How can we lessen its effect on our environment by sublimating it in the Virtual World and digital realm of Web3?
Table of contents
What is a Virtual World?
For many serious people, the virtual world seems like a ridiculous distraction from our planetary problems.
Rather than a solution to them. Except, it is already driving sustainability.
And it has the potential to turn material consumption on its head.
Because all those pixels could drive out all the planet-damaging stuff from our economies.
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Today, there’s a burgeoning cohort of conscious consumers enjoying the immaterial joys of the virtual world.
According to a recent survey of nearly 5,700 consumers in the U.S. and Europe,
Those who are more likely to purchase sustainable products.
Are also more than twice as likely to also shop in the virtual world.
Perhaps more of my environmentalist friends are already in there than they’d like to admit.
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Virtual world – What is a Web3?
In simple words, Web3 is a decentralized web that puts users in control using peer-to-peer technology.
Instead of relying on central servers, Web3 allows users to interact directly with one another without a middleman.
The term Web3 was first coined in 2014 by Ethereum’s co-founder, Gavin Wood.
He described Web3 as an inclusive set of protocols to provide building blocks for application makers.
Chiefly, Web3 is the next immersive and decentralized iteration of the Internet. Web3 enables developers to build decentralized applications (dApps).
First, Web3 is a set of protocols and technologies that aim to create a peer-to-peer decentralized internet. But what is for an average person?
There is a marketplace that allows people to buy and sell digital goods. Like crypto collectibles and in-game items.
This technology can be used to create any sort of application that you may be familiar with in Web 2.
Applications that empower blockchain technology and transactions but are not fundamentally dApp, for example, Virtual world.
Moment of Sustainability- Just days before last week’s Climate Week extravaganza in New York, an industry worth $195 billion announced a 99.95% cut in its absolute energy use.
Yet, during the hundreds of events calling for exactly that kind of giant reduction. Very few leaders mentioned the achievement.
Why? If it had been Ikea or Unilever announcing such a carbon saving, we’d of screamed it from the rooftops.
But the sustainability movement doesn’t pay much attention to cryptocurrencies.
And then it was Ethereum (which trades more value than Visa) that changed its rule and slashed its footprint.
Define Virtual World
For too long, the sustainability movement has either ignored or deplored, the virtual world. Sustainability seeks to save our physical lives on Earth.
From the food we eat to the clothes we wear. The air we breathe and the wobbly climate we now live within.
The virtual world, on the other hand, is a relatively new endeavor. That promises a pixelated escape from that fragile earthly reality.
This transfer from material consumption to online shopping is superbly more effective. Then exhortations not to shop at all.
Primarily because of status anxiety.
Real World – Sustainability
The fashion industry contributes to 10% of the world’s carbon emissions.
It is no question that sustainability efforts need to be driven within the industry.
Currently, people are purchasing 60% more garments than they were 20 years ago. 85% of textiles end up in landfills each year.
Although textiles account for a large percentage of environmentally harmful consequences caused by fashion.
There are many underlying efforts causing great damage to ecosystems worldwide as well.
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For example, a 2020 research report on travel taken by designers and buyers .
When attending major fashion weeks, such as London, Milan, Paris, and New York generated 241,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.
This number is equivalent to the Eiffel Tower being lit for 30,60 years or 51,000 cars on the road.
With hundreds of other fashion weeks being held. The total carbon footprint from travel alone is significant.
With the empowerment and use of digital wear, now present in the virtual world, modern technological developments can create a new route of sustainability.
When Helinski Fashion Week went purely digital this year, the carbon footprint per visitor dropped from 0.66kg. Digital wear reduces the overproduction of clothes.
Saves time, and consumes fewer materials. Saving 3,300 liters of water per garment and emitting 97% less carbon emission.
The future of virtual fashion is an opportunity to reroute the current carbon footprint of the industry. Lean forward towards eco-friendly practices, and make a long-lasting impact.
It has become catastrophic news for the environment. Wasteful excess of wealth as a status symbol is nothing new.
It’s as old as pineapples rotting on 17th-century dinner tables and gold jewelry being buried with Ancient Egyptian pharaohs.
But as our population booms, disposable income increases in rich countries. And the wealthy become wealthier.
Our signals of status have weighed heavier on the planet’s limited resources.
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Indeed, scientists have shown that affluent lifestyles are accelerating the environmental crisis.
And the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report doesn’t hold back in condemning those behaviors.
“Conspicuous consumption by the wealthy is the cause of a large proportion of emissions in all countries.
Related to expenditures on such things as air travel, tourism, large private vehicles, and large homes.”
Which presents a bit of a pickle. Humans’ drive for status is hardwired. Part of our biological and societal nature.
But, that natural drive is driving our natural life support systems to destruction.
