The CAULDRON game: Helping decision makers understand extreme weather event attribution

Friday, 19 December 2014: 12:05 PM
Peter Walton and Friederike Elly Luise Otto, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
There is a recognition from academics and stakeholders that climate science has a fundamental role to play in the decision making process, but too frequently there is still uncertainty about what, when, how and why to use it. Stakeholders suggest that it is because the science is presented in an inaccessible manner, while academics suggest it is because the stakeholders do not have the scientific knowledge to understand and apply the science appropriately. What is apparent is that stakeholders need support, and that there is an onus on academia to provide it.

This support is even more important with recent developments in climate science, such as extreme weather event attribution. We are already seeing the impacts of extreme weather events around the world causing lost of life and damage to property and infrastructure with current research suggesting that these events could become more frequent and more intense. If this is to be the case then a better understanding of the science will be vital in developing robust adaptation and business planning.

The use of games, role playing and simulations to aid learning has long been understood in education but less so as a tool to support stakeholder understanding of climate science. Providing a ‘safe’ space where participants can actively engage with concepts, ideas and often emotions, can lead to deep understanding that is not possible through more passive mechanisms such as papers and web sites.

This paper reports on a game that was developed through a collaboration led by the Red Cross/Red Crescent, University of Oxford and University of Reading to help stakeholders understand the role of weather event attribution in the decision making process. The game has already been played successfully at a number of high profile events including COP 19 and the African Climate Conference. It has also been used with students as part of a postgraduate environmental management course. As well as describing the design principles of the game, the paper also evaluates the success of the game as well as future developments.