- Note: This application was originally submitted by the applicant via a Google document due to a technical issue with the application portal; this page was generated on behalf of the applicant by a member of the WikiCred team.
|Increasing research + output of credible information on climate change action.
|A WikiCred 2022 Grant Proposal
|Research + Output
- What is your idea?
We propose a pilot project forming a multi-organizational collaboration to share literature research and results in the realm of climate change, the most critical issue to exist for our planet, focusing specifically on the actions public citizens can take to fight it. The research project would take place within and help expand the current WikiProject Climate Change (PCC; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Climate_Change).
As discussed more under the next question, massive climate action is needed within the next 10 years to prevent catastrophic levels of change to our environment.(1) Millions of people are joining organizations (e.g., the Sunrise Movement)(2) and are seeking information on HOW to take action, from youth to parents to retirees and from diverse cultures, global regions, and prosperities. Along with government and industry action, every action an individual takes counts towards the cultural, systemic, and environmental changes needed to protect our planet; yet some actions can be far more impactful than others. For example, impact often depends on how “contagious” (3) a behavior might be among people, and on how much it actually changes infrastructure, regulations (4), etc.; an action may even cause a backlash.(5) The degree of impact also depends on the personal situations of the ‘activist,’ so presenting not only carbon emissions saved, but the pros, cons, and variations behind actions is important as well.
It is critical that news and media organizations discover and serve science-based information regarding actions so that diverse users may choose the best actions for their situations as soon as possible. Wikipedia, with its millions of readers, has one broad article on individual climate action: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individual_action_on_climate_change, with some useful offshoots. Hundreds to thousands of more climate actions exist – many already present in Wikipedia, but not always labeled or linked as such.
An important step towards serving this information would be a collaboration among three leaders in the field who do similar research, although we present information in different ways: Wikipedia; Climate Steps (CSteps; www.climatesteps.org), a specialized, science-based climate action information center; and CSteps’ partner Earth Hero (EH; www.earthhero.org), a climate action app creating an open database of climate actions.
Our goals are to share and publish well-researched, scientific data and information across the three platforms, to help engender trust in information, and to create climate action. This collaboration would include 1) literature research on actions by Wikimedians and CSteppers and creating a framework within the PCC for discussion, editing, and presentation; 2) further building CS and EH databases; and 3) inputting and linking climate actions into the three sites. These efforts would rapidly increase reader accessibility to credible resources and potential actions for all the three organizations.
Climate Steps, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed to answer the question “How can I fight climate change?” which in 2016 started becoming prevalent within and outside of social media.(6) We have now been conducting science-based, individual-action research for six years and has created several hubs of approachable, solid information via 1) story-telling articles or narrative summary pages (www.climatesteps.org), 2) social media posts (e.g., https://www.instagram.com/climate_steps/) and 3) guides (https://www.facebook.com/groups/climatesteps/learning_content). It also has created an active discussion forum with new, regional chat rooms (www.fb.com/groups/ClimateSteps).
The app Earth Hero was co-founded by the founder of CSteps in 2019 and both nonprofits have open-data policies and are information-sharing partners, with EH creating a large database of researched, practical climate actions that is available for access by other organizations (ex: https://climatesteps.org/specific-steps-to-take/review-eco-friendly-businesses/.) CSteps and EH combined have over 110,000 readers and users. A link to Earth Hero’s Letter of Support is above.
The wikis of WikiProjects and Wikipedia provide the supporting infrastructure and methodology for the formation of priorities and the curation of information, with the assistance of experienced volunteers, scientists, and action implementation experts. Supporting structures include the resource databases of CSteps and EH. The content shared in this pilot project would include: standardized topics, main messages (similar to what is found in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Vaccine_safety/Main_messages), references, written summaries of topics and specific actions, missing topics, and resources. This initial project will work on a food-related and agricultural climate actions that individuals can take. We suggest working within the current PCC Agriculture Task Force, but also creating a Food or combined Food/Agriculture task force.
