Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Second Life: real and virtual carbon footprints and Brazilians

On this blog, under the guise of globalisation and the power of multinationals, we have previously posted on the rise and rise of "Second Life"; the virtual world of avtars that has created millionaires, property developers, a housing boom but as yet, no pollution and hence limited demand for environmental economists.

See Globalization and the next dimension: Multinationals enter Second Life .

However, whilst the avtars may walk and flirt their way around Second Life free from air pollution, poisoned water and garbage, in real life it appears that these little cartoons are rather more energy intensive than you might think.

Treehugger today enlightened us with:

Second Life Avatars Consume As Much Electricity As Brazilians

which comments on a post by Nicholas Carr:

Avatars consume as much electricity as Brazilians

The maths is interesting, as are some of the comments.

More narrowly still, the average citizen of Brazil consumes 1,884 kWh, which, given the fact that my avatar estimate was rough and conservative, means that your average Second Life avatar consumes about as much electricity as your average Brazilian.

Which means, in turn, that avatars aren't quite as intangible as they seem. They don't have bodies, but they do leave footprints.

UPDATE: In a comment on this post, Sun's Dave Douglas takes the calculations another step, translating electricity consumption into CO2 emissions. (Carbon dioxide, he notes, "is the most prevalent greenhouse gas from the production of electricity.") He writes: "looking at CO2 production, 1,752 kWH/year per avatar is about 1.17 tons of CO2. That's the equivalent of driving an SUV around 2,300 miles (or a Prius around 4,000)."

For a snapshot of the Second Life economy click HERE.

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