MIT can lead a global problem-solving process on what to do about climate change
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 (www.climatecolab.org) 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.