If you haven’t heard about the MIT Climate CoLab, you’re about to. It’s a rapidly growing public community of over 30,000 members from across the world. Participants can enter the CoLab’s recently announced batch of 22 contests seeking high-impact ideas on how to tackle climate change.
The contests cover a broad set of sub-problems lying at the heart of the climate challenge. These include decarbonizing energy supply, shifting public attitudes and behavior, adapting to climate change, geoengineering, transportation, waste management, reducing consumption, and others. Competitions in 2013 and 2014 drew over 950 proposals from Australia, China, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, South Africa, Tanzania, the United States, Venezuela, and other countries. Winners presented at the United Nations and US Congress.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Collective Intelligence founded the Climate CoLab to link the knowledge and expertise of thousands of experts and other problem-solvers across the world in helping resolve the most massive and complex issue of our times. The idea is to connect thinking people and computers so that—collectively—they act more intelligently than any person, group, or computer has ever done before. Anyone may join the platform to submit original ideas or support and contribute to other proposals on the site. MIT faculty also participate.
Says MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Malone, director of the Center for Collective Intelligence and principal investigator for the Climate CoLab project:
“As systems like Linux and Wikipedia have shown, people from around the world—connected by the Internet—can work together to solve complex problems in very new ways. In the Climate CoLab, we’re applying this approach to one of the world’s most difficult problems—climate change.”
One of the most immediately relevant contests seeks innovative policy and political mobilization strategies on how to implement a carbon price in the United States. Advisors for this contest are former U.S. Secretary of Labor, State, and Treasury (3 separate appointments) George P. Shultz, former U.S. Representative (R-SC) and current Director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, Bob Inglis, and former U.S. Representative (D-IN) and current President of Resources for the Future, Phil Sharp.
Organizations like the World Bank Negawatt Challenge (Urban Energy Efficiency), the MIT Sloan Latin America Office (Energy Solutions for Latin America), and the City of Somerville, MA (Atypical Solutions for Going Carbon Neutral) collaborate with the CoLab to run some of the other contests.
In a new set of competitions for this year, entrants can create climate action plans for major countries and for the whole world. They’re welcome to combine proposals that have been submitted in other contests and use a suite of climate modeling tools to project the real-world climate impacts of the plans they create.
Contest winners will present their plans to people who can actually support implementation of the ideas, including policymakers, business executives, and NGO and foundation officials. They may also showcase their proposals this fall at MIT where the $10,000 Grand Prize will be awarded. See highlights from last year’s Climate CoLab conference here.
The Climate CoLab also welcomes feedback and support from people from around the world for proposals they find the most promising. Submissions are due before May 16, 2015, 11:59:59 PM Eastern Time. To receive feedback from Climate CoLab community members and the experts who are overseeing the contests, enter soon. Link here to submit a proposal or read and comment on other proposals.