London, Tokyo Submerged by Rising Seas -- In "Second Life"

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The virtual-world flood, he said, was a fresh way to raise awareness among thousands of users about the potential damage related to global warming.

But creating the watery catastrophe was no small feat. Each territory in Second Life is owned and controlled by individual avatars, making large-scale "public" events very tricky.

Adventure Ecology therefore partnered with London-based marketing agency Ogilvy and Anshe Chung, the largest real estate developer in Second Life, to stage the flood.

The group then sent floodwaters cascading into the virtual equivalents of London's Knightsbridge neighborhood, the Netherlands, the Spanish island of Ibiza, and other regions.

These are among the same low-lying areas in the real world that could be swamped by rising sea levels.

According to a February report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sea levels could rise by up to 23 inches (59 centimeters) by the end of this century.

Many scientists believe this is an underestimate.

During the floods, which were temporary and caused no lasting damage, Adventure Ecology had avatars on hand to explain what was happening and how to stop such events from occurring in the real world.

"The idea was, this happened virtually, but this could really happen in real life and you need to do something about it," de Rothschild said.

"Really Good Vibe"

According to de Rothschild, several avatars were at first confused by the floods. But they quickly started helping each other out, getting each other onto roofs, and carrying on with their daily lives.

"It was definitely, generally, a really good vibe," he said.

Giles Rhys Jones, a director at Ogilvy, wrote on his blog that Second Life participants were "not phased" by the flooding.

"The inhabitants of one bar," he wrote, "replaced the tables & stools with boats and carried on drinking—albeit discussing the dangers of global warming."

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