Where to find big ideas for addressing climate change

Posted on 4 July 2019 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by SueEllen Campbell

Sometimes we all need a boost of optimism about our prospects of staving off the worst kinds of climate disruption. We also need to see big thinking and big ambition in practice – or, we might say, to see how ideas can be scaled up, even way up.

Here are some excellent places to look for this kind of inspiration.

  • Project Drawdown. As the project guru Paul Hawken says in a NYT interview, “a primary goal” of this research, book, and website “is to help people who feel overwhelmed by gloom-and-doom messages see that reversing global warming is bursting with possibility.” What are the 100 most effective ways to bring down atmospheric carbon dioxide? The surprising data-driven answers here can help us direct our collective energies where they will count most.
  • Rocky Mountain Institute. With its mission to transform “global energy use,” the Rocky Mountain Institute deploys all kind of smart ideas about new technologies and radical efficiency. Watch the TED Talk by director Amory Lovins, and then look at the website page about the book behind that talk, Reinventing Fire. This is a kind of futuristic optimism even a cynic may find encouraging.
  • This short piece by Ben Brown (communication specialist for PlaceMakers, an urban planning firm) offers an overview of some places where climate action is happening now, especially in towns, cities, and regions. Drawing on the work of Jim Fox, director of the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center, and on Brown’s idea of “Leveraging ‘The Biggest Little Things,’” this blog entry reminds us that “The best strategies are the ones that can be implemented.”
  • Finally, if your bent is less technological than personal and humanistic, take a look at a pre-Drawdown essay by Paul Hawken in Orion Magazine, “To Remake the World.” This heartening piece is also about scaling up – but on a quite different front, that of the astonishing number of small grassroots organizations around the globe.

This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to her any time. Let us hear from you.

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