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Ideas Made to Matter

Climate Change

See the future of global warming in less than one second

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Global warming is a defining problem of our age. But how to solve it? MIT has an answer, thanks to the En-ROADS climate solutions simulator, a new online interface that simulates 100 years of energy, land, and climate data to identify solutions in less than a second.

The MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative and Climate Interactive, a think tank that creates tools and resources to address climate change, launched the tool earlier this month. So why use it?

It’s free. The simulator is accessible to anyone with a computer and an internet connection.

It’s easy to use. Users with any level of technical skill can explore the impact of global warming policies, using tools usually limited to climate analysts and modelers. Now, business leaders, educators, and the merely curious can take advantage of the data. The interface is intuitive: Users move sliders to simulate the effects of various policies, like the price of carbon, energy efficient transportation, or emissions from deforestation. Graphs show instant results, and users can share them through social media and email.

“Powerful simulators have fueled climate wonks for decades. This one works for users ranging from corporate CEOs and policymakers to smart eighth graders,” said Andrew Jones, co-founder and co-director of Climate Interactive.

The En-ROADS climate simulator allows users to create their own climate scenarios and view the results.

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It’s persuasive. Developers hope that the user-friendly, hands-on experience is more moving than merely reading research.

“En-ROADS allows people to learn for themselves by exploring how the policies they choose affect the energy system and climate. Users get instant results, allowing them to experiment with a wide range of assumptions and policies that can help limit global warming and build a healthy, prosperous future in which all people can thrive,” saidprofessor of system dynamics at MIT and faculty director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, in a release.

It’s successfully deployed in other fields. Sterman compares En-ROADS to simulators in other industries. “Surgical teams learn to work together in medical simulations. Power plant operators learn to handle potential emergencies in simulators. In these settings, and for climate change, failure is not an option. The En-ROADS simulator enables people to learn for themselves what it will take to avoid the worst consequences of global warming before it’s too late,” he said. Learn more about how to use the simulator.