You can experience the end result of climate change today with virtual reality

You can experience the end result of climate change today with virtual reality
(Representative Image) Users engage in a virtual reality (VR) simulationUnsplash
  • Scientists in the US are using virtual reality (VR) software to show individuals the direct impact that climate change will have on them.
  • The software simulates what it will be like when their own neighborhood floods as a result of rising sea levels.
  • According to research, VR technology creates an ‘empathetic experience’ making individuals more likely to take action.
The urgency to fix climate change is dented by lack of imagination. In spite of the world getting hotter and more than 300 million people at risk of being submerged, individuals are unable to see how it will directly impact their lifestyle. But, what if one could see the effect of climate change play out in front of their eyes?

A team of scientists in Baltimore is using virtual reality (VR) to show people what it would be like when climate change hits their neighborhood, according to NPR.

With headset and controller in hand, the residents of coastal Turner Station in Baltimore were able to see water roll in to engulf their homes, schools and parks. While it may sound traumatising, the aim of the simulation is to help people prepare for the eventuality and formulise possible solutions.

According to a global study conducted by Pew Research, an average of 20% people across countries still consider global warming to be a ‘minor’ threat while 9% think it’s not a threat at all. Scientists at The Nature Conservatory aren’t the only ones trying to change people’s minds.

Using VR to battle climate change


Scientists have found that VR’s technological kick can hone in on the brain’s empathy center, encouraging people to act before it’s too late. Experiencing the effects of climate change first hand is likely to push individuals for policy change.

VR can show show users what would happen in their own backyards but it can also show them what’s already happening in far off places.

When the US withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, FRONTLINE and NOVA developed a VR program called Greenland Melting. It transports users to the Arctic to see the ice-caps melt before their eyes.

And researchers are still looking for new ways to harness the power of VR to battle climate change. For instance, Yale University hosts an annual challenge inviting students to gamify actual data with mixed reality to better present the problem of global climate change.

See also:
More than two-thirds of Asia’s population is at risk of coastline flooding by 2050 — and India’s on the front line

Cow farts and livestock dangerous for climate change: Bill Gates

Climate change claims its first casualty in world's largest coral reef system