Editorial: Panic And Prosper

Nora Goldstein, Editor, BioCycle

Nora Goldstein
BioCycle March/April 2019, Vol. 60 No. 3, p. 4

Two things happened within a week of each other in February. The first was a keynote address by Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, Vice President of Project Drawdown, at the Food Matters Cities Summit in New York City on February 12, organized by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The second was an Op Ed piece in the Sunday New York Times on February 17 titled “Time To Panic” by David Wallace-Wells. Here’s some background.

Project Drawdown is a plan to reverse global warming based on implementing “the 100 most substantive, existing solutions to address climate change.” The solutions were identified by a team of researchers led by Paul Hawken, who authored Drawdown in 2017, based on the findings. The operative word is “existing” — nothing new needs to be invented. I heard Hawken speak about Project Drawdown in September 2017. My main takeaway from the lecture, summarized in the December 2017 BioCycle Editorial, “No Regrets” (December 2017), was Hawken’s use of the term “no regrets solutions.” He defined these as “actions that make sense to take regardless of their climate impact since they have intrinsic benefits to communities and economies.”

The 100 solutions are ranked, with #1 having the greatest potential to drawdown greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Number 3 on the list is Reduced Food Waste, which is why Wilkinson was keynoting the Food Matters Cities Summit. Also on the list of solutions are composting and anaerobic digestion. As I wrote in 2017, “when done correctly, these organics recycling solutions come with no regrets. They create jobs, restore the environment, enhance energy, soil, water and food security, and generate resilience.” These solutions, including reduced food waste, are the necessary components to enable communities and the people who live in them prosper.

In a way, it was really good to be reminded about No Regrets Solutions when I read “Time To Panic,” subtitled, “The planet is getting warmer in catastrophic ways. And fear may be the only thing that saves us.” The Op Ed was adapted from Wallace-Wells’ new book, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. The first sentence states: “The age of climate panic is here.” He cites the findings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment released in October 2018 and known as the IPCC’s “Doomsday” report. According to Wallace-Wells, this report’s message is: “It is O.K., finally, to freak out. Even reasonable. … We’re at a point where alarmism and catastrophic thinking are valuable.”

Both Wilkinson and Wallace-Wells articulate the urgency to take action now. BioCycle has been advocating action for about 40 years — two-thirds of our 60-year existence. What is different in 2019 than in 1979 is that not a day goes by without dramatic illustration of climate change impacts.

What to do? Panic and Prosper. Panic fuels the urgency to act now. It is the reality that keeps us on task everyday to implement No Regrets Solutions. Prosper is the “reward” — monetary, societal, planetary — for implementing the solutions.

Join us at BioCycle’s 32nd Annual West Coast Conference, April 1-4, 2019 in Portland, Oregon to add more No Regrets Solutions to your toolbox, and sharpen the ones already in use. And be sure to come to the BioCycle Town Hall, “Panic And Prosper,” on Wednesday, April 3 starting at 4:00 PM. Together, we will brainstorm more tools and solutions to leverage the BioCycle Community to prosper at the climate crossroads.     .

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