Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Selling in Eco driving to the public

Hi!

Eco-driving, green driving or whatever one might call it is something we have written about several times on this page. If it isn’t possible to commute without a car where you live, it is at least a good idea to make sure you get as much as possible out of every litre/gallon of fuel and thus reducing your CO2 emissions, right? You might even save some money. Or a lot depending on your current style of driving.

The problem is that when gas prizes have historically been low, especially in oil producing countries (I’m looking at you USA), no one have really bothered learning this driving style. Why bother when a gallon of milk is more expensive then fuel after all. And there is no real hard proof of global warming, right? That’s just those eggheads in white lab coats and hippies speaking. Right?

Buuuuuuut! Times are changing. Fuel is getting more and more expensive. People complain and pay their last money at the pump. It is getting more and more apparent that something is happening with our climate. While many are uninterested in changing climate and warmer summers and colder winters, saving money is interesting to anyone. This was discussed at a transportation conference during may in California by experts from scientific institutions as well as industry representatives.

The conclusion; sure it is a good time to try to introduce eco-driving to the public. We have the economical incentive, environmental incentive and lots of new technology to play with.  But there are lots of stuff we don’t know about drivers behaviour which need to be researched first.

I agree with this. Eco-driving requires a special set of mind. You will have to plan ahead, be careful and think of what you are doing. The ride should be smooth with only the absolute necessary stops on the way. So is it just for smart people? Well no. Anyone can do it. But most people don’t know the benefits or the technique. Or have the patience to try. I have had cars switch lane to pass me at a red light, only to have to step on the breaks when they are past me more then once. Not exactly green and planned behaviour.

Tailpipe emissions from a cold start - Wikipedia commons

So what is the solution? Well, look at the benefits. Should eco-driving be named econo-driving as is suggested in the article above? I say why not. Saving money is always tempting, and making every drop of fuel count is getting more and more important. In doing so, you have less emissions. The environment is happy as well as the purse. Mandatory eco/economy driving classes for drivers licence education? We have that here in Sweden, but you still see people speeding towards red lights, hitting the breaks, standing still and then making a burnout trying to get up too speed as fast as possible.

Would new tech be a way to encourage green behaviour? I don’t know. Having the GPS point out which road has the best possibility of green driving may very well be something for all the technique interested people around the world. Displays showing current and best fuel consumption as well as current CO2 emissions may be something as well. But will this really change anything? Will people become greener drivers because a piece of tech says so?

As you can understand, this is just speculations on my part right now. I literary have no idea of how to change an uninterested persons mind, especially on such a touchy subject as driving style. A survey made by a newspaper here in Sweden showed that 80% of the drivers who answered thought they were “above average” drivers (and most of them are most certainly NOT above average:P). I am sure it is the same in other countries as well.

Hopefully eco-driving will not be something “special” in the future. Everybody will do it and not think anything about it. Well, the best would be if everyone took the bike to work. Or the bus. Or the train Or walked. Hopefully those will be the most common modes of transportation in the future.  But we are used to driving, and this is a good(ish) way to at least reduce the emissions a bit. Try it out. There are lots of guides out there on the net. It is fun, will save you some money and reduce your CO2 footprint a bit.

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Fredrik

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Top ten worst cities to commute in

You see it every day. Long lines of vehicles, moving slowly in a start/stop pace occupied by single drivers. All of them looks irritated. All of them looks stressed out. Traffic congestion is a huge problem both from a logistic and an environmental point of view. Start/stop traffic is a very wasteful way of driving, practically spewing out CO2 and particles as the engine of the car has to work hard on low gears. Not a green way to commute at all!

