Congratulations to Richard Alley and Veerabhadran “Ram” Ramanathan who will share the 2009 Tyler Prize for environmental achievement. When asked by Andrew Revkin of the NY Times what comes next, Alley said:
We know so much about climate science, and environmental science in general, and the gap between the knowledge of the scientific community and the general community is so large, and so much misinformation is in circulation, that the leading task now is probably education and outreach. We need to provide people, including policymakers, with the knowledge background that will allow them to do their jobs better.[my emphasis in bold]
As I’ve described throughout this blog, we’re only now (!) emerging from the energy measurement “stone age“. There are many ways to address this knowledge gap using information systems, such as viagranular energy usage measurement, social networks, and real-time visualization (what about a computer widget floating on the desktop that displays atmospheric CO2, polar ice volume, ocean currents?). We need more research into these issues to understand how IS can enable us to capture new micro and macro measures related to environmental sustainability, and how that data can be repackaged and fed back to those who need it to better understand the action-reaction cycle and ultimately change human behavior and decision making. (And we need to do it quickly!) Might the gap to which Alley refers be bridged, at least partly, in this way?