ABC Launches Bluebird AR

29 April, 2010 by IF

Press release from ABC Innovation

Today the ABC launches Bluebird AR, an online alternate reality drama exploring the contentious issues of geoengineering, whistle-blowing and philanthrocapitalism.


Bluebird AR is an interactive alternate reality story, set against a backdrop of real world possibilities, centring on the experimental science of geoengineering – the deliberate manipulation of the Earth’s atmosphere to counteract climate change.

Young scientist Kyle Vander camp has been employed by billionaire philanthropist Harrison Wyld to work on Bluebird, a geoengineering research project. Kyle suspects that his research may be used for other means so becomes a whistleblower, turning to the online community to help unlock secret Bluebird project files.

The central theme of geoengineering will again bring into focus the ABC’s coverage of the climate change debate in Australia. This contentious and emerging form of science was chosen as the theme for Bluebird AR as it is not often considered by the public nor covered by the media. Bluebird AR presents an opportunity to explore the ethical, geopolitical and environmental issues around geoengineering and the broader environmental debate through a fictional scenario, while inviting the audience to participate in the discussion.

While the Bluebird AR story is fictional, the science upon which it is based is factual. US atmospheric scientist Ken Caldiera (Carnegie Institution for Science), Canadian environmental scientist David Keith (University of Calgary) and US futurist Jamais Cascio (author of Hacking the Earth: Understanding the Consequences of Geoengineering) provided advice on the geoengineering science in the story.

The recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, its massive disruption to international air travel and the subsequent discussion about the impact of these events on global temperatures have made Bluebird AR even more topical.

Beyond the geoengineering debate, the project also examines the growing trend of billionaire philanthropists tackling social, health and environmental issues that have traditionally been the domain of governments and charities.

Fictional character Juanita Monte is a journalist and film maker producing an online documentary series Now I Can Change The World on philanthrocapitalism. Her first episode is now online (and is an entirely factual 25 minute doco) and her second episode was to be a profile of fictional emerging philanthrocapitalist Harrison Wyld. But her project takes a turn when Kyle Vandercamp blows the whistle on Bluebird.

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