A group of scientists has decided to start a Twitch channel where researchers play Fortnite while answering questions about climate change.
It’s 2018 and there are communities that believe the Earth is flat, policymakers who deny science, and an overall growing anti-intellectual sentiment seeping into everyday culture.
Influential American sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov said of the phenomenon in a column in Newsweek back in 1980, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been.”
“The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.”
A small team of climate scientists has decided to battle disinformation by taking their knowledge directly to the eyes and ears of new generations, which are precisely the ones who will have to deal with the consequences of climate change in the near future.
The whole idea started when Katharine Hayhoe, a scientist at Texas Tech University, jokingly tweeted about how her 11-year old son had more views on his Fortnite Twitch channel than her climate science webinar.
— Katharine Hayhoe (@KHayhoe) July 18, 2018
In jest, many Twitter users suggested she’d improve her audience by merging the two. The idea did strike a chord in Henri Drake, graduate student in climate science at MIT and Fortnite aficionado, who decided to try it out.
Drake recruited other scientists on Twitter and launched ClimateFortnite, which in just over a month has amassed some 230 followers.
Not too shabby for a bunch of nerds discussing gas emissions and nuclear weather simulations.
“I had never streamed myself,” Drake told Wired. “But I’d been watching League of Legends on Twitch since about 2013 and had always thought about doing some kind of educational stream about climate science.”
Drake is planning to expand the operation by posting going also on YouTube and featuring not only Fortnite, but a recent game called Eco that deals directly with environmental problems.
“It builds a community where people can ask the hard questions directly to an expert,” Drake says. “For a topic like climate change that is steeped in misinformation, direct access to experts is crucial.”