With only months before the highly anticipated international climate negotiations in Paris, a project at MIT offers a set of new innovations for effective climate action.
But these ideas weren’t developed by MIT professors or students; they were collected from and selected by the 50,000 people around the world who are members of the Climate CoLab, an online community that works with experts and each other to develop climate solutions.
The Climate CoLab is run by the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI), and aims to offer a new approach to addressing climate change.
"Many online platforms — like Wikipedia, Linux, FoldIt — have developed a new way of solving complex challenges: online crowdsourcing,” says Professor Thomas Malone, director of CCI and principal investigator of the Climate CoLab. “Millions of people around the world can now work together online to achieve a common goal at a scale and with a degree of collaboration that was never before possible.”
Malone believes, if done well, these collective intelligence tools could change the way we work, run businesses, and even solve our world’s most complicated problems, such as climate change.
The Climate CoLab recently announced the 32 winners of the 15 contests it ran in 2015. The contests sought ways to have a significant impact on different aspects of the climate change problem, such as reducing emissions from electrical generation, changing public attitudes about climate change, and implementing a carbon price in the United States.
The winning proposals represent a broad set of actions of what can be done in each of these areas. Some of the winners include:
Integrating REDD+ and Green Economic Growth for sustainable forest landscapes, by Charles Ehrhart. This startup company has created a model to create scalable, replicable financial incentives for the sustainable management of forest landscapes, and is working closely with Brazilian farmers to implement it.
Electricity at the lowest societal cost: holistic optimization, by EMERGE
This model can be used by city energy decision-makers to calculate the social cost of electricity infrastructure.
China’s rural-urban intensification: Envisioning the habitat of the future, by Climate CoLab member tcatta
This proposed research project looks at design strategies to improve the economic resilience of China’s rural towns.
Utilizing Molecularly Imprinted Technology to Selectively Filter Pollutants, by Alex Krotz
This high school student offers a way for Molecular Imprinted Polymers to filter pollutants.
Tidal Pump, by Robert Tulip
This concept aims to shift large volumes of liquid in the ocean to increase carbon sequestration by algae.
All winners will be invited to present their proposals before key constituents at MIT's Crowds and Climate conference, which is open to the public, on Oct. 6 at MIT's campus, where a $10,000 grand prize will be awarded.