Climate Planners Turn To Virtual Reality And Hope Seeing Is Believing
Connie Monroe clicks a button, flicks her wrist and watches as her neighborhood floods.
The reed-covered shorelines are first to go. Then, the baseball fields at Fleming Park. By the time seawater reaches the senior center, it has inundated streets, flooding more than a dozen multiunit brick homes that she can see.
Monroe moves her head up and down, side to side, taking in the sobering simulated view. This is what could happen to Turner Station, a historic African American community southeast of Baltimore, as sea levels rise.
“Everything’s underwater. The school is underwater. Our house is underwater,” Monroe says. A frown forms below the bulky gray virtual reality headset covering her eyes. “Is the water really supposed to get that high?”
Climate change presents many challenges to coastal communities and to those trying to prepare for its impacts, but one of the most basic is also one of the most vexing: How do you show people — and convince them — of a possible future?