Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Climate scientists are thrilled they have found a way to bypass parents and schools, and talk directly to the children of strangers via the internet.
Scientists are playing Fortnite to talk to kids about climate change
POSTED TUE 30 OCT 2018, 6:45PM
After hearing an 11 year-old’s Fortnite video got more views than a climate change lecture, Henri Drake had an idea.
A red haired cowgirl grabs a submachine gun from a building and as she runs away from the oncoming storm, the player in control starts talking about the impact CFC emissions have on global warming.
“We basically have since banned those materials… but we found out last year that the concentration of these gases in the atmosphere is increasing again.”
The cowgirl is Henri Drake, a casual gamer and climate scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the game is Fortnite, a crazy popular multiplayer shooter game.
It’s a strange mix, but by creating the ClimateFortnite Twitch channel Henri is hoping to use the games popularity to explain global warming and climate policy to a wider audience.
He’s not going it alone, there’s other scientists either playing with him or just hanging around to answer the questions thrown out by viewers. Scientists like Chris, a masters student at Boston University, who is on hand to field a question about the Paris climate agreement thrown out at the start of one game.
Right place, right time.
This climate Q&A stream almost started by accident. A few months ago, when playing Fortnite in his PhD downtime, Henri Drake saw a tweet from climate scientist Katharine Heyhoe about how her son’s gaming vids were getting heaps more views than her lectures.
“I put two and two together and figured I could stream it on twitch,” Herni tells Hack.
Even though ClimateFortnite is still fresh it feels pretty well received.
“Part of the gaming community really likes it,” Henri said.
I get a lot of kids who are scared about what climate change means for their future, they come on and like being able to ask their question directly to an expert.”
Fornite is a massive first person shooter multiplayer game, where kids get to create 3D characters and interact with large numbers of other kids online.
What do you guys think? Personally I have a big problem with random adults deliberately seeking unsupervised access to the children of strangers so they can proselytise their climate faith without the permission of parents. I don’t think Henri Drake and his friends are intentionally doing anything wrong, but this violates my sense of boundaries, of appropriate behaviour in a big way.