Be Bold: Lessons from Drawdown Learn

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Drawdown Learn Conference in New York. Drawdown is the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming. No really, it is. And that’s the title of the book, edited by Paul Hawken. The book ranks 80 solutions with abundant peer-reviewed sources by the amount of reduced carbon dioxide they would result in. There are also 20 ‘coming attractions’ that don’t have the peer-reviewed research yet, but are solutions that we will see more of in the near future. The timing of the conference couldn’t have been more opportune with the IPCC Special Report released the week before that highlighted the need for action NOW.

Drawdown Learn was an opportunity to bring together educators, sustainability coordinators, scientists, and other leaders in the climate change field to learn from each other and figure out ways to bring the book, a compelling and unique resource, to the many realms of education. I had the opportunity to present with national climate change education leaders and longtime colleagues Frank Niepold from NOAA, Jen Kretser from The Wild Center, and Lynn Cherry from Young Voices for the Planet. We discussed the history of climate change education and how each of our organizations are working on climate change education, including professional development, film making, and youth engagement. We also gave participants the opportunity to use their expertise to generate ideas on how to use Drawdown across their educational settings.

Paul Hawken and Drawdown’s new CEO, Jon Foley, spoke about the book and answered questions from the audience. Three themes were highlighted that align with our work at Climate Generation:

  1. Lead with hope,
  2. Be solutions-focused, and
  3. Inspire collaboration

Hope, solutions, and collaboration are baked into our organizational DNA and show up in all of our presentations, professional development opportunities, and mentorship relationships.

My conference takeaways:

  1. Be as big and as bold as humanly possible. We need all 80 of these solutions to get to drawdown (the point at which greenhouse gases start to decline). Now is the time to work towards those solutions, quickly and efficiently.
  2. Drawdown is about learning, not knowing. Each of us have powerful talents that will help stabilize the climate. We need to use those talents and continually learn from each other and work collaboratively for these solutions to work.
  3. Lead with hope. We need to be teaching that the climate—the world— is a work of art, a thing of beauty, that needs to be taken care of. Whoever you are talking to, start with solutions and hope to engage your audience in a positive way.
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