Lead academic Dr Diego Gomez introducing the 2017 Climate Change Challenge
Climate Change: Mitigation, Adaptation or Geo-Engineering?
This is an exciting and thought-provoking challenge, exploring technological and societal challenges, and environmental impacts and implications associated with global climate change.
It is widely accepted amongst scientists that climate change is occurring. 2016 was the warmest year globally, and the last three years have been the hottest temperatures on record. People around the world are at risk of the consequences of climate change, including sea level rise, droughts, floods and extreme weather events. This could have a knock on effect in areas such as food and water security, health and poverty.
Within this challenge, you will work with students from other disciplines in small groups, taking an introductory look at policy and technological solutions available for climate change, with mentoring and feedback from some of the University of Exeter’s notable researchers. You will come up with your own student-led project, which is both creative and scientific, addressing an area of climate change. This could include, but is not limited to, raising education and awareness of climate change, making an impact on climate change locally, or looking at what can be done on a global level to minimise the negative effects of climate change.
You will also have the opportunity to hear from a range of external experts, including climate scientists, and world-leading academics.
In 2017, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change authors participated in two events as part of Grand Challenges. The first was a networking lunch, giving students the opportunity to interact with and ask questions to these world leading climate scientists. The second was an evening public event, where members of the public and an expert panel discussed the 1.5 degree target with climate scientists. Students also attended talks by Leo Hickman (Director of Carbon Brief) and experts from the University and the Met Office.
Students took inspiration from these talks when working on their group projects. Each group was set a unique challenge such as creating a video to ‘debunk’ climate change myths and trying to make it go viral, or deciding how $100 billion could best be spent to tackle climate change. One group was tasked with creating an app to engage and educate primary school children on climate change. As part of this, the students visited Bickleigh Primary School to carry out market research, and pitched their final ideas to the school children towards the end of the week. Some students also worked with local organisation Exeter City Futures, who are aiming to make Exeter energy independent by 2025, and they came up with ideas that could support this aim.
Students created outputs as part of their projects, and these included videos, posters and app prototypes. On Friday morning, they presented their work to an expert panel and other students on their Challenge. They then showcased it later in the day at an exhibition in the Forum, which was attended by students from all Challenges, University staff and members of the general public.
The timetable for the 2017 Challenge shows how the week was structured.
These are the outputs that students on the 2017 Challenge produced.
Climate App: Ecoding
Students in this group carried out market research with primary school children, and as part of this designed a climate change board game to engage them in the topic. They then created a prototype for an app to educate the children about climate change. In the app, the children are immersed in their own virtual world, which is effected by their real life behaviours. The child ticks off environmentally friendly tasks that they have carried out in the last week, and doing these lowers the in game CO2 concentration and decreases the rise of the sea levels. Completing tasks also unlocks mini games and rewards the child with points that they can use to upgrade their virtual world.
Climate App: Earthlings
Students in this group carried out market research with primary school children and members of the IPCC, and then created a prototype for an app to educate them about climate change. The app is a game with the goal to keep the character called the ‘earthling’ alive, which is done by producing as much energy and as little carbon as possible. The levels of both are influenced by decisions made within the game. There will also be missions within the game that link to real world events, where the child has to decide how to respond. The students hoped this would be a fun way for children to engage with climate change. They also produced a promotional poster.
Climate Resilience: Board Game
Students in this group focused on how global land use could be developed in a resilient way. They researched two specific areas: carbon dioxide storage and urban land use. Within these areas, they looked into a series of different case studies of high level techniques to tackle the effects of climate change. They created a snakes and ladders inspired board game, with different case studies round the outside of the board which relate to the different colours on the squares. This informs the players about different issues relating to climate resilience as they are playing the game.
Climate Resilience: Brown Bears
Students in this group looked at the very real consequences of climate change within an unusual and little known environment. There are increasingly more common bear attacks in Northern Japan, due to their dimensioning natural habitats as a result of climate change. The students came up with solutions with how to address this issue, and presented them by creating a poster and a stop-motion animation film. For the film, they assembled a makeshift filming studio in a dark room, and purchased some green card to simulate grass, and a number of make-your-own-animal playdough sets. They sourced other props from around the university, including getting lego bricks from the on campus nursery.
