by Martha Walden, 11th Hour
Oblivious to the looming pandemic last year, 11th Hour scheduled five public events from Rio Dell to McKinleyville in March and April. We were working to gather Humboldt folks interested in educating themselves about how to curb climate change, starting here at home. We wanted to accomplish this in a unique way by playing a game called Humboldt Climate Challenge. Unfortunately, only one event took place before the shelter-in-place mandate froze us in our tracks.
Much of life entered a state of suspended animation for quite a while. The timing of the game events had been calculated to prepare as many people as possible for a round of robust public comment on Humboldt’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), which was due to come out sometime during 2020. But as we all know, it was a long, strange year, and the CAP never poked its head out of the ground. It still hasn’t, but we’re hearing rumbles.
Not long ago Humboldt County planner, Connor McGuigan, updated the Board of Supervisors on the plan’s progress. The first draft will make its debut any day now — if it hasn’t by the time of this printing — and then California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) takes a whack at it. After that it’s the public’s turn. All we know so far is that the plan conforms to the state’s recommendation to reduce emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
How will Humboldt accomplish these ambitious and very necessary goals? Here’s where we figured the Humboldt Climate Challenge would help educate and stimulate discussions. Wendy Ring, the creator of this cooperative game, has imagined a fantastical premise. The universe mysteriously splits down the space / time continuum, creating two versions of itself — the Do-niverse and the Don’t-iverse. As you can probably guess, inhabitants of the latter don’t muster the will to change the status quo, and conditions in Humboldt steadily worsen. Familiar landmarks flood, and other disasters occur more and more frequently.
In the other half of the universe, players decide what changes must be effected and in what order. Which gives the most bang per buck? Rooftop solar or solar farms? Bike trails or EV infrastructure? Players utilize public and private funds, and economic benefits are factored in. It’s a race against time.
As people get vaccinated and epidemic restrictions loosen, small gatherings seem safe again. Perhaps even a little fun is permitted. Anyone who would like to play the game, host a game, or help publicize games, can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s get ready for the Climate Action Plan. It’s time to make up for lost time.