Our work gained much stronger direction and clarity once we’d learnt how to present a holistic picture of the driver of an environmental problem – whether of greenhouse gas emissions, water use, or the use of steel – in a single picture. Sankey diagrams that show how the demand for human services (warmth, mobility or structure for example) relate to the causes of environmental harm have been helpful to us in helping to prioritise areas for change, in avoiding misunderstanding related to double counting, and in seeing the connections between different possible responses. Based on this, we have been working for 10 years on developing interactive tools to explore how drivers of environmental change interact with each other and to evaluate the effect of different mitigation responses over time.
This is an ongoing challenge. At the technical level, it is challenging to access and use the best available data for each new problem, and to organise it into a structure that supports decision making. At the more human level, we are exploring how different presentations of data and models may support people in different roles to evaluate and take decisions based on best available evidence. As a result, our work on information related to environmental change has led to a combination of specific analyses and methodological developments.