Can Virtual World & Web3 Become Sustainable
What if our status displays only existed online? What if likes and follows replaced limos and flashy watches?
This radically dematerialized future is within reach. More than 2% of the world’s population now uses the Internet.
A number that’s hard to keep track of when 27000 people going online every (yes, hour). Facebook alone includes 3% of us; if it were a country.
Its population would be bigger than China’s and India’s combined.
More people have cell phone subscriptions than have access to basic sanitation services.
Web3 –Virtual World
What was once resolutely physical is already becoming merely pixels or tokens. Three years ago, the world’s first digital dress sold via blockchain for $9,500.
Its forward-thinking owner describes a feeling that is, perhaps, reflective of this digital native culture.
“500 years ago we jumped on a ship to sail to the edge of the map, but all of the physical world has been discovered already.
It is really exciting to discover a space that hasn’t been explored yet”.
It is a space in which there’s no need for something to be ‘real’ to be relevant or commercialized – and Web3 will speed that transition.
To protect the planet, it is imperative that these digital spaces cause less environmental harm than their predecessors.
The energy usage from mining associated with digital hardware is a major concern. But widespread attention on the issue is already driving a transition.
From the energy-heavy ‘proof of work’ principle towards less energy-intensive ‘proof of stake’ chains. The Ethereum announcement set a huge precedent.
And while manufacturing devices and running data centers uses significant amounts of land and energy, it can’t compare to the global supply chain resources.
Manufacturing impact, use, and wasteful disposal of clothes, cars, and other physical status-bearing goods.
Web2′s payment infrastructure relies on banks and payment processors. excluding people without bank accounts or those who happen to live within the borders of the wrong country.
Web3 uses tokens like ETH to send money directly to the browser and requires no trusted third party.
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Social Media –
As an environmental solution is also not without its psychological perils.
Last year, ex-Facebook employee Frances Haugen alerted the world to the harm caused by the platform.
And highlighted that huge control lies in the hands of a few. It is still in its first few blinking and yawning moments of existence.
These risks are real and need addressing as it finds its feet. As it does, its fullest and most beneficial potential could continue to reveal itself.
How we can work towards Sustainability?
We should bear in mind that moving status online will never be about everyone becoming less superficial or more virtuous.
There will be cheating, unfairness, and manipulation. Just like there is in the physical world.
It is certainly not a case of social media, gaming, and the virtual world becoming a space.
Solely focused on sustainability, values, or important debates. If it were, that wouldn’t work for dematerializing status symbols.
Digital Space –
The virtual world doesn’t need a purpose beyond what it already has. By becoming superbly good.
At what it is already becoming: a more important status symbol than material consumption.
Young people’s upbringing in the digital space is already priming them to blur the lines between the digital and physical.
To create status virtually and send those signals using social media. Without needing to consume precious physical resources.
Which only leaves the question? will we all go virtual in time to save the planet?
There are endless possibilities of what is to come.
Perhaps an integration into the virtual universe, bridging the gap of carbon emissions created by digital wear even further.
Or the adoption of augmented reality within the application.
Although there is an exciting unpredictability, one thing is certain, the opening of the metaverse will present sustainable options we have not dreamt of yet.
The carbon emissions of crypto transactions have been a significant drawback for many environmentalists and artists.
However, the past years have been a beacon of hope for those who envision blockchain becoming a sustainable method of digital transactions.
The most groundbreaking news for environmentally conscious people occurred in September.
When the Ethereum organization successfully deployed a new upgrade for its transactions technology making it less polluting.
How we can help -By transforming our consumption habits toward the digital world.
We can keep our economic growth while stopping excessive production and transport of goods.
In a most decentralized and democratized internet infrastructure that gives consumers full autonomy over their digital assets.
Contrary to what people believe the metaverse could have a positive ecological impact.
Digitization could be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a factor of 5.
Eco-design as well as environmental and ethical responsibility are key factors in the development of the metaverse.
Web 3 and metaverse are inseparably linked to each other. The metaverse will continue to exist in surface and deep webs.
Even though web3 is still frequently referred to as decentralized.
However, the metaverse will remain centralized in terms of social media-controlling platforms.
Although Web 3 represents an evolution over Web 2 in many ways.
It is unlikely that Web 3 will be more environmentally friendly than Web 2. Decentralized networks can be energy intensive.
Web 3 and Metaverse are different, yet their applications and future use are connected.
Both of them use the concept of blockchain technology and artificial Intelligence. It can be said that the Metaverse won’t exist if it weren’t for the Web 3 engine.
The full impact of AI and machine learning on Web3 will be far larger. This is the key technology that will make more dynamic user experiences possible. Looking past these breakthroughs applications and creating mature technologies will demand change in both cases,
Web will continue to grow at a CAGR of 44.6% from 2022 to 2030. So,it will be one of the fastest growing sectors for the next decade