Drawdown Insights

Profile  |  June 27, 2023
Drawdown Science Profile: Tina Swanson
This article is the sixth in a series introducing the members of Project Drawdown’s science team. Tina Swanson joined the Drawdown Science team as a visiting scholar in June 2023. An environmental scientist with a background in cross-disciplinary research and engagement at the science/policy interface, she is passionate about applying science to benefit society.  Tina comes to Project Drawdown with more than two decades of experience in the environmental nonprofit arena, including with The Bay Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).  Here, Tina explains why Project Drawdown is the perfect next step in her long and illustrious career, describes how she once found herself clinging to a ship’s mast high above the ocean, vouches for the therapeutic value of punching clay, and more. Q: What is your role with the Project Drawdown Science team? A: I bring to Project Drawdown a very broad expertise and knowledge base, and I hope one of the values I offer is to help periodically identify some of the cross-connections and synergies that my teammates may not have yet considered. I want to complement their expertise, which is very deep and very impressive, with some of my experience with how the policy arena works in its intersection with science. Q: Why Project Drawdown?  A: I have been a scientist working at the intersection of science and policy for more than 20 years. I went into it as a very deliberate professional decision after a number of years in academia because I wanted to be in a position to say, “This is what the science says, and based on what the science says this is what you should do.”  When I left NRDC, I was not quite ready to retire. Climate change is such an urgent and existential problem that I felt an obligation to stay engaged. I was drawn to Project Drawdown because it’s a science-based organization devoted to the solutions rather than just defining the problem. I think we need to apply more science to the solutions—not just what they should be, but how to get them into the world. Q: Do you have pets?  A: I do! A dog, Griffin, half German shepherd and half Dutch shepherd. A cat, Tess, and a splendid horse, Shiloh. I have a fish tank, too. I’m a fisheries biologist, so I always have a fish tank. I can’t imagine life without them. Q: What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done on purpose?  A: When I was in college I did a semester-long program at Woods Hole and spent six weeks on a 100-foot-long topsail schooner in the Caribbean and Atlantic. I’m afraid of heights, and one of the things I made myself do is climb up the shrouds to the working platform on the mainmast. It was really high above the ocean and swayed sickeningly as the ship sailed. Once was enough! Q: What superpower(s) do you bring to this job?  A: I think what I bring is a result of decades of experience working in this arena—an interest and ability to see the big picture and an understanding of where the various knobs and levers are for being able to effect change. Another really important thing is a sense of both humility and humor. Q: What gives you hope?  A: What gives me hope is being able to work with people at Project Drawdown as well as other organizations that are working really, really hard to solve the problems we have and to do it in ways that work. The best solutions are the ones that will solve the problems and also provide other useful co-benefits. I have hope that we can solve this. I do not underestimate how much of a challenge it's going to be, but I have hope. Q: What makes you crazy?  A: The thing that makes me the craziest is the increasing ability of people to ignore and resist factual information. As a scientist, that maddens me because all of my training and personality are like, “Figure out how something works based on the facts, and respond in kind.” I’m maddened when people instead rely on magical thinking designed to support their preconceived notions.  Q: Do you have a happy place?  A: Out in the California countryside riding a horse. Q: Tell me about your artwork.  A: I started taking classes in ceramics sculpture when I was at UC Davis, partly to counterbalance the intense research, analysis, and number crunching part of my life. I use a technique called handbuilding to sculpt human and animal figures, vessels, and tiles. I’ve sculpted a lot of fish. I find working with clay very therapeutic, both physically and mentally. To push and mold and smack and craft it into shape is very satisfying. It’s an exercise in three-dimensional thinking. I would recommend it to anybody.
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Video  |  June 22, 2023
Capitalism and climate change: Moving toward solutions
Few topics in the climate community are more charged than the capitalism vs. climate change debate. Is capitalism compatible with a world in the throes of climate change? Can endless economic growth persist on a finite planet? Is it even possible to dismantle our current economic system—and build a new one—in the next seven years?  Many of us have passionate, deep-seated reactions to this topic, and for good reason: the stakes are high. Because emotions also run high, it’s rare to have an authentic, meaningful discussion in the public square. But this “third rail” elephant in the room is one that we can no longer afford to tiptoe around.  Join Jamie Beck Alexander, founding director of Drawdown Labs, as we delve into some of the places we might find common ground. This boundary-pushing Drawdown Ignite webinar includes an exploration of the role of the private sector and how employee power, the Drawdown-Aligned Business Framework, and the Drawdown Roadmap may point the way to the future. This webinar is part of Project Drawdown’s new monthly Drawdown Ignite webinar series. Drawdown Ignite provides information and inspiration to guide your climate solutions journey. Updates on future webinars can be found by visiting drawdown.org/events.
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News  |  June 13, 2023
Drawdown's Neighborhood: New Orleans
Drawdown’s Neighborhood video series “passes the mic” to New Orleans’ climate heroes
by Drawdown Stories
Drawdown’s Neighborhood, presented by Project Drawdown, is a series of short documentaries featuring the stories of climate solutions heroes, city by city across America. The fourth edition—Drawdown’s Neighborhood: New Orleans—is now available online! The Big Easy. Crescent City. The Birthplace of Jazz. The Paris of the South. N’awlins. Or simply NOLA. The latest installment of Drawdown’s Neighborhood takes us to one of the most vibrant and resilient cities in the United States: New Orleans, Louisiana. New Orleans is more than a city rich in culture; it is a place of resilience, where people live, work and play on the frontlines of climate change with hurricanes, oil drilling disasters, and shrinking coastlines due to sea level rise lingering as not-too-distant concerns. It is also home to a diverse network of people and organizations working on climate solutions. Often, the communities most immediately and severely affected by climate change—including Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color—are excluded from dialogues about solutions. Drawdown's Neighborhood: New Orleans features the stories of eight change-makers working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a healthier, more just future for all.
