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  • Erika Whillas: So, today at the Banksia Ignite Awards, we have two pretty great VR installations. 

    One's done by the Bob Brown Foundation, and it's all set in the tree top forests of Tasmania. You get taken up, and you get an amazing 360 look around to see the canopy and the insanely old trees and basically, really truly get to witness how precious of a resource they are, up close and personal.

    And the other one we have is set in coral reefs of Naples, by Cody Karutz, a Masters student from Stanford University, examining how what we can see in the future when a lot of carbon turns the oceans acidic, and the effect that has on the coral reef.

    Rebecca Cunningham: Research in Stanford University over the last 10 years has demonstrated that being able to be in virtual reality develops empathy, and in some cases, even promotes more environmental behaviours.

    Erika Whillas: So both of these projects get the user to leapfrog past the data and the scientific papers, and get you straight to the point of the story, which is that these are incredibly precious resources that climate change are having terrible effects on. Once you have more of a visceral experience, and even a playful experience with this information, perhaps you can connect with it, moreso than with a scary headline. 

    Participant: Really really liked the VR experience! I really felt like I was there, I felt like I had to almost talk back to the guy, it was that real. When I looked down from the canopy of the forest, it felt like real life!

    Rebecca Cunningham: Climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face in the 21st century. Impacts such as deforestation, ocean acidification and urban heat are things we are feeling, are real, and now.

    With climate change, there is no silver bullet; and tech certainly isn't one. But it is another tool in our toolbox, with which we can engage with citizens, industry and government, and encourage them to act.

    Erika Whillas: We're hoping that the people here today, who are innovators in their field, take some inspiration from this, and maybe play around with VR or AR themselves.

  • Climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face. Yet for most people it is still a politicised and abstract issue.

    At ISF, we are exploring how technology such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can open up a more visceral and personal experience of climate change.

    In collaboration with Climate KIC, Banksia Foundation, Blue Trot and Bob Brown Foundation, we gave attendees at Banksia Ignite a taste of what could be an essential tool in engaging stakeholders in climate change adaptation and mitigation responses.