The world after COP26

Please note: The description and analysis of this exercise is still underway

  1. Purpose
  2. Participants
  3. Process
  4. Instructions
  5. Exercise Results
    1. Contents of storylines
    2. Participants’ evaluations
    3. Participants’ relationships
    4. Network structure of storylines

1. Purpose

The purpose of this study is:

  1. To explore the usefulness of crowdsourcing participants in a ParEvo exercise, as a way of undertaking more ‘field tests ‘of the ParEvo app.
  2. To explore the effects of involving a second type of participants, known as “Commentators”. These do not participate in the building of the storylines (which is done by the Contributors), but they are allowed to insert Comments on contributions, which Contributors could subsequently read and take in to account, if they wanted to, when writing their next contribution.
  3. To explore the manageability of expanding the number of participants up to 15, from the previous maximum of twelve

2. Participants

2.1 Contributors

The exercise participants were crowdsourced through Prolific.co (an online participant recruitment for surveys and market research). Criteria used to find participants via that platform were:

  • Age: Greater than 20
  • Nationality and place of residence: United Kingdom
  • Education: Undergraduate degree or higher

Once the participants were recruited Prolific.co then provided this additional information on the self-selected participants :

  • Gender: 12 women, 3 men
  • Age: median 26
  • Employment: 7 full-time, 2 part-time, 4 unemployed-seeking work, 2 Not in paid work (e.g. homemaker’, ‘retired or disabled)
  • The average approval rate for submissions in previous prolific.co studies was 99.26%
  • No information about Contributors’ individual identities was made available to anyone, apart from the exercise Facilitator

2.2 Commentators (..so far)

  • Three commentators were recruited from the ParEvo Google Groups email list. All had previously expressed interest in the use of ParEvo, and had participated in at least one previous ParEvo exercise.
    • Two men, one women – resident in Australia, Canada and UK respectively
    • No information about Commentators’ individual identities was made available to anyone, apart from the exercise Facilitator

3. Process

The exercise involves seven iterations (each involving a contributions and comments phase) plus a final evaluation stage. Participants were introduced to the exercise, and to each iteration within the exercise, through the contents of a dedicated Prolific.co web page (as is required). They were then directed to a Survey Monkey survey where they made their contributions to each iteration (again as required by Prolific). On completion, they were returned to another Prolific web page, to have their work contributions reviewed and payments triggered . The participants contributions were then manually entered by the Facilitator into a ParEvo.org exercise and the ParEvo exercise web page was then shared with the Commentators. After their inputs were posted the Contributors were notified of the start of the next iteration. The final evaluation involved the same sequence but used a different Survey Monkey survey page. This is a much more cumbersome process than normal because the participants are being sourced and managed through prolific.co.

All participants were asked to give their consent at the start of each iteration (See the survey instrument link below). All contribution were anonymous, in the eyes of other participants. All participants were paid at a rate above the UK minimum wage rate (per hour), with each iteration being paid for a 30 minute span of time. In practice, the median time spent per participant per iteration was 23 minutes, thus in effect increasing the hourly rate. Aggregated results of the evaluation stage were shared with all participants via this web page, and all participants retained access to the completed exercise on https://www.parevo.org/

4. Instructions to participants

Pdf copies are available for the following:

5. Exercise results

5.1 The storylines

5.1.1.Types

Numbers of storylines: 42 different storylines were developed during the exercise 27% (11) storylines survived until the end of the last iteration.73% (31) storylines died out during the exercise. [Look here for more on Analysing Extinct Storylines ] For comparison, the maximum possible proportion of extinct storylines in this exercise is 83% and the minimum is 0% This means there was a high degree of “exploration” of alternatives in this exercise [ Look here for more on exploration versus exploitation]

Dropouts: Four of the 15 participants did not taken part in the last iteration, for reasons unknown. The average number of participants per iteration was 14. Ninety eight contributions were received, versus 105 if all participants had participated in every iteration.

5.1.2 Contents

The storylines generated by this exercise can be seen here: https://parevo.org/exercise/public/c016a2b8-bdfc-4c54-9590-1111333253fe

For comparison, see the 2021 Financial Times article titled: Clothes dryer vs the car: carbon footprint misconceptions
Landmark survey of 21,000 people in almost 30 countries shows perception gap on climate impact of personal actions
, This article describes the result of an international survey of peoples views of the best way of reducing CO2 emissions and the actual reality, based on current scientific knowledge and technology.

