The Climate Interactive team, led by Sustainability Institute, delivered big results in Copenhagen at the UNFCCC’s COP15 climate conference.
Bill McKibben wrote in the UK Guardian, from Copenhagen: “the only people who really understand what’s going on may be a small crew … called Climate Interactive. Their software speaks numbers, not spin – and in the end it’s the numbers that count.”
He is overstating our uniqueness, but here are the top ten most notable moments and achievements.
1. Obama heard (at least they tell us). From our office in Copenhagen hosted by the Rasmussen Foundation and Sea Change, 48 hours before President Obama’s arrival, we created two rounds of customized real-time C-ROADS analysis of the COP15 negotiations requested by and delivered to a top White House science advisor who briefed the President before his activities in Copenhagen.
2. Our Climate Scoreboard went viral. While we expected only dozens of blogs and Facebook pages to embed the “widget” we created, we found that over 1500 actually did and that sites around the world, in multiple languages, added the Scoreboard (supported by Morgan Family Foundation) to their online media. CBS, NPR, Boston Globe, YES!, Washington Post, ABC News, and Nature for example. While we expected a couple thousand visits, we witnessed over 300,000 visits to the Scoreboard! See videos of Beth Sawin presenting it here and here.
3. Real time analysis of negotiations happened. As draft texts were released, we analyzed their impacts in C-ROADS (supported by Zennstrom Philanthropies) really fast. Press releases during Copenhagen are here.
4. C-ROADS analysis got to the negotiators. A dramatically leaked confidential UN document (reported in a scanned pdf version mid-conference by the UK Guardian) had the words “Climate Interactive” and “Climate Scoreboard” scrawled across the top! Check it out in the document. Continue reading
Professor David Peart and Dr. Lori Siegel led a powerful learning experience for Dartmouth College students using the C-ROADS simulator as part of the Copenhagen Climate Exercise (now World Climate)
The College created an engaging video on the experience — check it out above. And their press release is here.
Sustainability issues and our team’s connections run deep at Dartmouth College. The founder of our organization, Sustainability Institute, Donella Meadows, taught there for several decades. Professor David Peart serves on our board. And four members of our core C-ROADS and Climate Interactive team — Dr. John Sterman (MIT), Dr. Beth Sawin (SI), Dr. Tom Fiddaman (Ventana Systems), and me (Drew Jones — SI) — are all alums.
Big news everyone! We at the Sustainability Institute (the co-creator and organizer of Climate Interactive), founded in 1996 by the late Donella Meadows, announced today the appointment of Bastiaan “Bas” de Leeuw as our new executive director.
Mr. de Leeuw’s move from his current position, leading the United Nations Sustainable Resource Management Program, will help the Institute strengthen our global support program for Climate Change negotiators, our modeling and outreach work addressing other key environmental challenges and our leadership development program, the Donella Meadows Fellowship.
We’re particularly thrilled to be adding such depth in international issues and the United Nations as we address the highly international and global issue of climate change.
During his 12 years with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Mr. de Leeuw launched various programmes and initiatives, in particular UNEP’s Sustainable Consumption Programme, the Advertising Initiative, YouthXchange, SC.net, the Life Cycle Initiative and the Wuppertal Institute’s Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production. Early on, de Leeuw was instrumental in promoting and designing the UN’s “Marrakech Process”, aimed at building an international ten-year framework of programs on Sustainable Consumption and Production. Most recently, he played a leading role in developing the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, a think-tank on global resource use chaired by Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsaecker, with Mr. de Leeuw as Head of the Secretariat. Continue reading
Why does our team focus on using simulations to spark action on climate change?
We are struck by the power of interactive simulations to help us see the long term, system-wide implications of our actions in ways that create new possibilities.
And I first experienced that power as a student at Dartmouth College in the 1980s, in an experiment where 120 of us carried our trash for a week. (Hear the story in the video pasted above). The video was shot at the “Systems Thinking in Action” conference hosted by Pegasus Communications (note — the next conference will be in November in Seattle — check it out).
Sustainability Institute’s founder and my mentor Dana Meadows wrote about her experience carrying her trash as part of the same experiment (she was a professor then at Dartmouth) — read her article here. And through the years, we’ve heard of many other schools, summer camps, conferences, garden clubs (!), and others trying the “Carry Your Trash” experiment. My favorite emerged from some consulting we did for American Public Media and the “Marketplace” radio show — they heard this story and chronicled “Tess’ Trash Challenge.”
What if we all had to carry our carbon dioxide? The best graphic representation I’ve seen is the Carbon Quilt, at www.carbonquilt.org.
We are now accepting applications for the 2009-2010 Donella Meadows Leadership Fellowship here at Sustainability Institute.
The program honors and builds on the legacy of our organization’s founder and my mentor, Dana Meadows (pictured to the left on her New Hampshire farm).
As a trainer and coach in the last three cohorts of the program, I can say that the Fellowship is a great opportunity to learn systems thinking and organizational learning skills and challenge yourself to take your sustainability work up a notch or two, as part of a supportive community.
And this cohort will get some chances to work with C-ROADS (formerly called Pangaea) and its application to achieving big climate results.
We are looking for some diverse and powerful leaders, so please send folks to the site.
Climate Sim force of nature Beth Sawin (in the picture to the left) recently wrote a really lovely blog post about our team’s effort to address climate change and global ecological limits through the use of simulations that are embedded in effective conversations about action. She thinks that our mentor and Sustainability Institute founder Dana Meadows would have loved this work.
Beth’s blog, Climate Teacher, is a great resource. It captures one of Beth’s great gifts to the world — she has the most range of anyone I know in this work. When I say “range” I mean the ability to move from sharing her deep understanding of climate science and policy from a systems perspective (she has a PHD from MIT and it shows when it is needed) to engaging people constructively on the powerful emotions that come up when working on climate change (grief and despair anyone?).
She understands that it will take all of ourselves to get the results we all want.
Beth also recently posted her reflections on some model runs from our simulation model, C-ROADS (formerly called Pangaea), exploring a possible future if we continue the recent 3.5% per year growth in CO2 emissions.
One of her graphs is posted to the left. Check it out.