MIT can lead a global problem-solving process on what to do about climate change

MIT Climate CoLab team
December 2, 2014

With its reputation for helping to solve world problems in a practical and non-partisan way, MIT has a unique opportunity to lead a global problem-solving process on what to do about climate change. Building on the foundation of the MIT Climate CoLab ( and its online community of over 33,000 people from around the world, MIT experts can assemble a global team of interdisciplinary experts, including leading scientists, policy makers, business people, NGO members, and others. This team can help (a) break the overall problem into sensible sub-parts, including technical, political, and social issues, (b) collect and summarize background information on what is already known about different parts of the problem, and (c) identify and bring attention to parts of the problem that are key leverage points for further progress.

Then a global community of problem solvers, including MIT people and many others, can work on different parts of the problem, developing existing ideas further and coming up with new ideas no one has thought of before. Throughout this process, the team of experts can help (a) evaluate the work of others to identify the most promising ideas for further attention and development, and (b) integrate parts of solutions into coherent approaches for solving whole problems.

In this way, key knowledge from the world’s best experts can be combined with creative new ideas from anywhere in the world, and the world will have a chance of developing better solutions faster than would ever otherwise be possible.

Of course, this process will not be easy, but the Climate CoLab’s activities so far provide a proof-of-concept that this general approach can work. If MIT makes an institutional commitment to doing this on a much more significant scale, involving many more people at MIT and elsewhere, MIT could—perhaps more than any other institution in the world—make a real difference in solving this problem.



Jason Jesurum Jay on December 3, 2014

This is a great idea in its own right. And I see important tie-ins between this idea, and the "Mobilize the Alumni" idea that I proposed on IdeaBank.

Erik Paul Duhaime on December 3, 2014

A strength of the CoLab is that it engages people from all over the world. MIT can't solve the problem on its own, but it can lead and organize bright minds from around the world.

Arne Hessenbruch on December 3, 2014

MIT is a natural place for such discussions, and it will be beneficial also for MIT's brand value

Eric Justin Maltzer on December 3, 2014

This is the best idea I've seen. As a former member of the Obama Administration's climate team, I can attest to the powerful reputation and notable impact of the Co-Lab. MIT's Climate Co-Lab is the best vehicle to change the discussion and shape the future of this global issue.

Jeffrey I Steinfeld on December 4, 2014

Good idea, but you will need to make sure that you are reinforcing and not duplicating similar efforts elsewhere.
It is also important to engage the local real-world community as well as the global "virtual" community.

Richard Hill on December 5, 2014

MIT is most certainly a recognized and respected brand in the world. I was recently involved with the Climate CoLab conference at MIT in November and met many enthusiastic participants from around the world who are eager to tackle the challenges of climate change. With MIT leading the charge, the global community will soon follow!

Denes Csala on December 14, 2014

This initiative has a far-reaching reaching potential that could revolutionize the way we look at global problems in the connected world. It has also an embedded scalability that could make it powerful in sectors other than global policy-making such as regional or local governance or even at the corporate level.

Martha Eddison Sieniewicz on February 25, 2015

This constitutes action of a scale and scope worthy of MIT -- and represents something that, by stature and expertise, MIT is uniquely positioned to deliver.