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7 Posts tagged with the climate_change tag
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cocktail-long-1000.jpgAs our mighty Visitor Services team, caterers and planners swing into action for the Museum's biggest event of the year later today, and our Museum scientists make final preparations on their choice specimens, exhibits, equipment and talks for the show, I'm thinking of the things I will definitely be doing in a few hours time when I leave the office myself and visit Science Uncovered. It opens to the public at 16.00 and goes on until 23.00.

 

High on my list is, naturally, sipping The Pollinator cocktail (left) created exclusively for tonight's occasion. Its ingredients can't be revealed, but I've heard it is infused with vanilla and smells delicious, and is inspired by the pollination process... mmm nice! This concoction is available at the Cocktail bar in the Darwin Centre, and right next to the Food Station, which was a really cool place to hang out last year and have some really fruitful conversations.

 

Before heading over to the Darwin Centre, I hope to witness the volcano erupting at the Earth Station in the Earth Hall. And on my way from Earth to the Green Bar, I'll stop to listen to the Soapbox Art speakers in the Lasting Impressions gallery. I'm really intrigued about the possibility of a genetically-cloned Elvis mouse (below left) and perplexed by the prospect of women giving birth to endangered dolphins if the future need arose...

 

Both these somewhat surreal subjects and the speculative uses of scientific advancement, as seen through the eyes of budding Royal College of Art design graduates, are sure to give great food for thought. Soapbox Art is a new addition this year.

 

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'Tails' of mice at Science Uncovered tonight. Left a mouse that could be genetically-cloned from Elvis hair samples... featured in a Soabpox Art session; right a locust devouring a mouse at the Parasites/Pests Station.

On the subject of mice and pests, there will be more to explore at the Darwin Centre science stations. I definitely need to see the locust caught in the act of devouring a mouse at the Parasites/Pests Station, where I heard a rumour there might also be edible chocolate parasites. And I must remember to get some inside information at the Vets Station for a little person I know who wants to become a vetinary surgeon.

 

Another must is the roaming digital specimen table (below) where I'll have a go - if I can get a look in - at unwrapping a mummified cat and examining the core of the rare Tissint Martian meteorite. The table will be in the Earth Hall (where you can also see the Imaging Station) from 16.00 - 20.00, moving to the Earth globe just outside the Earth Hall from 20.00 - 22.00.


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And of course, I'll be drawn to weird fish, ancient skull cups, gorgeous butterflies, giant bugs, native gold, glowing minerals, amazing CT scans and much, much more along the way.

 

For anyone interested in science and in our planet's history, its solar system and its future, this is the place to be in London tonight.

 

Find out about the Science Stations and everything that's on tonight at Science Uncovered

 

Read the news story about the digital specimen table

 

Download the Science Uncovered map [PDF]

 

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Of course, if you're in Hertfordshire and close to our Museum at Tring, you can join in their amazing Science Uncovered at Tring night there too. The Edge of Extinction display and talk about birds, which is Tring's special area of research, promises to be fascinating as do some of their special bird art presentations. Pictured above is the forest owlet that has recently been making a recovery and actually 'returning from the dead'.

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Is Earth's future out of order?

Posted by Rose Feb 20, 2012

As I walked through the Museum’s Earth galleries last week it made me chuckle to see a small sign posted on the What is Earth’s future? exhibit. The sign read ‘Out of Order. This exhibit is being repaired…’ The group of young lads who noticed it too were also highly amused at the irony of it.

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The Museum's What is Earth's future? exhibit, recently declared 'Out of order'. Symbolic of things to come for our planet? The exhibit, located in the From the Beginning gallery in the Museum's Red Zone, has since been restored to its spinning globe with haunting moving images projected on it. Select images to enlarge them

 

Of late, we’ve experienced some trying times behind the scenes in the Earth galleries office block, where I work. First our staff lift ground to a halt (leaving us with a lung-busting hike up the stairs), then the water packed up - just as well since the toilets had stopped working - and to top it all off  the heating threw in the towel for a day at the height of the recent cold spell. However, we soldiered on to make the Red Zone's galleries the greatest show of Earth on Earth. And, because we care and because the Natural History Museum is an inspiring place to work, we were happy to do so (like the rest of our 'fairly happy' fellow Britons as recently observed in the much-talked-about Happiness survey.)