By sharing, storing, and publishing well-researched, scientific data and information and engendering trust in information, we match the aim mentioned in the WikiCred CFP of “strengthen[ing] sourcing practices within Wikimedia projects by improving access to high-quality credible sources as well as the citations they are used to create.”
This partnership also helps meet the 2nd goal of the 2030 Strategic Direction for Wikipedia, (7) i.e., Knowledge as a Service: “To serve our users, we will become a platform that serves open knowledge to the world across interfaces and communities. We will build tools for allies and partners to organize and exchange free knowledge beyond Wikimedia. Our infrastructure will enable us and others to collect and use different forms of free, trusted knowledge.”
- Why is it important?
As noted in the International Panel on Climate Change’s 6th IPCC Report (8), the world needs to greatly mitigate climate change before 2030 to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius within this century; climate change at 2 degrees or more could lead to more extreme catastrophic climate changes on the planet. Climate change is the most timely topic there is. Immediate action is needed on by governments and industry – to change this pathway.
But as we have seen with the lack of acceptance by some cultures of COVID mandates, top-down decisions also must be supported by public understanding, acceptance, and implementation. It is at the household and local levels that the actual implementation of climate policies often will take place – the replacement of HVAC systems with heat pumps; the use of biking infrastructure and public transit; the creation of community resilience hubs; taking new job training; and the decision by office managers to change into more sustainable systems. A cultural change needs to occur to bring the entire human system into alignment with the planet and individual climate actions are critical. It is possible. A Climate Policy study shows that only 25% of people needed for an avalanche in perspectives. (9)
Unfortunately, fact-based online information that supports broad and diverse climate steps for individuals is often missing. When CSteps first formed in 2016, our review of the internet showed that CSteps was the first, easily discoverable site to focus on fact-based individual climate action - beyond just suggestions for personal sustainability and increased voter turnout.
Also unfortunately, there is a misunderstanding of the potential impact of individuals. Previous misinformation campaigns by industry put much responsibility for the environment and recycling on consumers (10) -- luckily this has been recently countered by many environmentalists who note facts showing that most responsibility should lie within industry and highly prosperous individuals. (11) Regrettably, this outlook often is mistaken by environmentalists, the media, and readers to mean that regular people/public citizens cannot take impactful action. Headlines often read: “Individuals can’t solve the climate crisis…,” even if the article mentions individual responsibility as needed. (12) It is often stressed instead that individuals should join groups to have scalable impact. (13)
These suggestions, however, are often based on the incorrect premise that individual action is the same as personal action (i.e., changing one’s diet, selective shopping, changing lightbulbs, …). Yet an individual, even an introvert at home, can often have a large-scale, strong impact through digital efforts, neighbors greatly influence neighbors, (14) and someone starting community-level actions can have a great impact. Wikipedia’s individual climate action page (15) already notes this issue and we are in agreement.
Useful actions include, for instance, commenting online on public regulations, volunteering to be part of a study team for a city planning committee, throwing a vegetarian neighborhood bbq with solar ovens, and being among the first to put up solar panels, thus forcing changes to utility infrastructure. These actions either actively cause 1) ripple effects; and/or 2) infrastructure changes. Citizen science is another example of an underutilized but strong climate action. By presenting diverse, science-based, impactful climate actions for individuals, this myth against individual action can be countered and action encouraged.
Science is being conducted on which actions are most important (e.g., the IPCC(16)). It is time to move the science to the forefront of action by documenting existing knowledge, especially in topics missing from our current sites, and making the results approachable to users. Our respective groups of CSteps, EH, and Wikipedia all have different formats, but the underlying, fact-based research and content is often the same. The more we share solid information that shows that regular folks can have a significant impact, the better.
- Link(s) to your resume or anything else (CV, GitHub, etc.) that may be relevant
https://www.linkedin.com/company/40863454/ (Climate Steps) https://www.linkedin.com/in/annetteolson/ https://www.facebook.com/ClimateSteps https://www.facebook.com/groups/climatesteps https://www.facebook.com/annette.l.olson https://www.instagram.com/climate_steps/
- Is your project already in progress?
