Surprising Role of the Metaverse in Combating Global Warming

The development of the Metaverse could have significant environmental benefits, including lowering global surface temperatures by up to 0.02 degrees Celsius and reducing US greenhouse gas emissions by up to 10 gigatons by 2050, new research suggests. A virtual tour of contributing to decarbonisation and energy efficiency.

For many tech enthusiasts, the Metaverse holds the promise of revolutionizing every aspect of daily life, from professional pursuits to learning experiences and leisure activities. Now, a recent study from Cornell University indicates that the environment may also benefit from the metaverse.

The study reveals that the metaverse has the potential to lower global surface temperatures by up to 0.02 degrees. Celsius At the end of the century.

The team’s paper was recently published in the journal Energy and Environmental Sciences.

Using AI-based modeling to analyze data from key sectors such as technology, energy, environment and business, they anticipate the growth of the Metaverse application and the impact of its most promising applications: remote work, virtual travel, distance learning, gaming and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The researchers predicted metaverse expansion by 2050 along three different trajectories: slow, nominal, and fast, and looked to earlier technologies like television, the Internet, and the iPhone for insights into how quickly that adoption might occur. They also factor in the amount of energy consumed by the growing application. Modeling suggested that within 30 years, the technology would be adopted by more than 90% of the population.

„One thing that surprised us is that these metawars are going to grow much faster than we expected,” said Fengyi Yu, professor of energy systems engineering and senior author of the paper. „Look at previous technologies – for example, TV. It took decades to finally be accepted by everyone. Now we’re really in the age of the technology explosion. Think about our smartphones. They’ve grown so fast.”

Currently, the two biggest industry drivers of Metaverse development are Meta and Microsoft, both of which contributed to the study. Meta focuses on personal experiences such as gaming, while Microsoft specializes in business solutions including remote conferencing and distance learning.

In your opinion, restricting commercial travel would create the greatest environmental benefit.

„Think about the decarbonisation of our transport sector,” he said. “Electric vehicles work, but you can’t drive to London or Tokyo. Do I really have to go to Singapore for a conference tomorrow? This will be an interesting decision point for some stakeholders to consider as we move forward with these technologies with human-machine interface in 3D virtual worlds.

The paper notes that the metaverse industry could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 gigatons by 2050; A low atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration of 4.0 parts per million; Reduction of effective radiant power by 0.035 watts per square meter; And total domestic energy consumption decreased by 92 EJ, which is higher than the annual nationwide energy consumption of all end-use sectors in previous years.

The findings will help policymakers understand how metaverse industry development can accelerate progress toward achieving net-zero emissions goals and encourage more flexible decarbonization strategies. Metaverse-based remote work, distance learning and virtual tourism can be promoted to improve air quality. In addition to mitigating air pollutant emissions, reducing transportation and commercial energy use will help shift the energy supply, with more energy supply going to the residential sector.

„This mechanism is going to help, but ultimately, it will help reduce global surface temperatures by 0.02 degrees,” you said. “There are many sectors in this economy. You can’t rely on the Metaverse to do everything. But it can do quite a bit if we use it judiciously.

Reference: „Emerging Metaverse Industry Could Reduce US Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 10 Gt CO2e by 2050” Ning Zhao and Fengqi You, 13 April 2023, Energy and Environmental Sciences.
DOI: 10.1039/D3EE00081H

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

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