It’s the tips and lessons schoolchildren have learned throughout the ages: Do your part to save the planet. Whether it’s recycling, reducing water use, or using cars, I’ve learned that it’s essential to help the environment. However, it is the actions of many that make a difference.
This is the lesson from New Mexico University of Communication and Journalism (C&J) Professor Michael Lechuga and graduate student Robert Howard attempt to communicate in a unique way.
“We are addressing environmental issues but we are also trying to do so in an innovative way,” Lechuga said.
They worked with xReal Lab at California State University in San Bernardino to develop the “Reconnections” video game, a true representation of why it’s important to trust your neighbors to play their part too in a greener future.
Thanks to a grant of nearly $10,000 from UNM . Research Appropriations CommitteeLechuga and Howard were able to set up a VR lab and purchase Oculus equipment to transport participants to a remote island.
“All we’ve done since then is build what is potentially an environment, or a series of environments that will allow people to reshape their relationship to the environment, to reshape their relationship to others,” he said. “Really, that’s the change in attitude that we want.”
From there, participants go through four stages, each of which aims to test their ability to choose more than the previous one. It also includes an old game theory example: the prisoner’s dilemma.
“I“If we all make decisions that are beneficial to society, we will end up creating a better social bond between us,” Lechuga said.
You are presented with decisions such as building bridges for the betterment of the island, or building a house for yourself for your own benefit. After that, you will also have to choose between burning nearly extinct creatures and burning your possessions.
To achieve higher levels and reach the end of the game, the other game players – whom you don’t have contact with – must make the right call as well.
TThe prisoner’s dilemma, of course It creates a situation in which individual decision makers always feel more inclined to choose in a way that helps them, but does not lead to the best outcome for individuals as a group.
“It’s a lot like what we experience in the real world. We can do everything right and do our part, but if someone doesn’t do our part, we’re all kind of left to sit in the rubble.” Professor Michael Lechuga
VR tech allows you to immerse yourself in the progress of the decision-making process. You can lay planks, catch fish, and walk across the floor.
On average, Lechuga says, by manipulating VR technology from 45 minutes to an hour, you’re more likely to embody character and situation.
He and Howard believe the vision is true. If you truly experience the consequences of your actions, they will translate into the way you behave in real life when it comes to climate change.
“Environmental activism is often phrased as recycling more, or loving the environment more, but really having a different attitude about the environment is what we’re trying to harness,” He said.
You can always look at the numbers.
Now humans be An estimated 9.5 billion metric tons of carbon are put into the atmosphere each year By burning fossil fuels, and another 1.5 billion by Earth changes. Since 1750, humans have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by about 50 percent. In factAnd the Over 99.9% of peer-reviewed papers We agree that climate change is a major cause for us, according to a recent survey of 88,125 climate-related studies.
It was developed with the help of Dr. Kate Hoyt of Pacific Lutheran University and Shane Burrell Jr., a graduate student at the University of Oregon, all collaborators. I think there is something to be said about this approach that has never been seen before.
“We’ve kind of tried to mimic how our ecosystem works and it can’t be preserved unless we really invest in our ecosystems,” Lechuga said.
He traces much of this to his research on colonial settlements. Over time, technology and monetization took precedence, cutting off the connection between humans and the land they inhabit. However, using the same technology, Lechuga intends to return users to that initial relationship.
“It actually gets people to think about what their attitudes are, about themselves, about their place in society, about their place in nature, and then change it a little bit,” he said.
This C&J team is looking for 100 to 200 volunteers to help test the program and solve ethical issues.
They plan to collect the results throughout the fall, with plans to compile their data in the spring.
In addition, they hope to expand the simulation, making decisions more complex.
You can join the study by email Michael Lechuga or Robert Howard.