If Only We Knew What We Know About Climate Change in Oregon

puzzle pieces with 20 years of Oregon Climate Action words

When it comes to climate change, Carla Odell’s “if only we knew what we know,” is an apt metaphor, particularly given Woodrow Wilson’s point that “there is not an idea in our heads that has not been worn shiny by someone else’s brains.”

Imagine what we could accomplish on climate change in Oregon if everyone didn’t have to reinvent the same climate change wheels, or come up the same lengthy learning curves. Imagine if we could more easily progress from 101-level conversations about climate policies and climate solutions to 201 and 301-level conversations. What could we accomplish if we could overcome the unfortunate reality as summarized by Margaret Heffernan, that “in climate change, all the forces of willful ignorance come together like synchronized swimmers in a spectacular water ballet.”

Knowledge management tools and processes can go a long way toward making these aspirations a reality. These tools make it easier for individuals interested in climate change in Oregon to access the specific climate knowledge that will help them accomplish their goals — what we call their actionable climate knowledge.

The open-access Climate Web is one such knowledge management tool. The Climate Web makes it possible for anyone to explore “what we know” about hundreds of climate change topics. It allows anyone to benefit from the 20,000 hours the Climatographers have spent exploring, curating, and linking together the climate change ideas “worn shiny by someone else’s brains.”

But simply making so much relevant information available does not necessarily solve the problems users face in making the best use of that information. That is why we’ve created an “Oregon and Climate Change Knowledgebase.” This Knowledgebase goes a step further, using a Q&A format to help users quickly zero in on the information they’re most interested in. The Knowledgebase is limited to Oregon-specific materials, so it doesn’t include the enormous resources available elsewhere in the Climate Web covering topics relevant to Oregon such as carbon pricing, carbon offsets, and climate change forecasts. It does, however, organize Oregon-specific thinking about those topics. Moreover, if you don’t see work that you know about, we can easily add it.

The Oregon and Climate Change Knowledgebase is described in more detail here, or you can jump directly to where you can sign up for a detailed video demonstration of the Knowledgebase. As you’ll learn in the video demonstration, we’ve created three ways you can access the Knowledgebase:

  • Online
  • Through a read-only downloadable version of the Knowledgebase
  • Through a fully customizable version of the Knowledgebase

Each of these options gives users speedier access and more control over the Knowledgebase. The last option gives users full flexibility in adapting the Knowledgebase to their own purposes. All three options allow users to take advantage of the hundreds of hours of work that have gone into building the Knowledgebase.

Are Blockchain and Bitcoin Relevant to Climate Change?

block chain and cryptocurrencies and climate change
If you’re interested in climate change you’ve probably seen references to how blockchain and cryptocurrencies (like bitcoin) will help solve climate change.  We’ve recently comprehensively incorporated this topic into the Climate Web. A good starting point is the Blockchain Index Entry into the Climate Web, and yesterday I used the Climate Web to deliver an invited webinar entitled “Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, and Climate Change.”
The webinar was recorded and I wanted to bring it to your attention. If, like me, you’ve been wondering about all of this blockchain and cryptocurrency “stuff” and how is it relevant to climate change, I suspect you’d find the one-hour webinar a good way to get your head around the many questions.
You can watch the webinar replay here. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you have follow-up ideas or questions!

Climate Fiction Daily Doorway

TheBrain software - Climate Web

I mentioned in our last What’s New earlier this week that we’ve started building Doorways into the Climate Web to facilitate access to topics of cross-cutting interest. We just published today’s Climate Web Doorway focused on Climate Fiction. I’ve always been a Sci-Fi buff and so Cli-Fi was a natural extension of my interest. It so happens that the first Cli-Fi book I read, James Powell’s 2084: An Oral History of the Great Warming (2011) remains one of my favorites. But Cli-Fi is a fascinating topic overall. Is it primarily a catharsis for writers? Is it intended to influence public opinion and climate change outcomes?  Is every book describing the weather now going to be considered CliFi (Godzilla was called a CliFi movie for reasons I’ve never figured out).

