Virtual reality is getting a natural twist. Scientists are using immersive experiences to help people understand environmental issues by experiencing the world as a cow destined for market or a piece of dying coral.
A recent study found that these immersive experiences led people to feel more connected with nature than those who simply watched the simulation play out on a screen.
“One of the biggest problems with environmental issues is that there’s a huge temporal gap, so it seems like whatever you do in the present doesn’t really connect to the environmental problems in the future,” study co-author Grace Ahn, an assistant professor of advertising in UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, told The Guardian. “Virtual reality is an amazing tool in terms of being able to show you the really solid causal relationships—this is what you do today, and here’s what might happen 100 years down the road.”