Rachel Vellenga | Book offers advice to help environment

Rachel Vellenga | Book offers advice to help environment


It is rare to find an environmental book that does not make one feel hopeless in the face of environmental degradation and a federal government that seems intent on undoing all previous environmental protection progress.

"Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming," edited by Paul Hawken, Penguin 2017, actually gave me hope that if we commit ourselves on an international level, we could actually achieve "drawdown" — the point where instead of increasing carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere, we decrease them and are hopefully able to reverse climate change. The technology already exists, according to this book; the political will is all that is lacking.

This book resulted from an international coalition of scientists, researchers and professionals who decided which 100 practices would most reduce carbon dioxide levels if implemented at an increased (but still attainable) rate around the world.

Each practice has a page or two of descriptions and includes the net cost of implementation and maintenance, amount of reduction in carbon dioxide potentially saved by 2050, its effectiveness ranking and the net savings, if any.

Some of the ideas are obvious, like increasing rooftop solar panels (No. 10), while some are less obvious, like adoption of a plant-rich diet (No. 4). And some ideas are surprising, like silvopasturing, the practice of grazing cows and other ruminants on land with trees, which leads to increased health of the animals and increased carbon sequestration compared to treeless rangeland (No. 9).

Even an enthusiastic environmentalist is likely to learn about some surprising environmental solutions in this book. The end of the book includes a "coming attractions" section about promising ideas to further reduce carbon dioxide — most of which were unfamiliar to me.

This book is informative, well-organized and is not an overwhelming amount of information. The methods in information gathering and compilation are transparently communicated.

I highly recommend the book to community members who would like to be better advocates for the world's climate and those looking for an environmental book that offers hope.

Rachel Vellenga is a youth services librarian at The Urbana Free Library. She loves reading (surprise!), working with families and international travel, and is pretty handy with scissors and construction paper.

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