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I Played This Climate Change Game—and Lost Everything – Mother Jones
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I Played This Climate Change Game—and Lost Everything – Mother Jones


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This story was first published by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

This is falseA game.

This is the case with climate change. Even though the aspirational ceiling for 1.5 degrees C (or about 2.7 degrees F) is a little less than the reality, the often-overwhelming effects of extreme weather triggered by climate change have been devastating in North America and elsewhere. During “our summer of hell,” as environmental author Jeff Goodell recently framed it in Rolling StoneA third of Americans have been affected in some way by a weather catastrophe. We’ve had a killer heat dome in the Pacific Northwest, savage wildfires, devastating floods, and suffered a terrible toll from Hurricane Ida. A recent study revealed that nearly 10,000 people were affected worldwide by Hurricane Ida. additional heat deaths per year can be directly attributed to human-induced global warming. A comprehensive new report by the World Meteorological Organization has calculated that disasters caused by weather have multiplied and are causing seven times more damage today than in the 1970s.

The silver lining is that, despite a fivefold increase in severe weather events over the past 50 years, the average daily death rate is down 75%. This is due in part to better emergency management practices and earlier warnings. Lives are being saved—but many are being ruined, nonetheless. Every year, thousands are displaced by floods, droughts, and storms. Many people who stay endure substantial uninsured losses. communities hit so hardthey fall into regional or local economic depressions.

We need to be able to quickly adopt best practices for climate risk management in a highly charged atmosphere that is causing chronic meteorological disasters. Climate risk management is characterized by a widely quoted statistic: Every dollar invested in disaster resilience will benefit society saves six dollars. Fails about humanitarian crises can seem abstract unless you face them or at least play the role of someone who must face them.

I did it myself. I also lost my beans.

Paying for Predictions is an experiential learning game designed for the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre by Boston University visiting fellows Pablo Suárez and Janot Mendler de Suárez. The importance of early action and preparedness, as well as the use of climate and weather projections and disaster planning can be appreciated by players. resilience and climate risk reduction. A recent international climate forum was organized by a French nonprofit Météo et ClimatI participated in this eye-opening role playing activity with other weather presenters from around world.

I was told to consider myself the elected leader of my district. I was given 10 beans—my district’s budget—and joined leaders from two other districts to form a country. Our country’s team started with a total budget of 30 beans. While beans could not be exchanged between players, I was allowed to contribute from my stash to the country’s preparedness budget to pay for collective mitigation and adaptation investments. Keep in mind, however, that the winning teams and players are the ones with the most beans at the end. Therefore, you need to be careful about how you spend them.

The game is played in 10 rounds. Each team rolls a green die that is hidden under a cup representing regional rains. Each player then has to roll a white dice that represents the local district rainfall. All your beans can be kept if the sum of the dice numbers is less than nine. There is a 25 percent chance that the roll will result in a roll of ten or greater, which would be considered a flood disaster. Flooding will cost you four beans per player. That’s 40 percent of your district’s resources, with many rounds to go! If after a few rounds you end up with three beans or fewer and you can’t pay for the consequences of a flood, your district is deemed to be entering a humanitarian crisis.

And that’s where the lessons begin: Before rolling that second die, I was allowed to spend one bean on preparedness measures. Preparation could take many forms. It could be early warnings, positioning aid in my district ahead, or procuring insurance. I would not lose any beans if I rolled a 10 or higher but had spent one bean for early preparedness. But if I chose not to invest in preparedness and rolled a 10 or higher, I’d be hit with a four-bean disaster.

Knowing that I had to survive 10 rounds, I was afraid to act in vain and pay one bean, preparing for a disaster I didn’t expect to happen. One bean is only 10% of my budget. If I spent it all, the money would be gone, even if it was sunny. But when I didn’t pay to prepare and was hit with the bad-luck roll of the dice that resulted in flooding, I regretted that I had failed to act early.

What if I could see the green die before I rolled mine white? Meteorology, climate science, and more are available to us to “see” into the future. Investing in science could improve our weather forecasts and climate forecasts, making it easier to assess the risk to our country. The team decided that it was worth investing in this science, and through a bidding process we were able to swap out the green die’s opaque cup for a clear one. This allowed me as district leader to see what the regional rains were “forecast” to be before deciding on preparedness expenditures. I knew that my district would not be affected by flooding if the green die rolled one, two, or three. Even if I rolled six on my white, it was a certainty. My district and I spent a little bit of money on science, but the national and local returns were huge.

We were able to act as a country and later had the option of investing in disaster risk reduction through reforestation. Even during heavy rainfall, planting many trees can reduce erosion or flooding. Our team was asked to pay a few dollars for this, but the next time my neighborhood was hit by flooding, I was only asked two of my beans to be turned over. Another great investment!

In the game’s later rounds, a new and wicked twist was added. The green die was secretly replaced with an 8-sided one, which symbolizes how global warming has made more extreme weather events more likely. The chance of rolling an ten or more was now 35 percent instead of 25 per cent. Those countries that had not invested in prediction science were left in the dark and totally taken by surprise because the new climate-change-loaded-die was hidden. Even though there was a higher likelihood of flooding in any given district, the two beans that were lost by teams that invested in disaster reduction would be reduced to two and not four.

I ended up with zero beans, and more than one humanitarian crisis. After a few successful rounds, happiness turned to anger and frustration when I realized that I should have invested in disaster risk reduction, preparedness, and science earlier. Though even doing that would have been no guarantee that I’d end the game with any beans left. I was not alone—more than half of the players had no beans left at the end of the 10 rounds.

This role-playing exercise cannot be used to replace the real-life climate risk mitigation decisions that policymakers face today. It led to a real revelation.

Post-disaster recovery and relief money (beans) was money that I didn’t have to spend on education, healthcare, or social programs. I was unable to buy beans and had to seriously consider investing in disaster risk reduction or even science. It’s a predicament that eventually left the city, county, state, or nation that I was representing facing humanitarian crises and great hardships.

To reduce climate risk, we must all, collectively and internationally, invest in it. greenhouse gas pollution and adapt to a warming planet. At this stage, the climate crisis is too severe to allow for fear of failing to act. We must act quickly, boldly, and with conviction. Acting too timidly won’t amount to a hill of beans.

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