Public understanding of climate science got an infusion of energy with the December launch of a major national collaborative designed to engage citizens of all ages directly in investigations of local indicators of climate change.
Communicating Climate Change, a project of ASTC’s IGLO (International Action on Global Warming) Initiative, pairs 12 science centers with research institutions to observe and document indicators of climate change, from bark beetle infestations to changing patterns of bird migration. Also supporting the project are the American Geophysical Union, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies will study effects of participation in educational activities on public attitudes and behavior.
Yale’s Anthony Leiserowitz, a Co-Principal Investigator for the project, notes that his research suggests that most people believe that “climate change is something that takes place somewhere else far away, not in your own backyard.” Communicating Climate Change is designed to change that understanding. In addition to educational programs and research activities, the project will produce a series of videos for broadcast on American television’s ABC network and a web-based interactive map where science centers worldwide can contribute climate indicator data.
Science centers participating in the project are: Arizona Science Center, Phoenix; Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii; Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, California; EdVenture Children’s Museum, Columbia, South Carolina; the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Maryland Science Center, Baltimore; Museum of Discovery & Science, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque; New York Hall of Science, Queens (where the launch event took place); Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego, California; Sciencenter, Ithaca, New York; and Saint Louis Science Center, Missouri.
Communicating Climate Change is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Informal Science Education program.
Photo: Chabot Space & Science Center teen volunteer Connie Phu and college environmental intern Marie VanZandt explore atmospheric models with science center public visitors. Photo courtesy of Chabot Space & Science Center