Tackle climate change through high-tech game in Aspen Wednesday night
IF YOU GO
What: Aspen U Speaker Series
Who: Andrew Jones of Climate Interactive
When: Wednesday, 6-7 pm
Where: Limelight Hotel, Aspen
Price: Free and open to public
There is no better tool to educate people about climate change and solutions to ease global warming than through games, activist Andrew Jones has concluded.
“There’s a lot of studies about climate, but research shows that showing people research doesn’t work,” he said. “Instead we find that people need to interact with tools that help them think better and do it while they’re talking to their friends and peers and community members.”
Jones is co-founder and co-director of Climate Interactive, a nonprofit that applies cutting-edge MIT technology in a simulator to demonstrate the climate change dilemma and potential solutions. Participants can adjust variables to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“What helps a lot, what helps a little bit?” Jones asked. “Driving electric cars, promoting green, clear energy, planting trees, eating vegetarian, insulating your homes — what’s really helpful and what’s just a lot of PR?”
Jones is bringing the Climate Interactive simulator to the Limelight Hotel in Aspen on Wednesday night (see details in box). Participants will spend 20 minutes or so deciding what global actions should be tried to reduce emissions and prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius.
“It’s a hands-on, interactive, really fun and engaging experience,” Jones said. “You’ll laugh; you’ll cry.
“Our mission is to use these simulators to create grounded hope. We’re trying to build a sense that we’re going to do what we can and better futures are possible.”
About 80% of the participants who have been tested after the games reported themselves to be “more inspired to take action,” Jones said.
Jones and his team worked with elected officials and other decision-makers at the Aspen Institute last fall. More than 60 U.S. senators from both parties have dabbled in the simulator. Jones met with former presidential candidate John Kerry in February. Officials from President Barack Obama’s administration also played the game.
So far, Climate Interactive hasn’t worked with Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, but Jones said he would like to. In an effort to reach as many people as possible, Climate Interactive has a mission to train 7,700 people around the globe — roughly one per 1 million — to lead the workshops. There is a focus on training people in China, India and other countries.
“It’s mostly outside the U.S. because we’re only 16 percent of greenhouse emissions today,” Jones said.
Jones worked for Rocky Mountain Institute in the early 1990s, so he is connected to the Roaring Fork Valley. Climate Interactive is based in Washington, D.C. Jones said he has worked with Aspen Skiing Co.’s Auden Schendler before and got invited to bring the simulator as part of Skico’s Aspen U speaker series on environmental issues.
Jones credited Skico for its work on climate issues, not only reducing its own greenhouse gases but also taking action to influence public policy. He hopes the game Wednesday night inspires people similarly.
“The most important work is to figure out how not to burn coal, oil and gas, which really requires a citizen-led movement to put pressure on the fossil-fuel industry that really doesn’t want significant action on climate,” Jones said. “The people who should come Wednesday are curious about climate change, are looking for some hope and inspiration about possibilities of a better future, and committed to doing something in their own lives and in their communities, and also like serious games and fun, cool technologies.”
(Editor’s note: This article was corrected to show Jones is co-founder of Climate Interactive and that its headquarters is in Washington, D.C.)