I start with the assumption that it is important that we reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the global economy.
From that starting point, it’s natural to wonder whether afforestation (plant 1T trees!) works better than expanding nuclear power or reducing the use of coal. Or how about improving energy efficiency in buildings? Or putting a price on carbon? Or population reduction? One of the most user-friendly computer tools for understanding climate policy is called En-ROADS, developed by Climate Interactive, the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative and Ventana Systems.
You don’t need to install an app, you simply visit their website, and start to play with their interface. As you move slider bars, you will see various graphs change. Try to get the amount of global warming down to 1 degree Celsius. One of the first things you will find out is that it’s challenging to save the world.
Beyond that, however, users can find out which policies complement which other ones. For example, if we put a price on carbon, it will encourage significant electrification, so, at that point, doing more to promote electrification has very little benefit. On the other hand, reducing coal and increasing renewables are two policies that pair well: Their combined value is roughly the sum of their independent values.
To get started, search on “en-roads,” click on the link that says “Climate Interactive,” and then click on “EXPLORE THE EN-ROADS SIMULATOR.”
Did I mention that it’s free?
Scot Adams, Eden Prairie
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