Climate Outreach, a research and communications consultancy focusing on climate change (formerly named COIN), blog after Storm Desmond which caused major floods in the North of England and in Scotland last weekend:
Unless we move the public conversation forward on climate change – from a scientific to a social reality – we will be starting from scratch every time a new storm hits, and failing to put into place crucial lessons for building coping and resilience that determine the psychological as well as the financial damage of these upsetting and traumatic events.
Talking about climate change to victims in the aftermaths of devastating storms such as Desmond is insensitive. Linking individual freak weather events to climate change is not always scientifically relevant either. At the same time, more frequent storms and erratic weather are symptoms of climate change. Building resilience is a continuous exercise: we should build capacity to adapt not just after storms hit, which is already too late, but continuously. Participatory schemes have much to offer in the way of increasing preparedness.
Gaming can also go beyond traditional (and less engaging) forms of education and information distribution. The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction has launched an online game to educate young players to build more resilient communities, providing different disaster scenarios (flood, hurricane, earthquake etc.). The scenarios of the game Stop Disasters! also feature three different difficulty levels, and one has a time limit to make investments in the community/built environment to save as many people as possible before the next disaster strikes.