Abstract for: Building Better Mental Models of the Impact of Anthropogenic GHG Emissions - a Hands-On Activity

The problem of anthropogenic GHG emissions has been of serious concern for decades, yet little action on the issue has been achieved over this period. Public awareness of the problem is high, but the lack of action suggests that the shared public understanding of the problem is low, encouraging a ‘wait-and-see’ approach. We propose that public understanding could be improved by participation in an activity that uses a simple physical analogue as the basis for a better metaphorical understanding of anthropogenic perturbations of the natural carbon cycle. The physical analogue is a manipulable stock-and-flow model, involving water, pumps, and containers. Participants take on the role of emission and absorption processes within the carbon cycle and work together in an effort to stabilise the atmospheric carbon level. The analogue is an interactive and visible introduction to stocks-and-flows, and exposes participants to SD concepts like feedback, delays and dynamic behaviour of systems.