I came across this article during the morning stroll through my article feed. IBM recently made a quite large survey in several large cities across all continents . They asked some 8000 people questions about how long the commute usually take, traffic flow, price of gas and health issues.  And much much more. All this went into their index of how bad a city is to coping with the commute;

The Top 10 cities with the worst commute in the world:

  1. Beijing (99)
  2. Mexico City (99)
  3. Johannesburg (97)
  4. Moscow (84)
  5. New Delhi (81)
  6. Sao Paolo (75)
  7. Milan (52)
  8. Buenos Aires (50)
  9. Madrid (48)
  10. London (36)

-Andrew Nusca, smartplanet.com

Stockholm, Capitol of Sweden got the 20th place. If you live in one of these cities, then you probably spend a lot of time in traffic. All of these cities have one thing in common; they are large. Some of them are growing at a rapid pace, and the infrastructure can’t keep up. Economical growth have its backsides after all. As you can see, Mexico City is sharing the first place with Beijing. The interesting thing is that Mexico City’s employees are using Commute Greener! and are getting great results. A while ago they even got the first Commute Greener! certificate for good results in saving CO2 and changing habits. I must say, good work! Especially since the city is one of the worst in the world to commute in.

If it is possible to commute in a greener way in such a city, why couldn’t it be possible in all cities around the world? Not being stuck in those long lines of frustratingly slow moving vehicles is something to strive for after all. That kind of traffic situation even affect the health of the driver a great deal with all the emissions, particles, stress, irritation and all that sitting still. Better to do a little research and try out a transit commute, or a bike commute once or twice a week. The new "Bus"

One problem for at least some of these cities are that driving is a status symbol. Being able to afford a car is a sign that you are doing well for yourself. Making money. Status. In these cities, like Beijing and New Delhi, the car culture is somewhat new. I grew up with pictures of massive amounts of cycling Chinese on the news every time a TV rapport from the east was on the air. Now we get rapports of mile long traffic stops instead. On the other hand, they do have some interesting ideas of how to combat the congestion, like those huge monster straddling buses. Better infrastructure, this or regular, will come even in booming cities but for it to be effective, people will have to use it. And as long as it is only poor people riding it won’t be a priority. Sad but true. And according to this study 95% of the asked Chinese’s said that the commute affect their health. Does that sounds sustainable?

The bottom line is that it is often possible to commute greener, even if you live in a large city. That will probably be the only sustainable way to commute in the future. It is better to do your share now, and benefit from better health while saving the planet. It is possible. The workers of Mexico City showed that.  Why not try it out. A little planning, some changes of habits and some endurance and you may very well start your greener commute really soon! It is worth it.

Fredrik

 

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How to reduce the impact of a long commute? A Californian example

Living a long way from work can be a pain, don’t you agree? Especially if you have to drive and get stuck in traffic every day, something which can turn a hour commute to something much longer and much more frustrating. How to solve that?

California's sticker that identifies the vehicle to meet the clean standard and grants it access to the HOV Lane - picture:Wikipedia Commons

Well, I red an interesting example of how over at greengrowthcc.com. California solved

that problem by trying to solve another. Environmentally friendly cars got access to the carpool lane through the “sticker program”. As far as I understand, smaller and less emitting vehicles could get access to the carpool lane, where you normally have to have several people in the car to drive, which is much faster due to less traffic. In doing so California struck a blow for making owning a “green” vehicle even more attractive. And long distance commuters got an even stronger reason to switch to a cleaner vehicle.

To me, this sounds like a great way to go. The best would be if people lived close enough to work so they could just hop on the old bike in the morning, but solutions like this can stimulate the car fleet to become cleaner. Which is a good thing. Driving is here to stay, so every possible measure to make it cleaner and lessen its impact is needed to stave of those nasty CO2 emissions. And particles. And all the carcinogenic stuff that comes with burning oil.

How to commute greener with bad public transportation access and a long commute can be a problem after all. It can be difficult to fathom how to clean it up and lessen the impact on your personal CO2 footprint. Faster lanes for cleaner vehicles and community carpools may very well be parts of the solution. That way you can still get to work but with less impact then it could have. Or used to have. Add in mandatory eco-driving classes during drivers license application and we might be on to something.

