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Climate Change

En-ROADS Brings Climate Science To The Masses

En-ROADS from MIT and Ventana Systems is an interactive climate science tool that lets anyone explore how making changes to the environment can help limit global heating.

Climate science is complicated. The interrelationship between pollution, politics, power sources, and population trends leads to a mind boggling number of permutations. With so many variables, it’s easy to think the subject is much too complex for ordinary people to understand, which opens the door for special interests to take over the conversation and turn it to their advantage.

But what if there was a way to make climate science more transparent and approachable? What if ordinary folks like you and me could see it in a way that takes much of the guesswork away and makes it simpler to see how varying one factor now, such as the amount of electricity generated by burning coal, can affect the amount of global heating in the future? En-ROADS is a computer simulation that does precisely that.

Created by Climate Interactive, Ventana Systems, and the MIT Sloan School of Management, En-ROADS uses input from the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, among other science-based organizations, to create an interactive computer program. Want to know how putting a price on carbon will affect global warming? En-ROADS has the answer. What will happen if deforestation accelerates or the world’s population increases? En-ROADS can show those results, too.

With thousands of analytic programs based on the best available science running in the background, a change to any one of the input parameters instantly translates into changes in the amount of global heating we can expect in the future. Watch the video below for an overview of how En-ROADS works. For a more detailed presentation, there is a 42-minute video available.

Check out the Climate Interactive website to learn how you can use En-ROADS to learn more about climate change actions individually or how to use the online tools to conduct small or large group discovery sessions. It has already been used by members of the US Congress, HSBC bank, the Hewlett Foundation, local community groups, the UN Secretary-General’s Office, university professors around the world, leading science educator Bill Nye, and many others.

Science Ain’t For Sissies

Experiment with the En-ROADS modeling a bit and you will quickly learn a hard truth — there is no magic bullet. Keeping the Earth from getting too hot for most humans to survive is going to take a lot of difficult work. You can play with the parameters all you want and still the project temperature of the Earth will be more than 2º Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Idiots like Rex Tillerson shrug and say we will just have to adapt, but billions of people don’t have the economic resources that Rex and his mega-wealthy buddies do. Billions will die if we don’t get a handle on this problem pretty damn quick, not that Rex and friends care a flying fig leaf about anyone but themselves. The key is pretty simple. We must stop burning fossil fuels. There is no time to wait. The very existence of  the human race depends on finding a solution to the scourge of global overheating.

The beauty of En-ROADS is that it can help educate people to the realities of the coming environmental catastrophe in a calm, measured, rational way. As my old Irish grandmother liked to say, “You can cure ignorance through the application of relevant information. There’s no cure for stupidity.” En-ROADS can help break down many of the barriers those who don’t know about climate change and don’t want to know have erected. Try it with your family and friends. Suggest it as an activity that all the people you work with can participate in.

It can be used as a tool of enlightenment, but it also drives home the point that limiting global warming will take many coordinated actions and we will all have to do our part. It takes a little more than buying a Tesla and calling it a day. Once you try En-ROADS yourself, please share your experience with the CleanTechnica community in the comments section below.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.


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