Yes and no. CSteps began creating summary pages of climate actions (https://climatesteps.org/climate-steps/) in 2017 and has focused on describing practical actions and their relative impacts within topics such as politics and transportation. Our articles have emphasized how to take action, encouraging and mentoring users to use S.M.A.R.T. techniques (and yes, we often use the S.M.A.R.T. Wikipage in reference!), and we provide resources such as planning tools (https://climatesteps.org/personal-planning-tools/). Our co-founding of EH was in 2019, and its work focuses on creating overviews of specific actions themselves, adding in computations of carbon emissions saved.
The exchange of information between CSteps and EH began immediately, but staffing has been limited, so our exchange is based on immediate priorities and volunteers’ topical preferences. Still, data on actions has been well shared; for instance, we jointly created the information on how to replace a lawn with a more climate-friendly landscape (https://climatesteps.org/2020/03/20/change-lawns-to-actual-life/). Much of this existing information can be shared with Wikipedia.
As regards work within Wikipedia, we have only recently reached out to some people within PCC, but have run into a technical open-IP snag with editing, so conversations have been limited as we get that fixed. But we have had discussions with the Community Programs office at Wikimedia Foundation and with Washington DC office on the possibilities of joint content research and writing. With the latter, we are planning to hold a joint edit-a-thon in March of 2023 (potentially in concert with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Cyndy Parr, Chief Data Officer at USDA Research Education and Economics Mission Area has expressed interest) that could help kick off this project, if funded. For, the first step of this project, we will review this proposal in more detail with some of PCC leaders related to climate change who may be interested in discussing needs and collaborating on climate action research, including: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile, who has been working on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/SDGs/Communication_of_environment_SDGs.
- How is this project relevant to credibility and Wikipedia?
How is this project relevant to credibility and Wikipedia? CSteps, EH, and Wikipedia all have curators of information – experienced literature researchers who look over the published pages to ensure the presence of solid, unbiased information and references, as well an approachable writing style. Reliable, science-based information is a core for CSteps, as per our Principles document (https://climatesteps.org/about/#principles), and for EH, which has a similar document. CSteps will bring this integrity to this project through a data and editing role. The Principal Investigator, Dr. Annette Olson, the founder and executive director of CSteps and content lead for Earth Hero, is a former federal and nonprofit environmental scientist experienced in outreach and in creating high-quality, global data information systems. Dr. Olson will lead the coordination among parties and individuals, topical and metadata matching, and final curation of the work by CSteps contractors and all volunteers.
As regards information veracity, this pilot project will:
- Discuss within the PCC critical topical holes on impactful climate action. We will bring in CSteps’ 2020 Survey results of requested information on climate action, such as “food carbon emissions and food waste” information, and related info on how individuals can help decrease emissions.
- Increase active research by and curation within the PCC forum through 1) the addition of three CSteps researchers, including Dr. Olson, a contractor with research on community-level actions, and a potential contractor with direct experience in food and agriculture via the EPA, and 2) the recruitment of four volunteers. CSteps is still small and has no full-time staff, but hires contractors for short-term, discrete projects.
- Run written pages by the CSteps Facebook community (6000+), which includes scientists and experienced activists, for feedback and additional resources.
- Share curated, shareable climate/environmental content on Wikipedia and CSteps and make it available to EH.
Supplemental efforts will include:
- Contributing to and learning from PCC’s Style Guide, based on our experience in education, outreach and writing international metadata standards.
- Filling in needed connections and citations to climate change on existing food and agriculture Wikipedia pages.
- Getting advice from CSteps scientific advisory committee, being formed in 2023, who may be able to contribute to goal-setting on this project.
The PCC includes mitigation and adaptation aspects as one of its five major topics of focus; both CSteps and EH focus on mitigation and adaptation, especially at the individual level, which is what many in the public are seeking. This matches the PCC Style Guide, (17) that notes to focus on solutions, as “Solution oriented communication helps overcome [cognitive and social] barriers, by helping individuals understand the possibilities for climate mitigation, climate adaptation.”