It is possible to green up the long driving commute without those lanes of course but they have acted as a stimuli for greener vehicles, and will continue to do so if the system would be expanded. Without them, why not try to plan the trips to avoid the worst of the traffic, pool up with some buddies also going to the same area, telecommute and adapt the theory of eco-driving. These  are all good ways to reduce your impact. It might not be as good as living closer to work, but it sure is better then nothing. Many shallow steams make a river, and one should never disregard even small changes. Like choosing to Commute Greener!

Fredrik

 

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Make it fun to change habits and going green will become more bearable

As stated earlier this week, CO2 levels are beginning to rise again. The International Energy Agency estimates that 80% of the CO2 rise until 2020 will come from already locked in sources, ie. new power plants and increased transportation. The goal of stopping global warming at 2 decrees Celsius is getting more and more out of hand. While it will be difficult to stop this development, we will have to work even harder to prevent the rise to become 2,5, 3 or even higher. All the more reason to get moving right away.

An employer can affect the employees a great deal, at least of how they behave at work. An example is Volvo Group’s environmental management system with its basic environmental course at the introduction for a new employee. Throwing a campaign to promote greener behaviour, including but not limited to the commute, is another good way to make people  think about and see for themselves the benefits of sustainable actions. Commute Greener! is of course a perfect tool for this, as the program not only visualize the commute pattern and tracks progress but also shows rewards in health and wealth as well as provide a way to compare and compete with others.

But running such a campaign can be rather tricky. It has to be well planned and executed with enough rewards to make it interesting, but still stay economical. Timing it to the winter or a similar period of bad weather may also act as a deterrent from participation. There are a lot to think about!

10:10 global recently released an article about how the HCR group made making sustainable choices bearable and fun. Environmental training in itself can have a negative ring to it. It is just more work on an already full schedule for many who are unaware or simply not interested. HCR’s marketer Simon Hood and the other at the head of the environmental program recognised that;

Getting employees’ buy-in is the most important part of the training as they are the ones that make the real impact – turning off the lights, printing less etc. I knew that we had to make the training fun, so at the beginning of December HCR held its first ever environmental awareness day.

In other words, they made something fun out of something that is often done as a routine. Combine that with freebies and competitions, they got the employees on-board for the ride. What’s to say that others couldn’t do the same?

During summer 2010 Commute Greener! ran a commute awareness campaign with Gothenburg City, resulting in more then 10 000 km with public transportation and almost as much gathered Zero Emission kilometres. One of the competing teams even managed to reduce their CO2 footprint from the commute by 2/3. This was the first major campaign we ran, and the experience from it is that if you make it fun enough, people will participate out of free will. Few won’t take up the challenge if they get a chance to win over the boss, or show that pesky “rival” department how much better they are. If you run the campaign for long enough, many will have developed a new habit. As long as the campaign is timed to a period of nice weather and the office isn’t located too far out of the city/there are good access to buses or trams, and the event is well planned and informed about for a while before, you may be able to really make a good impact on the local, regional and global environment. Who wouldn’t want that?

Commute Greener!

 

 

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CO2 Emissions on the rise again

CO2 emissions are on the rise again. The economical crisis made a dent in the global CO2 footprint, and with fewer industries running and fewer people driving, emissions of all kind went down. But now the economy is mostly back on track. Or getting there. It is business as usual again. And with that the CO2 emissions are back up. And rising. Steadily.

The International energy agency states that 2010´s CO2 emissions were on an all time high. 2011 will probably be even worse. The goal set in Cancun 2010 of staying on a total temperature rise of 2 decrees C is getting bleaker and bleaker. That much of the estimated rise in emission is from new power plants that is or will be built doesn’t exactly make the situation better.

Climate change and global warming are dangerous and very acute problems. It is time to do something against it. On international and national level our leaders will have to unite and come up with an energy and climate strategy that has some teeth. As it stands now, something radical will have to happen if we are to prevent climate change. Or at least dampen it.

