Putting Best Practices into Action: Aquariums & Climate Change Engagement

AquariumBigClimate communicators have an abundance of communication and engagement guidance at their fingertips. From research and tips delivered through Climate Access, the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED), ecoAmerica, or others, there is a plethora of resources on how to effectively talk about and engage people on climate. The exciting part comes in actually implementing these tips and recommendations in context.
This recent Climate Progress post, which profiles the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s efforts to engage its visitors on climate, provides an excellent example of how to actually implement climate communication and engagement best practices (see APGA and ecoAmerica’s YOUtopia program for a similar example). Several best practices of note include: using trusted messengers (aquariums and other informal science institutions generally tend to enjoy high levels of public trust), focusing on local impacts (emphasizing the impact of climate change on local marine species visitors may know and love), and providing visitors with actionable recommendations they can implement as soon as they return home.

Why Aquariums Are Obsessed With Climate Change

By Ari Philips, Reporter, Climate Progress
MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA — The Monterey Bay Aquarium, on California’s central coast, is just about the most soothing environment imaginable. Strolling through dimly lit caverns of muted colors while surrounded by slow-moving, serene aquatic life, it’s easy to fall under the impression that you too are just another fish in the sea. Until a school of students swarms by, hungry to see and learn more, or just hungry to get to the cafeteria. Or until one of the Aquarium docents brings up some of the many jarring challenges facing aquatic life in the 21st century, such as: marine pollution and debris, overfishing and unsustainable seafood, and climate change.
Turns out it’s not so easy just be a fish in the sea these days.
On a recent afternoon, Sarah-Mae Nelson, Climate Change Interpretive Specialist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, sat on a bench observing an exhibit of giant kelp wafting in the water’s gentle current. Taking the plunge from the crisp open air into the mysterious environment below may feel like two different worlds, but when it comes to climate change and other environmental issues, they are intricately linked.
Read more here.

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