A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Drawdown

By Erica Paige Schumacher

Maybe definitive knowledge is not as important as action when it comes to observations humans can make about climate change. The idea that humanity ‘needs to know everything before it does something’ — to stem the tides of melting ice caps, warming oceans and changing ecosystems — is perhaps and probably, a monumental mistake.

Scientists are saying we can diversify our energy production and use permaculture design tools now to provide a better home for people, animals, and plant life today, as well as create choices that are more aligned with nature, local and global economies — and planetary ecology moving forward.

This is a wave we probably don’t want to ride. Some might say metaphorically, we are drowning in information, but have forgotten how to put on a life vest or rescue our human and animal families using what we already know. How the planet is responding to warming of seas and skies affects cities, towns, polar bear communities, wildlife and sea creatures — and ourselves. Have we forgotten how to trust our own observational faculties? If we study something until it is destroyed, is that the same as caring about it? Is collecting data more important than rational decision making towards greater ecological balance?

Researchers, citizens and scientists are saying we should not have to ‘know everything’ before intelligent decisions are made that impact the entire globe and its inhabitants. The argument about ‘whether climate change is happening’ keeps the argument going, many say, while the seas are rising under our noses and roads are transformed into rivers from hurricanes like Florence and Maria and other extreme global weather systems that have intensified. While we debate, typhoons and volatile storm systems are casting whole villages or cities into seas of oblivion with exponential costs to life, creating unsustainable outcomes, or overly dry and parched or flooded eco-terrestrial life zones – resulting in species, community and livelihood threat or decimation.

Ultimately, we do not need to know all the causes of something to acknowledge its effects and take responsive and practical actions. Perhaps our ‘need to know’ is casting us all into a state of irreparable ignorance and harm. As ocean levels rise globally, and storm systems intensify, it’s something to consider.

Environmental experts, scientists and citizens are exploring these very questions this month as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issues a preliminary special report updating scientific findings on ice shearing and rising temperatures and ocean levels that are thought to be caused by warming of air and the seas. The full report that updates the 2006 standards and goals for a sustainable future is due out in 2019. It will be used by governments, policy makers, and citizens to redesign low lying areas, institute permaculture and other carbon capture methods, and prevent potential and future catastrophes. One can read up on this important topic in Reuter’s article (September 19, 2018) titled, “Greenland and The Hunt For Better Climate Science,” which outlines the important work NASA is doing to monitor Greenland’s ice sheet changes using many different scientific models.

In confluence with the UN’s special updated report and preliminary draft, important talks and forums are taking place globally on climate change and actions we can take now through methods such as geothermal, solar, wind, permaculture design and other means of carbon capture to drawdown and reverse potential effects of man’s impact. Many are saying that we should have diversified our energy sources years ago, providing biodynamic solutions and market choices aligned with nature — and that there is an urgency that everyone should pay attention to, now, before it is too late to turn back the tides or redirect them.

In keeping with these events, The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck will be presenting a live-streamed online panel discussion and a participatory Q +A hosted by Paul Hawken on October 19 from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. People can register free of charge online and watch individually or as community satellite groups by signing up for the Drawdown Learn Live Stream Event (at www. eomega.org).

According to Laura Weiland, Director of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living, the online Panel presentation and Q + A will answer the question, “What could we actually do to reverse global warming with plants and agriculture? What could we do to be part of the solution in terms of drawing the carbon out of the atmosphere?” Currently, there are registered satellite discussion groups popping up locally at libraries, in homes, and globally — as well as in the city of Austin, Texas, and on a pacific island east of Fiji. “You can host your own community discussion, watch the live stream, and submit your questions,” Weiland states, and she encourages everyone interested in a viable future to register for the live stream presentation. Omega is partnering with schools, libraries, the New York State Office of Climate Change, The Wild Center and grassroots groups worldwide in order to share these ideas that can be implemented globally — community by community, and involving individual gardeners, students, architects, farmers and urban designers, alike.

Hawken is the Executive Director of Project Drawdown, a non-profit dedicated to researching and proposing tangible actions for when and how global warming can be reversed based on his important book and collaborative work, Drawdown, The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever to Reverse Global Warming, which garnered an award as the #1 best selling environmental book of 2017. It has been passed along as a ‘must read’ by prominent heads of state, library associations, science teachers and colleges. These solutions can be found at: https://www.drawdown.org/solutions. The site is a primer on what we might be doing now to correct our approach to global and environmental homeostasis. Drawdown’s website cites 80 solutions that already exist as well as 20 other strategies that are being explored to dial back our emissions and the heating of the planet. Omega’s live stream event, which is free to the public online, will kick off a three day series that delves into how to solve these important challenges moving into the future.

Visited by world leaders for his knowledge on global systems, Hawken is known as an environmentalist, author, entrepreneur (Smith & Hawken) and researcher. In Drawdown, Hawken outlines active steps we can take now to diversify our energy sources, capture and transform our emissions, plant, design and grow our way to a more humane and sustainable planet — and as a result deepen our respect for the human, plant, and animal life we all cherish.

Hawken will be joined by co-panelists and Drawdown co-contributors: Katharine Wilkinson (Rhodes Scholar, expert on Geography and the Environment, and author of Between God & Green: How Evangelicals Are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change); Crystal Chissell , a law, environmental science and business leader, will present solutions-based approaches to global warming’s effects; and Chad Frischmann, who leads the Drawdown Coalition’s senior research and fellowship programs; his background includes teaching at The University of Oxford and at Cal Berkeley, and he has also worked as a grass roots consultant and for UN agencies and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Hawken’s bestsellers include: The Ecology of Commerce (Harper Collins 1993) which was voted as the #1 college text on business and the environment by professors in 67 business schools, and Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (LIttle Brown, September 1999), which has been read and passed along as essential reading for heads of state. He has been interviewed by Charlie Rose, Larry King, The Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, The Utne Reader, Orion and The Christian Science Monitor.

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To Register for the Drawdown Learn Live Stream Event or to organize a satellite group, home, student discussion or community event around the presentation, please visit www.eomega.org.
Hosted by Paul Hawken and co-panelists it will be Live Streamed on October 19 from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m., and will available through the site online for educational and community purposes thereafter until January 17, 2019.

The Omega Institute at Rhinebeck has collected a large volume of educational resources for students and teachers k-12 on this important issue, and also hosts educational tours of its Ecomachine, an on-site biodynamic wastewater treatment system of wetlands and tanks that purifies 52,000 gallons of water a day using plants and microbiological systems. For more information, contact Laura Weiland at the Omega Institute.