But it is not only the politicians who have a responsibility in the struggle against our long time foe CO2. What we do on a personal level is just as important. Our choices and living conditions play a huge role in how big our Carbon footprint is. Take the One Tonne Life experiment for example. By driving an electric car, reducing meat consumption and living in an energy effective house, as well as a lot of other small choices the experiment family is now down to some 1,5 tonnes/year and person. Sweden has an average footprint of some 5-8 tonnes/year, which is quite a lot. Several countries have even larger footprints.

Technology is important. Greentech is a rapidly growing area. We are bombarded with new smart solutions, helpers, new ways to make energy, smarter cars, phones and information technology. Unfortunately this have bread a way of thinking that is based on the notion of better tech will solve anything. The airplane and energy sectors are very guilty of this. As is the transportation sector. And they are right. In part. To really get a better future we will have to change the way we live. As mentioned above it is possible with the right mindset, some determination and the right tech.

A really good place to start is to look at transportation patterns. An average Swedish car is rolling some 14 000 Km/year, and at least 1/4 of that, probably up to half of it, is totally unnecessary unplanned journeys. A lot of that comes from the commute as well. By choosing the bike or bus, or even our won feet for transportation we can do a lot to reduce our own CO2 footprint. And we must reduce it as much as we possibly can to save this planet. And we only got one. Let’s do all we can to keep it.

You as an individual can affect a lot. So why not do it. Start to commute greener and get in the habit of making green choices. See that it isn’t that difficult or bothersome to make green choices. Switch to low energy lights, stop printing paper unless you really must, insulate the house and buy locally produced grocery’s. Let’s get into the habit of choosing the green alternative and become more healthy as well. You as well as the planet will benefit from it.

Commute Greener! everyone!

Fredrik

 

 

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UNESCO promotes green commute options!

Green commuting have really gotten popular. The internet is full of magazines, blogs, discussions, products, videos and you name it with tips and information about how to get the everyday transportation less harmful for the environment. It has simply gotten popular and trendy to bike to work, or go by the bus. At least on the internet. I don’t know how many there are who are living as they speak (or write) but hopefully there are many.

This trend is interesting. For years authorities in most of the world have fought a mostly loosing battle to make people drive less, and thus reduce CO2, NOx, SO2 and particle emissions in urban areas. That is a huge health issue after all, and an environmental. Then green commuting suddenly gets popular. And said authorities have of course jumped on the chance to work towards sustainable development.

In the concept of sustainable development there are environmental, social and economical factors to take into account. Bicycle and public transportation are “cheap” and widely accessible to all layers of the society regardless of country. If you can’t afford to drive (and with these fuel prizes, who can) then you will have to look for other options, like the before mentioned bike or bus ride. And that in turn is good for the environment. An authority can only guide and inform about what good a green commute is. An employer can promote it through competition or rewards. But in the end, the individual will have to make the decision.

This is a short video found on youtube from UNESCO, an UN organization. Among other things they work with reducing poverty and for sustainable development, two very important tasks.

Pretty clear message, don’t you think? It is up to you if you want to get stuck in traffic or not. So choose the greener option and you will get there in time.

Commute Greener! everyone!

Fredrik

 

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Greening up your driving, another discussion about eco-driving

It is cold outside in Trollhättan, Sweden. It is raining. It is windy. In other words, it is a lousy day for an outdoor commute. I am stubborn as a mule, so I walked to work anyway, and home, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience. A day like this it is acceptable to drive. At least in my opinion. And if you have to drive, why not do it in an as green way as possible.

This is what is destroying our climate! Cut CO2 emissions by living greener!

The thing about a greener commute and Commute Greener! isn’t that as soon as you start you can’t ever drive again. It is about creating a new and more healthy and environmentally friendly habit. In other words,  you can drive now and then, but save it for when it is necessary. And do it in a green manner.

Driving is not the most eco-friendly mode of transportation there is. With a CO2 emission of 120 g/km for a small car to almost 300 g/km for a large one you will easily fill your CO2 quota for the week pretty fast. But there are several ways to reduce those emissions. Eco-driving is one such way. but there are several other things one can do to cut the emissions.

Green driving is all about reducing fuel usage. Lower fuel/mile/kilometer means lower emissions as less fuel is being combusted and transformed to energy. It is this combustion process that create CO2. First of all, pack the car in the right way and try to keep the weight doen. Make sure to remove heavy stuff that you won’t need. Extra weight mean extra fuel consumption. Roof boxes are huge wind-catchers and acts just like the air breaks on an airplane. In other words, remove it when not needed. The same is true for other unecessary stuff on the roof.

The choice of tires affect the fuel use more then one might think. The amount of friction, the quality of the material, and tire pressure all factors in how much the car have to work to move forward. Think about that when buying new ones.  Periodic maintainance is another thing. I know I have said this before. Many times. But it bears saying again.

The probably most fuel saving effort, beside switching to another car, is probably to plan ahead. See, that is a running theme on this blog. While driving, plan so you don’t have to stop at red lights. Start slowing down as soon as you see the red light and approach slowly. Make sure to do it smooth too. With practice you will seldom have to stop at all, and that will save a lot of fuel as well as making for a smoother ride. You see, the first gear is the strongest. It require a lot of juice to get going, thus drawing lots and lots of fuel. By planing away stops you can save a lot of gas in the long run.This can of course also be applied to crossings and walkways, roundabouts and just about any place where you might have to stop but can plan it away. Always drive on as high a gear as possible. If the first is the strongest gear, requiring more fuel the fifth is the weakest, thus requiring less fuel. Try to use it when driving somewhat fast. And be firm with your acceleration. This way of driving is called Eco-driving, and isn’t really a new concept. We have written about it now and then here on the blog before, but it bears repeating. If more drivers could use this quite simple technique instead of simply speeding ahead, hit the break, accelerate and speed ahead and then break again, lots of CO2 could be saved in the long run. And if you have an iPhone or other smart phone you can use an app to see your current consumption and emission rate. There are a couple of apps like that out there. Just don’t fiddle with the phone while driving, that’s dangerous.

There are also a lot of additives to put in the fuel tank out there which claims to reduce fuel consumption by X %. I would recommend taking a good look at it and what it is before letting any of that stuff near the car. Some may even work, but most are probably just pure garbage. Some of them may even clog up the pipes, making the car less effective in the long run. Be careful!

The Swedish Association of Green Motorists have a saying; “Inte Bilen under Milen”, roughly translated to “no car under 10 km” (one Swedish mile is 10 km). That is a sound saying. It is ok to drive now and then. Especially on a day like this. Or when you have heavier then usual bags to bring. Or when you have to arrive spotless and are on a tight schedule. Not just every day. Commute Greener! is all about establishing a new habit. It is still ok to use more emission heavy modes of transportation once in a while, when necessary, not just all the time.  Bicycling, walking, public transportation or car-pooling is still a better choice for the environment, but when you really have to by all means drive. But do it in a greener manner!

Fredrik

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Reduce parking spaces – Reduce traffic congestion?

Hi!

One problem in many cities around the world, a problem we have written quite a lot about here at www.commutegreener.com is traffic congestion. There are simply too many cars on the roads. Cities all around the world does what they can to reduce the number of active vehicles, but more and more get added to the traffic every year. It might seem like a hopeless struggle, but several strategies have been developed over time. The Boris bikes of London and similar bike share options are one part of the struggle, and information campaigns like the “No more ridiculous car journeys” of Malmö, Sweden, is another way to go. But in the end, reducing the number of vehicles on the roads may come down to making driving as unattractive as possible or otherwise keeping cars of the roads.

Let me explain. Driving in itself is not bad. Well it isn’t the best for the environment but having a car can be really convenient. Too convenient. Driving is comfortable. It is cheap, at least in many peoples minds. It is what most people are used too. But finding a parking space can be something of a problem. Much of the traffic in a city center is simply people looking for a place to park. Less parking spaces, or high costs makes driving less attractive and rises the attractiveness of alternative, greener means of transportation.

