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National Academy of Sciences Museum and Global Warming

Frequently, when we post articles and essays about climate change, we get comments expressing some doubts about the reality of global warming. While some would refuse to accept any evidence offered, many of these commenters seem honest in their protestations that they haven't seen the evidence all put together in a way that makes sense. I haven't had a good pointer for them -- combining serious science, mainstream sources, and compelling presentation -- until now.

The Marain Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences is a new Washington DC landmark, having just opened in April. Its focus is on the science underpinning current public policy debates, and its exhibits will remain on display for two years before touring around the country. (If you're unfamiliar with the National Academy of Sciences, it is a non-profit organization given a mandate by Congress in 1863 to provide high-quality, non-partisan advice to the federal government. Yes, 1863.)

One of the three exhibits at the KSM is "Global Warming Facts and Our Future," and the online version is one of the best presentations of the science surrounding global warming-induced climate change I've ever seen. The online exhibit -- a mix of HTML and Flash -- lays out the argument for global warming in a straightforward but compelling way. Each phase is well-illustrated and detailed:

  • The Greenhouse Effect
  • Carbon Cycle
  • Causes of Change
  • Past Change
  • Predicted Change
  • Impacts of Change
  • Responses to Chage

    Note in particular the page discussing human activities as the major cause of global warming. The presentation includes exercises where visitors can make policy choices, and see the balancing required between economic and environmental concerns. One of the best aspects of the presentation is that it doesn't try to brush points of scientific dispute under the rug; it details how major models disagree on certain points, and what that means.

    I doubt this exhibit will change the minds of those who are in denial, but if you -- or someone you know -- has questions about global warming, how it works, how we know what we know, and what we can do about it, this is a good place to start.

  • Comments (2)

    Frank Shearar:

    I do like the presentation, and that's despite my knee-jerk hatred of all things Flash.

    Everything looks good, the content's great, etc.

    I have only one beef. I work for the Royal National Institute for Deaf people in the U.K., so I'm rather sensitive to accessibility issues. The videos/presentations really need work to make them accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people. Something like subtitles or whatever. But, for instance, if you can hear well or normally, try watching the videos with your sound muted - you'll find the videos rather less informative.



    While its a nice looking site I had to wonder at the blinders they have for whats realy likely to happen with global warming and our reactions to it.

    They seem to miss the amazingly obvious fact that at least in america and many other places people who live close enough to the ocean to be effected by its rise directly as in water supply and storm damage can dang well pay thier own costs or MOVE THIER ARSES.

    Yes island nations dont have that choice but most people do.

    2 In case anyone has missed it alot of industrial plants have recently shut down in america and the companies have moved.... thats gona play havok with pollution maps as in most every case the new plants built elsewhere are in places without any enviro laws at all.

    3 It is estimated that half a BILLION square feet of office space will be shut down within 10 years in the usa. Now while yes we are gona replace that with something else whatever that NEW thing will be will almost assuridly be new buildings of a different config then an office building... I wonder if gee that MIGHT effect energy needs and all that stuff hmmm? Office jobs are being moved to india and elsewhere by the by at a massive clip. Wonder what that will do to the envrionment there...?

    I wont even go into the fact all the chemical industry that can is moving out as fast as it can to save costs.

    Then there are cars... is everyone blind to the fact hybrid cars are quickly gaining momentum? Does anyone not figure that rather soon hybrid trucks will be made and gee due to saving MONEY they will take the truck industry by storm rather fast as soon as they do?
    They talk about more fuel efficient planes.. well guess what the industry is already DOING THAT! Its not a matter of government need to push the tech its simply a matter of planes leaving service in america and being replaced by newer models. Time alone will make it happen its already locked in and planned. Oh and by the by its alot bigger then 10% boost in fuel efficency.

    Sorry if im a bit grumpy but man I hate poles that give a bunch of idiot choices. Hmm pay more in gov spending or pay more in my personaly costs... how bout c make the idiots pay thier own costs and tell em to shut thier pie hole.


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