The Thanos Effect



Synopsis:


Climate change could wipe out half of all plant and animal species from the Amazon rainforest by 2100. This real-time virtual reality documentary, will take its audience on a tour of the world, and show them the devastating effects of global warming on 13 different species of animals and their habitats. The project, to be experienced via virtual reality headsets will allow the audience to embody the animals effected the most, and allow them to experience empathy for a world that is dying more and more by the day. The audience will not only try to survive in the various ecosystems, but they will also witness the thoughts, and dangers of these species while being guided through the ecosystems by a formless Navi-esque guide. No two experiences will ever be the same, as real-time cloud-connected IoT sensors will affect the virtual environments and the users' experience will sync up to the minute by minute weather fluctuations of that habitat.

Background:


The planet is warming, from North Pole to South Pole. Since 1906, the global average surface temperature has increased between 1.1 and 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.6 to 0.9 degrees Celsius) – even more in sensitive polar regions.

The effects of rising temperatures aren’t waiting for some far-flung future – signs of the effects of global warming are appearing right now.

The heat is melting glaciers and sea ice, shifting precipitation patterns, and setting animals on the move. Less fresh water will be available. If the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru continues to melt at its current rate, it will be gone by 2100, leaving thousands of people who rely on it for drinking water and electricity without a source of either.

Wildlife research scientist Martyn Obbard has found that since the mid-1980s, with less ice on which to live and fish for food, polar bears have gotten considerably skinnier. Polar bear biologist Ian Stirling has found a similar pattern in Hudson Bay. He fears that if sea ice disappears, the polar bears will as well.

Precipitation (rain and snowfall) has increased across the globe, on average. Floods and droughts will become more common. Rainfall in Ethiopia, where droughts are already common, could decline by 10 percent over the next 50 years.

Many species have been impacted by rising temperatures. For example, researcher Bill Fraser has tracked the decline of the Adélie penguins on Antarctica, where their numbers have fallen from 32,000 breeding pairs to 11,000 in 30 years. Some butterflies, foxes, and alpine plants have moved farther north or to higher, cooler areas.

Some invasive species are thriving. For example, spruce bark beetles have boomed in Alaska thanks to 20 years of warm summers. The insects have chewed up 4 million acres of spruce trees. Some diseases will spread, such as mosquito-borne malaria (and the 2016 resurgence of the Zika virus).


Animals and Habitats:


Adélie penguin/Antarctica:
These are Antarctic birds that subsist mostly on krill. Krill live on the underside of ice sheets. Adélie penguins are “sea ice obligate” birds,meaning that they only exist with sea ice. As global temperatures increase and sea ice melts, this becomes a problem. As sea ice becomes more sparse, it becomes more difficult for these penguins to find food and ultimately reproduce.

North Atlantic Right Whale/Atlantic Ocean: The North Atlantic Right Whale is one of the most endangered animals on the planet, with only between 300-350 individuals left. These whales have been exploited by humans since the 10th century, and because their habitat is coastal, they are more vulnerable to human activity than some other whales. In addition to human-caused threats like fishing nets and collisions with ships, the small North Atlantic Right Whale population can be particularly affected by climate change. Warmer oceans tend to have less zooplankton, a primary component of the North Atlantic Right Whale diet. Even one particularly bad year for food can have effects for years.

Monarch Butterflies/Canada: One might not think of insects as particularly sensitive to climate, but they are. A paper published in 2015 indicates that severe droughts caused by climate change could be catastrophic for some species of butterfly in the United Kingdom. While the butterflies would likely not be eradicated from the island, it might fragment the butterfly populations. The study found that butterflies predicted to be OK under more gradual warming wouldn’t fare so well if the warming was more rapid.
In addition, the famous Monarch butterfly is also put at risk because of climate change. Monarchs have been under threat for years because of habitat loss, but climate change could affect the butterfly’s summer and winter breeding grounds, as well.


Amur Leopard/Russia: The Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is critically endangered. It is one of the rarest big cats in the world with an estimated 35 solitary individuals left in the wild. Their main prey includes roe and sika deer, along with hares and badgers. The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is the northernmost of the eight leopard subspecies with its range extended throughout northeastern China, the southern part of Primorsky Krai in Russia and the Korean Peninsula.

Saola/Vietnam: Saola were first discovered in Vietnam in May 1992. Since then, the elusive animal has only been documented in the wild on four occasions.
Saola have two distinctive parallel horns with sharp ends that can reach up to 20 inches in length. Ranging from 176 to 220 pounds, these animals reside in the evergreen forests of Vietnam and Laos, which have little to no dry season.
Affectionately known as the Asian unicorn, Saola resemble antelopes, but have striking white markings on their face. Because they are so rarely seen, it is difficult to estimate their current numbers. However, scientists believe there are only a few hundred left at most, possibly only a few dozen remaining. As their forest habitat disappears to make way for agriculture, plantations and infrastructure, these critically endangered creatures are being squeezed into smaller and smaller tracts of land, where they are less and less protected from hunters.