Let’s say you’re a climate change advocate interested in the topic. Or a journalist discovering Cli-Fi as a genre. Or a writer concerned about climate change. Or a Sci-Fi buff trying to figure out what this new genre is about. Or a teacher wanting to integrate Cli-Fi into your writing course. Where do you go? Sure, you can read one of the dozens of newspaper stories about Cli-Fi, and start digging from there. But we’ve been collecting Cli-Fi relevant material for years, and it’s all in the Climate Web. Today’s Climate Web Doorway simply surveys that information, and I think it points out what our new Doorways can help accomplish. Spend a few minutes at the Doorway (watch the Doorway Help Video if you haven’t before), and you’ll come away with an understanding of Cli-Fi and the conversations around Cli-Fi that otherwise would have taken you hours (and let’s be frank, you probably never would have spent the time).

But since we’ve pulled it all together, why not spend a few minutes perusing today’s Climate Web Doorway of the Day – Climate Fiction. If you’re REALLY not interested in Cli-Fi, remember that we have several other Doorways of the Day open right now, covering Electric Vehicles, Great Non-Climate Books Important to Understanding Climate Change, and Oregon and Climate Change. You can get permanent access to any of these topical Doorways, 100 other Doorways, or your own Personal Doorway, through our Patreon Project.

What’s New in the Climate Web: Climate Doorways

Lots of new additions to the Climate Web recently!

We’ve added Climate Liability News to the 100 or so websites in the Climate Web focused on climate change. The idea of assessing liability for GHG emissions is VERY challenging, but now there’s a site tracking the idea day to day.

The Climate Web has been comprehensively tracking the topic of hurricanes and climate change as Harvey and Irma hit the U.S. You can find that coverage at the index entry I:HurricaneHarvey, and we recommend you watch our video trying to make sense of the conversation.

Check out this fun Climate Change Coloring Book project.

Take a look at this innovative 97 Hours of Consensus graphic at Skeptical Science. Can you find the 3 outliers? I found 2, and I’m pretty sure I know who the 3rd is likely to be, but couldn’t find her!

It’s still a work in progress, and early stage at that (in terms of the detail in the Climate Web), but if you want to see the 190 arguments that climate doubters tend to bring up (based on Skeptical Science), here’s the list of arguments in the Climate Web. It’s an interesting list, and we’ll be grouping the arguments in the Index, and then linking information to them so you can quickly survey the best available information from multiple sources.

Last but not least, and reflecting a huge amount of work in recent weeks, take a look at our new Doorways into the Climate Web. The idea is to point users to basic collections of relevant information they can use to understand a topic, without having to tackle the massive amount of related information in the Climate Web (unless one wants to, of course!). Here’s a short video introducing the idea and goal of Climate Web Doorways.  We’ll be issuing “Climate Web Doorways of the Day” on all kinds of topics. Our first Doorway of the Day dealt with electric vehicles, while today’s provides a snapshot of Oregon and Climate Change. Individual Doorways of the Day will be up for about 3 days and then cycle to another topic, but as explained here it’s easy to get permanent access to more than 100 standardized Doorways into the Climate Web, not to mention your own personal doorway. Check them out!

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I hope you’ve seen something interesting to you, and that you’ll check it out in the Climate Web! Please consider supporting our Climate Web Patreon Project, and thanks to our existing supporters!



Creating Climate Knowledge for You on Patreon

I have been working on responses to climate change and climate change decision-making for almost 30 years. I’ve served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but most of my career has been spent working with organizations around the world on everything to do with climate change.

Whether calling it climate change or global warming, almost all climate scientists characterize as dangerous our departure from the “climatic normal” human societies have evolved within over the last 10,000 years. But if it’s that dangerous, why haven’t we done more to prevent it?

One reason is the enormous gap between our collective knowledge about climate change and individual decision-making when it comes to climate change, as reflected in Carla O’Dell’s “[I]f only we knew what we know” quote. Notwithstanding and to some extent because of virtually unlimited collective knowledge regarding the science, risks, and solutions to climate change, individuals rarely spot the “actionable knowledge” that would significantly influence their decisions as concerned citizens, business executives, or policy makers.

