According to data released by the Met Office Hadley Centre, 2015 was the hottest year ever since we started measuring and reporting temperature. That is really massive, considering the measurements span 165 years. This is pretty much uncharted territory for us and we have seen scorching heat waves and extreme floods as a testament to that. Current research and media outlets have certainly taken this issue up. However, most times the science is lost in translation or not communicated clearly in an effective manner. Given this context, it is important for us and particularly the next generation to comprehend the dangers and also understand possible solutions to combat climate change. The exhibition CliMatters/KliMacht aims to break down the science behind climate change and also to portray the impacts and possible solutions to reduce its adverse effects. This kid-friendly exhibition is organized by the researchers from the “FWF Doctoral Programme Climate Change” at the University of Graz (aka the people behind this blog!). You can read more about us and what we do – here.

The exhibition has over 30 exhibits and is divided into three sections. The first section includes exhibits describing climate science, its implication on future temperatures and also uncertainties in climate measurements. Among the many exhibits in this section, the Temperature Wall is a wonderful illustration of our possible climate futures designed using temperature predictions from various climate models. You would also be able to understand the causes and effects of climate change by taking a peek at the Climate Globe. Another exhibit, the special Climate Darts board is of course fun to play, but it also helps one to understand the likelihood of hot summers and cold winters (uncertainty in weather), under a changing climate.

Temperature wall, depicting temperatures under different climate scenarios. Red curve represents a business as usual scenario and blue, an ambitious climate friendly scenario. Photo by Bettina Lackner, CC-BY-NC-SA
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Climate darts, dart board on right indicates weather patterns under climate change (Red indicates a hot summer). Photo by Bettina Lackner, CC-BY-NC-SA

Effective climate negotiation and necessary action would require fundamental changes in our energy system through the willingness, support and corporation between industries, government and society. The second section looks at the collective and individual contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and their impacts. The exhibits highlight our collective responsibility by characterizing the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions and the rate at which countries are emitting them. At an individual level, understanding which areas of our life generate the most carbon emissions and making smart choices can go quite a way in reducing our personal contribution to a warming planet. The interactive Choice Game, allows you to re-enact some of the everyday choices in life and understand how these can affect the climate. Depending on your choices, you either traverse to the red room riddled with severe climate impacts or the safe and sustainable blue room.

Choice game, brave enough to determine your climate future? Photo by Bettina Lackner, CC-BY-NC-SA

The thread of personal and community level responsibility to ensure a sustainable future is interwoven through all the exhibits in the museum.

The red room depicts the harmful impacts of climate change through exhibits on species extinction, impacts of extreme events and illustrative postcards from the future. In Southeast Austria, for example, climate model projections show a remarkable increase in average monthly temperatures, so much so that the average summer temperature in to the future would be similar to the average summer temperature in Marrakesh, Morocco (that is 25oC, phew). The exhibits relay this very message by highlighting the regional level social and economic impacts as well repercussions on the diverse flora and fauna in Southeast Austria.

Postcards from the future, so much for skiing then (Red room). Picture from under CC-0, designed by Roman Klug, CC-BY-NC-NA

The blue room is an assortment of climate friendly life styles and technologies that could contribute to a sustainable future. This ranges from exhibits on renewable energy and clean vehicles to vertical farming and climate smart buildings. The dynamic Energy Cubes represents our current global energy consumption and also the untapped potential of various renewable energy sources. It allows the visitors to touch, feel and also to stack up and compare the potential of untapped energy from one or more renewable sources that could meet or even surpass our current global energy demand.

energy cubes
Energy cubes, outlining the potentials of various energy sources (Blue room). Photo under © University of Graz/Ruperta M. Steinwender, CC-BY-NC-SA

The concluding section dives into individual and collective responsibility to combat climate change and also dispels some common climate change myths (yeah, the sun doesn’t cause climate change). Finally, the tree of climate activists is a beautiful and motivating description of climate warriors from all over the world and their contributions to avert climate change and its dangers.

Tree of climate activists, continues to motivate and inspire. Photo by Bettina Lackner, CC-BY-NC-SA

The exhibition is hosted by the Uni Graz museum and is located at Universitätsplatz 3/KG, 8010 Graz, Austria. The exhibition will run until June 15th 2016, please check the museum website for opening days and hours. The museum has already been featured among others, at the Austrian Climate Day  and during the Long Night of Research in Graz. Guided tours can be arranged both in German and English on request. Tell us what you think in the comments below, especially if you’ve been!