 

It strikes me that what happened in the Museum's Earth galleries is in uncanny synchronicity with the central concerns of our current series of Earth Debates, which continue here over the next three months: if we don’t do some vital repairs to our resources and society, will parts of the Earth soon be declared out of order too? What is the real impact of what we produce and consume on our surroundings? Does our quest for the greatest show, greater monetary wealth and the constant demand for more material goods come before our immediate day-to-day living needs? Are we happier and do we feel more valued if we are more affluent or is it because of what we achieve and where and who we are with?

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Would you be willing to go vegetarian, or even just to switch to eating poultry, pork or pasture-fed beef rather than grain-fed beef to reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment? Big decisions are ahead at the next international Earth summit.

 

There is little point in me trying to explain here why the UN's earth summit in Rio de Janeiro in June is so important (aka Rio+20 as it is being held 20 years after 1992's seminal summit). It would take too long - our Earth Debates partner, the Stakeholder Forum for a sustainable future, who are coordinating and guiding key discussions in the lead-up to Rio+20, has identified 97 key issues (see the tag cloud below) - and besides our Earth Debates pages online already do a very clear job of this and will point you to all the right places for more information.

 

What's more vital is that the Museum needs your input now on the big issues that will be acted upon at global level in June. We need your thoughts on a sustainable green economy for the world or your local area, and all your favourite bugbears that go with it, as part of our ongoing Earth Debates.


Each of our four Earth Debates, with its four panellists and invited audience, is broadcast live from the Attenborough Studio on our website. The format of each debate is like BBC’s Question Time and you can watch it live, follow or contribute your questions or comments using #earthdebates on Twitter, or post your views to our online community before, during and after the event.

 

The next Earth Debate is this Wednesday 22 February from 19.00 to 20.00 GMT where the panel and studio audience will ask Beyond GDP - how can we measure progress? This debate will question the alternatives - like measuring our wellbeing and the value of the environment - to the traditional measures of economic growth and and asks what is needed for businesses and governments to invest in a green economy rather than exploit it.

 

Bookmark the link to the webcast and to #earthdebates on Twitter to join us on the night.

 

Missed the first Earth debate on 25 January about the price of nature? Watch the highlights in this short video clip which features debate chair Tim Radford, panellists Professor Sir Robert Watson, Claire Brown, Ian Dickie and Will Evison, and audience member Tony Juniper.

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'Business as usual is absolutely unsustainable... but we also have to show business that there are solutions.' An extract from the closing comment of Defra's Robert Watson in January's first Earth Debate.

Watch the whole of the first debate Ecosystem economics - can we put a price on nature? (video of the 1st Earth Debate).

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The third debate will tackle Green cities in a green economy - how to pioneer a sustainable transition? on 14 March 2012, followed by the fourth debate Food security - how do we feed 9 billion people in 2050? on 11 April 2012.

 

Find out more online about our Earth Debates and the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro

 

Get more information on the the Stakeholder Forum for a sustainable future and their priority concerns.

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Do you often find yourself taking pictures of the sky and skylines? Then I guess you are someone who takes the weather with you everywhere you go.

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Watching the clouds go by at the top of London's Primrose Hill on a sunny afternoon in October

Even if you don't and just inadvertently snapped a brilliant photograph of 'the weather', there's a new competition to enter.

 

Your photo must be taken in the UK to qualify for the OPAL Weather Photo Competition and you can upload as many as you want. The closing date is 3 May 2011. The winner will receive £100 of Amazon vouchers, a framed photo mosaic of your winning picture and a subscription to theWeather magazine.

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One hour later, further down Primrose Hill, the clouds started to gather quickly

The competition is looking for pictures from all budding photogtaphers of interesting weather scenes, or photos that show how we enjoy or are affected by the weather.

