February 16, 2007

Online game is a Climate Challenge

The BBC Weather Centre has a wealth of information on their Climate Change website about global warming - evidence, impacts, adaptation, policies, and links. They recently ran a Climate Change experiment that utilized the spare computing power of a quarter of a million participants - mostly throughout Europe and the eastern U.S. Through this huge distributed processing project, thousands of climate change models could be run and the results computed. Their findings:

• The UK should expect a 4°C rise in temperature by 2080 according to the most likely results of the experiment.
• Heatwaves are on the rise and, by 2080, summer temperatures of 40°C will be common. Winters will also be warmer.
• Summer rainfall is set to decrease and the UK can expect more frequent droughts
• Winters will bring less snow and more rain, especially in the north and west. Storms will be more frequent and more severe.
• Different regions around the world can expect varying levels of warming. New Zealand faces a smaller temperature rise than the UK's 4°C change, while Alaska should prepare for a greater increase

They recently published a free, online serious game that simulates the decision-making process engaged by world leaders in counter-acting the global warming phenomenon. It is important that each stakeholder of the energy/environment dialog recognize the need for coordination of many nations efforts to forestall the effects threatened by interlinked future challenges.

Thanks to our European friends at Biopact for supplying the base information on this story. Monitoring bioenergy stories from their well-researched viewpoint should be a part of the regimen for anyone that is serious about global approaches to solving the energy/environmental challenges before us. A monthly digest of their most relevant stories are published here - see February's digest.

Why make a game about climate change?

The BBC decided a game might be a good introductory route into climate change and some of the issues this creates for governments around the world. At times it was necessary to strike a compromise between strict scientific accuracy and playability. For this reason, Climate Challenge should not be taken as a serious climate change prediction. Wherever possible, real research has been incorporated into the game.

Apart from the primary goal of creating a fun game, Climate Challenge's producers aimed to:
• give an understanding of some of the causes of climate change, particularly those related to carbon dioxide emissions.
• give players an awareness of some of the policy options available to governments.
• give a sense of the challenges facing international climate change negotiators.

Players must respond to catastrophic events caused by climate change as well as natural and manmade events, which may or may not be linked to climate change. This aspect of the game is meant to give some idea of what could happen as the Earth's climate changes and also introduce the unpredictable nature of some natural events.

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