In 2012 CMI continued its commitment to providing the public with tools for understanding climate change and options for reduction of carbon emissions.

 


Stabilization Wedges

The stabilization wedges concept for cutting carbon emissions remains a popular tool in the environmental and education communities. Roberta Hotinski continues to field dozens of questions from educators at all levels interested in using the wedges game in their courses, and wedges graphics appeared in 7 textbooks in 2012, as well as in Sierra Magazine and the Orange County Register.

In one of the most innovative applications of the wedges we’ve heard of, Brian Alano, an engineer and member of the Indiana group Greenfield LEGO User Education, is constructing a time-dynamic interactive simulation of the wedges concept out of LEGO elements. The goal is to simulate emissions as a flow rate of LEGO soccer balls, and to allow participants to select mitigation policies each year which reduce or direct emissions away from the atmosphere. With feedback from Hotinski, Alano has created an Excel model of carbon flows for the simulation and constructed modules for a coal power plant, a cloud (representing atmospheric CO2 ), and land and ocean carbon sinks that were displayed at Brickworld 2013 in Chicago.

Alano plans to finish the prototype by June this year, play-test it throughout the summer, and have a full-scale model complete by the end of the calendar year. In addition to showing the model as an interactive display at LEGO exhibitions, he plans to take the wedges simulation into schools to empower kids to act against rapid climate change and to encourage them to be engineers–a profession whose skills are vital to mitigating climate change and its effects.

 


Open-source energy-economics models

Another focus of the Policy & Integration Group has been the development of energy-economics models for use by the wider community. Shoibal Chakravarty has combined a number of various open source software tools to create a platform for fast and collaborative development of energyeconomics models. The model is written in the open-source and popular programming language Python, using mathematical modeling software from the COOPR project (https://software.sandia. gov/trac/coopr). The models can be solved using solvers from COIN-OR (http://www.coin-or.org/) project of the Operations Research community. Chakravarty and colleagues are developing a webbased user interface for interactive data input and graphical data output from the model runs. The goal is to make it easy to rapidly prototype, develop and collaborate on such topics across various computing platforms. A web based interface can be used on all computers – Windows, Linux or Mac. Publishing model runs and results on the web can also become automatic.

One short term goal of the project is to collaboratively develop an energy-economics model for a low carbon growth strategy for India. This will be developed in an open online collaboration with energy experts in India.

 


Climate Central

CMI continues to have close ties with Climate Central, a non-profit organization in Princeton dedicated to providing the public and policy-makers with clear and objective information on climate change trends and impacts. Steve Pacala and Michael Oppenheimer serve on the board of Climate Central (CC), Eric Larson of the Low-Carbon Energy group works at CC part-time, and CMI researchers have both advised the group and served as topics of the organization’s stories. A new tie has also been forged between Princeton and CC over the last year as Heidi Cullen, CC’s Chief Climatologist, has worked with the CMI Science Group’s Jorge Sarmiento on the education and outreach component of a proposal for a Center for Southern Ocean Biogeochemical Observations and Modeling (see summary in the Carbon Science Group section, p. 14). A video produced for the proposal site visit is already gaining attention, raising the profile of the Southern Ocean’s role in climate and the carbon cycle and generating excitement over the robotic observing system proposed.

Figure 25: Brian Alano with his preliminary model at the Greenfield Brick Expo in January, 2013. Credit: Bruce Nelson.