by Anna Conte
Typically, electric bikes and household recycling are not perceived to be major climate change solutions. However, according to Katharine Wilkinson, these two examples serve as viable mechanisms to reverse the impact of climate change.
Katharine Wilkinson, senior writer of The New York Times’ bestseller Drawdown, presented her book to an auditorium full of students, professors and locals Thursday, Oct. 5 in the Porter Byrum Welcome Center.
The book Drawdown serves “to map, measure and model the most substantive solutions to climate change and bring those solutions and the answers that we’ve uncovered to life,” Wilkinson said in her presentation.
Wilkinson was brought to Wake Forest to present various ways in which everyone, including Wake Forest students, can participate in the movement to reverse the effects of climate change.
Drawdown functions as a handbook that presents 100 solutions to climate change, specifically focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. Eighty of the solutions have been proven effective and scaled, while 20 solutions are considered ‘coming attractions,’ as these solutions are currently being tested.
Each of the solutions are ranked in terms of how much carbon dioxide they would reduce within practice. In addition to rankings, the solutions are presented alongside their cost of implementation and operational savings. By providing figures, Wilkinson adds an economic perspective to the topic of sustainability.
Emma Hughes, a Wake Forest mathematical economics major and environmental studies minor said the economic element “adds value for someone who doesn’t care as deeply about the environment.”
Wilkinson’s interdisciplinary approach to climate change is a product of her education and prior work experiences. She received her bachelor’s degree in Religion from Sewanee and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Geography and Environment from Oxford. Prior to working at Project Drawdown, Wilkinson worked in various consultancy firms, taught at Oxford and worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Before Drawdown, Wilkinson published her first book, God & Green: How Evangelicals Are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change, in 2012. This book was a product of her research at Oxford.
Sebastian Irby, a Wake Forest senior who created her own interdisciplinary sustainability studies major with a focus in climate change, has worked within the Office of Sustainability throughout her time at Wake Forest. This event was sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, Office of the Dean of the College and Sustainability Graduate Programs. Additionally, Irby is referencing Wilkinson’s God & Green as a resource as she prepares her senior thesis.
“This is in a lot of the circles that I run in daily,” Irby said in the auditorium before the event had begun.
Within Wilkinson’s top 20 solutions, the most represented areas of impact include various solutions centered around food, energy and land use.
Wilkinson concludes by emphasizing the multi-dimensional benefits to her mission, “One of the things that becomes clear when you come through the lens of solutions, is that — yes, these are ways to address greenhouse gases, great … they’re also the means of building a more vibrant and equitable and prosperous and resilient world where people are healthier and happier.”
Originally published in the Old Gold and Black.