Inadequate access to actionable climate knowledge is the biggest barrier we face in tackling climate change, and it is only getting harder every year. Your social media streams do little but confirm your current views. Google almost any climate-relevant search term or question and you’ll get millions of hits. How many do you look at? How much of the information do you remember a month later?

Based on our 20+ years working on climate change, and a longstanding interest in knowledge management, about six years ago my environmental lawyer wife and I started building an “actionable knowledge” solution for climate change. We call it the Climate Web. It uses TheBrain® software to organize information in ways that make it accessible to anyone interested in climate change, from concerned citizens and philanthropists to business executives and policy makers. It starts by linking more than 40,000 books, reports, journal articles, news stories, videos, and websites, with new materials added almost daily. But the Climate Web also does much more, extracting and linking together thousands of individual ideas and powerful graphics that can help deliver knowledge that can influence perceptions and decisions.


In the process of building the Climate Web I suspect we’ve read more climate-related literature, visited more climate-related websites, and watched more climate-related videos than any other two people on the planet. The Climate Web has turned into a massive resource that we’re confident can help make a difference on climate change.

We have gone to great lengths to make the Climate Web an open-access resource that anyone can use. Want to learn about climate science, how to communicate climate change, or what experts are forecasting when it comes to a low-carbon transition? It’s in the Climate Web. Want to find out what experts are saying about carbon pricing and cap-and-trade policy? It’s in the Climate Web. In fact, if there is an answer to climate change it’s probably in the Climate Web! The Climate Web can save you hours, days, or even more of your time. It can point you to great resources you would never otherwise see. It can help you think about climate change or climate change solutions in a completely new way. It can provide you with all kinds of new resources for communicating with or teaching others about climate change.

I’ve only scratched the surface of what you can find in the Climate Web. Its sheer size is the biggest challenge users face in using the Climate Web. After investing 16,000 hours in building the Climate Web, this Patreon project has two goals: 1) to help us keep the Climate Web open access; and 2) to help users more easily access their specific actionable knowledge in the Climate Web.

The solution is Climate Web Doorways:

  • Audience Doorways lead to curated collections aimed at the needs of particular user audiences, from “Concerned Individuals” to “Corporate Risk Managers” and “K-12 Teachers.”
  • Topic Doorways lead to curated collections that help you understand and track important climate topics, from a “2oC Climate Target” to the “Water-Food-Energy Nexus” and “Extreme Events.”
  • Personal Doorways lead to curated collections customized for individual users, and can include an eclectic collection of nodes from all over the Climate Web.

Doorways mean you don’t have to try and keep track of where you saw great resources in the Climate Web, and retrace your steps every time you go in. You can jump there instantly through your URL-based personal doorway!

Watch a video that helps you select the Doorway(s) of most value to you:

All supporters of our Patreon project will receive customized access to Climate Web information. Take a look at the different levels of support, and pick the one that best suits your interests. Choose your preferred Audience, Topic, or Dashboard Doorways, or contents for your Personal Doorway, from this list (which replicates what you just saw on the video)!

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We believe that the Climate Web can help thousands of individuals and organizations be more effective in advancing their climate change goals, and advance our collective goal of slowing climate change and accelerating a low-carbon transition. Will you help us continue to use our time and expertise to build and expand the Climate Web as an open access resource, and give anyone who’s interested a 16,000 hour head start on their goals? Thank you!

What’s New in the Climate Web?

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First, we’ve significantly updated and improved the Climate Web’s Index in just the last week.  With more than 1,700 Index entries there’s always room for improvement. Check it out, and we welcome your reactions!

I’m not focusing on a particular topic today as I did a couple of weeks ago when I looked at Prediction Markets in the Climate Web. For today, I’ll sample some of the many items we’ve recently added to the Climate Web. As always in some cases, I’ll link you to stories directly, as opposed to sending you to the Climate Web where you would have to click on the story’s URL anyway. But everything I point you to below is in fact integrated into the Climate Web.

