Monday, December 24, 2007

A Low Carbon Diet at the UN Climate Conference

During the UN Climate Conference earlier this month, some very noted speakers decided that instead of flying to Bali, they would present their programs through Second Life. More specifically Second Nature The decision was made by the presenters based upon the estimate that an avatar creates a carbon footprint that is a fraction of that if they flew to Bali.

At least three speakers announced their sessions on Nature Network, NPG’s social networking website ( The confirmed programs included:

(1) Tara LaForce, Lecturer at Imperial College London, on her research into carbon capture and storage
(2) Dr Simon Buckle, Director of Climate Change Policy at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change
(3) George Monbiot, Guardian Columnist and author of Heat: How we can stop the planet burning

All the events were free and open. Second Life avatars may still teleport to Second Nature via that are made available retrospectively online.

There is an interesting (intense) debate about how big the carbon footprint is of avatars in Second Life. Nick Carr, Author of Rough Type started an avalanche of opinion by attempting to (theoretically) calculate the carbon footprint of an avatar. (

I will save the binary world a few bits by not providing as summation with the exception to tell you that the estimated average 75KWh per avatar per year is less than about three days of electric consumption by an average American household. The 75KWh translates into about 39kg of CO2. A round trip flight from NY to London creates over 1200 kg of CO2 per passenger and that is only the beginning of your travel consumption (taxi, hotel, restaurant, etc.) So in summary it would be safe to say that attending the conference via Second Life is a more “green thing” than traveling to a small island in Indonesia from almost anywhere.

If you are a numbers person and like the details, more on the debate and calculations can be found at

The average household in the US consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to Department of Energy figures.

Formula and information taken from:

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