Further, climate change falls into a topic of high impact, meeting Wikipedia’s goal of “we will encourage improving coverage of collectively-identified priority topics that impact our world and improve people’s lives.” (18)
- What is the ultimate impact of this project?
The ultimate impacts of this collaborative project are:
- Increased citizen research/participation for Wikipedia and CSteps, and, secondarily, EH.
- Strengthened views that a public citizen can make an impact;
- A more complete view of potential actions and impacts within each respective platform;
- Increased trust in the science behind climate action;
- Increased numbers of deliberate climate actions taken by public citizens;
- Change within personal, social/community, political and corporate situations, including improved climate justice for underserved communities;
- Reduced carbon emissions; and
- A strengthened grassroots movement in climate action that goes beyond lightbulbs and petitions ─ instead people globally act on a variety of impactful ways, create a cultural shift, and begin restoring a healthy planet.
- Can your project scale?
Yes, in many ways.
Topics. First, many climate actions, such as how to best contact industry reps, or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate-smart_agriculture, may be applicable to multiple pages, and links to the action can be dispersed among them; thus the impact of the initial research is multiplied. As we progress in outlining climate actions to add, we will look at specific, related Wikipedia pages and will update them, when useful, to include mention of actions for climate change. For instance, many CSteppers have asked whether the carbonation in soft drinks impacts climate change. It has a relatively minimal impact, (19) but it is a question that is not yet answered on the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_drink#Carbonated_drinks. It provides another opportunity for readers to understand the connection of a topic to climate change.
Second, due to the pilot nature of this grant and need to build the initial networks of participants, this project’s immediate content will focus on food and agriculture, especially within the U.S. and other countries (see next), but the new network coordination and other methodologies created will continue to be useful for additional topics.
Regions. Newly discovered content sources in food and agriculture, can often serve not only general pages, but specialized regional pages, as the African Task Force ((https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Climate_change/Africa_task_force) is already exploring within PCC. We plan more, as outlined under the Diversity and Inclusiveness question.
Partners. Other potential partners could include the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (https://www.ipcc.ch/about/; which is already participating in Wikipedia pages), U.S. and other government climate centers, Project Drawdown (www.projectdrawdown.org; a climate solutions think tank), and more.
Open Sharing. One of the main reasons for this project is to share research and content among organizations for multiplied distribution and increased knowledge accessibility. This follows the WikiCred goal: “As members of the Wikimedia movement, we want to elevate ideas and projects that improve information reliability and credibility in the larger information ecosystem on the internet and in the real world through a myriad of open knowledge tools including the many Wikimedia projects. (20)
- Why are you the people to do it?
As mentioned, we reviewed the internet when we formed and found that we would be the first “hub” to fill a much-needed niche: CSteps provides information and support for public citizens who already understand the general facts about climate change and who seek now to counteract it. More sites have come onto the scene or expanded since then, but CSteps remains the most easily discoverable and accessible learning hub focused on science-based information and mentoring for individuals. Our board-approve goals are to:
- To help diverse peoples new to climate action take their first steps.
- To help individuals grow towards further, more impactful actions suitable for their personal goals and situations.
- To help people learn about and trust the science behind the information.
- To connect people into an idea-sharing, action-supporting community.
Our strengths include:
- A proven history in sourcing science-based climate facts and presenting in user-friendly ways.
- A strong volunteer team of 20 researchers, webmasters, designers, and moderators.
- Being mission-driven.
- Prior experience in forming successful global data information systems and metadata standards.
- A focus on collaboration, within CSteps and with EH and multiple other partners.
- Experience in helping newcomers and introverts grow towards more impactful actions.
- Elegant branding, name, and url that send a clear message of our content and goals.
- A stylish, organized UI/UX with room for growth of tools and forums.
- Some experience editing Wikipedia pages and media.
- A strong belief in and members of the open knowledge community.