First, another 1,000 pages of climate science have hit the bookshelves with the leaked draft of the Global Change Research Program’s (GCRP) Special Science Report and the annual State of the Climate Report for 2016. The GCRP report is discussed here in a Think Progress blog, and the full report is here in the Climate Web. The State of the Climate report is summarized here in the Atlantic Magazine, and the full report is here in the Climate Web. I will note that finding “here’s what’s really new when it comes to climate change” insight is very difficult in both reports, buried as it is in 1,000 pages of technical discussion.

But there’s plenty more to explore when it comes to recent Climate Web additions:

  • Amidst all of the discussion regarding a low-carbon transition, can we measure and track how confident we should be in policy movement toward a low-carbon transition? It’s challenging, as explored in a Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy White Paper; you can explore its key points here in the Climate Web.
  • Following up on the last point, the investment firm Schroders has come out with a Climate Progress Dashboard. This Dashboard is intended to provide a best-available projection of likely temperature increases (see figure). It’s the most innovative such estimate I’ve seen!

chart of temperature projections

  • Switching gears, what’s the carbon footprint of American pets? A new report suggests it’s impressive at roughly 25% of the human fingerprint.
  • Because climate change is all about probabilities, it’s great to see the New York Times incorporating probability distributions into a story about summer temperatures. Speaking of summer temperatures, many temperature records are being set this year, but did you know that in July Death Valley had the hottest month ever recorded on Earth?
  • There’s tons of discussion about the need to phase out coal (and fossil fuels in general), so it’s interesting that debate has been expanding as to whether to start mining undersea methane hydrates for energy. It is a massive potential source of both energy and COemissions.
  • When we impose carbon taxes to help control those emissions, do those taxes work? A new paper looking at the empirical impact of carbon taxes on gasoline use and emissions in Sweden comes to interesting conclusions (but remember that Sweden’s carbon tax is at $132/ton!).
  • I’m sure you remember some of the news coverage of “what Exxon knew and when did it know it.” Now there is a similar piece — reviewed here by Inside Climate News — about what electric utilities knew and when did they know it. The report is here in the Climate Web, and it provides extensive links to documents located in the cloud at an interesting website called Climate Files, set up specifically to host such documents. Hard to tell what’s really there, but the website openly solicits submittal of any and all relevant corporate documents.
  • A website just added to the Climate Web is the Historical Climatology website, identified as a site dedicated to environmental history and the extraction of lessons from past environmental experiences to apply to today’s climate problem.

Last, as you know, the long-term nature of climate change is one of the biggest challenges to mounting an effective societal or policy response. There’s a large literature on the problem of economic discounting in the Climate Web, but it can get pretty technical. I was interested to see a recent piece on Medium that explores in a fun way how we as individuals discount the future in our everyday lives. If you’re not fluent in discounting, it’s worth the read.

Listing a few recent additions to the Climate Web doesn’t do any topic justice, partially because I’ve flagged only about 10 of the 1,000 recent additions to the Climate Web, and partially because simply sending you to the story doesn’t give you an accurate feel for how much you can learn about these topics in the Climate Web, where individual stories are woven into a much more comprehensive knowledge web.

In any case, I hope you’ve seen something interesting to you, and that you’ll check it out in the Climate Web! If that is the case, consider supporting our Climate Web Patreon Project, and thanks to our existing supporters!

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Prediction Markets in the Climate Web

image of climate web on light blue background

Yes, the Climate Web continues to expand – it’s actually a bit frightening that we have about 1,300 items newly added in the last seven weeks waiting to be fully “Climate Webbed” and then released from the “New Adds” list. Tons of fascinating stuff there, but that’s not my focus today.

Today, I will talk about Climate Prediction Markets, something I’ve known about for a long time, but which we had not yet really developed in the Climate Web. Climate prediction markets (somewhat analogous to the PredictIt political betting website with which you may be familiar) would involve betting on future climate change outcomes. For example, here’s the exact wording of a real-live bet currently pending between climate scientists Phil Mote and Radley Horton regarding how much Arctic sea ice there will be between 2020 and 2040 (as tracked daily by the National Snow and Ice Data Center):

  • If at any time before the end of 2020, the quantity falls below 1 million sq km, Phil pays Radley $300 (on December 31, 2030) and the remaining bets are void.
  • If at any point between 2021 and the end of 2030 it falls below 1 million sq km (for the first time), Phil pays Radley $150 (on December 31, 2030) and the remaining bets are void.
  • If it doesn’t fall below 1 million sq. km at any time before December 31, 2030, Radley pays Phil $150 (on December 31, 2030) but the remaining bet is not necessarily void, because:
  • If by end of 2040 it still has never fallen below 1 million sq km, Radley pays Phil an additional $150 (adjusted for inflation).

