Author: Bill Pugsley, Ottawa.
Models simulating the ways that people interact with the natural world and themselves have long been used to create scenarios that allow environmental and economic policies to be tested. The World 2 model was developed Jay W. Forrester in 1970 using system dynamics techniques to examine global energy and consumption trends, and led to the “Limits to Growth” book from the Club of Rome. The article reviewed today by W. Sims Bainbridge takes that concept further by examining social interactions in an online multi-player environment to test such propositions as telecommuting or, as he calls it, “Virtual Sustainability”.
“online role-playing games may serve as tools for advancing sustainability goals:
- by moving conspicuous consumption ..into virtual environments.. reduce the need for physical resources
- prepare individuals to be teleworkers, .. to replace much transportation technology, notably in commuting.
- virtual worlds and online games build international cooperation
- potential social benefits of this new technology may urge us to reconsider a number of traditional societal institutions”
“a survey of 78 US government agencies found that less than nine percent of workers whose jobs made them eligible for telework were in fact doing it even on a limited part-time basis.. Virtual worlds allow users to become familiar with a range of tele-activites, as well as gaining facility in using the technology”
“One does not need to be a congenital pessimist to doubt that minor changes can save our dying civilization. With that in mind, gamelike virtual worlds may be useful experimental laboratories for possible radical transformations of real society in the future. They may even serve as effective training grounds for the citizens of the future, and offer a bridge to that future over which many people may begin to cross, even today”
Virtual Sustainability (16 page pdf, Sims Bainbridge, W. Sustainability 2010, 2, 3195-3210, Sep. 30,2010)
Bio: The author is a meteorologist with a background in hydrometeorology (the application of meteorology to hydrology), climate modelling, research and applications, aviation weather forecasting and services, the planning of automated observing networks and the impacts of air pollution on health.