I have a lengthy list of activities I enjoy watching but would not enjoy doing. High on that list is improv comedy, though I do love the foundational philosophy of the artform. The most important rule of improv is “yes, and.”
Here’s what that means, especially for folks who have never experienced improv. In a typical show, the comedians perform a series of skits in which they improvise different roles and scenarios based on audience suggestions. For the comedy to work, the comedians must accept and add to each other’s spontaneous ideas.
If, for example, a patient in a hospital fearfully exclaims, “What was that sound?!?”, the doctor can’t say, “I didn’t hear a sound.” She would need to go with that idea, and then build upon it to create a dramatic and situationally funny moment. That’s what “yes, and” is about - when your improv partner introduces a new idea, you have to say “yes” and then build upon it.
I’m of the opinion that “yes, and” isn’t just a good philosophy for improv, but a good philosophy for life in general. I think it’s also a foundational principle of the Drawdown Georgia goal to scale climate solutions.
Our research team identified 20 high-impact climate solutions ideally suited for our state, but those solutions don’t exist in isolation. Consider, for instance, the Beyond Carbon priorities of equity, economy, health, and the environment. I could say, “We should install tens of thousands more rooftop solar panels to increase distributed renewable energy production!” You might then say, “Yes, and we should make sure many of those panels are installed on low-income homes to reduce energy burdens in our state!”
Or perhaps you would say, “We need policies that will accelerate the adoption of mass transit so we can reduce transportation-related carbon emissions in Georgia,” and my reply could be, “Yes, and we can emphasize how mass transit provides cleaner air that can reduce asthma attacks in children!” In these respects, “yes, and” is all about emphasizing the co-benefits that come with scaling climate solutions.
There is another angle to this philosophy for Drawdown Georgia, however. Often, climate solutions can scale in synergistic ways, not simply in isolation from each other. I’d like to use a personal example to illustrate this idea.
For several years now, my wife and I have driven an electric vehicle (EV), and we’ve enjoyed the significant cost savings that have come from driving on electrons rather than gasoline. One of the key features of EVs that has allowed us to save even more is timed charging. We plug our car into a 240-volt outlet at home and set it to begin charging at 11 pm. It then charges throughout the dead of night and is full by about 7 am the next morning. The reason that saves us money is because we signed up for Georgia Power’s EV rate plan, meaning we only pay 1.4 cents per kWh during those nighttime hours. That’s the idea behind our demand response climate solution - we can save carbon if we shift our electricity usage to off-peak hours like nighttime.
Now, I am just one person, but what if hundreds of thousands of Georgians did the same? Yes, we would be scaling electric vehicles as a climate solution, and the demand response of charging at night would reduce our use of electricity during the afternoons when power companies often must rely on higher emitting and more expensive sources of energy to meet peak demand. The two go hand in hand (all while collectively saving those Georgians millions of dollars in fuel costs).
Yes, we must scale climate solutions in Georgia. And there are so many reasons why all of us will benefit when we do!
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