- Being credibility enthusiasts.
We also have a strong, interactive Facebook group and other social media community that includes
- A moderated, safe, and constructive learning environment;
- The collection, sharing, and sounding out of ideas among CSteps and members; and
- Encouragement and support, including help by members in CSteps projects.
We have sufficient contractors and volunteers to complete the project but are set via this proposal to recruit four more volunteers – through Wikipedia, our Facebook group and other forums.
In the last link under Question 3 above, we provide a letter of support for our Partner Earth Hero
- What is the impact of your idea on diversity and inclusiveness of the Wikimedia movement?
CSteps’ has strong intentions already (21) in bringing in additional readers to climate content. This collaboration intends to benefit peoples of different ages and regions, rural folks, and the disabled.
Age. CSteps serves somewhat older readers and users (a 49.5-year average for our Facebook readership) than for Wikipedia in general (https://diff.wikimedia.org/2011/10/21/average-wikipedia-reader-is-36-years-old/), whereas EH users tend to be more in their 20s and 30s. Sharing research results across our organizations provides opportunities to reach and receive feedback from new audiences.
Specific Regions. All three organizations have global reach. Beyond the U.S., CSteps has five active regional forums (UK, Australia, Africa, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) within its Facebook community and would like to assist and collaborate with the three latter especially to gather regional-specific climate actions. Africa, of course, is extremely diverse and large-scale, but many CSteps Africa participants have appreciated conversing across their countries to gain advice and resources The PCC has already created an African Task Force, and seven of its 14 priority pages deal with climate action, two emphasizing climate mitigation. CSteps will help the Task Force introduce some African climate mitigation actions useful for African activists re: successful social and political actions. CSteps plans to recruit at least one African activist as well as a volunteer for the other two regions, with outlining research priorities the first objective. We would love to work with the Wiki4 Climate Nigeria team, who also submitted a proposal emphasizing resources for climate action; we have not contacted them yet, but would be pleased to, definitely.
Joining our regional collaborations will help bring on new, diverse members to open wiki communities and increase information credibility. Further, the wiki platform within WikiProject could provide a more substantial infrastructure than our forum for regional groups to plan information foci and to review and edit information. Eventually (after this project), climate change issues, sustainable agriculture and other mitigations, and climate adaptation can be highlighted for multiple countries: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Climate_change_by_country_and_region.
Rural. CSteps has experienced within its community an emphasis on urban mitigation actions, which are very important; unfortunately, rural mitigation issues (e.g., not being able to bike to work) are often dismissed out-of-hand by members. Many rural CSteps participants have rightfully expressed frustration. As we explore the food and agriculture arena for this project, science-based mitigation steps suitable for rural users will be given priority for insert into Wikipedia and CSteps articles.
Disabled. The founder of CSteps, having had a disability before a new medicine assisted her, seeks to highlight climate actions for the disabled. It is one of the reasons for CSteps. As experienced in our forums occasionally, some activists promote marching in crowds and civil disobedience as the only option, but they are not an option for Dr. Olson and many others. CSteps embodies the need for diverse actions for different situations in its Goal #2, as well as Goal #3 -- to help highlight the science.
Representation in general. CSteps will ensure that any editors and contributors brought on board will well represent women and underserved minorities, as well as be science/fact enthusiasts.
- What are the challenges associated with this project and how you will overcome them?
Challenges include Focus. Climate change affects everything and actions can cover almost anything: buildings, transportation, food, energy, outdoors/rural, community, personal, office, and more. As this is a pilot project, we initially will focus on one subject, Food – and its underlying production via Agriculture. Our planned March edit-a-thon may provide an initial priority list. We also have a CSteps volunteer who has a background in food and agriculture.
Recruitment of volunteer editors. To recruit, we plan three avenues: 1) working with Wikipedia and current volunteers to help us recruit through the forum; 2) request assistance from CSteps and EH volunteers and readers where appropriate; and 3) solicit volunteers through Climatebase and other climate-related volunteer sources.
