In Pursuit of A Mental Model For Climate Change

Surya Tiwari | April 23, 2018

As a mountaineer, my explorations have taken me to the mountains in Alps, Andes, Himalayas and beyond. If you have seen the glaciers at world’s highest mountains, you know climate change is real. The breathtakingly beautiful glaciers on Kilimanjaro which survived over 11,000 years are on the brink of extinction.

Shrinking glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro, highest mountain in Africa

On my Mount Elbrus expedition in Russia, our team battled the worst storms the mountain had ever seen. With the shrinking glaciers, the routes have changed, the crevasses are more prevalent, and avalanches more frequent. On Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, we struggled against the high winds, snow and storms brought by a particularly strong El Niño. At the same time, the glacier basins seen from higher camps have all shrinked and receded. The story is no different at any mountain on the planet – extreme weather, shrinking glaciers, changing ecosystems and dangerous climbing conditions.

How do we wrap our heads around such facts? How can we better understand the world we live in? What mental models do we need to understand the effects of climate change? And how long can we deny it?

Climbers in storm on Mount Elbrus, highest mountain in Europe

There is a lot of academic work done on how human activities are contributing to climate change. But scientific and quantitative reasonings are abstract to masses. We need narratives which people can associate with. Not many care about global average temperature. But we are all witness to the rise in the extreme weather and climate events around us in the last decade – the hurricanes, bomb cyclones, droughts, floods, lethal heat waves in middle east and much more. We are living in a new normal.

Climate change is complex as it is, and our models are embedded in multilayer scenarios with political, sociological, cultural and emotional dimensions. It is hard to understand and approach this kind of horror on planet. We need to unify voices across multiple disciplines and dispense them in a way people can understand. We need the perspectives of climate scientists, environmentalists, modelers, designers and architects. Under the same roof, we need artists, filmmakers, and media experts to translate these voices into compelling stories.

Receding glacier basins on Mount Aconcagua,
the highest mountain in South America

At Interlock Media, we are committed to building such platform. Climate Media Engine is an attempt to curate climate stories from around the world, giving voices to multiple disciplines, mobilizing storytellers and ultimately influencing the decision makers. Climate Media Engine is an endeavor to raise awareness and at the same time reflect and understand the changing world we live in today. We are building narratives which people can relate to. Climate Media Engine is our pursuit of giving everyone a better mental model for climate change.

Help us build Climate Media Engine!


About the author: Surya is a graduate student at MIT Sloan School of Management pursuing his MBA with Sustainability Certificate. At Interlock Media, he works as a corporate counsel and focuses on Climate Media Engine. He is a high-altitude mountaineer with numerous climbing expeditions across five continents. He can be reached at [email protected]