This camera just made it a bit easier to protect ourselves from ourselves by seeing what we've not been able to see before.
Imagine if you could see what you exhale every time you took a breath.
Turns out, it's actually possible. Award-winning filmmaker Louie Psihoyos teamed up with the Oceanic Preservation Society to create a camera that lets you do just that.
You might be thinking, "OK, that's cool, but why in the world would someone bother to make a camera that shows your breath?"
Well, he thinks it's important for us to really see the carbon dioxide we put into the air.
The carbon dioxide — the gas we exhale into the atmosphere — could actually kill us.
I know, I know. It's a little confusing because carbon dioxide is everywhere. I mean, you're exhaling some right now as you're reading this, but your body's natural function to keep you alive isn't the problem.
The problem is with the other things we do in our day-to-day lives that put a dangerous amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Right now, the amount of CO2 — that's carbon dioxide in science talk — in our air actually isn't bad in and of itself.
What is bad are the sharply increasing levels of CO2 in the air.
The important nuance is this: Yes, our planet has seen higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere before, but the real problem isn't the amount — it's the rate of increase which is unlike anything the Earth has never seen before. Not by a long shot.
Scientists have been trying to warn us about this for decades, but we haven't been listening.
It's been kinda easy to ignore the threat since we can't actually see this potentially harmful gas in the air all around us.
So scientists took a FLIR SC8300 thermal imaging camera and put a special filter on it so they could capture really cool footage of our carbon dioxide emissions.
Whether it's from the leaf blower you use every fall:
Or those motorcycles you and your buddy bought during your mid-life crises:
Practically everything that we do — whether it's driving to work, doing outside chores, and even breathing — puts CO2 into our atmosphere.
Why is this important? Carbon dioxide and mass extinction are like BFFs — they're attached at the hip, so to speak. Psihoyos hopes this footage will help kick our collective butts into gear and do something about these carbon emissions.
"My entire career OPS is all built on this notion that we can show something to people that they haven't seen before in a way that they have never visualized it," he says.
And more ominously: "This should be frightening."
Maybe now that we can see the thing that is hurting our planet we'll take some action.
Our lives depend on it.