BBC Web Game Lets You Feel Full Force of Political Decisions

The BBC’s free web-based game Climate Challenge lets you to take a shot at cutting down on green house gases while growing the economy, staying on budget, and keeping the public happy. Play it too aggressively and you’ll get voted out of office. You may even be told, “You were a deeply unpopular leader who cared nothing for the happiness of the population.”

Think you could do a better job than our politicians at attacking climate change?

The BBC has a free web-based game that allows you to take your best shot.

Climate Challenge” offers a politician’s perspective on trying to cut down on green house gases while also feeding people, growing the economy, staying on budget, and keeping the public happy. The BBC describes the game more succinctly: “You are president of the European Nations. You must tackle climate change and stay popular enough with the voters to remain in office.”

Ah, there’s the rub. As you click through, you make decisions about national policies (should you “introduce new fuel tax”? “privatise electricity”? “plant small forests”?), agriculture and industry (should you “switch from coal to gas”? “support low-intensity farming”?), local policies (“promote cooperative windfarms”? “invest in trains”?), and more. You’re faced with sudden crises, like floods, which raise immediate questions like whether to invest billions in building bigger flood defenses.

Decisions have economic costs, environmental payoffs, and political costs or payoffs. Play the game too meekly and the sky fills with ominous bouncing carbon balls. Play it too aggressively and you’ll get voted out of office.

I won’t tell you exactly how I got to where I ended, but I do want to say that I’m truly not as bad as the final assessment I was given: “You were a deeply unpopular leader who cared nothing for the happiness of the population. Hopefully those who come after you can repair the damage you left behind, but it will take time.” Ouch!