Saturday, June 26, 2010

Climate Change: The Threat to Life and A New Energy Future

Last summer, I went to the American Museum of Natural History to see their (temporary) special climate change exhibit, called Climate Change: The Threat to Life and A New Energy Future. The exhibit has now moved on to Chicago, to the Field Museum of Natural History.

The first part of the exhibit was quite striking. A neon line along two walls traced CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

On the walls were dates, as well as pictures of the technology of the time.

Coal, the rock that burns.

A Radio Shack TRS-80 was displayed as an example of how fast computers spread and became a necessary part of our lives...and how computers and their energy demands are likely to keep increasing, as they are still scarce in many parts of the world.

Children look at a spinning model of the earth.

The drowned city. You can "flood" this model of New York City, to see what it will look like as sea levels rise.

An arctic fox, in a part of the exhibit devoted to how climate change is affecting the arctic.

(There were also some artifacts from Chaco Canyon, a civilization done in by climate change, and a display on ocean acidification.)

A different graph of rising temperatures.

The text at right says:

Month by month, our planet's climate has been warming, as shown by the color shift in this table from blue (colder temperatures) to red (warmer temperatures).

To create the table, researchers looked at whether the average temperature for any particular month was hotter or colder than the average temperature for that month between 1951 and 1980. For instance, in 1978, the average July temperature was .15°C (.27°F) than the average for all Julys between 1951 and 1980.

How ocean temperatures are measured. An ocean buoy:

A robotic underwater glider used to measure temperature.

This was kind of fun. You could move the white pieces around, and a light meter would measure how much light was reflected. It made a pretty big difference.

The display on oil. (There were displays on other CO2 sources as well, including cement, natural gas, and land use.)

There was also a model oil rig.

There were models of all our energy sources. Here's a solar panel.

There was a big section on solutions.

And a section on what you can do, that encouraged people to write down what steps they were planning to take on little pieces of paper.