London museum confronts climate change skeptics

Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:36am EDT
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By Peter Griffiths

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - London's Science Museum has waded into the climate change debate with a new exhibition called "Prove It!" that aims to persuade doubters that humans really are behind global warming.

With less than 50 days to go before United Nations climate talks in Denmark, the curators hope to give visitors all the information they need to understand how mankind is warming the planet to dangerous levels.

Near the multimedia displays about the environment and the Copenhagen summit, lies a decidedly low-tech but highly symbolic pile of coal.

Professor Chris Rapley, the museum's director, said the dark heap represents the notional trillionth ton of coal, oil or gas that will be burned for power, probably by 2050. The world reached the half-trillion landmark in the last year.

"To avoid dangerous climate change...we must never release into the atmosphere the carbon dioxide from that trillionth ton," Rapley told a news conference. "If Copenhagen fulfils its historic purpose, the museum will hold this ton forever.

"On the other hand, if the outcome were not successful...our successors here at the museum will ceremoniously take the ton to a power station and burn it."

The Prove It! show was designed to have a low carbon footprint. Instead of large display cases and dozens of exhibits, it has interactive, multimedia screens which lay out the scientific evidence behind man-made climate change.

Visitors are invited to take on the role of one of six characters at the Copenhagen talks, including an economist and a scientist, to help them learn about climate science.   Continued...