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Science Museum London says "I do", affirming position on climate change


i do climate - Science Museum London says

Science Museum London (source: Wikipedia Commons)

The Science Museum London has reaffirmed its position on climate change, signing up as a participating institution in the European project ACCENT, under its tagline "Do you commit to action on climate change? I do."

The Science Museum’s participation in “I do” follows reports in the media that its £4m climate science gallery, to be launched in November 2010, would be "climate neutral." These reports raised questions as to whether the Science Museum would step back from acknowledging the man-made causes of climate change, in the wake of the widely publicised story over leaked emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit which appeared to discredit key data on climate change.

The director of the Science Museum London, Professor Chris Rapley, has since made the position of the institution clear: "Our intentions for the new climate science gallery have been misrepresented by some commentators. The role of the Science Museum is to provide an enjoyable, informative experience for the general public which is representative of the state of the science. Our aim is to increase interest and deepen understanding about climate science. Content will be led by the scientific evidence available and will therefore highlight the fact that the majority of the climate science community has concluded that current climate change is real, mainly human-induced and requires a response. The content and overall aim of the gallery is by no means influenced by the sponsors, of which there are several and whose financial support holds no editorial influence over the Science Museum's gallery.”

Professor Rapley, himself a climate scientist and former director of the British Antarctic Survey, highlighted the need to take account of the scientific consensus on the existence and causes of climate change: "There are always areas of uncertainty in any scientific topic, and climate science is no exception. We respect people's right to disagree and we will address the issues raised, but the gallery will always return to the fact that the weight of evidence supports the conclusion that climate change is real, serious, driven by humans and needs to be addressed. The climate debate has become very polarised in recent months and this has made even more important the need for a public space where people who agree, who are unsure, and who disagree that humans are affecting the climate system are able to explore the science and make up their own minds.”

Luigi Amodio, director of the Fondazione IDIS-Città della Scienza, Naples, Italy, who is coordinating the ACCENT project, welcomed the move: “I am delighted that the Science Museum London has joined this European collective action on climate change. As European science centres and museums, our role in engaging the public on climate change is crucial. As more institutions commit to action on this topic, we play an increasingly significant role in ensuring that European citizens build an informed opinion on what is at stake. It is through cooperation between science centres, museums and other institutions that we can pool our resources, working together to advance a common cause.”

He also reinforced the importance of debate as a tool for public engagement: “The scientific consensus on the causes of climate change is clear. But this does not mean that there is not room for debate. The ACCENT project encourages European citizens to take part in dialogue activities and discussions held across Europe in order to engage with the issue, using science centres and museums as the ideal place for informed and considered discussion.”

ACCENT is a two-year project funded by the European Commission’s Framework Programme 7, which brings together science centres, museums and aquariums from across Europe for a collective action on public engagement in climate change. The project was launched in Copenhagen at the United Nations COP15 Conference on Climate Change, coinciding with the release of the Declaration on Public Engagement in Climate Change by Ecsite, the European Network of Science Centres and Museums of which the Science Museum London is a member.

As a participating institution in the project, the Science Museum London, UK, will promote its activities and share resources as a part of the European collective action on climate change.

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Sea levels rising from polar ice cap depletion? The more hits to
the “I do” website, the more citizens committed to action, the lower the level will drop.