SimCity, the iconic strategy game that gave rise to a generation of "Sims" games, is getting a 21st century makeover. With the real cities of the world increasingly on the front lines of climate change, SimCity will include a climate change component.
The new version of the game, developed by Maxis in conjunction with the organization Games for Change, will force players to reckon with the consequences of their energy choices. If you put coal-fired power plants in your city, for example, you may see a rise in pollution and a decline in public health. You also may have negative impacts on nearby cities being run by your gaming friends. The new version is due out next year.
Concept art showing the headquarters of "Coal Enterprises," from the upcoming version of SimCity. Credit: Maxis.
"In 'SimCity' resources are finite, you struggle with decisions people are struggling with today in the real world and your decisions can have a global impact," said Maxis studio senior vice president Lucy Bradshaw at a recent conference in San Francisco.
The game, which was last updated about a decade ago, will also undergo a major facelift, including the addition of slick 3-D graphics.
The multiplayer features of the new game will enable gamers to act as local, regional and global leaders. "Want to be a bad neighbor? Produce mass pollution and watch your friends’ Sims become sick," the SimCity official website states. The site notes that gamers can "participate in global challenges like lowering the total pollution output in the SimCity world to unlock a trophy to place in you...
The leaders of Kiribati are considering plans to relocate its population to Fiji amid fears that climate change could wipe out the entire the Pacific nation, according to the Washington Post. Kiribati President Anote Tong said his Cabinet has endorsed a plan to buy nearly 6,000 acres on Fiji’s mainland. The land is being sold by a church and could accommodate the 103,000 people that currently inhabit Kiribati. However, Tong said he hopes the backup plan isn’t necessary.
Kiribati straddles the Equator and many of its atolls rise just above sea level. Tong said some villages have already relocated and there are more reports of sea water contaminating the island nation’s underground fresh water supply. Also posing a threat, said Tong, is changing rainfall and storm patterns. Tong is also considering other options such as shoring up parts of the island with sea walls and even discussed making a floating island, but that plan proved too costly.
Credit: Hasan Akay
By Lis Cohen
It’s probably hard to imagine all of Manhattan tumbling into the Hudson River and washing away in less than five minutes, but that’s the equivalent of what you’ll see in the film “Chasing Ice,” as a city’s worth of towering icebergs collapse violently into the ocean — and that’s just one of countless spectacular images that flash across the screen in this astonishing documentary by director and cinematographer Jeff Orlowski, which premiered at Sundance in January and is opening at SXSW this week.
The film is a documentary about a documentarian — a scientist-turned photographer named James Balog, whose obsession with images of ice has gotten him into the pages of The New Yorker and National Geographic. Despite his training as a geographer and geomorphologist, Balog was stunned to see how fast some of the glaciers that he shot were receding in the face of global warming. So he decided to create a long-term photography project he called the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), which he hoped would merge art and science into a compelling story in pictures about what humans are doing to the climate.
Originally, Balog planned to set up two time-lapse cameras to photograph glaciers, but within a few weeks his ambition had grown: he bought 23 more cameras, then assembled a team of 30 scientific experts, engineers, and photographers to help him carry out his vision. Balog also asked Orlowski to film the project. “I wanted to work with James in some capaci...
Sebastian Copeland and Eric McNair-Landry at the South Pole. Credit: Sebastian Copeland.
On Nov. 5, 2011, a photographer, environmentalist and adventurer named Sebastian Copeland set off from the east coast of Antarctica with his traveling partner, Eric McNair-Landry, on an almost absurdly daring and arduous journey: a two-man crossing of the entire frozen continent, on skis — towing all of their supplies behind them on sleds, at 400 lb. per man when they started. They weren’t entirely self-powered: the pair used kites to pull them along when the winds were favorable. But that hardly made the voyage easy.
It wasn’t just a stunt. The trip was, first of all, a commemoration of the first expeditions to reach the South Pole a century ago, when Roald Amundsen, then Robert Falcon Scott, clawed their way to the southernmost point on Earth. Amundsen got back safely, but Scott and his party died on the return trek.
It was also an effort to dramatize the dangers of climate change. “. . . the poles are like great receptacles of what happens remotely,” writes Copeland on his website, “and warming activities conducted thousands of miles away are impacting these fragile systems. Small fluctuations in temperatures are generally visible fastest in colder climates, where ice or snow is susceptible to melt.” It’s happening faster in the Arctic, which Copeland skied on a trek to the North Pole in 2009 — but Antarctica is starting to feel it as well, and Copeland and McNair-Landry photographed ice conditions on behalf of the National Snow and Ice Data Center...
Its been a weird wacky winter across most of the country, with crazy hot temperatures smashing hundreds of records, and snow droughts in large swaths of the northeast, mid-Atlantic, the California Sierra, Colorado and Utah.
Is this climate change? Global warming? Perhaps global weirding?
“Too soon to tell” is what my staff scientists and PhDs tell me. “You can’t cry global warming every time you have a warm year”
Really? What do you call it then? Or maybe I should ask, when? When will we have enough goofy weather in a row so that we can start calling it climate change?
I guess they’ll get back to me on that one. “Limitations with the climate models, blah, blah, blah . . . “
Luckily, we have more information than just the models (don’t get me wrong, we love climate models here at Climate Central; they just have their limits, like anything else with a million zillion moving parts).
We have the observational record! Which is weather-geek speak for a whole bunch of thermometers telling us how hot and cold it was, every day, at thousands of locations across the country for the past 120 years or so.
Thermometers are good because they tend to be non-partisan, which is extra important when it comes to climate change. There are no ruthless, ice-cold Santorum thermometers, no warm and fuzzy Obama thermometers and no wishy-washy Romney thermometers that change temperature depending on who is collecting the data.
Nope. Just thermometers. Thousands of ‘em do...