Prove It – A Science Museum Exhibition Examining Climate Change
Despite great global efforts to prove human activity has made a significant impact on the climate change the world is experiencing, there are still those who doubt the validity of this fact. In the UK, where the government has taken a lead in pledging to combat global warming, a recent ICM poll showed a third of the country’s voters still believe global warming is mostly due to natural forces rather than human activity.
As a means of convincing the doubters, as well as informing those interested in climate change, London’s Science Museum has put together a summary of the evidence behind climate change. It has drawn on the knowledge of a range of experts, to give authoritative and timely insight into climate science and prediction, as well as the wider issues and debates arising from climate change.
For those unable to make it to the exhibition, the Prove It (sciencemuseum.org.uk) website provides access to this informative and engaging look at climate change.
The Science of Global Warming
Since the industrial revolution in the 1700s, typified by the widespread use of fossil fuels, global temperatures have made a leap of 0.75 degrees Celsius. This provided the first indication that human activity is linked to global warming. This exhibition gives a succinct summary of how scientists study climate change. Global temperature records dating back to 1659 have been used in conjunction with cutting-edge techniques to chart the rise of global temperatures. Using the clear link between the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global temperatures, trapped carbon dioxide in ice and fossilized pollen have helped build a picture of temperatures millions of years ago. The exhibition gives a clear explanation of how this data has been used to help build computer models to predict the future of climate change.
The Effects and Causes of Global Warming
Given the vast information on climate change, the exhibition does well to distill it down to the fundamental basics underlying climate change. The points made are backed up by examples which highlight the key causes and effects of climate change.
In simple terms, global warming is caused by solar radiation being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere by greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, rather than being reflected back into space. This radiation is then re-emitted to warm the earth’s surface. Human activity has caused a rise in the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Various examples of these activities are given as follows:
- The burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas gives off carbon dioxide.
- Breeding livestock such as cows produces methane.
- Rice fields produce methane when materials rot underwater.
- Rotting rubbish at landfill sites produces methane.
The effects of climate change already being observed are also explained and include the following:
- Changing rainfall patterns.
- More common and intense extreme weather, such as droughts and hurricanes.
- Rising sea levels.
- Melting Arctic Ice.
- Migration of species.
Fighting Global Warming
Fighting global warming has led to endless debates on what is the best course of action to take in order to mitigate future disasters. It is an area fraught with complexities but the exhibition neatly condenses the key arguments into a comprehensible summary.
The importance of rainforests, the effect on human rights, and what action needs to be taken to avoid reaching a tipping point are all covered. An up-to-date discussion of the impact climate change has on economic prosperity is particularly thought-provoking. Some economists have proposed that governments have a responsibility to invest in new green technologies. This would help mitigate the disastrous effects of climate change, while simultaneously supporting economies.
The recent Copenhagen Climate Change Conference was the largest concerted global effort to come up with a legally binding agreement to combat climate change. However, the talks encountered several stumbling blocks and its outcome fell far short of expectations.
The exhibition outlines the points of agreement and those of contention that arose at the conference. While it was agreed that the temperature rise since the industrial revolution should not be allowed to exceed two degrees Celsius, no specific targets were laid down. The need for developed countries to help poorer countries to adapt to and mitigate climate change was agreed to be of paramount importance.
Summary – Climate Change Exhibition
This exhibition provides a comprehensive guide to all the key issues relating to climate change. Not only is the evidence behind climate change given but the procedures scientists use to study climate change are explained. This adds to the weight of the evidence presented.
The effects, causes, and wider consequences are discussed as are the methods for mitigating against and adapting to climate change. An eye-opening account of the global efforts to fight global warming rounds up this fascinating and educative exhibition.