Quantcast

Immersive Docu-Series Lets You 'See' Climate Change in Virtual Reality

Climate

In last year's virtual reality (VR) film Melting Ice, viewers traveled with former Vice President and An Inconvenient Truth star Al Gore on a trip to Greenland to "see" and "experience" ice sheets diminishing, glaciers collapsing and melting ice becoming raging rivers.

Now, and just in time for Earth Day 2018, directors Danfung Dennis and Eric Strauss have released three more, 10-minute immersive episodes in their This is Climate Change docu-series. Fire, Feast and Famine shows the powerful reality of global climate change, from California's burning blazes to drought-ridden Somalia—and you don't even need to leave your couch.


"Climate change isn't a new problem, and certainly not a new documentary subject, but we think it may require a new medium to make this vital, headline-deficient topic powerfully real for audiences," the directors said in a joint statement.

"That was the impetus behind This Is Climate Change: to use the unprecedented sensorial richness of virtual reality to show the very tangible effects of rising temperatures on a wide variety of ecosystems."

Here is a synopsis of each film:

  • MELTING ICE transports viewers instantly to the glacial ice sheets of Greenland with climate change leader and former Vice President Al Gore to witness with him gargantuan glaciers collapsing into crystalline blue waters, icebergs dramatically calving into colossal chunks, and ice thawing at breakneck speed to become roaring rivers—all building to a thought-provoking climax: a "sunny day" Florida flood on the other side of the world, triggered by heightening sea levels.
  • FIRE drops you into the rapid-response lives of the brave firefighters who are sent to battle a drier and drier California and its ever-worsening yearly wildfires. Here, you will also witness helicopter dispatches that show raging blazes across vast terrain, strategic drops of water and retardant from dizzying heights, dangerous ridges where brush must be cleared, and the aftermath of charred ruins that are all that's left of entire neighborhoods.
  • FEAST soars over Brazil's increasingly threatened rainforest to witness majestic trees felled by loggers working illegally, then takes viewers straight into the heart of an outlaw logging operation and inside one of the many enormous cattle farms that are now the biggest driver of deforestation in the Amazon. As viewers see up close how cows are raised for food, the question becomes: Is an insatiable demand for beef going to wipe out the rainforest?
  • FAMINE transports audiences directly into the arid expanse of Somalia, where crushing drought caused by rising temperatures has made once-fertile lands a year-round desert, and is putting a generation of malnourished children in danger as a result. Up close at a crowded refugee camp, where water must be delivered daily, and in an overworked hospital, we see the region's most vulnerable people endure unimaginable suffering.

The VR series doesn't just bring awareness to audiences about the devastating effects of climate change, it calls on them to take action.

"One of the greatest strengths of VR is that it can cultivate an awareness of oneself, and we hope This is Climate Change shakes viewers from their indifference towards this subject by giving them something more immediate than just 2D information," the directors said.

"Whether it's a crumbling ice sheet above you, smoldering destruction all around you, a frightened cow in a kill chute below you, or a malnourished child in front of you, the immersive, 'you-are-there' effect of this groundbreaking medium is a powerful tool that brings us all closer to this ongoing tragedy."

This is Climate Change will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in its VR theater and will stream on the Within VR app (available on iOS, Android and all major VR headsets) on April 21.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Record flood water levels in Venice hit again on Sunday making this the worst week of flooding in the city in over 50 years.

Read More Show Less

By Brian Barth

Late fall, after the last crops have been harvested, is a time to rest and reflect on the successes and challenges of the gardening year. But for those whose need to putter around in the garden doesn't end when cold weather comes, there's surely a few lingering chores. Get them done now and you'll be ahead of the game in spring.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
(L) 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle that is studded with glycoprotein tubercles.
(R) The measles virus pictured under a microscope. PHIL / CDC

The Pacific Island nation of Samoa declared a state of emergency this week, closed all of its schools and limited the number of public gatherings allowed after a measles outbreak has swept across the country of just 200,000 people, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Austin Nuñez is Chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, which joined with the Hopi and Pascua Yaqui Tribes to fight a proposed open-pit copper mine on sacred sites in Arizona. Mamta Popat

By Alison Cagle

Rising above the Arizona desert, the Santa Rita Mountains cradle 10,000 years of Indigenous history. The Tohono O'odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe, among numerous other tribes, have worshipped, foraged, hunted and laid their ancestors to rest in the mountains for generations.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Navajo Nation has suffered from limited freshwater resources as a result of climate, insufficient infrastructure, and contamination. They collaborated with NASA to develop the Drought Severity Evaluation Tool. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Native Americans are disproportionately without access to clean water, according to a new report, "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan," to be released this afternoon, which shows that more than two million Americans do not have access to access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services.

Read More Show Less
Wild Exmoor ponies graze on a meadow in the Czech Republic. rapier / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Nanticha Ocharoenchai

In the Czech Republic, horses have become the knights in shining armor. A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation suggests that returning feral horses to grasslands in Podyjí National Park could help boost the numbers of several threatened butterfly species.

Read More Show Less

Despite huge strides in improving the lives of children since 1989, many of the world's poorest are being left behind, the United Nations children's fund UNICEF warned Monday.

Read More Show Less