Weather is how we experience climate change
The understanding of the relationship of weather to climate requires a shift in perception of scale – from personal to planetary. How do you sympathetically introduce the museum visitor to the facts of climate change? The relationship of weather to the person is shown by illustrations of an umbrella and raincoat – two common recognizable items that protect any body from the weather. The empty hood is both unsettling and intriguing. These illustrations are black pencil renderings, scanned, with colour layers and clipping paths added in Photoshop for placing onto a solid background. The attention to the hand-drawn detail of these mundane objects invites passing scrutiny from the viewer. Sometimes you really need a hand-drawn touch to achieve this.
What are the facts of climate change?
Advancing into the exhibit, the viewer might ask: ‘Does human activity contribute to climate change or not?’
The Structure of Climate Model combines two idealized scale views and the relation between them. A grid layer on the northern hemisphere of the earth, has a transparent schematic showing multiple layers, further expanded to the large cube showing a 3-dimensional section of three elements – air, water and land. The transparency of the exploded layers and horizontal lines of the two front planes is maintained for consistency and ease of comprehension. Planar text oriented to the face of the cube labels the simplified clouds, sea ice, and snow-capped mountains. Minimal discernible differences of tone and limited colour palette also makes the infographic easier to look at. A soft blue-grey background colour, accepted by the client as a calming contrast to an alarming orange colour in the RBCM Climate Change display, also allows easy reading of the type.
What is the future of climate change?
Future climate scenarios are shown as six inputs forming the roots of a tree-shaped graphic; combining representative human activities, both causing and resulting in four outcomes in one comparative graphic display. Distinct symbolic colours show relative temperatures: red is hottest, through orange yellow, to green – the most benign scenario. The world is treated as four distinct solid coloured disc-shaped world maps from which flow the results of rising temperatures. Line drawings of different human activities in each scenario suggest cumulative impact on the climate outcomes. Faces on the figures are minimized or left blank to avoid attracting inordinate attention. A faceless man in a suit, a huge oversized automobile and a drab brown Earth are disconcerting without being alarmist. Relative size and types of automobiles invite a comparison of choice and suggested result.
Millions of museum visitors might take away facts and thoughtful messages that when put into practice may have a cumulative effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.