by Office of Sustainability Staff Writer, Suzy Mullins (’18)
What if I told you that climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions could be drawn down using technologies, practices, and commitments already in place today? As humans, we play a considerable role in influencing the changing climate, and it is up to us to take responsibility in order to keep planet Earth livable. One may ask, “What does it take to slow the pace of global warming? What can I do to play a part?”
Introducing Project Drawdown, the “most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.” Carefully constructed by 200 researchers and scientists drawn from a network of world-renowned institutions, the project and its resulting book, Drawdown, provide a roadmap to drawing down greenhouse gas emissions through 80 of the most impactful climate solutions available today.
Of the techniques and practices, there are some that are well known—wind energy, green roofing, food waste reduction, forest protection—as well as others you may have not yet heard of— in-stream hydro, perennial biomass, alternative cement, and peatlands. For each solution presented, the book meticulously projects potential emission reductions by the year 2050, along with the estimated cost of implementation and the resultant savings. Together, the solutions prove that we can draw down greenhouse gas emissions in order to slow the rate of climate change. As project director Paul Hawken explains in the book’s introduction, we are not victims of “a fate that was determined by actions that precede us…We [must] take 100 percent responsibility and stop blaming others. We see global warming not as an inevitability but as an invitation to build, innovate, and effect change, a pathway that awakens creativity, compassion, and genius.”
Here at Wake Forest, faculty, staff, and students are already invested in 25 of the practices addressed in the book, five of which are included within the top 10 ranking of greatest impact. A handful of professors have recently incorporated Drawdown in their courses and professional workshops. Law professor Alan Palmiter, for example, has coupled the book with his Energy Law course, as he feels that it provides a clear and compelling background for underscoring why the program is important. He describes the book as “the greatest recipe book of all time,” because it “describes the ingredients, the measures, and even the temperature at which we should cook what [may] be humanity’s redeeming meal.”
According to Wake Forest’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Dedee DeLongpré Johnston, “so far students have appreciated Drawdown as a very practical guide to global solutions. As emerging leaders who are trained to think across disciplinary boundaries, they can leverage what they’re learning in religion, psychology, philosophy, entrepreneurship, and policy to create new societal norms. Our campus serves as a living laboratory for implementing the book’s practices; if students can practically experience change here, they can lead it anywhere.”
In the coming weeks, this series of articles will explore how Wake Forest is currently deploying, demonstrating, and researching 25 of the 80 proposed Drawdown solutions. More specifically, we will explore these solutions as they relate to the built environment, research, and campus-led initiatives.
On Thursday, October 5th, Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, the senior writer of Drawdown, will give a public lecture at the Byrum Welcome Center at 6:00pm. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Dr. Wilkinson speak on the 80 global solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to learn what you can do at home to play your part in Project Drawdown.