Living Up to the Potential of Actionable Climate Knowledge

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May 17, 2019

cartoon great wall of climate change information deluge

Ten years ago I saw a presentation by the authors of the book Influencer: The Power to Change Anything about the ability of the right information at the right time — actionable knowledge — to influence human decisions. That’s because every human decision is based on the answers to two questions: 1) Is the topic worth it to me? and 2) Will my decision make any difference to whatever makes the topic “worth it” to me? Actionable knowledge answers those questions.

Happily, given today’s virtually infinite information about the risks of continuing to heat up the atmosphere, as well as the opportunities and co-benefits associated with cooling things down, there has never been a greater potential to influence the myriad decisions that will determine how dangerous climate change will be by getting the right actionable knowledge to the right decision-makers at the right time.

But that’s not going to happen as long as climate communication relies primarily on throwing more and more information over the transom. This approach implicitly assumes it will translate into “climate-stabilizing” decisions by individuals, business leaders, and policy makers. Today’s climate information deluge actually reduces the chance we’ll even become aware of the actionable knowledge that would lead us to respond “YES!” to our “is it worth it?” and “can I do it?” questions when it comes to climate disruption decision-making.

In order to influence decision-making towards climate stability instead of climate disruption, communicators, advocates, and advisors have to prioritize the delivery of actionable climate knowledge, not just information. But how? 

One part of the answer is to use knowledge management tools not only to manage the information deluge, but to extract and organize the building blocks of actionable knowledge. The Climatographers are working toward that goal with the Climate Web, a knowledge management system that extracts actionable knowledge building blocks from thousands of books, reports, news stories, videos, and other climate resources. 

The Climate Web is not a miracle-working AI, and it is not a substitute for hard work to customize information to the actionable knowledge needs of individual decision-makers. But the Climate Web is an actionable knowledge tool that works. As noted by one Fortune 100 user, “the Climate Web is like having 100 leading experts in climate science, climate risk, risk management, and corporate strategy at the decision-making table with you.” That greatly increases the likelihood that the right actionable knowledge will be considered and acted upon.

The Climate Web is an actionable knowledge tool that works. 

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The Climate Web covers the full range of today’s societal and business conversations surrounding climate change, and includes the work of thousands of experts. Business advisors can use the Climate Web to deliver actionable climate knowledge to their business clients, including by taking advantage of overlays that facilitate corporate climate materiality assessments, climate assumptions audits, and climate scenario planning. Philanthropists can use the Climate Web to explore the decision-making implications of recognizing climate change as the wicked problem it is, and what that might suggest for more successfully tackling the problem. Individuals and educators can use the Climate Web to explore almost any climate change topic.

The goal of climate stabilization has eluded societal and business decision-making for 50 years. The Climate Web tackles that reality, so don’t expect it to be as simple as a Google search. You’re free to explore much of the Climate Web on your own, but if your goal is to understand how the Climate Web can advance your own work in delivering actionable climate knowledge to clients or other audiences, we probably have materials or videos that can help. Just contact us!

Let Us Help You!

The Climatographers can help you take advantage of the Climate Web for your advisory and other climate knowledge needs.

About the author 

Mark Trexler

Mark has more than 30 years of regulatory and energy policy experience. He has advised clients around the world on climate change risk and risk management. He is widely published on business risk management topics surrounding climate change, including in the design and deployment of carbon markets. Mark has served as a lead author for the IPCC and holds advanced degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.

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