take a bite out of climate change

Researchers at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting annouced a new game that allows participants to take a wedge out of global environmental problems (Science 23 February 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5815, pp. 1068-1069).

In a darkened ballroom in the Hilton San Francisco, 413 people tap numbers onto slate-gray keypads, each the size of a thick paperback book. Around them, almost 600 others watch as two screens at the front of the room reveal the results of their manipulations: a selection of strategies for taking wedge-shaped bites out of a graph of projected levels of atmospheric carbon over the next 50 years. Their mission: to whittle future CO2 levels down to a plateau in time to avert intolerable greenhouse warming.

The “Wedge Game,” based on “stabilization wedges”–a concept developed by Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala of Princeton University (Science, 13 August 2004, p. 968)–was part of a town hall-like session for teachers and students at the AAAS Annual Meeting, held here from 15 to 19 February. The game, designed to convey the scale of the effort needed to stabilize carbon emissions and the pros and cons of possible options, was just one of some 200 sessions, ranging from “Addiction and the Brain” to “Education, Learning, and Public Diplomacy in Virtual Worlds.”

Perhaps influenced by Lovins, the Wedge Gamers voted for a deep-green mix of two parts increased efficiency and one part each solar electricity, wind power, driving less, switching from petroleum to natural gas, and “biostorage” (planting forests to absorb CO2). It’s far from current U.S. energy policy, but it reflects much of the thinking on display at many other sessions at this meeting.

More on The Stabilization Wedge, a concept and a game as well as the teachers’ guide. For those not computer inclined, the Wedge game is also available in colourful paper format.

Comments are closed.