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Interactive Tool Moves Climate Conversation Beyond Polarizing Debate to Accessible Solutions

The King’s Centre for Visualization in Science (KCVS) at The King’s University in Edmonton has released, for free global use, a peer-reviewed interactive simulation built to help citizens move from polarization to action in tackling climate change.

Designed from the ground up using peer reviewed data, the Design Our Climate Simulation (DOCS) tool allows users to adjust variables which contrast the current “business-as-usual” trajectory of global increases in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with the path toward “net-zero” emissions by 2050 needed to meet international commitments to keep average surface temperature increases below 1.5 °C by 2100.

The challenge of reducing emissions to this extent so quickly can paralyze action. However the DOC tool uses an approach first introduced 15 years ago at Princeton University, which breaks the seemingly intractable challenge into 20 smaller challenges. Users can design a climate future by implementing mitigation strategies across five sectors: electricity, transportation, land use & agriculture, buildings, and materials. A “Reality Check” feature gives live feedback on the feasibility of each action and educates about the underlying assumptions that determine what is realistic.

“Users soon realize there is no magic solution—no silver bullet to mitigating climate change,” says Peter Mahaffy, KCVS director. “But they also learn how far we can get with a mosaic of solutions. Using currently available technologies, we can get much closer to reaching the goals of the Paris agreement.”

Image from Design Our Climate Website

The DOCs simulation was developed by an interdisciplinary team of undergraduate students and faculty at The King's Centre for Visualization in Science (KCVS), with support from Energy Efficiency Alberta, as part of Accessible Solutions: Visualizing Energy Choices and Climate Implications Embedded in Alberta Narratives. The free digital learning resources provided by KCVS are already used by over 500,000 students, educators and the public from over 100 countries each year. This simulation joins that suite of free interactive tools. Besides being released on the web for the global public, it will be used in Alberta with project partners Energy Futures Lab, the Alberta Council for Environmental Education, Student Energy, and People for Energy and Environmental Literacy, who have provided important input into the development of the simulation. Twenty-five global experts in the sectors included in the simulation have provided external peer review.

Learn more about the Design Our Climate simulation at the Chemical Institute of Canada.

For further information,

Peter Mahaffy,
780-465-3500 x8043, (@petermahaffy)


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