also point out that even though much original forest cover has lost, restoration is effective:

In a median time of sixty-six years, tropical forests can recover 90 percent of the biomass that old-growth landscapes contain.

The authors close with the following poignant statement:

Success depends on changing land-use practices and reducing meat consumption, so we can feed a growing global population without expanding agricultural acreage. One of the dominant storylines of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was the vast loss of forestland. Its restoration and re-wilding could be the twenty-first-century story.”

What you need to know

This article looked into tropical forests as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

It is clear from the analysis of Project Drawdown that tropical deforestation is a significant contributor to man made carbon emissions, but that restoration in this area could go a long way to storing massive amounts of carbon emissions.

These forests are also home to indigenous tribes, rare plants and large numbers of wildlife. The rationale for better protection and restoration of tropical forests extends well beyond their role as a climate change solution.

From Grainger’s 1993 line that “the tropical rain forests are falling at human hands” – could the 21st century narrative be that the tropical rain forests were rebuilt with human hands?

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of restoring tropical forests as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

 

#6 Educating Girls

This article looks into educating girls as a climate change solution. It is based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative to map the top 100 most effective solutions to reverse global warming.

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Again, this solution highlighted what I liked best about the Drawdown initiative, which was that it challenged perceptions of how effective technological solutions were and intermingled them with socio-economic solutions. On this occasion we are talking about another socio-economic solution that could prevent massive amounts of carbon from being released into the atmosphere.

The authors begin with the following statement:

Girls education, it turns out, has a dramatic bearing on global warming. Women with more years of education have fewer, healthier children and actively manage their reproductive health.”

The authors go on to explain that:

An intrinsic right, education lays a foundation for vibrant lives for girls and women, their families, and their communities. It is the most powerful lever available for breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty, while mitigating emissions by curbing population growth.

Let’s now turn to the numbers that allowed educating girls to be ranked as the 6th most effective solution to reverse global warming. The authors calculated that educating girls could reduce CO2 emissions by 59.6 gigatons. They did however state that putting a figure on a return on investment on this solution was incalculable.  Regardless, this is still a major solution with the potential to affect massive amounts of carbon emissions.

The authors did point towards some of the barriers that may impact on this solution:

Cultural barriers encompass traditional beliefs that girls should tend the home rather than learn to read and write, should be married off at a young age, and, when resources are slim, should be skipped over so boys can be sent to school instead.”

These cultural barriers may prove difficult to overcome in some areas.

The authors close with the following powerful statement:

“When it comes to climate change, nurturing the promise of each girl can shape the future for all.”

What you need to know

This article looked into educating girls as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

What is clear is that with family planning and educating girls both ranking as solutions that could reduce CO2 emissions by 59.6 gigatons, these are solutions that simply must be acted on, without delay.

I also think that there is no need to mention climate change when developing an agenda for addressing these problems. These are areas of great moral significance and have importance with or without their role in reversing global warming.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of educating girls as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

#07 Family Planning

This article explores family planning as a climate change solution. It is based on Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective solutions to reverse global warming.

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This is another example of what I really liked about Project Drawdown. I liked the diversity of solutions and the way that purely technological solutions are inter mingled with socio-economic solutions.

Family planning is a very touchy subject. A lot of people skirt around the issue, saying that it is a personal preference and has no place in discussions around climate change. Unfortunately, as we can see by family planning’s inclusion as the 7th most effective climate change solution, that would be a terrible mistake.

The authors begin with the following statement that:

“Securing the fundamental right to voluntary, high-quality family planning services around the world would have powerful positive impacts on the health, welfare, and life expectancy of both women and their children.”

 And that:

Family planning can also have ripple effects on drawing down greenhouse gas emissions.

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed family panning to be ranked as the 7th most effective climate change solution. Family planning could reduce CO2 emissions by 59.6 gigatons. The authors did not provide cost data for this solution as they considered it to be inappropriate to monetise a human right.

What is clear though, is that the magnitude of these solutions is starting to scale up. From solution 20, which was nuclear that could reduce CO2 emissions by 16.6 gigatons, to solution 8 which was solar farms that could reduce CO2 by 36.9. We are now talking about solutions that are 3.5 and 1.6 times more effective.

The authors go on to explain that:

When family planning focuses on healthcare provision and meeting women’s expressed needs, empowerment, equality, and well-being are the goal; benefits to the planet are side effects.”

Interestingly, the authors also point to: “growing evidence suggests that family planning has the additional benefit of building resilience – helping communities and countries better cope with and adapt to inevitable changes brought by global warming.

The authors close with the following important statement:

Currently, family planning programs receive just 1 percent of all overseas development assistance. That number could double, with low-income countries aiming to match it – a moral move that happens to have meaning for the planet.”

What you need to know

This article looked into family planning as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

What is clear is that there is a significant opportunity to adequately fund family planning worldwide. This is not only the right thing to do from a socio-economic standpoint. But it would have the side benefit of preventing massive amounts of carbon from being released into the atmosphere.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of family planning as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

 

#8 Solar Farms

This article explores solar farms as a climate change solution. It is based on Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective solutions to reverse global warming.

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Solar power making its second appearance inside the Drawdown top 20 shows why this technology is so important to reversing global warming. This time it is solar farms which come out as being more effective than rooftop solar.

The authors begin with the following powerful statement:

Any scenario for reversing global warming includes a massive ramp-up of solar power by mid-century.

The authors debunk any myths that surround emissions from solar with the following statement:

When their entire life cycle is taken into account, solar farms curtail 94 percent of the carbon emissions that coal plants emit and completely eliminate emissions of sulfur and nitrous oxides, mercury, and particulates.”

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed solar farms to be ranked as the 8th most effective solution to reverse global warming. Solar farms could reduce CO2 emissions by 36.9 gigatons, for a net cost of -$80.6 billion, but produce $5.02 trillion in net savings. I thought it was interesting that the figure for solar farms was 12.3 gigatons of CO2 higher than the rooftop solar figure.

The authors point towards the scaling up of solar farms with the statement that: “these utility scale installations account for 65 per cent of additions to solar PV capacity around the world.

Furthermore, the authors also add that: “informed predictions about the cost and growth of solar PV indicate that it will soon become the least expensive energy in the world. It is already the fastest growing.”

Of the comparison to rooftop solar, the authors had the following to say:

Compared to rooftop solar, solar farms enjoy lower installation costs per watt, and their efficacy in translating sunlight into electricity (known as efficiency rating) is higher.”

Of the future, the authors highlight that: “energy storage and more flexible, intelligent grids that can manage the variability of production from PV farms will also be integral to solar’s success.” This makes it clear how important it is to situate solar technology within the overall electricity system and not see it as an isolated solution.

What you need to know

This article looked at solar farms as a climate change solution. It was based on the 2017 analysis of Project Drawdown.

This is clearly a powerful technology with the potential to prevent massive amounts of carbon from being released into the atmosphere.

What is clear is that governments need to create better incentives for solar farms to thrive. However, removing artificial subsidies which prop up fossil fuels would be a great start. A level playing field would be more than enough for solar to make a real difference.

Businesses should look to get involved in this transition where possible and purchase electricity from green tariffs where this is not.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of solar farms as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

#09 Silvopasture

This article explores silvopasture as a climate change solution. It is based on Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective solutions to reverse global warming.

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This is what I loved about Project Drawdown, it saw ideas that very few were talking about come out as being highly effective and other more mainstream solutions rank lower or miss out on the top 100 entirely.

I have to admit I knew very little about silvopasture before reading about it in Drawdown. It certainly challenged my perception about cows and their role in driving climate change.

The authors begin with the following explanation:

From the Latin for ‘forest’ and ‘grazing,’ silvopasture is just that: the integration of trees and pasture for forage into a single system for raising livestock, from cattle and sheep to deer and ducks. Rather than seeing trees as a weed to be remove, silvopasture integrates them into a sustainable and symbiotic system.

This practice covers 350 million acres worldwide, which was a figure that surprised me.

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed silvopasture to be ranked as the 9th most effective solution to reverse global warming. Silvopasture could reduce CO2 emissions by 31.19 gigatons, for a net cost of $41.6 billion but produce $699.4 billion in net savings. This is certainly a solution with incredible potential.

The authors explain that: “cattle and other ruminants require 30 to 45 percent of the world’s arable land and produce roughly one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions.” This is obviously a significant problem.

The authors detail that: “silvopastural systems sequester carbon in both the biomass aboveground and the soil below. Pastures that are strewn or crisscrossed with trees sequester five to ten times as much carbon as those of the same size that are treeless.” This certainly sounds promising.

The authors also explain that: “because the livestock yield on a silvopasture plot is higher… it may curtail the need for additional pasture space and thus help avoid deforestation and subsequent carbon emissions.

The authors also point towards evidence which shows: “that ruminants can better digest silvopastural forage, emitting lower amounts of methane in the process.”

The authors also point to towards another benefit, which is that: “from a financial and risk perspective, silvopasture is useful for its diversification.”

Additionally: “silvopasture can cut farmers’ costs by reducing the need for feed, fertiliser, and herbicides.”

Despite all these benefits, for silvopasture: “its growth has been limited by both practical and cultural factors.” Which seems such a shame.

The authors close with the following hopeful message:

As the impacts of global warming progress, silvopasture’s appeal will likely grow, as it can help farmers and their livestock adapt to erratic weather and increased drought. Trees create cooler microclimates and more protective environments, and can moderate water availability.”

What you need to know

This article explored silvopasture as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of project drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

Coming in at number 9, silvopasture was therefore rated as being extremely effective. Its costs are reasonably low and it has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by massive amounts.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of silvopasture as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

#10 Rooftop Solar

This article explores rooftop solar as a climate change solution. It is based on Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective solutions to reverse global warming.

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This series in now getting towards the business end and solutions that people are more familiar with are starting to come to the forefront.

