Stanford grad students experienced the thrill and complexity of dealing with climate change head on recently, as Climate Interactive brought our World Energy exercise to Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy for the second year running.
Led by Climate Interactive Co-Director Drew Jones, World Energy challenges participants to create an energy policy that will limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius while at the same time meeting economic and political goals. With our En-ROADS model, participants can adjust inputs such as emissions prices, efficiency standards, taxes and subsidies, land use changes and breakthrough improvements from R&D, and see the effects in real time.
Much of this year’s exercise was familiar — groups of astute grad students plugging away at the models on their computer screens, lots of invisible light bulbs clicking on, a good deal of surprise — but this time around, we offered a slight twist — thanks to funding from Stanford, the entire simulation was run online.
“One thing the students found particularly helpful this year was the fact that the simulation was online and accessible via a web browser, so the students could run scenarios from anywhere at any time and share results with teammates,” Jones said. “We’re now exploring the possibility of moving it into a shareable space so educators across the world can have access to it”
The move to online comes after a flood of interest we’ve seen in putting our En-ROADS model on the web. Once the simulation undergoes a technical review, we hope to make an online version available to the general public.
Many of the students and staff at Stanford said they took a shine to the online version during the World Energy exercise.
The added benefit of putting En-ROADS online (via Forio Simulate) is the ability to spread the word. Students can learn in the classroom, then bring their findings home with them to share with friends or family who may be interested in the insights En-ROADS has to offer.
This is especially key given the success the simulation has had on helping students understand the dynamics of the climate change challenge. Indeed, after this year’s exercise, the majority of students said they learned an important lesson on the diversity needed in climate change solutions.
“I was struck by how quickly the students picked up the core lesson from the simulator,” Jones said. “There is no silver bullet solution; there are ‘silver buckshot’ approaches.”