Nicholas Stern, when asked in a recent interview by the MIT Technology Review, about the sense of urgency he was trying to convey in the Stern Review, published five years ago this fall, had this to say:
“That’s one place where I think our arguments have not been successful enough: to get people to realize just how important the next five and 10 years are. If we wait until people really start to see the full horror of severe climate change, it will be very difficult to pull out. And that is where the great challenge in communication lies.”
If you want to understand the climate system dynamics that led Stern to his conclusion, click here and try out the Climate Momentum Simulation, based on multiple runs of our C-ROADS simulation:
If you clicked on the link above and tried out the simulation, even for a few minutes, my guess is that you grasped, quickly and intuitively, something that hundreds of reports, documentaries, and articles by scientists and their translators have tried to convey. You began, I hope, to understand the kind of urgency Stern is describing – the urgency that exists before we ‘see the full horror’ and before it becomes ‘very difficult to ‘pull out’.
Reports depend on words and sentences and the constructs of language. Reports must express one idea at time and lay out a progression of cause and effect. That kind of communication doesn’t seem to be serving us so well when it comes to understanding, communicating and taking effective action on the complex challenge of transforming our energy system to avoid the biggest risks of climate change.
That’s why we build interactive computer simulations.
Simulations can handle the complexity of the world, and so can we. We just need the information presented to us in a whole, complete, rich way that we can engage and interact with.