Environment

How a Climate Change Museum Could Help Our World

August 24, 2018
climate change museum

Climate change might be something on your mind at least every week, if not more often. If so, statistics suggest you’re, unfortunately, in the minority. However, a climate change museum could be a venue that helps convince people climate change is a real threat that’s crucial to minimize.

Making People Realize the Urgency of the Issue

Research indicates only 45 percent of Americans think climate change will seriously affect them. Sometimes that’s because they envision climate change might drastically impact things on the other side of the world, but not in their states or communities.

In other cases, they’re so concerned about the day-to-day stresses of living — trying to pay bills and feed their families — it’s hard for them to put much attention toward something many people assume won’t happen on a substantial level for hundreds of years or more.

Some people trust politicians who believe the effects of climate change get blown out of proportion, despite what mounting scientific evidence shows. They content themselves with the viewpoint of “That legislator must know what he’s talking about” and don’t do further research to find out other views.

If individuals visited a climate change museum, however, they could check out exhibits emphasizing why the issue affects everyone — right now, not just later.

The museum’s content could aim for maximum relevance by showing a state-by-state or region-by-region breakdown that illustrates what climate change is already doing in the places visitors live — such as making hurricanes more severe. Then, people are more likely to realize they can’t just assume climate change isn’t something they’ll have to deal with in their lifetime.

Serving as a Hub for Learning

There’s a project underway to make New York City the home of the largest climate change museum in the world. If it succeeds, that effort could help people enjoy a kind of interactive learning they haven’t had since elementary school field trips.

It’s one thing to hear a scientist getting interviewed and talking about the growing issues caused by global warming. However, it’s much different to visit a museum and listen to an expert as they give an informal lecture in an auditorium filled with visitors.

Also, people often don’t have the time or patience to read articles about the Earth’s changes over the generations or watch documentaries on the subject unless they’re already extraordinarily interested in the topic. Some individuals are, but a climate change museum would cater to people who might only have a casual interest or still need prodding to realize the threat climate shift causes.

Also, school districts in some states have removed the subject from their curriculums due to a debate over whether it’s scientific fact or merely a theory. If concerned parents don’t want to worry about whether their kids’ science classes have such omissions, they could plan regular trips to a climate change museum to ensure their youngsters get essential information, even if schools cut it out.

Answering People’s Questions

Humans have a natural curiosity that means they often internally wonder about things, but never verbally express their questions. Someone might watch a film where Irish emigration was the central theme, then think, “What were the other reasons besides the potato famine that made people leave their country?”

Museum exhibitions typically cause questions to arise as people wander around and take in all the material. Fortunately, those queries don’t have to go unanswered.

Attendees might get the information they seek by reading the text accompanying a display or asking a scientist who’s at the establishment as part of a visiting scholar program. Then, they don’t keep wondering, but come away from the facility with newly learned knowledge they can pass along to others.

Increasing Engagement

In 2014, Miranda Massie left her attorney career to establish the Climate Change Museum in New York City. Even though it doesn’t yet have a permanent space, the project started hosting pop-up exhibitions in public areas last year. The goal is to start conversations about global warming and related topics in places that are easy for people to reach and notice in their everyday lives.

For example, the organization had a presence at this year’s Zero Hour event, a climate march with a particular focus on young people. Encouraging youth involvement makes sense, and the Climate Change Museum wants them to take part. Even people who don’t think they need to worry about the Earth’s climate shifts in their lifetimes can see why the issue is particularly critical for younger generations.

Another exhibition called 88 Cores featured still images of ice core samples. It aimed to show the dynamics of global warming in a way that’s substantially more engaging and understandable than data on a graph.

Making Information Accessible

Plans for the museum are in their early stages, but Massie is keeping her options open. She wants to eventually have a climate change museum in every major city and bring the all-important topic of what’s happening to our planet into everyday conversations. Past attractions, including 88 Cores, featured cards where people could write reflections about what they just saw or give their thoughts about why the United States needs a permanent museum.

If the Climate Change Museum achieves its goal, perhaps it could designate one day a week that allows people to see the space and everything in it free of charge for at least a few hours. Then, income levels and budgeting wouldn’t stop people from getting involved in the issue and indulging their curiosities.

Exposing People to Climate Change on a Massive Scale

For now, there’s only one climate change museum in the world, and it’s in Hong Kong. If you consider New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations, it’s easy to see why the planned facility could be so instrumental in making vast numbers of people understand why global warming matters.

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