UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Chris Forest, professor of climate dynamics at Penn State, has been named a Senior Fellow for Project Drawdown. Senior Fellows are “systems thinkers,experts in their field and Drawdown Ambassadors to the world.” He is the first Penn Stater to receive the honor.
Drawdown is a term that refers to the point when greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere stop climbing and begin to decline yearly. Project Drawdown is a non-profit organization that works to identify the top 100 solutions to achieve drawdown and communicates those findings to the world.
Project Drawdown was founded by author and environmentalist Paul Hawken in 2014 and is based on his 2017 New York Times best-seller “Drawdown, The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.”
Forest, who has been working on climate change research for more than 20 years, attended the Institute of Energy and the Environment’s 2017 Colloquium on the Environment keynote lecture keynote lecture by Hawken and started learning about Project Drawdown’s work to find solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Seeing the scope and scale that Project Drawdown envisions, I started thinking about how I could contribute to this effort, and this motivated me to apply,” Forest said.
Forest’s research focuses on characterizing uncertainties in climate change predictions and estimating climate risk and will apply his expertise to his work with Project Drawdown.
“An important component of Project Drawdown is to understand how reducing emissions will lead to lower greenhouse gas concentrations and ultimately limit Earth’s warming. I will be using the earth system models that are used in many of my research projects and applying them to determine how effective the Drawdown solutions can be to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations.”
Forest said he hopes Project Drawdown can demonstrate and contribute to how we get on a sustainable path for the Earth's well-being.
“We see that the climate is changing, we know the risks, and we now need to own up to the challenge. I hope Project Drawdown can show that this is possible while also recognizing that it is a long road,” Forest said. “I also hope that Drawdown becomes a global effort by linking our strengths at Penn State with those from outside academe. We all have ways to contribute and we're finding a set of common goals to focus our efforts.”
Forest served as a lead author on the Evaluation of Climate Models chapter for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report and on a report for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program examining the estimates of temperature trends in the atmospheric and surface climate data. He was co-author of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine 2017 report, "Valuing Climate Damages: Assessing Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon," recommending new methods for estimating the social cost of carbon emissions worldwide.
Forest is the associate director of the Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management (SCRiM) and chair of the Topical Group for the Physics of Climate for the American Physical Society. He also has an appointment in the Department of Geosciences and is an associate in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute.
Forest earned a bachelor of science in applied mathematics, engineering, and physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a doctorate in meteorology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Penn State, in partnership with Project Drawdown, will hold the first international conference, titled “Research to Action: The Science of Drawdown,” Sept. 16 to 18 at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center.