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Global Change Program

Katharine Wilkinson: “Drawdown: A Path for a Warming World”

Dr. Katharine Wilkinson speaks at Georgia Tech about Project Drawdown

By Kelsey Abernathy · Nov 21, 2018

On Wednesday, November 14th, Georgia Tech’s Global Change Program hosted Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, Vice President of Communication and Engagement at Project Drawdown, a nonprofit organization with a comprehensive plan to stop and reverse the negative impacts of global warming. Wilkinson, who is also lead writer for the organization’s New York Times bestselling book, Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reduce Global Warming, participated in several public-facing events throughout the day. These included a meet and greet with Georgia Tech faculty, a Q&A session with undergraduate students, and finally, a public lecture. Attendees left each event feeling more hopeful and optimistic about the future of our planet.

Ever since humans realized the environmental impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions, they have worked together to create ways to combat these effects. However, all of these different propositions were never fully consolidated until Project Drawdown came into existence. In her talk, Dr. Wilkinson described the organization’s impact as “gathering the collective wisdom of humanity”” With the combination of this collective wisdom and the power and universality of science, the organization was able to consolidate many already existent solutions into a detailed, plausible plan to reduce the impacts of global warming.

Dr. Katharine Wilkinson speaks the Global Change Program's Kelsey Abernathy
Dr. Katharine Wilkinson speaks with second-year EAS student Kelsey Abernathy.

Dr. Wilkinson started her public lecture by remarking on the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warned governments that the world has only about 12 years to make widespread changes in order to avert a global climate change crisis. Dr. Wilkinson gauged her audience’s reaction to this news, which was one of uniform concern. She went on to note that while many scientists have publicly stated the need for action, there has been no concrete plan for improvement, leaving the everyday citizen sad, anxious, and concerned. This, she said, was where Project Drawdown came into existence: “We saw this gap, that humanity has lacked a comprehensive and compelling and accessible path forward to answer this really robust problem statement. We have lacked a vision of possibility in the face of a seemingly impossible challenge.” Wilkinson then described the concept of “drawdown” itself, which is the goal of all efforts to combat global warming: the point in time when atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions peak and then go down to or below the recommended limit. Wilkinson provided her audience with several examples of what, with humans’ renewed efforts, could cause this phenomenon to happen. She then closed her lecture with a message of hope and a call to action: “The earth is asking us to take an evolutionary leap forward,” she noted, concluding that we as individuals have “so much possibility to shape the trajectory of not just human life going forward but for all life on Earth.”

Dr. Wilkinson’s campus visit provided much needed hope in a time of much anxiety and concern. Her public lecture, talk with Georgia Tech faculty, and Q&A session with undergraduate students compelled thoughtful discussions and made attempts to reduce the impacts of global warming more feasible and accessible.

To watch the live stream of Dr. Wilkinson’s lecture, click here.