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The Climate Collaboratorium: A New Forum Brings Experts Together to Combat Global Warming

The Climate Collaboratorium, which is still in its infancy, will also include venues for online deliberation being developed by CCI researchers Mark Klein and Josh Introne. These venues — think of them as high-level chat rooms — will employ software tools that encourage constructive conversation as opposed to the “flame wars” that often pass for debate online.

“In listservs, people tend to shout back and forth: ‘Yes, it is,’ ‘No, it's not,’” Malone says. “Here, we'll have a structured way of representing the discussions. For each position, people might have to offer evidence. Somebody might say, ‘Look at this paper by Smith and Jones.’ And somebody else might say, ‘But there's a more recent paper by Johnson.’ That way, you can have reasoned arguments.”

Opinions Welcome

The deliberations won’t be limited to experts. While Malone envisions limits on who can modify the models — perhaps peer-review panels will decide — anyone will be able to run scenarios that will tell them how, say, a higher gasoline tax in the United States would change carbon emissions. Regular folks will be able to plug in numbers and save the results of their scenarios.

“If the parameters are there, lots of people could say, ‘Let's increase the percentage of this and reduce that,’ ” Malone points out. “Some of those weird combinations, which maybe no expert would think of, could turn out to be promising possibilities.”

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