Climate Myths: Group 1
Students in this group looked for ways to increase climate change awareness. They decided to take an approach that would simultaneously engage the younger generation and combat popular climate change myths. In order to do this, they created a video, structured in a similar way to the famous Jimmy Kimmel celebrity tweet clips. A quote that displayed a misconception about climate change was followed by a response from an expert who corrected the myth. They chose to feature members of the IPCC as credible experts. They felt that this humorous video would attract younger audiences, whilst also being factual and raising awareness about climate change.
Climate Myths: Group 2
Students in this group produced a video with the aim of educating people about climate change and correcting myths. They wanted to engage a student audience, and so felt that they wanted to make it light-hearted and humorous to appeal to that age group. They designed a sketch that challenged issues around the misconceptions and used a pre-drinks setting to make it more relatable to fellow students. The second part of the video featured interviews with IPCC experts, which discussed the issues raised within the first half of the video in an accurate and informative way. The students felt that the video was both comical and educational.
Climate Budget: Tree
Students in this group were given the challenge of deciding the best way to allocate $100billion funding to tackle climate change. They decided to divide their money up into four main areas – adaption, energy, transport and geo-engineering. They felt that energy and transport were important areas in which to spend a large amount of money, because they contribute to 70% of the carbon dioxide that is produced. They also allocated a significant chunk to geoengineering because they felt that it was necessary to mitigate the immediate effects of climate change. Their presentation discusses their ideas in more detail, and they created a jigsaw and jigsaw video to show their proposals in a more creative way.
Climate Budget: Dolphins
Students in this group were given the challenge of deciding the best way to allocate $100billion funding to tackle climate change. They researched eight different areas where they could spend their money, and also carried out interviews with IPCC experts to get their views. The interviews influenced their decision making process, as feedback from the IPCC experts was that changing public perceptions was particularly important. This influenced their decision to invest more into education and research. Their poster discuss their ideas in more detail. They also made a short video of quotes from the IPCC experts talking about their priorities.
Exeter City Futures - The Sustainable Family: Exeter Green Family
Exeter City Futures tasked students in this group to design a platform to help a typical Exeter family reduce their carbon footprint. The students designed an app called “Exeter Green Family.” The app was split into four main sections: transport, appliances, recycling and shopping, and it aimed to motivate behavioural change in each of these areas. The app works out financial and health benefits based on user inputted activity/usage and also provides information about local services the user may be unaware of. Each section of the app also has an educational game, to help engage children. Their presentation, video and poster provide further detail.
Exeter City Futures - The Sustainable Family: Uniwatt
Exeter City Futures tasked students in this group to design a platform to help students reduce their energy footprint as a step towards a sustainable world. They designed “UniWatt”, an app which allows students to log/track their energy usage, and anonymously compare against other users providing a competitive incentive to saving the planet. The students also hope to implement several other features to improve energy usage, such as integration with home smart-meters and surveys to suggest possible improvements to the University and the local Council. Their poster and presentation provide further detail.
Enquiry groups are the subtopic of the challenge that students focus on for Grand Challenges Week. These are the enquiry groups that ran in 2017.
Led by Dr Hywel Williams, students will design an educational app to engage primary school children with climate change. Children will help the group define the brief and judge the success of the app!
What is the best way to build the resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change? How do we ensure the growing population gets enough water, energy and food to thrive in the changing climate? Students in 2016 worked with Dr Diego Gomez.
Debunking myths surrounding climate change. Can you identify the truth and communicate it clearly and engagingly? Students will present this information in a variety of ways. Some students will design a climate change communication campaign that will go 'go viral' on Facebook or Twitter. This group will work with Dr Anna Harper, and will have an opportunity to interact with climate change experts contributing to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Can we spend our way out of the problem? If Bill Gates gave you $100 Billion to fix the climate, how would you spend it?
Working with Exeter City Futures and using the data available in the Energy Independence 2025 Report, students will develop a model which will allow a typical family to determine the changes they would need to make to become energy independent by 2025. This enquiry group is unique in that it has the potential to create a tangible legacy. Exeter City Futures can fulfil an output’s potential and see it through until the end by making it an active project. Students will work with Kerry Deacon and Gosbert Chagula.