MIT Climate CoLab Asks All For Impactful Climate Plans

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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.

MIT Climate CoLab ( 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.


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18 thoughts on “MIT Climate CoLab Asks All For Impactful Climate Plans

  • Its about implementation of proposals.
    solar is not expensive anymore, cities should install Solar,

    city energy companies, no import, local production.
    money made for schools, jobs, healthcare, sports.
    and many more proposals just not started.
    Its a business case creating jobs and money for the city.

    • Conservatives should love this, small government and all.

  • To tackle climate change, start out with something simple, like changing peoples habits and attilutes.
    There has been a study in Canada, that stated if ideling would be reduced, fuel use would drop by about 10 %.
    My personal beef is two fold:
    Remote car starters, they should be illegal
    people ideling cars, trucks in weather when not needed, I have seen people sitting and have their drive running, I go into a store and come out half hour later and that person is still there sitting with engine running!!??

    • “To tackle climate change, start out with something simple, like changing peoples habits and attilutes.”
      Ha ha haaaaa!

      • Question to you, do you disagree with that statement?
        Or do you think that would be too simple?
        Because I am an optimist, I do think, if people have enough information they will make the right choice.
        Sometimes the information just will have to be presented in the right context and people will understand.
        Or am I too much of an optimist?

        • I believe there is a solution. However I also believe you are not seeing it from the right angle.
          Technology continues to improve and awareness is certainly important. However, you can’t change people’s habits and attitudes in any deep way.
          People are scared of the intermittency, which can be solved by technological advances.
          (Power to gas/liquids + batteries etc…)

          Be optimistic about technological evolution. Human psychology is basically almost exactly the same as a hundred or three-hundred years ago.

          You don’t know what people with enough information will care about. Most people might even prioritize other right choices presented adequate information and understanding the information correctly.

          People will do many things that give benefits that have nothing to do with the reason they do the things. E.g. people replace computers because they break or become slower over time, not because people know newer computers are faster, offer more and better features (faster connections, bigger HDD/SSD, etc…)
          Can calculate much more efficiently and are much more energy efficient.
          However people do adopt these technologies even if they are unaware of it. The same can and already happens with renewables. Even staunch detractors of renewables use then because renewables become integrated in the grid as a whole. Over time even hardcore anti-environmentalist people who avoid renewables will use electricity from renewable sources.

          • We stopped accepting slavery openly and sacrificing people to the sun god didn’t we?

          • Yes. Its so nice now that such practices are not done publicly or at least are covered with a patina of sociability.

    • Many of us have been trying to do that since the 1960s and we’ve had only marginal success. We must speed things up.

      What will work is to give people acceptable alternatives, especially if those alternatives save them money.

      A renewable grid is clearly cheaper than a coal-based grid and nothing changes as the light switch/outlet.

      EVs will be cheaper and more convenient to drive as should soon be as cheap or cheaper to purchase.

      Efficient airplanes and ocean freighters send more money to the bottom line for businesses.

      The most likely way to cut our carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions is to look for cheaper, just as good or better alternatives. Lots of sugar makes the medicine easier to swallow.

      • Yes I do agree, but is has to put into simple terms, so that any person can understand it and you have to appeal to their greed or similar terms.

        • Just to put some history to it, the first Earth Day was in 1970, 45 years ago. The need to reduce, reuse, recycle has been shoved into people’s faces for decades. It’s improved things, but CO2 levels have continued to rise.

          I think almost everyone in the US understands climate change at a basic level. Even the ~10% who are deniers understand, I think. They simply continue to deny for reasons which override their understanding.

          What is working is efficiency. People buy new stuff without realizing their new stuff is more efficient. My sister bought a very large TV without realizing that it pulled only 80 watts. It replaced a smaller TV that pulled a lot more. People replace their 2005 Camry with a 2015 Camry without realizing that the newer one uses less fuel. And the 2025 replacement will use even less.

          Renewables are working. Solar is now providing 5% of CA’s electricity and wind is providing 10% of Texas electricity. And both of those changes are working to lower electricity costs.

          • I think you have to explain it in crude, simple terms as in:
            Do you like to pay more for driving, do you love to pay more taxes, or do you wish to have more money for yourself?
            Like I said before, appeal to their greed!

          • I agree.

            Find acceptable alternatives that offer some significant benefit. Saving money is a bit benefit that most enjoy.

      • If you do decent, unbiased labour/benefit analysis. You will find renewables win out in the long term.

        • Sure. And you don’t even need to do much analysis. Just look at the LCOE for new generation and remember that the cost of wind and solar continues to fall while the cost of other technologies does not.

          And that is what is likely to save our bacon. Dedicated people have figured how to make clean electricity cheaper than dirty electricity.

  • Talking about global warming etc.

    Stabilization of STEP electrolyses in lithium-free molten carbonate

    This communication reports on effective electrolyses in lithium-free molten carbonates.

    Processes that utilize solar thermal energy to drive efficient electrolyses are termed Solar Thermal Electrochemical Processes (STEP).
    Lithium-free molten carbonates, such as a sodium-potassium carbonate eutectic using an iridium anode,
    or a calcium-sodium-potassium carbonate eutectic using a nickel anode,
    can provide an effective medium for STEP electrolyses.
    Such electrolyses are useful in STEP carbon capture,
    and the production of staples including STEP fuel, iron, and cement.

  • Curious if any of our readers plan to take advantage of this program?

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