If someone is still concerned whether the use of technology in our daily lives could be right or wrong, it needs to chill immediately. It has been revealed now that, not only technology does exactly what it has been created for, which is helping humans in their everyday tasks, but especially new technologies like VR and AR play an important role in fighting climate change. It’s true there is no Planet B, but there is Planet A(R).
Augmented reality has been revealed to be a relevant hi-tech tool in the environmental sector, thanks to its ability both to raise awareness about the topic and to make concrete acts that allow people to have a lower impact on the environment. The contributions that come from the use of AR in the environmental sector are numerous and very effective, let’s observe some of them.
Raising awareness with Augmented and Virtual Reality to fight Climate change
The power of the “sense of presence”
One of the biggest powers of Augmented Reality is its immersive experience that generates in people what psychologists call “the sense of presence”. In fact, with the ability to recreate objects, people and entire environments around a person, Augmented reality can easily create experiences that make the user feel like she is “living the moment”. This sense of presence can be used also when talking about Climate Change, for example with the creation of projects like “This is Climate Change”, by the MIT, where users experience the effects of climate change in most affected areas of the world by visualizing a series of short 360° VR films titled Fire, Famine, Feast, and Melting Ice. Studies revealed that, once one experiences an event on its very hand, she would be more likely to understand the effects and thus, become more sensitive to it.
The chance to see the unseen
What if you could reach the most unreachable parts of the world, like the deepest waters of the ocean or the coldest lands of the Antarctic and see what actually is going on there? Well, professor Jeremy Bailenson, from Stanford University, made it possible with his VR game that takes you to the heart of the oceans, letting you see the whole ocean acidification process.
Other projects where VR and AR play an important role in fighting Climate change could be transporting the user in the merge of plastic present in the oceans and making him see how difficult it is to live in those situations for fishes and marine ecosystems. Seeing what is actually happening in certain lands that otherwise would be impossible to see, makes the observer understand the reality and the gravity of the situation, creating a higher probability of generating awareness and the willingness to act differently.
Changing the world while having fun
VR and AR play an important role in fighting Climate change starting from schools too. School is the principal way through which the new generation’s minds are shaped, that is why raising awareness among the younger is such an important mission. The Italian project “Immaginaria 360°” knows it well. A VR project created for schools that takes the students to the most polluted area of the world, showing them how the hand of man can destroy our beloved world. The purpose of this project is not only to show the effect of the pollution in some areas of the world, but mostly to teach the right actions we need to take in order to minimize their effects and improve the sustainability in our daily lives.
Augmented & Virtual Reality examples to fight Climate change
Planting a tree in the real world by planting it in the virtual one
In 2017, WWF in collaboration with Lenovo and Google gave life to an amazing project that combines virtual and real world with the aims of both raising awareness and pushing people to do concrete actions. With its VR game “Into the Wild”, in fact, WWF gave the chance to the gamers to take real actions also outside the game: gamers for example can plant trees in the game and for every tree planted, a real one can be planted in the real world.
Controlling our impact with Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality can be used also to see the impact we are making in a specific moment. By using, for instance, an app, it could be easy to have access to a series of information that could allow users to be instantly aware of their carbon footprint, the amount of pollution in the environment and what they could do to reduce it. They could also have access to information about air quality in determined cities with designated detectors connected with specific apps that could show real-time pollution data in those specific areas of the city. In this way users can both me aware of the pollution levels in their area and take better decisions to protect their health (e.g. not exercising outdoors when the air quality is too bad).
Reducing the need of moving with transports
Augmented Reality can also contribute to minimizing transport gas emissions. During the pandemic we have seen how much we can actually do without going out of our house especially in terms of entertainment experiences, such as going to the cinema or theatres. Augmented reality could not only avoid the need of getting in the car/bus and going to the theatre, but also boost the viewer experience by using new appetizing technologies. The same argument can be used for some kinds of travel experiences, simulating trips and places and, last but not least, in the working field.
New technologies such as VR and AR play an important role in fighting Climate change. As seen, they can help us to take the right actions and make the right decisions in order to make our part in making the world a better place to live in.