As World Leaders Seek a Deal in Paris, A Stanford Scientist and Technology Startup Tackle Climate Change from the Bottom Up
New Apps Empower and Reward Citizens to Take Action on Climate Change
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Scientists predict that 2015 will soon pass 2014 as the hottest year in history, by far. As global temperatures continue to rise, expectations are high that world leaders will finally commit to a global agreement to fight climate change when they meet in Paris this fall. But even if a deal emerges in Paris, it will likely not come close to limiting climate change to 2°C (3.6°F) of warming, a level which scientists warn will have catastrophic consequences.
“The best deal possible in Paris will still only get us halfway to solving climate change,” says Ian Monroe, who teaches courses on climate change and sustainability at Stanford University. “Climate change is a massive collective action problem that we all contribute to through our lifestyle choices, including our diet, shopping, transportation and home energy decisions,” continues Monroe. “Governments can play a role in making our choices cleaner, but we also need incentives in the right places to nudge us towards cleaner choices on a daily basis.”
Working in Silicon Valley, Monroe began researching if sustainability data and social networking technology could combine to become a tool to fight climate change. Out of his research came Oroeco (oroeco.com), a web and mobile service turns personal climate action into a rewarding social game.
“Oroeco’s mission is to make solving climate fun and rewarding for everyone,” says Linda Chen, who’s leading product development for Oroeco. “The consequences of climate change are scary,” continues Chen. “But gloom and doom don’t motivate most people. Most of us are much more motivated by immediate actions with immediate rewards. Oroeco tracks your personal climate footprint, compares you to your friends, then gives you a list of personal climate actions with virtual and real-world prizes.”
The strategy seems to be working, as Oroeco has already to grown to users in 139 countries, according to Monroe. Oroeco is also partnering with Al Gore, Pharrell Williams and other celebrities in the 24 Hours of Reality and Road to Paris campaigns, which aim to engage the public in climate action ahead of the United Nations deal.
“The international response to Oroeco has been amazing,” says Maddie Wiener, who’s managing Oroeco’s community. “Oroeco users are excited to see that they’re not acting on climate alone, but that they’re part of a global community.”
“We’re now about to release a 2.0 version of Oroeco that makes climate action even more fun and social,” says Eric Hulburd, who’s engineered much of Oroeco’s core climate tracking and social media integration. “There’s a lot more we still want to do to make Oroeco better, but we’re already really excited about where we’re heading. Oroeco can play a big role in helping solve climate change from the bottom up.”
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