 

Upload your photos to the Weather Photo Competition on the OPAL website

 

If I could enter the competition - which I can't because OPAL is affiliated to the Museum - I might think about submiting these pictures (above and below) that I took last October on Primrose Hill in North London.

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Two hours later, at the bottom of Primrose Hill, the rain came and one rainbow, then two.

It was a gorgeous sunny, blue-skied autumn afternoon and we headed up Primrose hill to be wowed by the panoromic views of the city skyline framed with big white scudding clouds (pictured above). But staying true to our typical changeable British weather tradition, about two hours later, the sky darkened and the rain bucketed down. As we rushed to the bottom of the hill for cover, the rain stopped suddenly and a rainbow appeared, then another. I'd never seen a double rainbow before in the flesh and it was quite something. I just managed to catch the second one on camera before it vanished.

 

The competition launches in Climate Week which the Museum took part in all this week along with lots of other organisations across the country. There are events over the weekend, so see what's on. It's part of the OPAL Climate Survey which is currently running with the Met Office to investigate the ways in which we affect the climate.

 

Read the news story about the Weather Photo Competition

 

Find out more about climate change on our website

 

OPAL is a partnership initiative celebrating biodiversity, environmental quality and people’s engagement with nature.

 

 

 


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We're forever blowing bubbles...

Posted by Rose Mar 4, 2011

Do you want to help with a spot of weather watching by blowing bubbles?

 

A new Climate survey has just begun and one of the fun, easy things you can do to take part is blow bubbles to measure wind speed and direction near the ground.

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But don't worry, you don't have to buy a bubble blowing kit to do this. Just watch the video below and learn how to make your own bubble blower cone using 2 sheets of paper.

 

 

Other cool things to do in the survey include looking out for plane trails  (contrails), watching cloud movement to record wind direction, and recording how hot or cold you feel.

 

Have a look at the Climate survey website to join in. Anyone in England can take part.

 

Read the recent news story about the Climate survey


The Climate survey is being conducted by the OPAL network with scientists from the Met Office and the Royal Meteorological Society. OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) is a nationwide partnership initiative that  inspires communities to discover, enjoy and protect their local  environments. It is led by Imperial College London and the Natural  History Museum is a partner.

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Amazonia... it's art

Posted by Rose Sep 30, 2010

Everyone's being asking me 'what is Amazonia?' So, rather belatedly, let me introduce you to the Museum's latest contemporary art exhibition which will be opening next week on Wednesday 6 October.

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More than 100 tiny toy animals adorn the exhibition's centrepiece boat sculpture, Madre de Dios - Fluval Intervention Unit

 

The Amazonia exhibition was commissioned by the Museum in our International Year of Biodiversity from artists Lucy + Jorge Orta who are known for their art projects with an environmental focus. The artists travelled to the Peruvian rainforest in 2009, joining a scientific expedition, and this inspired their bright and beautiful exhibition here.

 

I had a quick peek in the Jerwood gallery this morning. The artists are here (their studio is in France) busily installing their sculptures, photographs and video projection and it looks fantastic already. From huge decorative porcelain eggs and big bright aluminium bones (below) to gorgeous flower photographs and the centrepiece of the Madre de Dios boat installation with its 100 or more tiny animals, it bustles with life - and death - in the natural world.

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The large 2-screen video installation wasn't quite set up when I visited the gallery, so in the meantime, catch some extracts of the Amazonia video projection that we've just added to the website.

 

Bergit Arends, our Contemporary Arts Curator and organiser of the exhibition, tells me that this one is also special because it's the last to be staged in the Jerwood Gallery.

 

Catch Amazonia if you can, it's free and only here for a short while until 12 December. The Jerwood gallery is in Dinosaur Way just before you enter the Darwin Centre.

 

Watch out for more exhibition gallery highlights on the website next week.

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250 guests enjoyed the evening atmosphere in the Central Hall at the launch of the UK's International Year of Biodiversity

The International Year of Biodiversity starts officially in 2010, but here at the Museum we celebrated the launch of the UK's Year of Biodiversity on Wednesday evening, 25 November.

