In the Boston area, as in other places, parents are coming together to discuss how they can address climate change and discuss the issue with their children in a constructive way. University of Massachusetts Lowell Professor, Juliette Rooney Varga, a mom herself, was on hand at one of these events explaining how carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere, just like a bathtub accumulates water when the faucet is on but the drain is plugged or doesn’t drain as fast as the water coming in. We use this analogy frequently here at Climate Interactive and have a simple simulation to help people understand it for themselves. Read below for the full story about the event Juliette was a part of.
Tag Archives: climate change
In this interview Climate Interactive team member and MIT Professor John Sterman describes how slavery was once an integral source of energy for our society and yet we realized how wrong it was and stopped. John is optimistic that we will come to the same conclusions about the damaging energy sources we are dependent on today.
He explains his research, which shows that people are often so overwhelmed by the scope of climate change and the feeling they can’t do anything about it that they become cognitively dissonant. He explains that we can take steps to help people reorient their thinking about climate change, like reminding people that throughout history people have been able to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges, like ending slavery.
Check out the video interview from the Australian School of Business above or visit their website for the full transcript or audio.
At the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual conference in Boston, thousands got the opportunity to see a demonstration of some of our latest tools and some new interactive exercises to help people understand climate change. The exhibit was put together and led by University of Massachusetts Lowell professor Juliette Rooney-Varga and her students as part of the UMass Lowell Climate Change Initiative to showcase how engaging learning about climate change can be. Below the UMass Lowell news office recounts their experience showing off these tools.
Kids, Parents Given Introduction to Climate Change Science, Solutions
By Edwin L. Aguirre, 03/13/2013
Students experienced firsthand the important task of communicating climate change to the general public during the “Family Science Days” event held at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston in February.
“It was a great learning experience — the amount of science we were able to convey to people was awesome,” said biology senior Justin Conchieri. “I believe we really did inform a lot of people and changed a lot of minds. I even think we made people want to reduce their carbon footprint.”
“It was a joy to see our students educating the more than 3,600 attendees about climate change science and solutions,” said biology Assoc. Prof. Juliette Rooney-Varga, who is director of UMass Lowell’s Climate Change Initiative. “They were fantastic!”
Joining Conchieri were fellow biology seniors Cameron Jenkins, Heather Merhi, Nathan Manalo, Chika Iloh and Itoro Inoyo and biology sophomore Jared Nease.
“I was really surprised by the number of people who kept coming to the booth to get more information,” said Conchieri. “It was literally nonstop talking to people and a lot of times there would be a large crowd listening to us.”
“As youth, we don’t have a voice in this fight. In the sense that, like, there’s no way that I can climb the government ladder and end up in a position of enough political power to save myself now. I’m never going to get that chance. And there are kids who are being born today, or born 10 years ago, they’re not really going to get that chance either, if we don’t start winning in the next couple of years.”
Those are the words of Alli Welton, a 20 year-old college student quoted in an excellent article in Grist by Wen Stephenson (The children: Why a generation is putting itself on the line for the climate). Stephenson’s article, and especially the strong clear words of the youth he interviews, can help us all see through the eyes of today’s youth climate leaders, who grasp the narrowing window of opportunity for strong and effective action on climate change and are mobilizing for fossil fuel divestment, against mountain top removal, and to block the Keystone XL pipeline in growing numbers.
At Climate Interactive, we are as likely to tell a story with numbers and graphs as we are with words. Our new CO2 Timeline Tool corroborates the point made in different ways by each of the young people interviewed by Stephenson; decisions about climate and energy that are being made today will reverberate, for better or worse, through lives of today’s children and youth. The long lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere guarantees that today’s fossil fuel pollution will warm the Earth for decades to come. And policy that keeps fossil fuels in the ground today, keeps more options open for young people’s futures.
A tenant of systems thinking is that responsibility for important decisions should be given to those who will feel the impacts of the decision. For that reason alone all of us should listen, really listen, to what young people are asking, and, increasingly, demanding. In that sense the CO2 Timeline Tool tells an ethical story, and a story that should make all of us, young and old alike, stop and think about who should have the strongest voice in the climate fight.
Youth climate leaders rightly argue that it is they – not current-day politicians, executives, and administrators – who will have to live with the consequences of today’s decisions when it comes to fossil fuel use. As these young people mobilize in hundreds of fossil fuel divestment campaigns we are excited to release a new tool designed to help them make their case powerfully, creatively, and rigorously.
- With the CO2 Timeline tool, a first year student making a presentation to a board of trustees can show, with accuracy and confidence, that at the time she reaches the age of retirement around 65% of the CO2 released during her four years in college will still be in atmosphere, by which time the trustees she is addressing will be 90-120 years old.
- Another youth leader could use the tool to find out how much CO2 from his college years will still be in the atmosphere around the time he would start a career (93%) or become a grandparent (70%) and use those benchmarks to explain to his roommate or his uncle why the divestment campaign matters to him. Continue reading
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.
Even if the world also has sustained success eliminating deforestation, reducing emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gasses and improving energy efficiency, new investment in fossil fuel infrastructure can’t occur much beyond 2015 in order to maintain a 50% chance of limiting temperature increase to 2°C in 2100. Having a higher probability of achieving the 2°C goal or keeping these even odds of meeting the goal but delaying the end of the era of fossil fuel investment would require additional measures such as shutting down already-constructed fossil-fuel-using infrastructure before the end of its useful lifetime, further reducing energy demand, or achieving so called negative emissions, where CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and sequestered.
The goal of the Copenhagen Accord – to limit temperature increase to 2°C is still in reach – but the actions to get there are far beyond what we see being implemented around us today.
A thought experiment with our En-ROADS global energy model makes this clear.
What if, in 2015, we eliminated any new investment in fossil-fuel-using infrastructure, anywhere in the world? En-ROADS shows a surge in creation of new low-carbon energy sources, and an improvement in the global temperature by 2100 compared to ‘business as usual’. Rather than the 4.5°C of temperature increase under ‘business as usual’, the scenario results instead in 3.2°C of warming.
Eliminating new fossil-fuel-using power plants, automobiles, and factories just a few years from now sounds very drastic, of course, so why don’t we see more impact on the global temperature? The figure to the left helps explain why: even though no new infrastructure is built after 2015, the existing infrastructure lives on (and continues to produce CO2 emissions throughout its lifetime), only fading away in the second half of the century. (See the black wedge of energy from coal and the red wedge from oil in the figure).
The best tool to quickly analyze the long-term effects of different combinations of country and regional climate change mitigation proposals just got a little bit better. Just two months out from the next round of the international climate change negotiations, we’re releasing an updated version of the C-ROADS simulator. We’ve updated the data behind the model with the latest available and are giving users even more graphs and controls, along with resolving a few bugs to help you out. If you have yet to get behind the controls of this powerful simulator you can request a download on Climate Interactive’s website. If you would like to update your version of C-ROADS just login and navigate to the download page. Read below for all the details of the changes we’ve made or watch our latest tutorial video to walk you through the changes.
In taking our tools to new platforms to help people better understand the complexities of climate change, we have released the Climate Pathways app for the iPhone, iPad, or iPod. This free app, available at the Apple App Store, enables people to chart a course to a future that limits global warming to 2 degrees. We developed the app with Todd Fincannon who took our C-ROADS simulator and did the heavy lifting to program it for iOS devices. While not as robust as C-ROADS, Climate Pathways shows people that reaching the widely held goal of 2 degrees will require a little more than just leveling off our emissions—a pathway that, while difficult, could still be achievable.
Todd has written up a little bit about the Climate Pathways, which I’ve reposted here: Continue reading