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No worries on climate: Metaverse is coming!


What is the intersection point of Metaverse and COP26 discussions? Here is the case: Be ready to live inside, well at home…

Is it a coincidence that the Metaverse and COP26 climate debates coincide? I do not think so. The metaverses are peaking at a time when reality itself feels dystopian, with a global pandemic, climate change, and economic uncertainty hanging over our daily lives.

What the hell is Metaverse?

Mark Zuckerberg tried to position Facebook as a system that would replace the entire internet. But, did not succeed till today. Now, he is making another attempt. He is changing the name of Facebook to Meta, thinking the future of the internet lies in something called the “metaverse” a virtual world where people will live, work and play via their avatars.

This is not a new and futuristic idea. The term ‘metaverse’ is originally coming from almost 30 years ago.

Snow Crash, a 1992 published science fiction novel by Neal Stephenson, inspired the boss of Facebook. People use digital avatars of themselves to explore the online world, often as a way of escaping a dystopian reality in the novel.

Zuckerberg invites us to put on a virtual reality (VR) headset and go about our daily lives -meeting with friends, shopping around, going to concerts, working in virtual offices, etc.- all without having to do any of it in real! We will just sit behind our VR glasses at our homes and pretend we are actually ‘living’.

Not only Facebook, but also companies like Microsoft, Roblox and Epic Games are also planning their own metaverses. The pandemic, in particular, saw many of us escape reality into online worlds.

Escape from real problems?

In a recent Wired article, Matthew Gault wrote, “Silicon Valley sees the creation of virtual worlds as the ultimate free-market solution to a political problem. In a world of increasing wealth inequality, environmental disaster, and political instability, why not sell everyone a device that whisks them away to a virtual world free of pain and suffering?”

It seems like the ethos of our leaders at this moment in history —not just in tech, but corporations broadly, and certainly in politics — is to run away from our problems and hope for some magical solutions to solve them. Or at least distract us. As Gault describes, “a nightmarish vision of the future where the world burns around us while we retreat into fantasy worlds.”

Metaverse has no climate problems!

Lack of leadership on climate change is a prime example of this type of thinking and we see its faulty logic coming from leaders, countries and corporations in every direction.

Look at COP26 discussions. All stakeholders have been discussing to find ways to reduce carbon emissions to prevent global warming and climate changes which totally effect the life on earth. But, the output of COP26 -as we sadly witnessed- is not solid enough to repair the damage harshly but instead only reduce the harm by taking soft measures. Because, all parties have different agendas even if the threat is the same for all the living-beings on the planet.

It’s considered to be our last real chance to consciously choose a different path from what has been forecast to be a hot, wet, and destructive one. Whether we design a liveable future or not is at stake.

If we continue down the road, we’re taking we will not have a livable planet – at least one where we spend much time outside.

Get ready to live without leaving home!

So, these metaverse intentions, namely digital, artificial, and entirely designed worlds, do prepare us for a life inside, where outside is unfit for living?

Yet, if you look at the billionaire space race involving Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, it would seem that their plan is to set up camp on Mars and live there. If there would be a living outside our planet, for sure the chosen ones would benefit. But, the rest would stand by and watch global warming make this planet unlivable.

It’s a perfect demonstration of escapism philosophy -rather than dealing really with the climate crisis-  we will retreat into a fantasy where somehow we’ll miraculously be able to live on the beautiful planet of Mars one day or switch our lives to digital ‘metaverses’ where our avatars live in our place.  

In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.”

Remember Wall-E? The Pixar movie (2008)? Wall-E is a thrash collector robot, in a distant but not so unrealistic future where mankind has abandoned earth because it has become covered with trash from products sold by the powerful multi-national corporation. As there is no life on earth, the humans ride around the space in a ship. It was a futuristic fiction but can we say today that this is so far away?

We are not in a position to go backward, but we can choose where we focus our efforts. The more attention we pay to virtual worlds, going to Mars, space tourism, and cryptocurrency the less we pay to people, things and humanity values that are real for the physical world.

This is also critical to fight against the sustainable future obstacles of the world. Climate change, global warming, pollution, injustice, gender equality, civil rights to all humanity, etc.

Where we choose to focus our attention determines our reality. We could really do something with the huge resources of big-techs to solve the real-world problems, rather than focusing on how to escape this sphere of reality and live in ignorance.


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