The City of Gothenburg have made quite a lot of experiments in this area. We have problems with bad air quality and inversion (poor air mixing and rising levels of pollutants in the air) during High air pressure. Noise is also a problem for those who live downtown. We can’t have people cruising around looking for parking spaces. To combat this behavior the city placed real time parking information on several of the larger roads. They also made sure to reduce parking possibilities as much as possible in places outside the big parking houses, giving bonuses too “green” cars to stimulate people to by those instead of carbon spewing monsters. And they have kept prizes quite high. As far as I know it have actually worked okay. Most people prefer to use public transportation or walk while downtown.

Another way to work with the problem of “parking cruising” is prizing and information. Let availability and demand set the prize of parking and let people use IT too find out what is available. Like in San Fransisco which is an interesting city. Several projects are ongoing to reach a sustainable society, and many of the solutions are quite… interesting. Like this;

“In some city neighborhoods, cruising makes up as much as 40 percent of all traffic. All this unnecessary traffic slows down buses, endangers cyclists and pedestrians, delays other motorists, and produces harmful emissions. The key to eliminating it is to get the price of parking right.” – Elizabeth Press on StreetFilms.org

Interesting solution, don’t you think? Reduce the number of vehicles on the roads by getting them to the parking spaces more quickly, thereby reducing cruising and saving CO2 as well as particles and other nasties. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.If someone from San Fransisco reads this and have tried the system, then feel free too drop a comment here, or to connect to us on facebook or twitter. It would be really interesting to hear first hand how this works in reality.

However you attack this problem at city level, the best way for the common man to affect the severe traffic problems of todays cities is to simply choose public transportation or to walk/bike. Taking the bike or the bus to work isn’t just about saving money and CO2 equivalents (a car or bus emit lots of GHGs, but to simplify it you recalculate them into the affect CO2 have on the climate. 1 unit of methane is for example 23 times as bad as CO2). You also help fighting this hated congestion, and don’t get stuck in mind numbingly slow traffic with all that comes with that. And you don’t have too cruise around for parking either!

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Fredrik

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Bikes for Hire; London

More and more cities around the world are setting up systems for bike sharing. With traffic congestion, increasing numbers of vehicles on the roads with following air pollution, getting people to choose sustainable transportation is getting more and more important. Bike rentals/sharing seems to become a more and more popular means to that end.

Gothenburg have the Styr&Ställ system. Its blue bikes are everywhere. This bike rental is simple and effective and although distances in Central Gothenburg are short people use the bikes. And Gothenburg isn’t unique in this effort. Another European City that have had great success with bike-sharing is London. London’s system, nicknamed the “Boris bikes”, have resulted in some 10 million kilometers recorded in six months. That equals a lot of saved CO2. If every big city in the world would have such a system, and got its people to use it, it would make for more living and comfortable cities as well as reducing the city’s CO2 emissions quite a bit.

The system seems quite effective. They seems to have gone all in with the implementation, starting out with a huge system on the go. In doing so they made sure that the accessibility for the public was huge from the beginning. A smaller system might very well have crashed and burned due to not being used. Not being able to leave the bike when you are finished with it, or not finding a bike as they are all out could really have acted as an deterrent. Someone must have sat down and really thought this through before launch. As far as I understand, the prizing is also quite flexible AND cheep for the user, especially for shorter trips. Such a system IS intended for shorter trips after all, the public transportation is for longer journeys.

The Boris bikes, or Barclay cycle hire as it’s real name is, isn’t done expanding either. 8000 bikes are intended at 14 000 docking stations when everything is finished. 8000 may seem like a small number in such a large city as London, but it is still one heck of an alternative if you have to move quickly through the city and don’t want to take the bus or the subway. And they already have 110 000 members.

