Photo by MIT Sloan Sustainability Management
In the latest entry in the Network for Business Sustainability blog, Climate Interactive Member and MIT Professor John Sterman outlines how we can use systems thinking – the analytical approach that underlies Climate Interactive’s models — to solve some of the world’s most complex problems.
Although his suggestions focus on businesses, these strategies can be used by government organizations, NGOs and individuals as well. Here’s what he had to say:
From climate change and deforestation to collapsing fisheries, species extinction and poisons in our food and water, our society is unsustainable and it is getting worse fast. Many advocate that overcoming these problems requires the development of systems thinking. We’ve long known that we live on a finite “spaceship Earth” in which “there is no away” and “everything is connected to everything else.” The challenge lies in moving from slogans about systems to meaningful methods to understand complexity, facilitate individual and organizational learning, and catalyze the changes we need to create a sustainable society in which all can thrive.
Here, I’ll describe how the world operates as a system — and how businesses can respond effectively to the challenges we face. Continue reading
John Sterman, MIT Professor and fellow collaborator on many Climate Interactive projects, lays out the stark realities we are facing with climate change inaction in his presentation at the MIT Museum last month. He describes the risks we face by not taking immediate measures to address climate change in every sector of society and equates it to playing Russian Roulette with a revolver that has 19 of 20 chambers filled. His conclusion: we can despair, take no action, and allow the worst case to happen, or we can immediately initiate measures to reduce our carbon emissions as an insurance policy against the worst risks. Watch the video below for his complete presentation. Beginning around time 27:40 Professor Sterman demonstrates the unexpected dynamics of time delays and shows the Climate Interactive C-ROADS simulation, to demonstrate common misunderstandings about our climate system.
Americans are not getting happier in proportion to GDP growth explains John Sterman, Climate Interactive team member and MIT Professor, as he describes the interlinked challenges our society faces and things we must look at to move away from “business as unusual” (BAU). John explains that many of our global challenges are a result of the dramatic growth that has occurred in population and economies. “If the Gross World Product continues to grow at current rates the economy will be 32 times larger in 100 years than it is today.” Check out the video to explore more of his insights.
MIT TechTV – Sustainable Societies
For over two years Climate Interactive has been working with Tsinghua University in China to create a learning tool to model the climate goals of Chinese provinces. Because of our work with Tsinghua, they have been able to provide the Chinese government with a new easy-to-use tool in order to meet their climate and energy goals.
China has committed to a 40-45% decrease in the carbon intensity of the overall Chinese economy by 2020. In order to meet this goal the Chinese government and provincial leaders set targets for the provinces to adjust their GDP, energy intensity, and fuel mix. To create true engagement from the leaders at all levels, however, there needed to be a shared understanding of how to reach these goals, and methods for calculating progress.
In order to create a tool to track the progress of the Chinese provinces, a team led by Professor Zhang Xiliang at Tsinghua University began using system dynamics models, the technology of which grew out of MIT Sloan School of Management and is behind C-ROADS. The system dynamics models are a contrast from the spreadsheet models that were used to set the targets, which are not geared towards flexible “what if” testing. What they sought was a user-friendly, interactive simulation such as C-ROADS, which has been used by multiple governments as part of the UN climate change negotiations. Professor Zhang’s Low Carbon Economy team had the data, an understanding of the Chinese energy system, and a staff of modelers to create the tool, but their partnership with the Climate Interactive team enabled them to put these elements together to create a successful model. Continue reading
MIT professor and Climate Interactive team member, John Sterman, succinctly explains in the video below that using simulation models can help policymakers address climate change. John explains, “If these models are going to be effective they not only have to be rigorously grounded in the science—as our models are—but they have to be transparent, accessible, run quickly, and give people that immediate feedback on any experiment they may want to run.” Find out more about the C-ROADS model John describes and the work we are doing at http://www.climateinteractive.org.
Stories come back to us here at Climate Interactive from time to time that remind us that our work is making a difference. The following comes out of the MIT News Office about a graduate student who, after hearing a talk by Climate Interactive team member and MIT Professor John Sterman on the work we were doing around the climate change negotiations, was inspired to study systems dynamics at MIT and further his work on sustainability challenges.
Have you seen a presentation or used a simulation developed by us that inspired you? Tell us about it at email@example.com.
By Eric Smalley for MIT News Office
Early in life, Jake Whitcomb, SDM ’12, was a world-class competitive cross-country skier. Several years spent training in Norway exposed the American to a more sustainable society.
“What I found was a country that was living in a more sophisticated, more technologically advanced way, and with a lot of community attributes — and they’re doing it using half the energy [compared to the United States],” Whitcomb says. Continue reading
In response to the needs of our users, Climate Interactive has updated the C-ROADS climate policy testing software with a suite of new features and analytic abilities.
In this one-hour webinar, three model developers and analysts from the Climate Interactive team will introduce the new features, from new output windows, to sensitivity testing, to more control over underlying model assumptions. The session will be interactive, with ample time for questions and discussion. Drs. Travis Franck, Phil Rice, and Lori Siegel will lead the webinar.
Title: New Features in C-ROADS 3.0
Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Time: 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
Attendees will be able to receive a free copy of C-ROADS software.
To see a reposting on Joe Romm’s Climate Progress blog, click here. And a corroborating report by ClimateWorks Foundation here plus another by Climate Analytics here.
Postponing commitment to ambitious targets until after 2020 would commit countries to rates of CO2 emissions reductions in decades beyond 2020 that exceed those typically seen in the current generation of energy system models, making future efforts to limit temperature increase to 2°C more expensive and disruptive than needed. Without deeper reductions than are currently pledged by 2020, future generations will have sustain very rapid rates of reduction in emissions.
In the press and in the halls of the climate negotiations some parties, including the US, have been saying that 2020 pledges are essentially fixed in the form of the voluntary commitments made under the Cancun Agreement, and that current political and economic pressures mean that the time for more ambitious commitments to emissions reductions can come only after 2020. Continue reading
We’re excited that MIT News is covering a new paper by our Climate Interactive consortium member John Sterman of MIT Sloan. Simulations can make a difference!
From David L. Chandler, MIT News Office, October 27, 2011 (click here for original article):
For many scientists working in the field of climate research, one of the most alarming trends has nothing to do with the climate itself: It’s the poll numbers showing that even as scientific projections of global climate change get ever more certain, public perceptions about climate change are getting ever more skeptical.
Why is there such a huge — and growing — disconnect? John Sterman, the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, says there are specific characteristics of climate change that make it unusually difficult for people to grasp. But the good news, he says, is that there are approaches that can help bridge that gap in understanding.
We’re pleased to announce the latest contest to be offered by MIT’s Climate CoLab. This project by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Collective Intelligence (MIT CCI) incorporates Climate Interactive’s C-ROADS model into a forum where people can test proposals and discuss ways to address climate change. Click here for details on the contest and how to enter!