Pros And Cons Of The Metaverse’s Environmental Issues

Every little makes a mickle. When we enjoy the convenience digitalisation brings daily, how much impact have we created by utilising this amenity? The metaverse age has arrived. In what ways will metaverse magnify the effect?

We, the frequent email users, can save little by little. Mike Berners-Lee, a carbon footprint research fellow at Lancaster University, estimates that a spam email will induce 0.3g of CO2e. A regular email causes 4g CO2e, and an email with a photo produces 50g CO2e. After sending emails for a year, the CO2e that a typical business user created is comparable to driving 200 miles in a family car. You may think the CO2 emitted by sending emails is the tip of the iceberg. The virtual way of connection in the metaverse age indeed saves us a lot of travel. Remember, carbon emission contributes 27% of the greenhouse gas emissions.

Another leverage of metaverse technology is the look-so-real environment. The close-to-reality scenarios with sense and smell enable training and education that requires the learners to be there to be trained. It is somehow like a simulation, with an immersive view and sense. Impressively, a project helping acousticians realise the result of acoustic products by utilising 4D virtual reality to visualise and illustrate the product’s effectiveness has launched in Hong Kong. The metaverse allows the learners to change scenes, indicating the direction of the specific zone/source and bringing the effect to the audience with sensation. By empowering the learners to instruct and control the stage to approach, the learners experience practical training in authentic training circumstances. If it happens to be the massive training cases, such as military training involving aviation, the impact of metaverse will become more profound.

For every plus, there is a minus—the global metaverse movement streaming greenhouse gases into our planet. Let’s not forget the carbon emissions generated from the AI development life cycle. University of Massachusetts researchers uncovered that nearly 626,000 pounds of CO2 equivalent are produced to train several typical big AI models. That is over five times the quantity of greenhouse gases a car emits during its lifetime. Beyond question, the universal metaverse outlook sets the alarm for other environmental issues—e-waste.

For that reason, corporates, no matter if it’s metaverse service and equipment providers or service consumers, hold accountability for the environmental issues caused by applying metaverse as their business solutions. Even though the company only takes metaverse as one of their, e.g. marketing or engagement campaign solutions, the environmental impact of the solutions should also be taken into account in the company’s overall environmental performance.

“Look before you leap”. Greenwashing harms your company’s reputation; negligence of some critical information revelation costs as much as the same damage.

By: ANewR Consulting Limited, a digital environmental consultant headquartered in Hong Kong since 2008. Our expertise has grown into the context of air and water qualities, noise, green building, waste management, and remediation. With extensive know-how in environmental planning and assessment, feasibility study and policy review, ecological design, monitoring, and audit (EM&A), ANewR has matured to be a leading management consultancy. Standing in the digital transformation reign, ANewR has participated in various environmental digital projects – interactive 3D visualisation, immersive automation virtual environment, Virtual reality, automation system, and monitoring platforms.
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