Humans are visual beings—to believe something, we need to see it, and one of the best examples of this is when it comes to environmental issues. Topics such as climate change, contaminated water and deforestation are front and center in the public discourse, but until you see the ramifications of these issues with your own eyes, it’s challenging to fully comprehend the consequences.

That’s where imagery can be truly powerful; as seen in our campaign video below, photographs have the ability to document the realities of our planet and tell the stories that matter.

French photographer and filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand has dedicated his life to transporting viewers all over the globe through his aerial photography. His various works including his book Earth From Above, and his film Home, capture the extraordinary beauty of our planet, while simultaneously reinforcing the fact that it’s being destroyed. Because he knows that images are more effective in generating a reaction than facts alone, he uses his stunning aerial images to provide visual proof of the environmental damage that is occurring throughout the world.

“Looking at the condition of Earth today is scary. The numbers are there but they don’t resonate with people. They make us dizzy and we don’t understand them anymore,” Arthus-Bertrand said. “The environmental situation gets worse every year. It’s too late to inform, we need action.”

The ability to connect with an audience and evoke an emotional response is becoming even stronger as 360˚ photography and VR move into the mainstream. Researchers at Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab are taking advantage of this and are using VR to address conservation issues in a whole new way.

Their VR film project, The Crystal Reef, is an immersive experience through the coral reefs off the Italian coast that shows how carbon emissions impact marine life. Their hope is that by showing a first-hand look at how climate change is effecting our oceans, viewers will have more empathy towards these ecosystems and be inspired to take action.

“Not everybody lives near an ocean, not everybody gets to scuba dive,” director Cory Karutz told The Creators Project. “But if you can give people access to those experiences, then hopefully that will drastically change their conservation behaviors.”

Explore the environmental images used in our In Search of Great campaign at Getty Images