Do you know the poignant Led Zeppelin ode to love long lost, Ten Years Gone? Many don’t, even LZ fans, but it’s one of my favorites, maybe worth a listen sometime. Except when I cue it up now, I think of 2028, ten years down the road, book-ending the stretch given us by the 2018 IPCC report, during  which we must get our biospheric act together. And I wonder what those ten years will look, feel like from that future patch, wonder what paths we’ve taken, what patch we’ll be standing on. Because, you know, by then we’ll all know whether or not we did what we had to, what was needed, to salvage, protect, restore, and hold high this dearly enlivened and miraculous world we live in, on, from. So what is needed now, what can we do now, here in the city of the forest?

We know that at the personal level, we need to eat a mostly plant-based diet, stop wasting food; travel more on foot, bikes, public transportation; avoid single-use plastic and recycle. But to achieve the scale of change needed, there has to be fast and fundamental action at the governmental and institutional levels. Some of that action has indeed begun, but there is so much system inertia and business-as-usual push-back that it will take all the pressure we can exert, all the voices we can raise, organized and individual, to make damn sure that in ten years we’ll all be doing dances of joy, celebration, and success!

Let’s start by checking out two important local actions already afoot, one you already know about, the other maybe not. The first is the Clean Energy Atlanta plan, the “social contract to protect the health and welfare of its citizenry” as Mayor Bottoms put it, with the aim of achieving 100% clean energy reliance by 2035 as well as equitable access to energy and economic opportunity for all. What we need to know about the plan at this point is that it is ASPIRATIONAL, meaning that it is vulnerable at every step of the way to lack of support, lack of attention, lack of funding; and of course to the folks who would just as soon see it not succeed. Already, the once energized and vibrant City Office of Resilience has lost staffing, funding, and experienced leadership under Bottom’s administration (but still amazingly scrappy!) Not a good sign.

And for rapid transition to clean energy, perhaps the main hindrance is Georgia Power. The bitter joke downtown is that GaPow is the fourth branch of government, readily shaping policy among legislators and public service commissioners. GaPow even has local print media and public radio stations praising their amazing increase of solar energy capacity, with little or no mention that doubling it means it’s up to around 3% of the total energy portfolio, with plans to raise it to about 6% in years to come. And that is with no plans to change their primary reliance going forward on natural gas (still a carbon emitting fossil fuel) and nuclear energy. Meanwhile, GaPow does everything it can to suppress the democratization of solar energy access, aiming to control it at utility-scale solar arrays.

The remedy? Constantly beating the messaging drums via phone, emails, letters, in-person, in actions, to our officials and representatives in City Hall, the state legislature, the public service commissioners, making sure they are registering what we want, when, where, how, and why. We will have all that info for you at this site soon. Next, actively support candidates who will work for clean energy and sustainability by creating and passing the policies and legislation that make them happen. And consider running yourself, or getting involved directly in a campaign! The mantra is WE Have Ten Years, We Must Start Now! Make that phone call, write that letter or email, attend that meeting, go to that rally- make it a friends’ group or family activity. And remember, when those ten years are gone, where will we be, what have we done? Let’s have good reason for unprecedented and sustainable Festivals of Celebration!

The second action we need to monitor, understand, scrutinize and support (SO EXCITING)… is the coming of The Drawdown Project to Georgia! And it’s called…Georgia Drawdown! An academic coalition of Georgia Tech, UGA, and Emory University scientists, researchers, and policy experts have launched an initiative to achieve carbon neutrality in Georgia, possibly in the next ten years, and to begin “drawing down” carbon from the atmosphere using evidence-based strategies described in Paul Hawkins’ seminal Drawdown book and project. This initiative intends to position Georgia as a world-class leader in the coming international effort to achieve carbon neutrality and begin carbon drawdown. Yes!

Georgia Drawdown will spend the coming year developing baselines, evaluating the range of possible solutions identified by Hawkins’ project (100 possible in all, 80 verified to date) and finally selecting 10-12 solutions that are most effective and appropriate for Georgia. There will be working groups in the sectors of energy, transportation, food, land use & forestry, built institutes and materials, and “beyond carbon,” meaning actions to ensure positive impact on health, jobs, the environment, equity, and biodiversity as part of the project. This analysis and evaluation will lead into policy formulation and recommendation, drawing as well on the recommendations and inputs arising from stakeholder engagement that will be in process throughout the project. And that’s where you come in! Get involved by emailing a request for more info to drawdown@gatech.edu; and go to the Georgia Drawdown site (above) to sign up for involvement and updates. You will also find a recording of the informative webinar launch. This project NEEDS US to follow and understand it, be poised and ready to jump in when policies are being formed, proposed- and challenged.

This is our future, ten years coming. Please, let’s be ten years present, together; not ten years gone, separate. Together we can definitely get this done.

Stay in touch.

The 350atl.org team