One of the many reasons I am a biologist is because the world is absolutely chock full of amazing plants, animals, ecosystems, and natural phenomena, which are unbelievably complex but overwhelmingly fragile, especially in the face of increasing pollution, expansion, and destruction by the human race. A major hurdle to reversing the effects of habitat decline all over the world is getting people to care about these fragile ecosystems and understand how local actions can have global impacts... "Why should I care about rainforests in Borneo when I live in Kentucky?"
For all the things that globalization and the internet has done, one thing that it has failed to do is truly expose those who don't have the money to the beauty of the natural world in places far from their homes. I've been fortunate enough to have traveled to the rainforests of Costa Rica, the top of a New Zealand Volcano, the ruins of Termessos in southern Greece, even the coasts of California and Maine. However, not many people have the time or money to get away from their homes to explore these wondrous places.
As a scientist and teacher consumed with wanderlust, I dream of taking everyone to see the sights, to show them the world and how amazing it all is. However, instead of leading 7 billion people through a rainforest trail or down the Yosemite valley, I could take them there with an immersive video experience, beyond National Geographic photos or a television show to a place where they can explore freely on their own time and see what they want to look at. Since almost everyone has an internet connection, why not create a website accumulating tours of amazing places around the world, guided with interactive videos that allow the user to look around as they are hiking on a trail or sailing past a fjord, clicking on things of interest like birds, plants, fish, or mountains, and learning more about them? This way, learning becomes self-driven, and people around the world can come one step closer to the natural world they may never see in person.
A company called Immersive Media has the technology to do this. They are best known for cataloging the streets of major cities for Google Street View, but they can also do 3-D video and live streaming, allowing you to look around a video world. This is the ticket to the future, and I can't wait to get started on this project.
"Extent of flooding by rising sea level if greenhouse warming continues unabated and approximately one third of the world's volume of land-bound ice and snow melts (not sea ice). The resulting rise would place sea level about 30 m above present sea level. Dashed line shows approximate outline of the present San Francisco Bay."
Source:San Andreas Fault and Coastal Geology, from Half Moon Bay to Fort Funston-Crustal Motion, Climate Change, and Human Activity by Andersen D., Sarna-Wojcicki, A., Sedlock, R. (2001)