January 11, 2010
Washington, D.C. is the best city for museum-going, of course, but sometimes you can find great exhibits outside the traditional sites. An example is “Climate Change in Our World” now at the headquarters of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (until March 15).
The show features photographs by environmental photojournalist Gary Braasch, taken from his book Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming is Changing the World and enlarged up to five feet tall. While there are the familiar images of climate change—polar bears and penguins and disappearing glaciers—there are also plenty of others that are less known: A view of Chicago from far above, covered by smog during the 1995 heat wave, which killed 875. Bangladeshi villagers perched on the end of a road being washed away by erosion that is getting worse. Children playing in an empty rice field in a China besieged by drought.
There are also solutions, like examples of green building and a line of modern windmills in the Netherlands. Then there are the group of botanists high in the Alps tracking the migration of wildflowers up the slopes of the mountains.
Scientists take center stage in the companion children’s exhibit, “How We Know About Our Changing Climate.” Here, the images include more scientists at work, kids participating in research like Project Budburst and children who have been affected by climate change. I was particularly taken with a photo of three children sitting on a porch in Tuvalu—an island nation already affected by sea level rise—looking out at their flooded neighborhood. Visitors can also view short films from the Young Voices on Climate Change collection.
The exhibit may shock, sadden or inspire you, or perhaps all three. If you’re in the area, stop at AAAS and take a look. (Closes March 15. Open 8-5 Monday through Friday. Free admission.)
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