This Week In Sustainability – Next-Gen Energy Research and Environmental Gamification

| Josh Henretig

clip_image002The Atlantic published an interesting piece on renewable energy based on research presented at the magazine’s Big Science Summit this week. Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Lab presented on an experiment to make “a miniature sun on earth.” The National Ignition Facility, or “the NIF,” is attempting to “change the nature of our future” by creating usable energy out of simple water. If their goal is achieved, it would be possible to power all of California with as much water as it takes to fill a swimming pool. While large research projects are taking place, the article also notes more simple ways the average person can conserve energy, focusing on home thermostats. Currently, 44 percent of Americans have purchased programmable thermostats, but only 11 percent actually program them. Both trends—next-gen research and thermostats—are a reminder that technology will be at the forefront of solving climate challenges.

clip_image004Also this week, GreenBiz reported on how gamification—the application of game design to non-game situations—can be used as a tool to protect natural environments. The article featured an innovative game, The Global Water Games, which allows game players to take the role of key stakeholders and make decisions based on their livelihoods or regulatory authority. Participants also experience real-time economic and environmental impacts resulting from their actions. The game is an interactive way to get more people interested and aware of environmental sustainability. Allowing creativity through problem-solving, the game assigns each player a stakeholder role (like farmer or bay regulator) and gives participants the opportunity to collaborate with the other players to solve the environmental concern. It’s a fun example of how technology can be used in a variety of ways to increase awareness of environmental challenges.

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