Editor’s Notebook

Editor’s Notebook

By Greta Belanger deJong

At the Intermountain Sustainability Summit, a third grade school teacher asked Paul Hawken, editor of Drawdown, how she should teach her young students about climate science.

I would teach third graders how to fall in love and be in awe,” he answered.” Then when they grow up, they are motivated to engage with life and nature.

“Carbon is incredible,” he said. In fact, he is working on a book about carbon. “It’s a love story about life, about living systems.” The first line of the book, reported elsewhere, is “Carbon is the element that holds hands and collaborates.” It’s gregarious, and a shape shifter— from diamonds to French fries to grasshoppers. Carbon is our ally, not our enemy. “It’s about rewilding, resonance and earthlings.”


Last month the CATALYST staff and interns attended the Intermountain Sustainability Summit at Weber State University in Ogden.

A highlight for everyone was the keynote by Paul Hawken, who conceived of and edited Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (Drawdown.org). Many stories in the March CATALYST focused on what’s already happening along these lines in Utah.

Notice it says “reverse”—not fight, or combat. The book is free from war and sports lingo, and also from warning, guilt, demonization and shaming.

“The human brain doesn’t respond to future existential threat,” Hawken said. “Ninety-nine percent of the human population is disengaged regarding the biggest challenge the human race has ever experienced. We need to change how we talk about it. What are the possibilities inherent? Every problem is a solution in disguise.”

Even without climate change, the ideas in this book are so desirable. Take Solution #11, Regenerative Agriculture: “Farmers have turned the soil to dirt and they’re going broke. Now many are turning to regenerative agriculture. They’re sequestering carbon like crazy. There’s more life in the soil. The soil has better water retention, which prevents erosion.”

Wind turbines are now the most economical form of energy in the world. “Savings have doubled since this book was written,” he says.

People are concerned about habitat, warmth, food and security. Eight of the top 20 solutions are food-related. Read about one of them in this issue, in the Zero Waste column.

Enjoy this issue. And let me know what you think.

—Greta deJong

Greta Belanger deJong is the editor and founder of CATALYST.

This article was originally published on March 30, 2019.