January 16, 2009

Wasting Time Productively

As is well known, the problem with combating global warming is that the costs of mitigation are mostly upfront, while the benefits, in terms of avoided destabilization of the Earth's climate, are in the future. This doesn't jibe well with human behavior, which is more attuned to taking on direct and immediate threats, such as war or terrorism or (for some people) same-sex marriage.

But suppose that failing to control pollution and develop clean energy resources resulted, not in extreme weather patterns and rising sea levels, but ZOMBIES??! That's the premise of the Web game Super Energy Apocalypse, which take real data on the cost of energy and toxic waste removal and pairs it with a typical "defend your base against enemies" scenario. It's pretty amusing, both for its playablity and for its assumptions about human psychology. Sustainable resource management? Boring! Killing zombies with wind-powered gun turrets? Fun!

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