There are several potential benefits to setting up a market in which thousands of people could join Phil and Radley in this bet, or many others. The key argument for prediction markets is that the odds associated with a specific bet, while based on climate science, would in effect depoliticize the discussion of that science. Things get real when you’re forced to put your money where your mouth is, and the odds associated with a given bet would help policy-makers interpret the state of the science based on a “wisdom of the crowds” kind of approach. Many experts think that climate prediction markets could be a pivotal step forward toward breaking down barriers to climate change action and policy, which makes it all the more notable that you may never have heard the term before.

My goal today is not to expound on climate prediction markets. Rather, it’s to expound on how easily you can now learn about climate prediction markets in the Climate Web, based on materials added over the last few days. For example:

To some extent, we’ve only scratched the surface of prediction markets with what we have so far in the Climate Web. But we have organized more than 60 documents, blogs, videos, and PPTs, and we have extracted more than 100 ideas and graphics from a subset of those sources. There’s a lot more we could do to expand and customize the presentation of that information, but I suspect that even what’s there now could help bring a lot of people up to speed on an important topic very quickly.

Just as important, someone interested in climate prediction markets can go elsewhere in the Climate Web to explore all kinds of issues directly relevant to making climate bets, including climate modeling, changing probabilities of extreme events, the economic impacts of climate change, and much more. It occurred to me this morning that (among other things) the Climate Web can be thought of as a Bettor’s Guide to Climate Predictions. Almost everything a person would want to know for betting in a climate predictions market can be found in the Climate Web.

A climate prediction market actually existed several years ago, but disappeared when InTrade shut down. Right now, the most serious development of a climate prediction market is happening in the UK.

Last for today, what else should we be doing with a key topic like this? Would you attend a webinar? Purchase a short course to come up to speed? Support us in expanding the Prediction Markets section of the Climate Web?

Feedback and suggestions welcome as always.

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Actionable Knowledge for Climate Progress

head sculpture with open top and a brain being plugged in

This is Part 3 of this blog series. In Part 1, I asked, “do we really intend to do something about climate change?” Part 2 asked “if so, does information matter?” Part 3 asks, “can I find the information I need?”

The idea of actionable climate knowledge reflects the reality that an individual making a climate-relevant decision is doing so on the basis of her ability to answer the two questions that govern all human decision-making: “is it worth it,” and “can I do it?” Each of us uses different information to answer the two questions, and it has to be extracted from the information deluge that crashes over us every day.

Here’s a great (non-climate) example of information that has been organized into actionable knowledge (thanks to Patrick McKercher):

“Andrea, an accounts manager at an investment firm, wakes up to learn from CNN that an Asian banking scandal is strangling venture capital flows and causing loans to be called in prematurely.

Andrea accesses her company’s TheBrain™-based proprietary Knowledge Web to scan her company’s Asian partners and holdings. Clicking on the link to the Royal Bank of Hong Kong (RBHK), the hardest hit bank according to CNN, she is relieved to find that relatively few of her own clients are linked to RBHK, and that her company’s overall exposure to the crisis is modest.

She clicks through the Knowledge Web to show all clients with loans from the Royal Bank of Hong Kong that missed their financial targets in last 36 months, revealing just one client, Tsingtao Telecommunications. Pulling up her company’s current Asia strategy from the Knowledge Web she sees that Tsingtao is an important part of that strategy, and that Tsingtao is linked to other clients in Sweden, Indonesia, and South Africa.

