This is part of a series exploring how collective intelligence can create a better world. Read the whole series here.
Think you’ve landed on the solution to the global warming crisis, if only you could get someone to hear you out? Tired of your friends and family suddenly remembering “other plans” and darting off the moment you start laying out your glorious ideas? Finally, there's an alternative to tormenting your near-and-dear: Climate CoLab, a project from the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, wants to provide you -- yes, you! -- with a listening ear, through a platform that makes it easier for everyone to come up with solutions to climate change.
Why are they so interested in what you have to say? Because, as Climate CoLab principal investigator Thomas Malone sees it, top-down approaches like international treaties or national legislation don't seem like they're going to get us out of our planetary pickles. So he’s decided to see what us regular schmos can come up with, instead.
By crowdsourcing ideas on everything from enacting carbon taxes to reducing bus emissions and designing more efficient buildings, Climate CoLab hopes to dig up “new angles, new perspectives, new ways of looking at things,” the lab's community manager, Laur Fisher, says.
CoLab staffers do this by organizing contests where anyone can submit a creative climate solution. Then they call on expert judges to weed through and pull out the schemes that actually might be feasible (because, as Malone explains, while crowds are very good at coming up with out-of-the box ideas, we're not always very practical). Finally, the judges choose one set of winners, then turn to crowdsourcing again, letting users vote for their favorites. This not only creates a way for more people to get involved, but could also hone in on which solutions are socially viable, because, while groups of people aren't necessarily the most analytical, “crowds can do a good job of assessing what crowds want,” Malone says -- an important thing to know when trying to garner support in order to put a plan into action.