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We also launched our great new website for IYB-UK (as it's known to those working on it) which will bring together what you need to know about what's going on in the UK.


The Museum is coordinating all the IYB organisations and groups across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who are joining the biodiversity activities from now through next year. It's going to be a busy but inspiring time.

 

If you're new to the concept of 'biodiversity', have a look at our news article about the event, featuring a video interview with some of theliz-sharp.jpg speakers including Liz Bonnin (pictured here) who presented the BBC science show Bang Goes The Theory. Biodiversity is a word you'll hear lots about in the coming months.

 

When the United Nations declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity, they asked the world to celebrate the rich variety of life - biodiversity - all through next year. The sad fact is we may be losing species 1,000 times faster than the natural rate because of human activities. So we need to make 2010 count. That's why we've started early.

Marie Clements, our communications officer, was at the event and told me about some of the things that are being planned for the future:

 

'There will be exhibitions, talks, artworks, citizen science experiments and festivals. People of all ages can get involved. They can join surveys, including dormice, farmyard birds, butterflies, hedgehogs and water. And fun activities like bat walks, bird-watching, honey and apple tasting, orchard visits and tree planting.'

 

Sounds like a 'biodiversity' of things to mark up in your calendar ahead! To guide you through, use our local IYB events search on our IYB-UK website. (Check back regularly as it is a work in progress.)

 

From farmers to charities, wildlife rangers to councils, schools and colleges to zoos, museums and botanic gardens, the UK has one of the strongest programmes in the world to celebrate IYB2010.

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Celebrate the biodiversity of life we have all around us

While we gear up our local and national celebrations, there will be big decisions and moves to be made on a global scale too. One of the key speakers at last night's launch was Ahmed Djoghlaf from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), who heads the global campaign. He highlighted the pressing issue of biodiversity loss, describing how, ‘Climate change is emerging as one of the most significant drivers of biodiversity loss.'

 

It seems fitting that on the same night as our launch, President Obama announced he would attend the crucial Copenhagen Climate Summit which kicks off on 7 December. Some are pinning their hopes on the decisions made at this conference, others are less optimistic. See my previous blog post on the warnings from Pavan Sukhdev at our Annual Science Lecture about the world's disappearing coral reefs.

To explore the wider picture, visit our biodiversity web pages and the 2010 International Year of the Biodiversity website.

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A healthy and diverse hard coral reef before any signs of 'bleaching' from acidification

On the evening of 16 November at the Museum's Annual Science Lecture, to a gathering of about 400 listeners, speaker Pavan Sukhdev explained how the severe threat to the world’s coral reefs – on which half a billion people’s livelihoods depend – could be devastating. 'We tend to forget that carbon emissions are also destroying our tropical coral reefs,' he warned.

 

Governments worry about conservation measures costing money. But the big threat, Sukhdev argued, is that if we don't preserve nature it will make us poorer rather than richer. He called for a shift in our thinking, advising that we put a financial value on the services that ecosystems provide, rather than taking it for granted that these resources are free.

 

Sukhdev expressed concerns about the decisions that will be made at next month’s Copenhagen climate summit, if governments set carbon dioxide emissions levels. If these are set too high, then oceans will become too acidic for corals to form and we may lose them entirely.

 

Susan Vittery, our Nature online website manager was at the lecture and was suitably impressed: 'It was a really informative evening. Pavan Sukhdev is an incredibly charismatic speaker who explained complex economic and environmental issues in a really clear, succinct way that everyone could understand. Fascinating.'


Find out more about this inspiring lecture in our news story and video interview.

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Pavan Sukhdev
is a senior banker at Deutsche Bank and is leading the UN Environment Programme’s Green Economy initiative which includes The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity TEEB study.


Learn more about the extinction of our coral reefs and how oceans are affected by acidification.

 

There’s also more on our website about the rich biodiversity of life on our planet and what is being done to protect it in the run-up to the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.

 

Watch out for the Museum’s Annual Science Lecture next autumn.