JMAZ PHOTO; Flickr.com/ Creative Commons
Make it fun! Make it interactive! Leave people inspired! And gracefully interconnect the need to adapt to unavoidable climate change with the imperative to prevent any climate change we can.
These are easily four of the biggest challenges involved in helping people find ways to act to address climate change. That’s why, less than a year ago, I was excited to help support the work of Vermont educator Ginger Wallis as she stepped up to the challenge of creating a program for parents and grandparents that met all of these criteria. It’s been a pleasure to act as an informal ‘science advisor’ to the Adapt project, as Ginger has been experimenting with a 5 session workshop series that promises to help parents and grandparents gain knowledge for themselves and gather ideas for being a mentor to the children and grandchildren in their lives. Here’s what she’s come up with, and will launch this month:
Participants at the Ashoka Future Forum practice systems thinking with help from Beth Sawin and David Castro
What do women’s health screenings; increasing the number of science, technology and math teachers; building the infrastructure of African countries; building the client base for projects with a social benefit; and creating a shared office space for social entrepreneurs have in common?
All of them involve efforts that can be strengthened by systems thinking.
That’s what a group of more than fifty global leaders discovered in a session at the Ashoka Future Forum where I and David Castro (president of I-LEAD and an Ashoka Fellow) introduced the basics of Systems Thinking for Changemakers using four simple steps. From the intense (and playful) effort in the room and from the feedback afterwards, I was reminded once again, that, for people struggling everyday to steer and influence complex systems, the basic tools of systems thinking are a gift, an inspiration, and a way to share stories with others. The Ashoka session was a reminder of exactly why we are launching the Climate Leader - to bring the benefits of systems thinking to people on the front-lines around the world in the battle for a liveable planet. You can find out more about these upcoming free online classes and sign up here; but in the meantime here’s a quick recap of the 4 steps the Ashoka participants experimented with. Continue reading
To put system thinking techniques into the hands of changemakers, Climate Interactive Co-Director Beth Sawin will be joining David Castro of I-LEAD Inc. to lead a workshop at the Ashoka Future Forum. This event is pulling together 400 top leaders in social innovation, business entrepreneurship, philanthropy and media to wrestle with the biggest problems and share insights on the solutions.
Here is Beth and David’s tantalizing workshop description:
Archimedes, one of the earliest systems thinkers, famously promised, “give me a lever long enough, and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” In their passion for change, leaders and changemakers are constantly searching for that long lever and leverage point, deeply aware that addressing system complexity often marks the difference between success and failure. We may be searching for creative leverage points that yield new results within existing systems, or we may be engaged in ambitious efforts to re-engineer entire systems. Our work with systems often relies only on our intuition, a capacity that tends to fail more frequently in the face of mounting complexity. The rigorous study of systems promises to bring critical system elements into strategic sharp relief, thereby offering the potential for breakthrough strategies and innovations. This workshop will introduce the theory and practice of Systems Thinking, helping participants explore its relevance to changemaking. Participants will practice using its tools applied to current work settings and ongoing projects. The specific tools and concepts considered will include stocks, flows, links, and balancing and reinforcing dynamics. The long lever and its mysterious fulcrum await you. Take hold and move the world.
If you agree that this workshop sounds tantalizing, but you aren’t one of Ashoka’s select 400 participants, fear not. Climate Interactive is gearing up to offer the content of this workshop and much more through an online learning program later this year. We’re still many months from launching this effort, but you can sign up and be the first to know when it is ready.
In reaction to Obama’s strong words on climate change in his inaugural address yesterday, Stephanie Pappas of LiveScience followed up yesterday’s coverage of Obama and climate change with additional commentary from Beth Sawin and Travis Franck of Climate Interactive.
Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 21 January 2013
President Barack Obama discussed the need to act on climate change in his inauguration address, highlighting previously stated intentions to make the issue a priority in his second term.
In his speech, Obama tied failure to respond to climate change with a betrayal of future generations.
“Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms,” he said today (Jan. 21). “The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.”
Obama went on to cast green technology in a positive light, arguing that America “must claim its promise.” The message resonated with climate scientists and environmental groups.