Technical. Currently our three organizations’ data and resource systems are independent and do not match. Cut-and-pasting and the uploading/conversion of content will be necessary, which is manageable for this pilot project. For any future efforts at a larger scale, such as the gathering of our respective databases of quotes, graphs, or references, the modification of existing open-sharing tools may be useful.
- How will you spend your funds?
The majority will go towards part-time (PT) labor for Dr. Olson and two short-term, PT CSteps contractors to 1) meet with PCC wikimedians to discuss priorities; 2) review and create Wikimedia articles focused on climate change food and agricultural actions; 3) to recruit and train four volunteers, not including previous Wikimedians from the PCC; and 4) to edit everyone’s work, contribute to, and modify the information to be shared among the three organizations. The funds also include our small overhead of 3% for software purposes.
Deliverables include to:
- Wikipedia: Recruitment of four additional PCC Wikimedians and collaboration with current PCC leaders in planning joint action priorities.
- Wikipedia and CSteps: A Climate Change and Food/Agriculture Overview article(s) (building on (https://climatesteps.org/climate-steps/food-steps/) that includes the current Climate Smart Agriculture and the Food Waste article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_loss_and_waste)) but also add four new subarticles on climate action potentially related to food choice, food transportation, community-level mitigation and adaptation steps, and fertilizer application and other agricultural steps citizens can take.
- Wikipedia and CSteps: Additional information added and pages linked to Individual Climate Action and the Climate Mitigation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_mitigation) articles – especially on ripple/domino dynamics within neighborhoods, and the mitigation efforts of communities (e.g., https://climatesteps.org/climate-steps/social-community/).
- Wikipedia, CSteps, and EH: Significant additions to another two or more pages re: climate change resources, such as games (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_game, https://climatesteps.org/resources/games/) and types of climate action courses (not existing).
- EH. Descriptions of five climate actions that individuals can take, to be uploaded to the app.
- Wikipedia: Connect at least 25 Wikipedia pages to climate change action.
- PCC and CSteps: Formal discussions with the UK, Australian, Canadian, African, Bengalis and Pakistani forums within CSteps about 1) goals for any potential PCC Task Force on their regions, and for the latter three: 2) a potential PCC volunteer for each and an outline of actions on which to focus. Also, one result will be a new Wikipedia/CSteps article on mitigation for African activists.
- Suggested priorities and next steps for PCC, CSteps, and EH centered around individual action within the Food, Agriculture, and Climate Change arena.
All content constructed during via this project and shared to CSteps and EH will give thanks to Wikipedia funding and research assistance by Wikimedians.
- How long will your project take?
- Have you worked on projects for previous grants before?
Not from WikiCred or the Wikimedia Foundation within the climate realm. However, for several years I was on the Scientific Advisory Committee and a curator for the Encyclopedia of Life (EoL) project, www.eol.org, which has had joint efforts serving information to and from Wikipedia and Wikimedia. Under that umbrella, I participated in two EoL edit-a-thons at the Smithsonian institution (SI), as well as took Wikipedia training at the SI Library. Similarly, a contractor planned for this project has edited Wikipedia pages in the past.
I have done other projects on other wiki platforms while working at the U.S. Geological Survey, including co-authoring the international media-sharing standard the Audubon Core (https://ac.tdwg.org/).
Grant funding outside of the wiki realm has included two years of NSF Funding as co-author for a study on Social Responsibilities of Scientists and Engineers: A View from Within (Report to NSF 2021); and funding from the Alfred P. Sloan foundation for the coordination of two international symposia: Indoor Chemistry (2019) and Microbiomes of the Indoor Environment (2014), among others.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_contagion, https://environment.yale.edu/news/article/why-solar-adoption-can-be-contagious
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_America_Beautiful; https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/keep-america-beautiful-litter-study-ignores-corporate-blame-for-plastic-pollution/; https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-indian-crying-environment-ads-pollution-1123-20171113-story.html
- https://climatesteps.org/about/#principles (Principles and Diversity and Inclusion Statements)