Mark Zuckerberg’s Comments on Smart Glasses and Climate Change Are Not Based in Reality
In an interview with The Information on Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed that augmented- and virtual-reality glasses would help mitigate climate change by allowing people to virtually “teleport” places rather than physically travel.
“It’s going to have a big society-wide impact on a lot of things we care deeply about like climate change, because look… obviously there are going to keep on being cars and planes and all that,” he said. “But the more that we can ‘teleport’ around, not only are we personally eliminating commutes and stuff like that that’s kind of a drag for us individually, but I think it’s better for society and the planet, too.”
The thinking here is that the more people are able to have realistic experiences through AR and VR, the less they’ll consume fossil fuels by driving or flying places.
While a lot of us were on the road and in the air a lot less in 2020, there were still ample emissions from factories, farms, diesel trucks, and cargo planes.
But in 2020, we learned that the individual lifestyle changes that occurred as a result of global quarantine measures were not nearly enough to reduce emissions to zero. Preliminary research from the Rhodium Group, an independent data and analytics company that tracks global emissions, showed a 10% drop in global greenhouse gas emissions due to Covid-19 mitigation strategies.
So while a lot of us were on the road and in the air a lot less in 2020, there were still ample emissions from factories, farms, diesel trucks, and cargo planes. That’s probably the biggest problem with Zuckerberg’s comments. We need more drastic action than being able to pop on a pair of smart glasses and “snap your finger,” as he said, to be in a friend’s living room or at work.
Comments later in the interview, though, suggest a severe class bias in Zuckerberg’s vision for how AR and VR can mitigate climate change. “We talked a little bit about climate change before just being so important,” he…