Today as crowds are gathered on the national mall and millions tune in to hear the President’s second inaugural address, those of us knee-deep in climate science are wondering what role climate change will play in his second term. The science blog LiveScience talked to Beth Sawin and Travis Franck here at Climate Interactive for a bit of context on the climate policy arena and where we could be headed in the next four years.
Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 20 January 2013
As President Barack Obama prepares to take the oath of office for the second time, he has promised that climate change will be a priority in his second term. The chances that significant climate action will actually happen, however, remain slim, policy experts say.
“I always have hope, but it is sometimes hard to see how real progress, substantial progress, is going to be made with the fact that the Congress is so polarized,” said Travis Franck, a policy analyst for nongovernmental organization Climate Interactive.
Climate Interactive Co-Director Beth Sawin is one of the co-authors of the UNEP Emissions Gap Report, which is getting widespread coverage, as eyes focus on this year’s climate negotiations hosted by the tiny oil-rich middle eastern country of Qatar. Below is coverage of the negotiations featuring Climate Interactive from Live Science. Beth was also interviewed yesterday by radio station KUOW in Seattle.
What Can Climate Talks in Doha Accomplish?
Published on Live Science 26 November 2012, written by Wynne Parry
The international community’s attempts to address global warming, and its potentially devastating consequences, resume in earnest today (Nov. 26), as delegates gather in Doha, Qatar.
This is the latest round in two decades of U.N. climate talks that have sought to stem rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which climate scientists warn will lead to devastating sea-level rise, changes in weather and other natural systems.
Ahead of climate talks in Doha, Qatar next week, the UN Environmental Programme has released the third Emissions Gap Report. Climate Interactive Co-Director Beth Sawin is once again one of the report’s authors. Like the World Bank report released last week, this report reminds us that reducing our emissions is paramount.
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, summarized the Emissions Gap report by saying, “This report is a reminder that time is running out, but that the technical means and the policy tools to allow the world to stay below a maximum 2 degrees Celsius are still available to governments and societies”. The reminder that the gap between a 2 degree future and where we are now is still widening, and that countries are still putting forward targets that are far short of what is needed is sobering.
The Emissions Gap report goes beyond the stark assessments of where we are relative to where we need to be, by identifying sectors where dramatic reduction can be made to bridge the gap. Continue reading
With Climate Interactive’s En-ROADS simulation it becomes possible to try out differently energy policies and scenarios and quickly see how they will effect our world. Recently Climate Interactive Co-Director Beth Sawin led a workshop to exhibit the features of En-ROADS and explore the insights it provides. Below is a review of the event from Sarah Parkinson at the Donella Meadows Institute that explains some of the interesting results that the En-ROADS simulation provides.
by Sarah Parkinson, Donella Meadows Institute
When we talk about climate change, we’re really talking about systems—a whole web of linked issues. We can’t really discuss the eroding health of our planet without bringing up the causes of that decline, such as habitat destruction and resource extraction. Mention of resource extraction brings us to the extractive fossil fuel industry, which in turn brings us to our economy of cheap energy. From the economy we can easily segue to issues like continuous growth and the recent economic crisis, which lead to questions of wellbeing and security. And security connects right back to the threats of climate change. These are all complex, interconnected challenges that affect our lives. And, as Elizabeth Sawin remarked at a talk last week, “Humans aren’t doing a very good job of managing that complexity.”
The current edition of the journal System Dynamics Review, features an article by our team here at Climate Interactive on our simulation C-ROADS.
With over 700 users worldwide and counting, C-ROADS has improved the understanding of which national climate commitments will have an impact and what is needed for us to close the gap between maintaining a safe livable planet and crossing tipping points that may have dire consequences. Our latest publication on C-ROADS reviews its uses and capabilities and explains a little bit of its structure and design. If you are new to C-ROADS and would like a better understanding of what this simulation can do for you we recommend checking out this article in particular. C-ROADS is available for free on our website. On our website you will also find much more detailed information and resources for you to explore as well.
Read “Climate Interactive: The C-ROADS Climate Policy Model”