Earth Day is April 22, 2015 but climate change is on many minds year round. This week Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Climate CoLab announced twenty-two contests that seek high-impact ideas on how to tackle climate change. A project of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, the Climate CoLab is attempting to harness the knowledge and expertise of thousands of experts and non-experts across the world to help solve this issue. The Climate CoLab has a rapidly growing community of over 30,000 members from across the world. Anyone is welcome to join the platform to submit their own ideas, or comment on and show support for other proposals on the site.
“As systems like Linux and Wikipedia have shown, people from around the world—connected by the Internet—can work together to solve complex problems in very new ways,” said MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Malone, director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence and principal investigator for the Climate CoLab project. “In the Climate CoLab, we’re applying this approach to one of the world’s most difficult problems—climate change.”
The contests cover a broad set of sub-problems that lie at the heart of the climate change challenge including: decarbonizing energy supply, shifting public attitudes and behavior, adapting to climate change, geoengineering, transportation, waste management, reducing consumption, and others.
The popular U.S. Carbon Price contest is returning this year, which seeks innovative policy and political mobilization strategies on how to implement a carbon price in the United States. Serving as Advisors for this contest are Former U.S. Secretary of State, George P. Shultz; former U.S. Representative (R-SC) and current Director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, Bob Inglis; and, former U.S. Representative (D-IN) and current President of Resources for the Future, Phil Sharp.
A number of contests are run in collaboration with organizations, such as the World Bank Negawatt Challenge (Urban Energy Efficiency); the MIT Sloan Latin America Office (Energy Solutions for Latin America); and the City of Somerville, MA (Atypical Solutions for Going Carbon Neutral).
In addition, this year the Climate CoLab team announced a new set of contests in which people can create climate action plans for major countries and for the whole world. In these contests, members combine proposals that have been submitted in other contests and use a suite of climate modeling tools to project the real-world climate impacts of the plans they create.
All contest winners will have an opportunity to present to people who can support the implementation of their ideas, including policy makers, business executives, and NGO and foundation officials. They will also be invited to showcase their proposals at MIT this fall, where a $10,000 Grand Prize will be awarded. In addition to submitting ideas, the Climate CoLab also welcomes people from around the world to offer feedback and support proposals they find the most promising. Submissions are due before May 16, 2015, midnight Eastern Time.