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Perspective  |  June 12, 2023
Rainbow over buildings and a forest
Net Zero is bigger than any one building, but every building can help us get there
by Amanda D. Smith, Ph.D.
It’s Net Zero Buildings Week! Time to celebrate the progress we’ve made in making buildings better for people and for the rest of life on this planet. And time to get real about where the net zero concept is useful and where it’s not. At Project Drawdown, we count net zero practices among our proven solutions in the buildings sector. We advocate moving toward a future where buildings support human communities and the communities of life outside of them—and where everyone has a building they can call home. So it might seem like an odd time to tell you that pushing for every individual building to be net zero is not how we get there. Net zero is a story about what we want for the world—and in particular the atmosphere that wraps around the Earth. We want an atmosphere to support both people and all of the flora, fauna, and funga that make up the web of life. To protect and preserve life on Earth, we have to quit dumping heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere so quickly that they hang around and cause havoc. The global net zero concept is simple: We’re currently emitting greenhouse gases much faster than nature or humans are able to take them out of the atmosphere. We’ll reach net zero when natural and manmade systems remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere as fast as we emit them. That means the current sources of emissions shrink down until they’re no bigger than the existing sinks. Project Drawdown illustrates this system with the rainbow graph below. (Happy Pride Month!)
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Feature  |  May 23, 2023
small business
7 meaningful climate actions for small and medium-sized businesses
by Aiyana Bodi
It’s time to elevate and expand corporate sustainability from the often siloed, underresourced work of small sustainability teams to the work of every team—harnessing the passion and expertise that every employee has to advance climate action. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) especially have a unique opportunity to engage their entire organizations. That's because their flexible and innovative natures can orchestrate cross-functional sustainability strategies much more easily than a large corporation. SMBs can leverage their existing employee responsibilities and knowledge to create meaningful impact—without exhausting already limited time and resources. Every business function can help make a difference: Finance: Make sure you’re banking with a bank that is fossil fuel-free. Government Relations and Public Policy: Keep up-to-date with local legislation and voice your support. Human Resources and Operations: Provide your employees with climate-friendly 401(k)s. Legal: When you work with external counsel, choose climate-committed law firms. Marketing: Nudge your customers to take their own climate action. Procurement: Give preference to sustainable suppliers.  Sales: Integrate climate action into your sales models. Dive deeper and read the full article HERE!
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Perspective  |  May 18, 2023
office workers viewed through windows
What are you working in service of?
by Ted Otte
Round after round of layoffs, deepest in the tech industry, have left over a quarter million workers wondering what’s next for their careers. I was one of them. After a dramatic acquisition, Twitter was no longer a public company, and I no longer had a job. This isn’t how I wanted the ride to end, but the hard stop was the kicker I needed to really ask myself, “What do I want to be working in service of?” At this point, the “tech to climate” narrative has become a meme, and for a good reason. Embedded in the unfortunate circumstances in which many former tech workers (now job seekers) find themselves is immense potential to accelerate new leadership in the climate solutions era with a massive migration of employee capabilities and creativity. The drumbeat has been growing louder in this direction for years, demonstrated by the rise of climate career platforms, resilient capital flows, and the urgent need to equip a new generation of builders.  
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Video  |  May 4, 2023
Doughnut Design for Business
Can what’s good for business be good for the planet? Erinch Sahan, business & enterprise lead at Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL), explores that question in this 50-minute webinar hosted by Drawdown Labs. Doughnut Economics is an economic paradigm for meeting the needs of all people within the means of the  planet. This webinar looks at how businesses can apply the concept to become more regenerative through their purpose, networks, governance, ownership, and finance. By engaging with the Drawdown Labs Business Coalition, DEAL is helping bring Business Model Transformation—a key component of the Drawdown-Aligned Business Framework—to life. Watch now to learn how companies can unlock tangible design elements to help bring humanity into the “Doughnut,” the space that is both ecologically safe and socially just and in which humanity can thrive.
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News  |  April 20, 2023
The Drawdown Roadmap
New “Drawdown Roadmap” charts the path to a climate-stable future
We know the “why” and the “what” of working to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. But the “when,” “where” and “how” have been largely a matter of guesswork—until now. With the launch today of the Drawdown Roadmap, Project Drawdown—the world’s leading source of climate solutions—is outlining a specific, actionable strategy for implementing solutions on a global scale in time to avoid the worst adverse effects of climate change. “We live in the most incredible moment in human history,” said Project Drawdown executive director Jonathan Foley in announcing the release. “We now have both the means and opportunity to accelerate climate solutions. Let’s do it.”
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Feature  |  April 14, 2023
Cooperative farm workers
What are you doing in your neighborhood this Earth Week?
by Matt Scott
Earth Week, which takes place April 14–22, is an occasion inviting people everywhere to turn their attention to climate change and find their role in climate solutions. Do you know how you’ll help the world counter climate change this coming Earth Week? If you’re looking for your own Earth Week ideas, check out the Drawdown Solutions Library, our Job Function Action Guides, or partner resources like Drawdown Ecochallenge. Looking for even more ways you can make an impact, like some of the everyday climate heroes we’ve featured to-date through the climate solutions short documentary series Drawdown’s Neighborhood? Today, we invite you to learn how some of the local climate heroes and organizations featured in Drawdown’s Neighborhood interviewees are celebrating Earth Week in their communities.
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