The most popular belief re means of reducing CO2 emissions was “”Recycling as much as possible”, agreed by 60% worldwide. But its contribution to reducing CO2 emissions was the second lowest out of 9 options surveyed. In the ParEvo exercise reducing plastic consumption, including by means of recycling, was a very common theme in the storylines. Search results for “plastics” show the following mentions:

  • 7 of 7 iterations contain ‘plastics’
  • 37 of 98 contributions contain ‘plastics’
  • 10 of 11 live storylines contain ‘plastics’
  • 17 of 31 extinct storylines contain ‘plastics’

On the other hand, many of the storylines did mention reduction of meat consumption. Here are the search results:

6 of 7 iterations contain ‘meat’
23 of 98 contributions contain ‘meat’
9 of 11 live storylines contain ‘meat’
6 of 31 extinct storylines contain ‘meat’

In the same FT article “Eating a plant based diet” was the second least popular approach to addressing climate change, internationally. However it was judged as middle ranking, and more effective than recycling, in terms of the effectiveness of the 9 options listed there

The most effective option was “Having one less child” and then in a distant second place, “Not having a car” There was no mention of child, birth, fertility or reproduction in any of the storylines. The search results for “car” were:

6 of 7 iterations contain ‘car’
10 of 98 contributions contain ‘car’
1 of 11 live storyline contains ‘car’
9 of 31 extinct storylines contain ‘car’

Mentions of “car” were more common in extinct rather than surviving storylines.

[more observations re contents, to be included here]

5.2 Participants evaluations

The following is a summary of responses to the Survey Monkey evaluation survey sent to all participants at the end of the exercise. 12 of the 15 original respondents completed the survey

Question 3: On desirability and likelihood

Participants were asked to identify which storyline was most desirable, least desirable, most likely, least likely. Their aggregated responses are shown below.

The maximum possible rating on either scale = 11 = number of participants at the evaluation stage.

Five of the 11 storylines received contraction likelihood ratings, and 6 received contradictory desirability ratings.

[more content to be inserted here]

Question 4: Pile sorting exercise

Please use the columns below to sort ALL the 11 surviving storylines into 2 groups, of any size, according to what you think is an important difference between the two groups of storylines. Then use the Comment box below, to explain how you think the first group of storylines is significantly different from the second.The storylines in each pile must have something in common, which is not present in the other pile. Ideally, this will describe a difference that you think is significant, in terms of the potential or actual consequences.You can view all the storylines here: https://parevo.org/exercise/public/ac4d6fe8-a22a-4498-aa25-9b3ec5f6f8b8

A summary of the differences identified:

  • Group one is food or animal products – There are helpful in other areas to increase animal welfare. Group two is energy/other – These are likely to be beneficial to the globe overall, as more advancements occur in this type of technology it opens up other options for renewable products.
  • Group 1 = optimistic Group 2 = pessimistic I felt like within the groups, no matter what the storyline was there would always be positive consequences and negative consequences of an action taken to prevent further climate change. I felt like if the story focused on negativity in one of the earlier stages, this would remain throughout and the story would retain a very negative mindset of the actions countries were taking – rather than focusing on what good they were doing. Whereas the more positive stories in group 1 seemed to keep the positive momentum going throughout – sometimes stating the negative consequences, but always coming back to the better, brighter and bigger picture for the future.
  • Group 1 mainly focus on plastics and other issues, while group two mainly focus on meat consumption. The main difference between groups is I believe the storylines in group 1 are more realistic in group 2. I don’t believe it would be easy or possible for whole populations to suddenly give up meat for instance.
  • Group 1 had a theme of reducing plastics whether this was through supermarkets or packaging. Storylines explored the options of creating biodegradable packaging as well as the option of people adapting a vegan/ vegetarian diet- this did come with several obstacles such as excess cattle and a possible saga where everyone may go backwards rather than forwards if they did not act fast to solve this. Group 2 focused on fossil fuels which was something group 1 did not consider, this was the only difference between the 2 groups. Cement was also mentioned- group 1 did not explore the possible effect materials have on climate change and how to solve this issue.
  • I’ve separated the groups by stories that included any strategy that tackles plastic bags. Out of the remaining 11 stories, 10 of them all included plastic bags, and all of them included plastic bags in the very first iteration of the story. This is of course mainly because these r10 stories all came from only 2 beginnings, but they still continued to talk about plastic bags throughout their storylines. I find it quite interesting as these storylines still seemed plausible, but compared to storyline 92, they don’t seem as educated. However, storyline 92 makes me believe that it was written by the same person (with good vocabulary in their writing) repeatedly, which as potential consequence provides a very narrow view of what could have happened.
  • group one- is more likely to happen focuses on food and diet ethical dilemmas such as factory farming, however there is already a reduce in meat eating so many of these proposals could be seen as an exaggeration group two-focuses more on the future and achieving
  • Group 1 is very practical and immediately looked for change from governments/institutions – Group 2 looks more at change pushed by individuals.
  • Group 1 primarily focused on changing the types of fuel use; coal into electricity, recycling plastics, hydro electricity, etc. Whereas Group 2 focused more on changing national diets and reducing food productions which are harmful to the environment, i.e. meat production, fruit and going vegan. Group 2 also seemed to contain more protests, but I do believe that Group 1’s approaches are more effective in helping the planet than Group 2 – as Group 2 does not tackle the source of the problem, it merely covers it up.
  • I have grouped the storylines into optimistic outcomes (group 1) and pessimistic outcomes (group 2). The groups differ in that the group 2 stories have pointed out that some efforts to combat climate change may backfire and cause different problems in the future.
  • I think that each one comes back to climate change however they all see it and draw upon it from different angles
  • Different is positive / negative outcomes (optimism / pessimism). Future of the planet either protected or less certain / damaged further.
  • I think that Group 1 stories show ‘happy’ endings; they show significant changes that could positively affect climate change and some of them show side benefits, such as people or countries working together. Group 2 contains stories that either have little or no effect on climate change, or worse have disastrous effects on the planet or its people (riots and disharmony).
  • In group 1 it seems there is a common theme of reducing plastic, whether this is in supermarkets or packaging, other themes in group 1 is the issue of people becoming vegetarian and the increase in cattle and meat- important to find a solution to this. Group 2 tended to focus on fossil fuels and the issue of funding- this is something group 1 did not consider.

