Highlighting an Authentic Climatier Part Two: Let’s Talk Dr. Jonathan Foley

Flat World Partners
5 min readMay 25, 2023

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A few weeks ago, in my first version of the eco-hero herald, I wrote about Dr. Jesse Jenkins, someone whom I believe continuously brings a truthful view to climate policy and current events through data-driven research. Today, I present another personal favorite: an underappreciated and brilliant climate leader, thinker, and researcher, Dr. Jonathan Foley.

The self-proclaimed Global Eco Guy, which is the name of Dr. Jonathan Foley’s personal website and twitter, is the director of Project Drawdown, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to addressing climate change by identifying and promoting the most effective solutions. This work initially culminated in an NYT best-selling book, “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.” This book is the first-of-its-kind solution-by-solution breakdown of the one hundred most effective climate change interventions. The book was created alongside the world’s leading climate scientists, researchers, and policymakers who collectively carefully researched thousands of climate solutions and formed this list with rigorous mathematical models and data (see pages xiv and xv in the book). Most impressively, the book simplifies the formidable problem of climate change down to solutions that are easy to understand and actionable, providing a hopeful guidebook in an era of climate doomerism.

Since the book, Project Drawdown has slowly expanded to become a leading global resource for climate solutions. A key strength is its focus on solutions driven by data and analysis that are accessible to everyone. Dr. Foley and his team recognize that addressing climate change requires action at all levels of society, from individuals and communities to businesses and governments. Therefore, the organization’s solutions range from individual actions like plant-rich diets and family planning / education to industry actions like efficient ocean shipping and alternative cement, and finally to large-scale government-centered initiatives like tropical forest restoration and bamboo production. You can view the table of solutions here.

As the non-profit has grown, Dr. Foley has placed an emphasis on collaboration and communication with the public through programs such as Drawdown Labs, Drawdown Lift, Drawdown Stories, and Drawdown Science. This public engagement work is critical for Project Drawdown as they work to enhance their global footprint and help promote climate solutions. Furthermore, Drawdown is constantly coming out with resources for businesses, individuals, and governments. Recently, this has come in the form of the Drawdown Roadmap, a science-based approach to accelerating climate solutions, with useful interactions, videos, and graphics — informative to anyone. A personal favorite is this graph showcasing how early climate action contributes far greater than climate action in the coming decades, based on the “time value of carbon”.

As we face the reality of trying to solve climate change, it is more important than ever to have leaders like Jonathan Foley and organizations like Project Drawdown. By focusing on solutions that are accessible, effective, and grounded in science, Foley and his team are giving people an antidote to climate doom and showing us a path forward to a more sustainable future.

Isaac Eskind, Analyst

Below is a graph recently produced by Drawdown as part of their Roadmap climate solutions campaign. The graph shows how different sources of capital are misaligned with the amount of emissions cuts on a sector emissions to dollar scale. The top line graph shows the areas in which the globe needs emissions reductions. Then the following three graphs show how philanthropic dollars, venture capital dollars, and the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are spending money in a disproportional manner to these emissions cuts.

Since it is mental health awareness month, let’s talk about the connection between mental health and climate change. Climate anxiety is something that has continued to gain coverage along with eco-anxiety, which studies how mental health challenges can be catalyzed by rising natural disasters, increased heat, and all else that comes with a warming world. Furthermore, many climate leaders have opened up about their own mental health struggles, including Dr. Jonathan Foley. In an article he wrote a few years ago, he discussed his personal struggles and how he learned to cope.

As mentioned above, Project Drawdown has recently released Drawdown Roadmap complete with a video gallery and graphics. However, here is Dr. Jonathan Foley delivering a Ted Talk about the Roadmap.

Project Drawdown has created video content series called Drawdown Neighborhood that tells the stories of people working on climate solutions in the Twin Cities, Atlanta, and Pittsburg. The videos can be found on YouTube or on their website.

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