In a big city, a bicycle can be quite a good way to get around. It is “green” of course, it is cheap and it is fast and comfortable. Not having to get stuck in traffic congestion during lunch or on your way to a meeting can be quite nice. If more people choose to take advantage of these bike rentals then maybe the number of vehicles on the roads may lessen, reducing the problem of traffic congestion and increase the environmental quality on a local scale. A really good thing, in the short and in the long run. It might also give birth to a system where biking is the natural way to get around in the city. Or at least something to consider for everyone when they are just going a couple of blocks too a meeting.

Good work London. Keep it up and continue to promote green, sustainable short distance transportation to the people!

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Fredrik

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Science and information revisited

There haven’t been enough (climate) science around here for a while now. We’ll have to do something about that…

Communication have been something that really caught my interest when I started working for Commute Greener!. I have argued for better scientific communication several times here on the blog, as well as at Gothenburg University (where I still study). Since communication is much about giving easy access and making information understandable  it is something really important, yet seems to be forgotten by the scientific community. Or at least by many of the participants in the community, there are of course outliers. There always are.

Science is guided by very strict rules. “Climate gate” was a kick in the groin for the trust of scientists. The risk increase that nobody believed in them anymore. Lots of deniers still roam around websites, posting links to various denial papers, mine papers for quotes to use and so on. But believe it or not, scientists like to play by the very strict rules set up for them. That is really good.

Let’s take an example. I don’t know if you read lots of scientific papers in whole. Let’s assume you haven’t. What you will see first is that the language is the same in almost every paper you pick up. Academic English may have overly complicated sentences everywhere. Unless you are very familiar with the field this may feel odd and is part of a dilemma for specific science and broader audiences. Not only does a text have a specific audience, there may be pictures that don’t mean squat to you but that others can read like a full length novel. The next thing is that it follows a pattern; intro/background, method, results, discussion, conclusion. Thanks to this pattern you know what you will find. Once you are into the style and lingo, it is quite easy to know what to search for. For conclusions, go to that part. Interested in how the experiment was done? Go to method etc. Nice and easy. For those who know this.

But when it comes to communicating these findings, everything seems to stop. Few are those who seem to be willing to take chances with the ways to communicate more widely. Pamphlets, maybe an article in a popular science paper or even a newspaper if the finding is big enough. Review articles and student literature. Sometimes even a 3 minutes report on TV. This should in my opinion be the most important part of science, communicating it to the masses. I get that it is difficult, but it should be doable.

I am by no means an expert at environmental communication, but I think part of the problem is the fact that reporting science without “dumbing it down” for the masses takes time to learn. Time “better spent” on more research. I think it is a matter off saying “let’s skip the numbers, what have we really found out”. Humans are emotional beings. Why not use that? Show us how this is relevant to us. This is part of the reason I like Commute Greener! as a tool. It takes the complexities of everyday transportation into a movement that make lots of people actually change behaviors by setting a target, seeing the progress and sharing experiences. Instead of getting stuck and thereby risking that people see everything as too difficult or even totally missing the problem it is possible to encourage positive actions. Part of this is to share communication in a a number of ways. You see your emissions, and how you can affect them. It gives CO2 a face in fuel cost savings, a Health Index, a tree saving effect etc. Something that most of us can relate too. Suddenly something difficult become more simple. Do you really need all the knowledge of light spectra’s, wave lengths of the atoms, the complex wind and sea models and all the juicy science stuff to see how this relate to you and how you can affect it?

The point I am trying to make is that maybe it is worth taking the time to share the science through broader communication, make it emotional, simplify and even forget the statistics for a while. To simply focus on HOW the data should be presented as much as what it means. Randy Olson, a marine biologist turned film maker summarized what I am trying to say at his blog last week.

I think we’ll leave it at that. Have a nice easter everyone, and remember to Commute Greener!

Fredrik

btw, why not pipe in at facebook and give us a like! or try our Facebook app when you are at it.

 

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