Industry: Climate Change and Six Sigma

Climate change is an unavoidable factor for many people, organizations, and corporations. Around the world, different areas are experiencing the effects first hand of climate change. Whether it’s rising sea levels along ocean front cities or rapid weather changes in arid climates, scientists are having to work alongside engineers and developers to protect our societies. However, not all organizations face the same degree of climate change effects. For example, in many parts of Western Europe, the only noticeable change is warmer summers. Whereas, coastal cities such as Miami already notice the change in sea levels. Because everyone experiences climate change differently, there are different resources and tools they will need. In this article, we will outline how scientists are using Six Sigma methodologies to combat the effects of climate change.

Climate Change and Six Sigma 

Of course, the best way to manage climate change is to prevent it. However, not all organizations and societies have this luxury. Because Six Sigma focuses on reducing waste and increasing efficiency, it’s a natural tool for scientists to use. Over the years, corporations have implemented a variety of Six Sigma methodologies to improve their business processes. Doing so, their actions greatly improved their waste management and production efficiencies. As a result, fewer resources were needed to create the same products. Less energy needed to operate product manufacturing leads to fewer carbon emissions and less dependency on nonrenewable energy. In a way, Six Sigma leads one of the most beneficial chain reactions we have ever seen!

As a result, scientists have begun turning to Six Sigma methodologies to improve and prevent detrimental climate change effects. Whether they use these tools directly with individual communities, a handful of manufactures or a multitude of organizations, Six Sigma is one of their greatest resources. Yet, not every tool reaps the same benefits. For climate change scientists, they use any number of these found in your Six Sigma toolkit. 


As the foundation for most Six Sigma professionals, DMAIC is a near bullet proof method for process improvement. Standing for ‘Define’, ‘Measure’, ‘Analyze’, ‘Improve’, and ‘Control’, these five steps prove time and time again to find errors within a system and offer beneficial solutions. How scientists are using DMAIC depends on the problem they are trying to solve.

For example, if their goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 1%, they must first see where the great emissions come from. This act of defining the “error” or problem pinpoints where they should begin their search. Next, scientists will find ways to measure carbon emissions. Whether it’s measuring cars, factories, power plants, or other variables, this classifies how to retrieve their data. Once they have their data, they must analyze it and find correlations between excess usage and greater carbon emissions. After analyzing the data, it’s time to implement solutions. If the greatest emissions come from cars, a viable option would be to limit driving on certain days. Last, after implementing a solution, the scientists must monitor and control it. This also requires constant monitoring of the changes made and their effects on the overall system.

Root Cause Analysis 

Another great Six Sigma tool is Root Cause Analysis. While you may discover multiple problems or errors within your system, their direct cause is not always transparent. For climate change, root cause analysis tackles the issue of finding the exact cause of certain effects. For example, if scientists want to understand why ocean levels are rising, they can use this tool. First, you look at the main problem. In this case, it’s rising ocean levels. Then, you look to why the water levels are rising. The most obvious answer is melting ice caps and glaciers at the poles. But why are they melting? One step further, you discover they are melting because of increasing atmospheric temperate. Yet, why is the temperature rising? And so on, so forth.

This Six Sigma tool is a great resource for climate change scientists because it forces you to find the exact cause for your issues. Whether you want to stop rising sea levels or decrease smog in large cities, root cause analysis finds the exact moment errors occur. Likewise, a successful root cause analysis will provide you with solid ground work for implementing changes to your organizations, systems, and societies. Without knowing the exact cause of an issue, you will never successfully resolve it.


Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) is another great tool that climate change scientists can use to combat its effects. DFSS focuses on critical parameter management (CPM) while also answering two “voices” in a system. These are the voices of the customer and the process itself. Additionally, redesign of a process is kept to a minimum by identifying variables that affect baseline performance. In the case of climate change, DFSS can answer both the concerns of individuals and the organizations causing man-made changes to occur.

Of course, resolutions to the effects of climate change can only happen with support on all sides. With DFSS, scientists can treat common climate change issues like a project. Similarly, DFSS address the needs and concerns of all involved within the project team, finding a solution everyone can agree upon. By combining all available variables, data, and voices within a project, the right efforts are made to improving performance. Or, in this case, combating climate change.

Although climate change is both a natural and human-caused issue, there are ways to decrease the effects people experience every day. In a world with a growing population and a decrease in natural resources, it’s our responsibility to maintain the environment as well as possible. Scientists will continue to use the tools and resources provided by Six Sigma to combat everyday issues and deter future problems.

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