A vegetable processing plant in Lancashire, England.

(Courtesy Project Drawdown)

"The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming" -- that's the premise of a new book, "Drawdown," that ranks 100 solutions to warming and other climate change issues.

The rankings are based on the total amount of greenhouse gases the solutions can avoid or potentially remove from the atmosphere by the year 2050. Each solution also takes into account how quickly it can be implemented and how cost effective it is. Coming in at No. 1 is refrigerant management -- eliminating the ozone-harming chemicals found in air conditioners and refrigerators. Doing so, the authors say, would reduce carbon dioxide by almost 90 gigatons by 2050.

Other solutions are decidedly closer to home. Reducing food waste, for example, is No. 3 on the list. According to the authors, 40 percent of the food grown in the United States doesn't make it from the farm to the table, mainly because --like bruised apples at a grocery store -- it's discarded as being unfit to eat.

Katharine Wilkinson, a senior writer for Project Drawdown, spoke with Colorado Matters host Andrea Dukakis.

Read an excerpt:

A third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork. Producing uneaten food squanders a whole host of resources—seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, hours of labor, financial capital—and generates greenhouse gases at every stage—including methane when organic matter lands in the global rubbish bin. The food we waste is responsible for roughly 8 percent of global emissions.

Losing food to one waste heap or another is an issue in both high- and low-income countries. In places where income is low, wastage is generally unintentional and occurs earlier in the supply chain—food rots on farms or spoils during storage or distribution. In regions of higher income, willful food waste dominates farther along the supply chain. Retailers and consumers reject food based on bumps, bruises, and coloring, or simply order, buy, and serve too much.

There are numerous and varied ways to address key waste points. In lower-income countries, improving infrastructure for storage, processing, and transportation is essential. In higher-income regions, major interventions are needed at the retail and consumer levels. National food-waste targets and policies can encourage widespread change. Beyond addressing emissions, these efforts can also help to meet future food demand.

Courtesy Project Drawdown