Measurement Tools

If we cannot measure it, we cannot know how near or far we are from it

This morning arrived as have so many others in my life
birds singing in the morning dawn,
the quiet hush of a city where men and women have not yet stirred,
the color of the sky magically metamorphisizing before my eyes
from the dark night to light blue

The air is warm, just the right temperature
and it feels like another ordinary day
like the many hundreds, thousands before

The problem with our current crisis
is that it is imperceptible
What did it feel like
just before entire species vanished?
just before entire civilizations died out?

The problem with our current crisis is that it is an imperceptible one. Those who knew the problem of imperceptible crisis, are no longer with us today to warn us. Archeaologists have put together the pieces of the puzzle, however to tell us the story of how many civilizations have failed. They have failed because the leaders did not take seriously the signs given to them by the wise sages of the civilization – until it was too late.

Today, once again, humanity is confronted with the situation of many signs all around us. The scientists are warning policy makers the world over but their warnings are falling upon deaf ears. So it appears as if human civilization is set to undergo another tragedy. It’s different this time, however. This time, it is not one or two isolated cultures or tribes who are at risk of collapsing but our entire global human civilization. If such a collapse occurs, the rebuilding will be monumental. Our society is so specialized that with all of this specialized knowledge gone, it will need to be rediscovered again.

The  looming crisis is a complex system encased within a nest of positive feedback loops of spiritual, economic, social and environmental dimensions. With something so complex, how do we even begin to tackle it? There is a great deal of environmental awareness today, but without measuring where we are and what differences our actions will make, there is no way to know how close we are getting to succeeding. Measurement, therefore is crucial to creating a concrete pathway to solving these problems.

Global Calculator Tool

The Global Calculator Tool is a free online tool developed by a multi-disciplinary global team which allows users to model different climate change scenarios.  The Global Calculator website says:

It is a model of the world’s energy, land and food systems that allows users to explore the options for reducing global emissions to 2050, and to see the climate consequences of these choices to 2100. It is a free, interactive and open-source tool that helps you to understand the link between our lifestyle, the energy we use, and the consequences for our climate.

The Calculator is aimed at anyone interested in exploring what a low-carbon world could look like, but may particularly be of interest to people working in business, government, NGOs or university students. The Calculator has been funded by the UK Government’s International Climate Fundand the EU’s Climate-KIC, and has been built by an international team from many organisations.

The basis of the Calculator model is an Excel spreadsheet, which has a more user-friendly, web-based interface. The full Excel model is available to download so that you can examine how it works and the assumptions that have been used. It is a relatively simple engineering-based scenario model, which means that:

  • it models the world’s energy supply and demand by modelling physical units such as land, cars and power plants
  • the user chooses the characteristics, deployment and use of these different technologies
  • it makes no economics-based assumptions about the way people’s behaviour changes in relation to supply and demand
  • it doesn’t automatically optimise the energy system based on price or any other factor.

These pages explain the methodology used in the Global Calculator, and provide details about how each sector is modelled. We have tried to include as much information as possible as part of our commitment to being open and transparent.

Visit the Using the Calculator section for guidance on how to use the tool, and the Developing the Calculator section to find out more about the history of the project. You can also visit the Insightspage to see what the Calculator tells us about what we need to do to keep climate change below a 2°C rise in temparature.

global calculator tool

 

If each of us is being asked to make life changing decisions that impact our entire lifestyle, we need to ask very profound questions and get as much certainty in their answers as possible. The most important question is this –

As a society which heavily relies on dwindling fossil fuels, where manufacturing continually depletes non-renewable resources and where our disregard of the environment creates dangerous levels of pollution, what is our future?

It is fair to say that today, we face a variety of challenges never before experienced in our human history. It is more important than ever that citizens know exactly what the challenges are that face them. Only then can we know the appropriate action to take, both as individuals and as members of society.

Responding at Every Level of Society

In the modern world, citizens are members of societies which have large, centralized government and business structures. Centralized political, economical, manufacturing, food production, health care, transportation and waste management systems which have evolved to efficiently take care of the needs of the citizenry. However, these systems that sustain us also makes us dependent on them for our survival. There are few people in the modern world, especially in the developed countries, who have the knowledge, material and means to survive comfortably on their own. In a global economy, developing countries are also increasingly dependent on developed countries through important economic connections such as loans and trade ties. Hence, almost everywhere our individual fate is tied to global trends of centralized power.

It is clear that we need to act on two levels, both as a society and as an individual. Unless we quickly unite and vote for the right policy changes, business-as-usual will only worsen a very serious situation. At the same time, we must act individually at our home and community level to ensure that our immediate family is prepared and resilient to the uncertain future.

In order to take the right course of action, we need to base our decisions on the best knowledge available. This page collates appropriate data sources, studies and analysis tools that allow users to then analyze and make an make informed decision about the future.

The US Government MATCH Open Data Tool

On May 9, 2013, by executive order of president Obama, the US government adopted a new government wide open data policy and opened the door to its research data. The interagency US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) launched a new online tool that promises to accelerate research relating to climate change and human health—the Metadata Access Tool for Climate and Health, or “MATCH.”

MATCH will enable new scientific insights in the public health and climate science communities. It is a publicly accessible digital platform for searching and integrating metadata—standardized contextual information—extracted from more than 9,000 health, environment, and climate-science datasets held by six Federal agencies.

  1. CDC,
  2. EPA,
  3. NASA,
  4. NIH,
  5. NOAA,
  6. USGS,

and based on input from members of the academic community, and professional groups such as:

  • the American Public Health Association
  • American Meteorological Society

Many of the metadata records now retrievable through MATCH—and their corresponding datasets—were previously in difficult-to-access agency archives or stored in non-interoperable formats.

MATCH is an important addition to the growing stores of datasets and data-processing tools being made available in open and machine-readable formats by the Obama Administration and whose expansion will accelerate under the Executive Order and Open Data Policy.

International Futures Data

The data generated in this section is from the International Futures modelling software developed at the University of Denver. More information is found here.