Fun and Climate Change - do they go together?

Potsdam, 08 Nov. 2004

"Keep Cool", a board game about climate change developed by two scientists at the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research, is helping to initialise a new dialogue between science and society at large. In "Keep Cool - Gambling with the Climate" the players take on the role of powerful protagonists and make their own decisions about climate policy. They take part in international climate negotiations and learn about important interrelations of climate change."Keep Cool" has just been released.

In a game of "Keep Cool", three to six players aged twelve and above represent groups of countries such as Europe, OPEC, or the developing countries. For one to two hours they can choose between "black" and "green" growth, but also adapt to inevitable climate impacts like droughts or floods. The strength of these increases when world temperature rises. Additionally, lobby groups like the oil industry or environmental groups have to be taken into account. The winner is the player who most efficiently reconciles climate protection with lobby interests. If some players are too ruthless, everybody loses.

With simple rules the game illustrates different facets of climate change which may seem a bit remote from everyday life, for example global warming, renewable energies or climate conferences. Players can learn more about climate change and the background of the game by consulting the scientific booklet. Thus, "Keep Cool" is suitable for use in communicating scientific ideas and in raising environmental awareness. The game is a part of teaching material about climate change which is being developed by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) in collaboration with the Zeitbild Verlag, in connection with the PISA 2006 student assessment. "We expect "Keep Cool" to establish new channels of dialogue with the public", explains Gerhard Petschel-Held, one of the game's authors and head of the department "Integrated Systems Analysis" at PIK. Such dialogue is crucial in finding strategies to deal with climate change: after all, the public has to cope with its consequences.

"Keep Cool" contains the expertise of economists and climate and political scientists, because collaboration between different disciplines is fundamental for research about global environmental change. But for all that, the players should also have fun playing "Keep Cool" even if they are not climate experts. "This was our most important premise", says Klaus Eisenack, game author and mathematician in the "Integrated Systems Analysis" department at PIK.

Sponsors and Supporters
At the British German climate change conference on 3 November in Berlin, which was opened by Queen Elizabeth II, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) distributed the game to leading climate scientists, politicians, representatives from the economy, media and non-governmental organisations. The BMU will use "Keep Cool" on future occasions for their public relations work. The European Climate Forum (ECF), a joint initiative of European large-scale enterprises, scientific institutions and non-governmental organisations, will make use of the game in its activities, and so will the Leibniz-Association (WGL), one of the large scientific organisations in Germany, and of which PIK is a member. An additional partner is the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Britain.

"Keep Cool" was developed by Gerhard Petschel-Held and Klaus Eisenack. Both work as scientists at PIK and are enthusiastic game players. With "Keep Cool" they were able to combine their hobby with their work. Their research is on typical patterns of global environmental change, for example the over-exploitation of natural resources, which can only be explained by the interaction of nature and society.

"Keep Cool" can be ordered from the publisher, Spieltrieb, for 22.95 Euros from 1st November. It contains one large game board, one "world thermometer", nearly fifty cards, more than one hundred wooden tokens in different colours and more.
Address for orders: Spieltrieb, Pfarrgasse 2, 65321 Niedermeilingen,, Tel. 0611-9889320, E-Mail:

Additional Information:

Dr. Gerhard Petschel-Held, phone: ++49 331 288-2513, e-mail
Klaus Eisenack, Tel. +49/331/288-2625, E-Mail

Press office: Anja Wirsing, phone: ++49 331 288-2507, e-mail