Utter the words “ocean acidification” in mixed company, and you’ll probably get blank stares.
Utter the words “ocean acidification” in mixed company, and you’ll probably get blank stares. Although climate change has grown steadily in the public consciousness, one of its most insidious impacts – a widespread die-off of marine ecosystems driven by carbon dioxide emissions – remains relatively unknown.
Enter virtual reality. In a new study, published Nov. 30 in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers at Stanford and the University of Oregon discovered that VR can be a powerful tool for improving environmental learning gains and attitudes. The researchers found that experiencing a simulation of ocean acidification’s effects spurred meaningful gains in people’s understanding of the issue.
“I believe virtual reality is a powerful tool that can help the environment in so many ways,” said study co-author Jeremy Bailenson, the Thomas More Storke Professor of Communication. “Changing the right minds can have a huge impact.”
New gear, wider reach
With the advent of affordable consumer-grade gear from companies such as Oculus Rift, Samsung and Microsoft, potential audiences for VR are expanding far beyond Stanford’s multimillion-dollar Virtual Human Interaction Lab.
Read more at Stanford University
Image: Brian Perone, a Stanford graduate student in education at the time of the research, assists a high school student with a virtual reality simulation of ocean acidification's effects. (Credit: Rob Jordan / Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment)