Energy, Environment, and Ecopolitics

  1. Clint
    April 26, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Climate Challenge is a game that places the player as the president of Europe. The player’s goal is to reduce the CO2 emissions of the nation over a century. The player must also keep the water, food, and electricity supplies of the nation high. In the game, the only way to have any change is by the player passing the policies. There is no possible way for there to be a voluntary change by companies. Everything has to be done by purely the national government. In 2006 alone, Aspen Ski Company, FedEx, Kinko’s, Starbucks, Nike, and Whole Foods Market voluntarily switched to renewable electricity sources. This drastically helps reduce CO2 emissions put out by a nation. The amount of renewable electricity purchased by Whole Foods Market is equivalent to taking 60,000 cars off the road. Also, the game does not allow for new sources of energy to be created. The game only has hydrogen, gas, coal, wind, and solar power options. Today, scientists are currently working on “a tiny pellet… and it will provide an endless supply of safe, clean energy”. The pellet contains deuterium and tritium, isotopes of hydrogen, and when blasted by a laser, the reaction will be similar to the center of the sun. The heat from this will be used to generate electricity. Also, the reaction will create no pollution.
    Energyville is a game that requires the player to use different types of electricity to fully power a city. The types of electricity that the player can use are biomass, coal, solar, hydro, natural gas, nuclear, petroleum, wind, hydrogen, and oil share. The game is basically a puzzle about finding the best eco-friendly mix of energy sources. The game also promotes the idea of energy independence because other nations can have problems that affect the ability to import fuel. However, in real life, energy independence is extremely hard to achieve. Energy independence means “a condition in which foreign powers can neither interrupt our energy supplies nor affect prices.” Also, oil is huge imported resource that the US cannot break from: “A gallon of gas, refined from African oil, is cheaper than a gallon of Maine sparkling water. Political alternatives like corn-based ethanol have required huge subsidies and convulsed food markets but produced only 430,000 barrels per day in 2007— 2 percent of U.S. oil consumption.” The only potential way to achieve energy independence in the US today is by the will power to achieve it, not just saying it.

  2. Nichole
    April 29, 2010 at 2:08 am

    I prefer to play Climate Challenge over Energyville. Climate challenge seems like you have more choices and decisions to make compared to Energyville. Energyville though does a better job at showing the disadvantages of certain energy sources while Climate Challenge makes things like solar and wind power seem like the best possible energy source. In climate challenge one must decrease CO2 emissions. This isn’t easy because you have to make sure your decisions don’t affect your approval rating too much or else you could possibly get booted out of office. So you have to balance your decisions between high and low approval. Also you want to keep things like your resources, food, water, and energy high too. In evergyville you are trying to power up a city by choosing what types of energy sources you want to use. The lower impact you have on security, environment, and economy, the better your final score will be.
    Climate Challenge does not do a very good job of showing the disadvantages of using certain energy sources like Energyville does. A home would not get a constant amount of power every day if wind power was the main source of power. Wind power has actually impacted wildlife in certain areas too. “Wind power facilities in northern California, specifically in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area about 50 miles east of San Francisco, have been responsible for the deaths of numerous raptors, or birds of prey, such as hawks and golden eagles.” If wind power is a major cause of the death of different birds, it will be harder for wind power to become more popular. There will be more unwilling people to use wind power as their energy source. Another problem of wind power is that people do not like how they look even though it won’t polute the air as much. There is also only a few areas that wind power is best at. “Good sites for wind plants are the tops of smooth, rounded hills, open plains or shorelines, and mountain gaps that produce wind funneling.”
    In Climate Challenge a good source of energy is solar panels, but in Energyville Solar panels seem to have more problems even though it does benefit the city. Even though in Climate Challenege solar panels look like a good source of energy, “the drawback to solar power is that it is expensive to produce: generating power from photovoltaic panels costs more than four times as much as coal, and more than twice what wind power costs”. Solar power only accounts for less than one percent of the United States electricity use. Solar energy may also be a major health risk. “The materials that are released during the refining process will increase the rate of toxicity and can affect your health. This is one of the more serious negatives of solar energy that is responsible for eleven to twenty one deaths per each quadrillion joules of energy that are being created.” Another problem with solar panels is that they cannot be shut off, they are always energized.>

  3. Jimmy
    April 29, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Climate Challenge and Energyville are two games that are trying the show the issues that arise different problems with the climate. Each game is trying to show awareness of climate problems in different ways. In Climate Challenge the game is trying to show the player that a world leader must figure out a way to reduce CO2 admissions. This is one way to try to make people aware of climate problems. Another way that this was achieved was the way the creators of Energyville did. Energyville made the player learn that controlling CO2 admissions and greenhouse gases is a little harder then we all thought. A really good point Clint makes is about outside help. In these games both games don’t really allow the user to have help from different companies. But on a different note I really like what Energyville does with things like Wind Turbines. “In 2008, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,040 kWh, an average of 920 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month.”. Where, Ten 700-kW units would make a 7-MW wind plant, while 10 2.5-MW machines would make a 25-MW facility”. So 10 turbines turbines power 600 houses if there is a constant wind every day 24 hours a day, so the amount of power the house would get would be spotty so on a non windy day the house would get no power at all. Energyville promotes problems like this so people understand what’s going on. Climate Challenge I think does not do a very good job of this because they promote things like wind power all the time.

    I must say after playing both game and researching both games that Energy is the most well rounded game, and the best learning tool out of any of the games we have played so far. The visual was some of the best stuff we watched, the game was easy to understand, start, and play. The facts were on point, the information was reliable, and it was fun. All I can say is Chevron needs a round of applause for their work on this game.

  4. Nick Brown
    April 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Chevron’s Energyville is a flawed simulation with a good message. The object of it is to power a city with energy as efficiently as possible using a mixture of renewable energy resources as well as traditional sources, such as petroleum and natural gas. If the object of the game was to demonstrate that renewable energy sources were not an immediate answer, then they did a fairly good job. For example when I started to play the game, I used only wind and hydro-electric power, only to be notified by the game that I needed petroleum. What I hadn’t realized was that my city needed more than just electricity, it needed oil to fuel its public transportation, its gas stations and its airports. My foolish assumption was that I could step in and create an entirely earth-friendly town, and I was immediately proven wrong. However the best scores in the game, which is to say the ones that had the lowest impact on the environment, economy and security of my city were achieved through the use of as many renewable resources as possible, the most useful being wind and hydro-electric, and the worst being petroleum. What this showed me is that while alternative energy sources aren’t an immediate solution, they are necessary to lower our global carbon footprint and save our planet. However, although the message of the game encourages hope, the actions of Big Oil companies do not. “ExxonMobil plans to stick to fossil fuels, while Chevron, Shell and BP are funneling small percentages of profits into alternative energies.” While these are steps in the right direction, it would be nice to see more dramatic change come from the companies themselves rather than government.
    Climate Challenge had a similarly mixed message; fitting for such a complicated issue. The object of the game is to select policies on a variety of levels, such as industry, national and home, that would impact your country’s economy, environment and your popularity. However the game was annoyingly flawed because it is seemingly impossible to win at all three categories. If you play the game to minimize emissions, then your economy is left in ruins. If you play the game to stabilize the economy, then you destroy the environment. And if you try to balance the both of them then your decisions are massively unpopular and you are voted out of office. If the message of the game is that energy efficiency is impossible to achieve without destroying the economy then this game is a success, but this seems a hopeless and false message.

  5. Brian
    April 29, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Climate Challenge and Energyville Blog Post:
    Climate Challenge and Energyville are two very similar games. These games both have similar objectives but they vary greatly in level of difficulty. Personally, I prefer to play Climate Challenge. Climate Challenge, created by the BBC is used to show the player how difficult it is “Go green.” The game helps the player realize how expensive and complicated it is to change to alternative energy resources. The game does this by making things such as wind energy very expensive. The player also must work to control the amount of Carbon Dioxide emissions going into the atmosphere. The player can try to also persuade the vote of other countries in order to help save the Earth and keep it clean. If you don’t keep the Earth clean and carbon dioxide emissions low you will lose the game. The player loses as a result of being kicked out of office. The player can help themselves to stay in office by keeping their approval rating up. Once again, the player does this by using a good strategy to control the government and keeping carbon dioxide emissions down.
    In Energyville, a game created by Chevron player is shown how difficult it is to manage climate change and carbon dioxide emissions. Energyville is similar because it is also very difficult to change to alternative energy resources. In Energyville, the alternative energy resources are much more expensive, than non-renewable and dirty resources such as oil. This is pretty realistic because in today’s world, oil is more readily available than non-renewable resources. Wind energy and solar energy are much more difficult to than oil. This is because oil rigs used for drilling are already built. On the other hand windmills and solar panels have only been built in a small number of places. I find it ironic that Chevron made a game like this because they are a large producer of oil.

  6. Marzieh
    May 29, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    It’s difficult to say which game—Climate Challenge or Chevron’s Energyville—is better than the other because neither is perfect and because they don’t attempt to describe the same topics. Climate Challenge focuses more on the choices that the government makes and how they impact the environment, whereas Energyville only focuses on figuring out the most efficient way to power a fictional city over 20 years.
    Climate Challenge is a difficult game to do well in since you have to balance CO¬¬2 emissions, energy, water, food, and money. The player gets many different policies to choose from for implementation, and each policy falls under a different category, like national or local policies. Each policy impacts a different governmental concern to a different extent, and the player can only implement a certain number at a time. After the game is over he or she is graded on your performance regarding popularity, the economy, and the environment. The annoying thing about this grading system is that it seems to be impossible to do well in all categories. The player can focus on getting rid of all carbon emissions but ruin the economy, for example. What I do like about the game is that the player has a lot of options in what he or she can do. As long as the choices made are reasonably popular with the public, the player can do pretty much whatever they want. When I played the game, I always had trouble getting food and water. I don’t like how difficult it is to get food and water. The better ways are only available a maximum of three times before the option goes away, requiring the player to find a new way to get food and water. I don’t think a president loses the ability to use a policy after using it three times before. I am also uncertain of how accurate the gauges are for how much each policy affects the different categories. For example, one policy implements wind power and shows that it would decrease the amount of emissions and increase available energy by a good amount. It’s common knowledge that wind power is spotty and inefficient, so I’m not sure if the energy component is accurate. Another policy required good water metering for all citizens, which was supposed to greatly increase the amount of water available, but again I’m not sure if metering water use would have such a great impact on the amount of available water.
    Energyville, on the other hand, is much simpler and quicker to play than Climate Challenge. What’s nice about it is that it has an abundance of info and it gives the links to where it got its research. It also has a variety of different fuels available for use by the player, and the game has a little blurb of pros and cons for each fuel, as well as how much they would affect the economy, security, and environment categories. The player can then pick which fuels to use and where to put them. It bothers me that the player MUST have petroleum somewhere in the city, but that’s kind of balanced by the fact that the game requires the use of some renewable energy source. It also bothers me that each fuel automatically gives 12.5 percent of the energy the city needs, since some fuels give more energy than others. I feel that the game is too simplistic to be a good depiction of energy needs, but it is a decent source of quick facts.

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