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The Adventures of Carbon Bond: Using a melodramatic game to explain CCS as a mitigation strategy for climate change


  • An earlier version of this paper was presented at and included in the proceedings from the 11th Annual Conference on Carbon Capture Utilization & Sequestration in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, April 30–May 3, 2012 and was nominated by delegates as one of the best oral or poster presentations from this event to publish in a special issue of Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology


Policy options for mitigating climate change have been severely limited in the USA by the clash of competing ideologies. People who oppose policies to mitigate climate change have successfully framed climate change as existing outside the realm of fact and empirical reality. Instead, opponents frame the issue as a melodramatic struggle between good and evil. While scientists and engineers tend to be uncomfortable with melodramatic framing, we argue that melodrama resonates with people. Constructing a different melodramatic frame can tap into people's tendency to conceptualize issues in terms of heroes and villains and assist in creating a shift in the political controversy from debating the factuality of climate change to a focus on mitigation. We developed an educational video game that uses this frame to teach students about climate change and carbon capture, and sequestration, to create an understanding of CO2 as the villain and humans as heroes through participation in mitigation strategies. The hero of this melodrama is aided by science and technology to mitigate anthropogenic climate change. We analyze The Adventures of Carbon Bond© as a medium for educating students about climate change and shifting framing. We begin with a discussion of melodrama and the rhetorical nature of video games. Then, through statistical analysis of surveys completed by students who played the game, we demonstrate that students experienced a knowledge increase as a result of game play. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for productively reframing climate change towards an emphasis on technological mitigation. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd