Zero Emissions Day! Video Gamers Take on Climate Change, My Moonshot Message to Harvard.

by | Sep 21, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Zero Emissions Day! Video Gamers Take on Climate Change, My Moonshot Message to Harvard University.



Happy Zero Emissions Day! Zero Emissions Day is an international day of action to demand a future without air pollution which is contributing to global warming. Zero Emissions Day started in Nova Scotia, Canada, 2008. Every year on September 21st, people around the world take part in activities to promote clean air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and carbon emissions.

The goal of Zero Emissions Day is to raise awareness of the need for cleaner energy sources over fossil fuels and to encourage individuals and businesses to do their part to protect the environment. Here are some ways to celebrate the spirit of Zero Emissions Day:

  • Ride your bike instead of driving.
  • Ditch the car for public transport
  • If you can’t ride your bike, take the bus or train instead. This will help reduce traffic and pollution in your city.
  • Turn off your electronics
  • Save energy by unplugging your devices when you’re not using them. This includes your computer, TV, and phone chargers.
  • Turn off all lights and electronics for one hour.
  • Local businesses: go green for the day
  • Support sustainable local businesses
  • This is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment. Look for businesses that use recycled materials, renewable energy or sustainable practices.
  • Plant trees!
  • Educate yourself and others about climate change

Why does Zero Emissions Day Matter to us? It’s an important reminder that we all have a role to play in protecting our planet towards a future of environmental sustainability.

DEEPER DIVE: WholeLeafCo., Energy.Gov, CLC, GreenMachines



At the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, officials launched the Playing for the Planet Alliance, a volunteer partnership between the UN Environment Programme and more than 30 game studios to set “ambitious, specific and time-based” commitments to meet sustainable development goals. In July, the alliance announced its 2022 “Green Game Jam” awardees in categories such as “Best in Forests,” “Best in Food” and “UNEP Choice.”

Winners included Supercell, based in Helsinki, Finland, for “Hay Day,” a farming game that “lets you get back to nature and experience the simple life of working the land,” and Ubisoft, the French gaming giant with more than 140 titles, including “Riders Republic,” which won the 2022 “Media Choice” award for its incorporation of real-world wildfire risk. The Chinese firm Tencent was recognized for a game called “Carbon Island” where players make decisions to achieve carbon neutrality.

Now there’s “Highwater,” the latest entry in the growing genre of climate-influenced video games. Characters in the game will get the chance to make friends, fight enemies and scavenge for supplies — all while navigating a drowned digital city that bears an intentional resemblance to post-Katrina New Orleans.

Igor Simic, founder of Demagog Studio, said, “The premise of the game is you’re just normal people living in this place hit by a flood.” His gaming and animation company is partnering with Los Angeles-based Rogue Games Inc. to release “Highwater” early next year.

Simic said the developers didn’t want to make the game “preachy.”  According to an interview in ClimateWire, The 34-year old gaming studio founder said, “The big thing for us is we create entertainment. None of this is overt messaging about climate or politics. What’s ‘revolutionary’ is we’re creating games that simply take reality into account. It’s not purely escapist.”

Why does the release of Highwater matter to us? According to Marina Psaros, Unity Software’s senior manager for sustainability says, “Games are really custodians of culture. I think for younger generations, like my kids, their understanding of their digital selves and real-world selves is really enmeshed.”

And not just kids…




​​I was hanging out with some friends from my alma mater, Harvard, and the conversation reminded me of the moonshot made by America during the Cold War space race of the 1950s and 60s and the speech President John F. Kennedy made in Houston in 1961

When in that speech JFK announced that, “by the end of this decade, we will send a man to the moon and return him safely to earth,” he wasn’t talking to just NASA. He was talking to all Americans, and as a result, Americans from all walks of life responded. Philosophers, poets, songwriters, physicians and physicists. Politicians, engineers, columnists and cosmeticians. Tailors and pundits and school teachers all rose to the occasion. Pondering, pontificating and otherwise putting tremendous effort into the United States of America landing a man on the moon, and returning him safely to earth.

But Kennedy’s words of sending a man to the moon and return him safely to earth, was just the beginning. He went on to say, “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

And that’s how I feel about how I believe my alma mater, Harvard University should be squaring off against the worst effects of climate change. Harvard should choose to become completely net zero by 2035. 

Not because it is easy. but because it is hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of its energies and skills, because that challenge is one that WHEN it is willing to accept, one that WHEN it is unwilling to postpone, and one which it can win, it will simultaneously serve as a beacon and a roadmap for other universities and similarly-sized small communities, not just that they can win, too, but also how they can win.

What will it take? It’ll take the full measure of every single person and unit in the Harvard universe–philosophers, poets, songwriters, physicians and physicists. School heads, department chairs, engineers, student columnists and commentators. Tailors and pundits and faculty members, students and janitors, and all vendors working inside Harvard’s vast sphere of influence.

Why am I spouting on about my alma mater, and why does it matter to us? Because at present, those in charge of Harvard’s climate efforts have told other alum and me they don’t see going net zero on campus as an appropriate goal. 

To which I say perhaps Harvard’s climate change leadership are too myopically focused on Harvard as a first-class research institution, one capable of generating myriad theories on change, instead of focusing on Harvard the small city inside a city, wielding enormous operational influence regionally.

If it were to change the way it exists,the way it does business, the way it operates on a daily basis– from theory to heating to transporting and feeding students in order to achieve net zero by 2035, the result would be no less than revolutionary. Will it be hard. Absolutely.

It’s been said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied by great difficulties., and that both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage. If Harvard wishes to maintain the highest of rankings it believes itself to be, then prove to its alum, and everybody else, that Harvard deserves it. Acknowledge that Net Zero is Harvard’s moonshot. Accept the challenge–not because it easy, but because it is hard.

And if Harvard is to chickenshit to accept the challenge, I challenge all the alma maters of you out there to call the same moonshot to become net zero by 2035. And if one of yours were to beat Harvard, not only would that be a great comeuppance for the university, it would be a fantastic outcome for the climate!