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NSTA article on systems thinking

I thought folks might be interested in this piece published recently by the president of NSTA -- the National Science Teachers Association, which is the professional association of science teachers in the US.

The content shows similar thinking to what En-ROADS is based on. I am going to write the author to see if he knows about En-ROADS.

That is an interesting article.  Thank for sharing, and for reaching out to the author.

Pattern matching is a really powerful mental tool, but sometimes we've found it doesn't work well for SOME climate change dynamics. For some, dynamics like "Higher concentrations means higher temps", it works well.  For others, like "Emissions are directly linked to concentrations", it doesn't.

For instance, Prof Sterman (MIT) has a worksheet that he used and then co-authored a paper.  

Worksheet is attached (at the end of this post).

The peer-reviewed article is here:

But to include the flow of the worksheet here, it gives the participant the following historical information:

Historical Emissions:


Led to Historical Concentrations:


The worksheet then asks the participant to solve the following problem:

In the future we want Concentrations to stabilize like this:


Then what should future Emissions do?


Punchline of the article:  Most people fail at this task, which is important because it actually violates physics and conservation of mass.

Hope you find this interesting and helpful.


We have an iOS app that also speaks at the issue –– that many people think that flattening emissions will flatten concentrations (and, hence, temperature).  The physics say otherwise.  As many on this forum, who are familiar with the climate issue, know, stabilizing temperature takes reducing emissions significantly to bring carbon emissions and carbon removals back into balance. 

We took this iOS app to UN conferences and asked attendees to give it a shot. The results ten years ago were pretty mixed -- I assume today they would be better.

You can find our  iOS app Climate Pathways here:

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