Asian Elephant/Sri Lanka:Elephants have been revered for centuries in Asia, playing an important role in the continent's culture and religion. They are also play a critical role in maintaining the region's forests. But their habitat is shrinking and Asian elephants are now endangered.
There are three subspecies of Asian elephant – the Indian, Sumatran and Sri Lankan. The Indian has the widest range and accounts for the majority of the remaining elephants on the continent. The Sri Lankan is physically the largest of the subspecies, and also the darkest in colour. The Sumatran is the smallest.
More than 100,000 Asian elephants may have existed at the start of the 20th century, but numbers have fallen by at least 50% over the last three generations, and they are still in decline today.
Elephants used to roam across most of Asia, but now they’re restricted to just 15% of their original range. The Indian elephant has the largest range, while the Sri Lankan is restricted to a few parts of the island. Sumatran elephants were once widespread on Sumatra, but they have lost 70% of their habitat and only survive in fragmented populations.


Golden Toad/Costa Rica:The Monteverde golden toad is more glamorous and mysterious than it seems an amphibian could be. Its glamour is nature-made but its mysterious decline probably is due to humans.
Golden toads have never been widespread, but they used to be abundant in a handful of areas of cloud-shrouded tropical forest above the Costa Rican town of Monteverde. No one has seen a golden toad since 1989.
The Monteverde golden toad was first described in the 1960s in a scientific paper entitled “An Extraordinary New Toad from Costa Rica.” Extraordinary, it is! The males, just barely two inches (5 cm) long, are an unbelievably bright orange. Unlike most toads, their skin is shiny and brilliant.

A renowned herpetologist was so surprised upon first seeing them that he said it appeared as if they had been “dipped in enamel paint.” The females look different, but just as spectacular. Slightly larger than the males, females are dark olive to black with spots of scarlet encircled by yellow.


Quiver Tree/Namibia:Quiver Trees (Aloe dichotoma), are also known as kokerboom, and are a species of aloe indigenous to South Africa, specifically in the Northern Cape region, and Namibia. They are referred to locally as “quiver trees” as the branches and bark are used by Kalahari San Bushmen to make quivers for their arrows. Known as Choje to the indigenous San people, the quiver tree gets its name from the San practice of hollowing out the tubular branches of Aloe dichotoma to form quivers for their arrows.
There are less than 200 Quiver Trees left in the world today. The population is continuing to decrease. Due to this, the species is labeled as critically endangered by the IUCN.


Koala Bear/Australia:The eucalyptus forests and woodlands of Australia’s east coast are disappearing quickly, with a significant loss occurring throughout our local area. Australia Zoo has identified the koala, an icon of this dwindling habitat, as an important conservation species. We believe the wild population of koalas is critically threatened and in need of our protection.
Although not listed as endangered by any Australian state, the koala population has been devastated over the last hundred years and is currently under great threat due to urbanisation and massive, uncontrolled habitat destruction. The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that upwards of 80 percent of original koala habitat in Australia has been cleared since European settlement.


Flamingo/Chile: Right now none of the species of Flamingos are considered to be endangered. Yet many researchers find that what takes place in our environment now could reduce their numbers significantly in the not so distant future. It is often hard to get a good count of Flamingos due to their diverse distribution. The fact that they fly off to new habitats too can mean they aren’t counted at all or that the same ones get counted several times.

Wolverine/Quebec: Before the Europeans arrived, wolverines lived all across Canada. Today, only a few of them remain in Eastern Canada. They have completely disappeared from the Gaspé Peninsula and along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River. Most of them now live north of the 49th parallel.

Javan Rhinoceros/Indonesia: Armoured with a thick, deeply folded hide, the Javan rhino has a prehistoric look that seems to evoke the earlier periods of the Age of Mammals. This rhinoceros weighs 900 to 2,300 kilograms, stands 1.5 to 1.7 meters tall, and measures between 2 and 4 meters long. The animal’s single horn is too short to be used as a weapon, at only 20 centimetres or less, and instead appears to be used as a specialized tool for hooking high-growing plants to bring them down to a level where the rhino can eat them, or for pushing through dense vegetation. When the rhino is forced to fight, it slashes with its lower incisors rather than attempting to use its horn. Food harvesting is accomplished with a prehensile upper lip.
During the heat of the day, the Javan rhino lies in mud wallows to stay cool, or bathes in water. When the cooler evening comes, these rhinoceroses begin to forage, eating leaves, shoots, twigs, and any fruit it can find. They need regular access to salt licks, and will drink ocean water to get salt if necessary. They are very shy and retiring, and any human activity is enough to make them flee into the most inaccessible area available. The Javan rhino lives most frequently in tall, thick grass or beds of reeds within lowland jungle and rainforest.


Deliverables:


Film Festivals:
  • Sundance Film Festival
  • Cinequest
  • SXSW
  • Tribeca Film Festival
  • Seattle Film Festival
  • Venice Film Festival
  • TIFF
  • Dubai Film Festival

Traditional Distribution:
  • App on Oculus Store
  • IMAX VR
  • School curriculum through existing VR services
  • Zoo and museum installations:
  • The VOID
  • Sale to distributor

Conferences/Activations:
  • On The Lot
  • Oculus Connect
  • Augmented World Expo
  • Unite LA
  • Art Basel Miami