Question 6: Surprising omissions

What kinds of events were you surprised to not see in any of the storylines, but which you think might be expected in the 2021-2022 future?

  • More fighting and protests, I don’t think the public will as easily accept going vegan or sustainable. There would likely be a large underground market for plastic products or meat that wasn’t discussed.
  • I expected to see Covid play more of a role in the storylines – this could play a big part in affecting climate change with people working from home and less emissions from planes due to the restrictions on travelling. I also felt there was a very high focus on meat consumption and plastic bag use – two very major problems, but not the only ones. I expected to see more outcomes on energy use, carbon emissions in urban areas from transport etc. There was also no mention of Brexit, which I do believe will have an affect on climate change (or the way it is handled) in 2022.
  • I was surprised not to see much if any talk of green energy, whether that would be extended or used throughout the world it seemed to mostly be about what things were currently wrong.
  • I feel big chains and supermarkets will do more to help towards climate change– they have the resources and power to do this compared to the common man- impact will be on a bigger scale. One thing which did not occur in the storyline was: a possibility of an outbreak in war?– was a suggestion to riots, but in todays world countries are fighting over land/oil/gold/minerals what’s to say they will fight over food/ cattle/other in the near future. Will that be the new commodity which everyone will fight over?
  • I was surprised that none of the storylines that made it to end, ended on a sour, negative tone. I felt a lack of major failures in any of the stories, they all seemed to have happier endings.
  • None of them
  • a storyline on a war in Europe that could be possible
  • I was surprised not to see described any impacts on wild animals (not just those used for meat, but polar bears etc)
  • Increased plastic recycling and re-using materials, a movement to alternative healthy energy sources
  • I was surprised not to see extreme weather events caused by warming oceans mentioned.
  • None
  • Reduced plastic blags, reduced plastic straws, different approaches between countries
  • I was surprised that very few of the stories focused on the change in climate itself! Where did all the storms and wildfire stories go? There seemed to be a huge focus on plastics, which although they do affect climate (in their manufacture) is mostly a wildlife/environment problem, which is very different to the warming of our planet and the catastrophic nature events that could occur: hurricanes, wildfires, ice caps melting, flooding, etc.
  • food resource wars? in group 1 it seemed from the ideas, eating meat was not in demand- rather fruit and veg, was there any wars due to this. In today’s world country fight over land/oil and gold, would the tables turn to food? I think in the year 2021-2020 it is viable to say supermarkets may wish to look at the ways they produce plastic- look at alternative means.

Question 7 & 9: Optimism or pessimism

Looking at all the contributions by others, do you think that overall they were optimistic or pessimistic? The median rating, on a scale of 0 (most pessimistic) to 100 ( most optimistic) was 70.5

Looking at all of your contributions to the various storylines do you think that overall they were optimistic or pessimistic? The median rating, on a scale of 0 (most pessimistic) to 100 ( most optimistic) was 62.5, somewhat less optimistic that storylines developed by others

Question 10 & 11: Perceived agency

To what extent do you think any of the events described in any of the storylines are likely to affect your life in the next two years? The median rating, on a scale of 0 (Not at all) to 100 ( A lot) was 54,

To what extent do you think any of the events described in any of the storylines are likely to affect your life in the next two years? The median rating, on a scale of 0 (Not at all) to 100 ( A lot) was 72.5,

Question 12: Useful Comments?

Looking at all the Comments that were made on the different contributions, to what extent did they influence your thinking and the content of your contributions? The median rating, on a scale of 0 (Not at all) to 100 ( A lot) was 78, with only twp participants giving a rating less than 50

The most useful comments made, identified by two or more participants, were those relating to three contributions numbered 53, 61 and 84

  • 53:The decrease in use of plastic will greatly contribute to decreasing the pollution coming from plastics. It will also contribute to efforts to tackle climate change, as most plastics are made from fossil fuels. However, this is only one issue contributing to climate change. What happened to the emissions (carbon, methane) from other issues (industry, transport, agriculture, power, forests, buildings etc)?
  • 61: Despite the impact on these countries, did their populations continue to reduce / cease their consumption of meat? What was the impact of the reduction of meat consumption on global emissions? Was reduction in this one sector sufficient to reduce emissions to meet global targets by 2030?
  • 84: With progress being made on so many fronts, presumably some countries/regions experience more progress than others. Is it possible that leaders emerge from unexpected areas? For example, do you anticipate smaller, perhaps less developed countries, to be able to transform sectors of their economy more easily that larger, wealthier countries?

More details will be posted here as the exercise proceeds

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