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Video Games vs. Climate Change

Eric Warner    Staff Writer

On Sept. 23, the United Nations held the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit to hopefully persuade countries around the world to continue moving forward in combating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere. While most news outlets here in the U.S. focused on what the young and inspirational climate activist, Greta Thunberg, and President Trump had to say on the matter, many did not focus on other results from this meeting. The video game industry as a whole has begun to join the fight against climate change.

Twenty-one of the industry’s biggest companies and developers have integrated in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) alliance, known as Playing For The Planet. This alliance includes the likes of industry heads Sony Interactive Entertainment (known for creating the PlayStation series of consoles) and Microsoft (known for creating the Xbox series of consoles), along with a slew of other organizations from all gaming platforms. Playing For The Planet’s ultimate goal is to reduce 30 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 through various means, which each organization will tackle accordingly.

Sony will begin introducing new, energy efficient technology such as a low power suspend modes into their consoles. This will probably begin appearing in Sony’s next generation of consoles, the rumored PlayStation 5, which is expected by fans to be announced at 2020’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), since the PlayStation 4 is nearing its seventh year. Most console generations last around six to seven years. It’s currently unknown how this low power suspend mode will affect the console, but it’s probable that it’ll be an optional mode for players to use that might make downloads or load times longer. Official details of this new console are likely to be announced during 2020’s E3. Meanwhile, Sony will continue inspiring their gaming community to take action against climate change.

Microsoft has already begun battling against climate change since 2012 by committing to carbon neutrality. This means that their devices have a net zero carbon footprint by either balancing out their devices carbon emissions with carbon removal or simply eliminating their carbon emissions altogether. The company has also set a goal for itself to reduce its supply chain emissions by 30% by 2030, along with certifying over 800,000 Xbox consoles as carbon neutral. It’s currently unknown if this relates to current generation Xbox One consoles or if Microsoft’s next console, currently codenamed Project Scarlett, will be carbon neutral. This will also likely be confirmed at 2020’s E3 when Xbox officially reveals what their next console will be. Along with their carbon neutral consoles, Microsoft will help inspire more people to battle climate change through Minecraft’s Build a Better World.

Build a Better World is a fairly new initiative from Minecraft’s branch of Microsoft, where the community unites together to help support organizations that make Earth a better world. In 2018, Minecraft collaborated with The Nature Conservancy to produce a project called Coral Crafters where they used a material called Biorock to help grow dead or degrading coral reefs affected by pollution and climate change. Biorock are structures made of rebar with low voltage electrical charges that cause limestone to grow on top of the rebar allowing infant coral reefs to grow much faster on these structures. The Minecraft community then designed Biorock installations in the game in shapes of a mermaid wolf, sea turtle eggs, and an axolotl. Mojang, the developer of Minecraft, also had Biorock constructs of their game’s mascots Steve and Alex be made. Once these were constructed, they were put into the coast of Cozumel where the corals can grow on these Minecraft designed structures. In 2019, Minecraft collaborated with the organization, “charity: water”, on their mission to supply over 650 million people with clean water. Streamers around the world joined together on one weekend called Weekend for Water, with the goal to raise at least $100,000 to bring clean water to over 3000 people. Mojang started the event by donating $10,000, and by the end of the weekend, the Minecraft community had raised $117,039 for those people in need.

Climate change is a global problem that everyone needs to pitch in to  solve. As Inger Anderson, the executive director of UNEP states, “We are encouraged by the commitment of these gaming companies, which shows recognition that we all must play our role in the global effort to lower carbon emissions and effect real change towards sustainability”.

Campus Lantern
The Campus Lantern is the school newspaper at Eastern Connecticut State University. The Lantern is run by students, for students and reports on everything hppening around campus. We publish every other week. The Lantern has been in publication since 1945.
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