The authors begin with the statement that: “small-scale photovoltaic systems, typically sited on rooftops, are playing a significant role in harnessing that light, the most abundant resource on earth.

The authors also add that: “although photovoltaics (PV) provide less than 2 percent of the world’s electricity at present, PV has seen exponential growth over the past decade.”

Let’s look into the figures that have allowed rooftop solar to be ranked as the 10th most effective solution to reverse global warming. Rooftop solar could reduce CO2 emissions by 24.6 gigatons, for a net cost of $453.1 billion, but produce net savings of $3.46 trillion. This is certainly a powerful solution.

The authors explain that: “roof modules are spreading around the world because of their affordability.”

The authors explain solar power’s rise with the following statement:

“Solar PV has benefited from a virtuous cycle of falling costs, driven by incentives to accelerate its development and implementation, economies of scale in manufacturing, advances in panel technology, and innovative approaches for end user financing – such as the third-party ownership arrangements.”

The benefits of rooftop solar include the fact that it generates electricity without emitting greenhouse gases, it avoids losses of grid transition and it can feed unused electricity into the grid.

In terms of further benefits of rooftop solar, the authors had the following to say:

By having it as part of an energy-generation portfolio, utilities can avoid the capital costs of additional coal or gas plants, for which their customers would otherwise have to pay, and broader society is spared the environmental and public health impacts.”

For the benefits to developing countries, the authors had this to say: “rooftop PV is accelerating access to affordable, clean electricity and thereby becoming a powerful tool for eliminating poverty.” This is something that everyone would agree is a good thing.

What you need to know

This article looked into rooftop solar as a climate change solution. It was based on the 2017 analysis of Project Drawdown.

Rooftop solar comes out as a solution with a number of benefits for developed and developing economies. These benefits extend far beyond just being a powerful solution to reverse global warming.

In terms of its climate change impact this is significant. With or without government support and subsidies, this technology will continue to eat into the energy generation capacity of large established companies and democratise energy production.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think about rooftop solar as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

#11 Regenerative Agriculture

This article explores regenerative agriculture as a climate change solution. It is based on Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective solutions to reverse global warming.

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Reflecting at the half way stage, I have been really pleased with the way this series has gone and the way it has been received. Out of numbers 11-20, two solutions are from the energy sector, three relate to land use and five relate to food. In terms of climate change, it appears that we very much are what we eat.

The authors begin the section on regenerative agriculture with the following comprehensive explanation:

Regenerative agricultural practices restore degraded land. They include no tillage, diverse cover crops, on farm fertility (no external nutrient sources required), no or minimal pesticides or synthetic fertilisers, and multiple crop rotations, all of which can be augmented with managed grazing. The purpose of regenerative agriculture is to continually improve and regenerate the health of the soil by restoring its carbon content, which in turn improves plant health, nutrition, and productivity.”

The authors follow this up with the statement that: “no other mechanism known to humankind is as effective in addressing global warming as capturing carbon dioxide from the air through photosynthesis.

Let’s turn to the numbers that allowed regenerative agriculture to be ranked as the 11th most effective climate change solution. Regenerative agriculture could reduce CO2 emissions by 23.15 gigatons, for a net cost of $57.2 billion, but produce $1.93 trillion in net savings. These are very large numbers.

Referring to current practices, the authors point out that: “conventional agriculture treats the soil as a medium to which mineral fertilizers are added… Plowing and tilling release carbon from the soil, and little or none of the carbon from the plants is sequestered.

Of the cascading benefits of soil carbon, the authors had the following to say:

Increasing carbon means increasing the life of the soil. When carbon is stored in soil organic matter, microbial life proliferates, soil texture improves, roots go deeper, worms drag organic matter down their holes and make rich castings of nitrogen, nutrient uptake is enhanced, water retention increases several fold (creating drought tolerance or flood insurance), nourished plants are more pest resistant, and fertility compounds to the point where little or no fertilisers are necessary.”

The authors have also calculated that: “each additional percent of carbon in the soil is considered equivalent to $300 – $600 of fertilizer stored beneath.

On the benefits of cover crops, the authors explain that: “cover crops sown into harvested plant residues crowd out weeds and provide fertility and tilth to the subsoil.

The authors do highlight that: “the impact of regenerative agriculture is hard to measure and model.

In closing, that authors point towards a new orthodoxy which is sweeping across the food sector:

The world cannot be fed unless the soil is fed. Feeding the soil reduces carbon in the atmosphere. Soil erosion and water depletion cost $37 billion in the United States and $400 billion globally.  Ninety-six percent of that comes from food production.”

What you need to know

This article explored regenerative agriculture as a climate change solution. It was based on Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective solutions to reverse global warming.

I thought it was interesting that at the half way stage, out of solutions 11-20 in Project Drawdown, 8 were related to either land use or food. Clearly these are areas where significant climate opportunities can be found.

With respect to regenerative agriculture, this comes across as an interesting solution and an area where massive amounts of carbon can be stored as well as being prevented from being released.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think about regenerative agriculture as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby