activism · Environment · video games

Lessons from Horizon Zero Dawn

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Over the last week I have been watching a great deal of Horizon Zero Dawn gameplay on Twitch.  The game itself is beautifully created with a variety of vast and dangerous environments.  The story is one that provides a deep series of lessons that we need to be paying attention to today.

There may be spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn within this article so, please be aware of the possibility that certain game aspects may be spoiled if you continue.

The plot of the game follows Aloy (in what is now Colorado), an outcast from the matriarchal society, that appears to have sprung up after some sort of apocalyptic event.  We know very little about Aloy’s history previous to her appearance and very little about what happened to make the life on earth revert to a more tribal society.  As Aloy progresses through the game we learn a great deal about what happened to the world.

There are hints throughout the game about some type of environmental calamity, we often seen hints of stories about “climate refugees.”  However, the primary tale is that of robots and artificial intelligence.  Inside a former military base Aloy discovers that Zero Dawn program was not meant to save the Earth, as nothing would actually robots from destroying the planet and annihilating all life.  Zero Dawn was a vast underground system of databases, factories and cloning facilities all controlled by a single artificial intelligence named GAIA. Once life on Earth was successfully annihilated, GAIA would develop methods to rid the facilities of robots and later build its own, designed to restore the Earth’s biosphere. Once the planet was habitable again, GAIA would reseed life on earth based on stored DNA and hopefully teach the first human clones not to repeat their predecessors past mistakes.

Horizon Zero Dawn offers us an interesting story in which we can discuss and address multiple issues which our modern society faces, today.

Despite the vehement denial of the role climate change in our increasingly technological society, scientists agree that our earth is changing drastically.  Within Horizon Zero Dawn, a cataclysmic environmental event is referred to that results in the creation of a massive surge of refugees in London, as the Thames River overflows.  Is this the future we are setting in stone for our children?

According to Union of Concerned Scientists we should be concerned.

“Global warming is already having significant and costly effects – and these consequences will only intensify as the planet’s temperature continues to rise.

Accelerating Sea Level Rise  Global warming is accelerating the rate of sea level rise and dramatically increasing coastal flooding risks, especially on the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.

Longer and More Damaging Wildfire Seasons  Wildfires are increasing and wildfire season is getting longer in the Western U.S. as temperatures rise.

More Frequent and Intense Heat Waves Dangerously hot weather is already occurring more frequently than it did 60 years ago.

Costly and Growing Health Impacts Climate change has significant implications for our health, including increased air pollution and a longer and more intense allergy season.

Heavier Precipitation and Flooding  As temperatures increase, more rain falls during the heaviest downpours, increasing the risk of flooding events.

Global warming is already having significant and costly effects – and these consequences will only intensify as the planet’s temperature continues to rise.

Accelerating Sea Level Rise  Global warming is accelerating the rate of sea level rise and dramatically increasing coastal flooding risks, especially on the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.”

In Horizon Zero Dawn, it appears that the Earth has been recovering for an extreme amount of time.  Thousands of years seem to have passed between the calamity of the robot-environment apocalypse and we see improvement in the health of the environment.  Take a moment.  Thousands of years.  Thousands.  If humanity even survives an environmental apocalyptic event, our world will not recover for thousands of years.

What can we do to slow or reverse the impact we are having on our environment?  I fear that we have already started down a road that will be nearly impossible to reverse.  Can we take charge and turn around?  I fear not.

What we can do is continue to pressure our government officials to protect the environment through regulations designed to limit pollution and other forms of environmental damage.  We must embrace other forms of energy. Solar, wind, water, instead of relying so heavily on oil, coal and other forms of fossil fuels.  We can reduce our use of animal products.  We can carpool, take public transit, and fight for the protection of our natural resources like rivers, lakes, mountains, and oceans.  Simply put, WE MUST FIGHT.

We have to be held responsible for our actions that have damaged the environment and stop Trump’s administration from dismantling protections.  We can do that by supporting the EPA and other groups dedicated to protecting our world.

Sign this Petition to save the EPA

Follow the Rogue Scientists who are dedicating to protecting climate change data.

Pledge to start walking, riding a bike, or public transit to work or school.

Do something.

We may not have the luxury of surviving an environmental calamity like the humans in Horizon Zero Dawn. We have to fight for our future, now.

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