Andrea then sets about using the Knowledge Web to help solve her client’s problem. She can see that Tsingtao switched its banking to RBHK from Cathay Bank four years ago. From her “people network” within the Knowledge Web she discovers that Alejandro (who graduated from the Haas Business School at UCB a few years after she did) now works at Cathay Bank. She calls Alejandro and finds out that after getting poor returns in real estate, Cathay wants to diversify and is interested in reclaiming lost customers. Cathay soon offers Tsingtao a bridge loan at very favorable rates, and Andrea receives a generous bonus at her next review.”

Most of us are likely envious of the Knowledge Web Andrea was able to draw upon, and in fact knowledge management is big business. Andrea’s TheBrain™ software is actually in use by many Fortune 100 companies, and by agencies like the Department of Defense and the CIA. Most of us, however, create elaborate electronic file folder systems full of reports, news stories, and websites that we’re sure we’ll need in the future. A good substitute? Not even close, and when we do need information we’re often left searching the internet for “that great piece” we vaguely remember seeing six months before. Unfortunately, when it comes to a topic like climate change, almost any climate-related search term will generate millions of hits. That’s the antithesis of individual-specific actionable knowledge.

The actionable knowledge we need is almost certainly out there. Woodrow Wilson supposedly said that “there is no idea in our heads that has not been worn shiny by someone else’s brain.” It’s a great quote, whoever said it. There’s almost no question that the internet holds what you need, already “worn shiny by someone else’s brain.” The problem is finding it! As reflected in knowledge management expert Carla O’Dell musing: “If only we knew what we know.”

Those simple seven words go a long ways toward explaining why we’re headed for between 3.5 and 6.0 degrees C of climate change, a level of change that will wreak havoc on the natural and managed systems upon which human societies depend.  It’s not that the information and actionable knowledge we need to make better decisions about climate change doesn’t exist – we’re deluged with climate-relevant information. The problem is that the relevant decision-makers either never encounter “their” actionable knowledge, or have forgotten it by the time they need it.

Let me give you a personal example. I saw a news story today that referred to the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition’s recent Report on the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices. Since carbon pricing is an area of personal expertise, I figured I should track it down. The report sounded familiar, and when I found the document I even recognized its cover. But I had no recollection of whether I’d read the report.

But like Andrea and the CIA, I have a Knowledge Web built with TheBrain™ software. The Climate Web links together more than 1,000 books, 2,000 videos, 15,000 reports and articles, 25,000 news stories, 3,000 websites, 2,000 topical experts, as well as 10’s of thousands of individually extracted ideas and graphics. 1,500 index entries instantly take me to potentially actionable knowledge on any climate topic, basically putting the entire topic of climate change into my short-term memory.  Calling up the Report of the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices, it turns out I had read it and linked 30 key ideas and graphics into the Climate Web’s Carbon Pricing Deep Dive. Replicate that thousands of times and you’ll have a sense of how the Climate Web beats Google on actionable knowledge.

For a visual introduction to what I’m talking about, this video explores how the Center for Climate and Security’s recent report, “Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene,” is integrated into the Climate and Security Deep Dive of the Climate Web.



In Part 1 of this blog series I used the metaphor of a 1,000,000 piece jigsaw puzzle to represent the climate change challenge, and urged people really wanting to make a difference on climate change to go to “jigsaw puzzle school.” The Climate Web IS jigsaw puzzle school, and we’ve kept it public access to facilitate faster completion of the puzzle. The web-based version of TheBrain™ software through which you can access the Climate Web, however, is less powerful than the desktop software. To accomplish the actionable knowledge miracles that Andrea was able to, or that we’re able to with the Climate Web, you’d want to develop your own Knowledge Web “fitted” to your own brain.

If you’re working on climate change, however, we can greatly simplify the process. We can use topical modules from the Climate Web to help you construct your own Knowledge Web, saving you hundreds or even thousands of hours. After that you’re free to take your Knowledge Web in any direction that makes sense for you.

Helping you build your own Knowledge Web is just one of many ways the Climate Web can help advance your climate-relevant goals. Whether you’re an individual, a business leader, a researcher, a philanthropist, or a consultant/lawyer, the Climate Web is an unparalleled actionable knowledge resource for climate issues, climate risks, and climate solutions. If you’re involved in any way with the 1,000,000 piece climate change jigsaw puzzle, you should take advantage of the Climate Web.


This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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