skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Board games help players understand climate change

play audio
Play

Friday, October 6, 2023   

By Debra J. Rosenthal for The Conversation.
Broadcast version by Farah Siddiqi for Missouri News Service for the Public News Service-Conversation collaboration.
.


Among the world’s ever-expanding array of board games, a small but growing number deal with climate change. But are these games any good?

As a professor of English who specializes in environmental literature, I set out to learn how well these board games portray the perils that global warming poses to the planet. Are they an effective way for students to learn some of the science and stark realities behind the persistent heating of Earth?

I invited half a dozen climate activists and educators to try the games out to answer these questions and more. My thought was that if people learn best while they are active and joyful participants, then turning a serious topic like climate change into a board game might have value beyond the game.

No individual winners

Most board games – think of Monopoly or Catan – are zero-sum competitions: One player wins a clear victory over the others. But since climate change affects the whole world, climate change board games emphasize teamwork and group success. Either all players win together, or no one survives. These board games have a narrative arc that can spark discussion about values, perspective, conflict, emotions and decision-making.

And those are precisely the kinds of discussions my colleagues and I had while sharing pizza and salad over the course of the evening. Together, we evaluated the games for their ease to learn, their value for teaching about climate catastrophe, their ability to spark conversation and their suitability for high school and university students.

What follows is an account of the five climate change board games that we all tried.

1. Solutions

Solutions draws upon scientific solutions researched by Project Drawdown, which is a nonprofit that pushes for solutions to climate change. The game, played in rounds, requires players to draw two cards that each carefully describe a way to reduce global emissions.

Players discuss the two options and rank which one is better for the climate. Correct decisions reduce global temperatures, while incorrect guesses damage the planet. Players also roll the dice to determine further actions that could potentially make global temperatures rise.

We all agreed the game could be a valuable learning tool since it was easy to learn and based on accurate scientific information. The need to evaluate different solutions easily sparked conversation, and the information was suitable for upper-level high school students and university students.

2. Kyoto

Another game that we ranked highly is Kyoto, which has players simulate a high-stakes climate negotiation summit. We each represented a country, and the cards we drew determined our secret national interests. To win the game, we had to bargain with each other, pay fees, bribe and try to persuade each other to reach climate goals.

Initially, I doubted the educational value of the game because, due to the draw of the cards, players who represented the U.S. could only win the game if they increased global carbon emissions, as determined by the coal-industry-friendly cards. Who wants a game where players try to raise global temperatures?

But through discussion, we all realized that the game provides insight into possible barriers to achieving emissions goals, and how nations have to juggle meeting emission-reduction goals with their own economic self-interests. While the game takes more time to learn than Solutions, we decided it could still be very useful for students.

3. Carbon City Zero

We tried playing a free downloadable and printable version of Carbon City Zero, but it proved too time-consuming to learn the rules. After 45 minutes of struggling with the cards to figure out how to play, we gave up and moved on.

4. Somewhere Everywhere Water Rising

Family Pastimes, the company that makes Somewhere Everywhere Water Rising, is known for developing only collaborative games, and we have purchased many children’s games from them in the past. In Somewhere Everywhere Water Rising, players take on the role of consultants who have to make collective decisions about developing land projects in the face of sea-level rise.

We liked the discussion it sparked, but ultimately concurred that the game specifically focuses on devastating sea-level rise, rather than systemic climate change that causes such rising levels in the first place. The game is easy to learn and relies on conversation, but we felt it had a lower educational value because it does not teach about the human activity that creates and perpetuates increasing global temperatures. The game might be more suitable as an extra credit activity, rather than the focus of a classroom lesson.

5. Nunami

Finally, we played Nunami, a lovely game created by an Inuit family from Ivujivik, Canada, with instructions in Inuktitut, English and French.

The game aims to teach players about balancing life in fragile terrain. There are cards for humans, animals, sand and snow. Although we deeply appreciated how the game strives to sensitize players to Inuit life on the tundra so that they can see what is threatened by climate catastrophe, it does not teach about the drivers of climate change and thus was not suitable for our specific classroom needs.

Picking the best

By 10 p.m., we had conquered the pizza, energetically played five different board or card games, and had a lot of fun discussing critical issues and meeting new people.

To our group, the clear “winner” is the board game Solutions because it encourages collaborating to make decisions with fact-based science. The setup of the game allows for interesting team-building conversations.

As I incorporate games into my courses on climate-change literature and first-year writing, students play Solutions and complete a writing assignment based on their various decisions during the game.

At our next climate change board game evening, my group of educators and activists plans to play Tipping Point, Daybreak, Carboniq and Climate Call.

Anyone want to join us? We’ll deal you in.


Debra J. Rosenthal wrote this article in a collaborative reporting initiative with The Conversation, supported by the Joyce Foundation..


get more stories like this via email

more stories
Environmental advocates are asking California's next state budget to prioritize climate mitigation and cut tax breaks for fossil fuel companies. (The Climate Center)

Environment

play sound

As state budget negotiations continue, groups fighting climate change are asking California lawmakers to cut subsidies for oil and gas companies …


Health and Wellness

play sound

Health disparities in Texas are not only making some people sick, but affecting the state's economy. A new study shows Texas is losing $7 billion a …

Environment

play sound

City and county governments are feeling the pinch of rising operating costs but in Wisconsin, federal incentives are driving a range of local …


Each year since 2018, there have been more than 1 million online ads for guns which could be sold without a background check. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

Well over three-fourths of Americans support universal background checks for gun purchases, but federal law allows unlicensed people to sell guns at …

Environment

play sound

By Max Graham for Grist.Broadcast version by Alex Gonzalez for Arizona News Connection reporting for the Solutions Journalism Network-Public News Serv…

During what is known as the Medicaid post-pandemic "unwinding" process, South Dakota saw the largest drop in children's enrollment in the country, with a 27% reduction in the first six months. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

Last year's Medicaid expansion in South Dakota increased eligibility to another 51,000 adults but a new report showed among people across the state wh…

Health and Wellness

play sound

There is light at the end of the tunnel for Tennesseans struggling with opioid addiction, as a bill has been passed to increase access to treatment …

Environment

play sound

The New York HEAT Act might not make the final budget. The bill reduces the state's reliance on natural gas and cuts ratepayer costs by eliminating …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021