Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Tackling climate change

The United Nation’s Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals presents a path for collaborative work. Source: Future of Museums.


Sarah Sutton, Worldwide applause for museums and their role in addressing climate change!, Future of Museums blogspot, 10 November 2016

I often rely on far-flung correspondents to cover events Alliance staff can’t attend. On learning that Sarah Sutton, former chair of the Alliance’s Green Professional Network, and principal of Sustainable Museums, recently relocated to Hawai’i, I gleefully issued her official CFM “press credentials” to attend the recent World Conservation Congress. In today’s guest post, Sarah reports back from that international gathering.

In September I joined conservationists, preservationists and resource managers in Hawai’i for the 25th meeting of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress. Every four years the likes of World Wildlife Fund, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, Global Environmental Finance, National Geographic, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, heads of states and of state and federal agencies, scientists, politicians, students, and a few humanities professionals gather to share their progress in protecting the global environment and to explore new approaches to address worsening planetary conditions.

Among the hundreds of sessions, workshops, impromptu talks, tours, and poster sessions two tracks stood out as perfect fits for the museum field: the Nature-Culture Track, and an informal strand advocating for partnerships with urban organizations, particularly zoos, gardens, and museums, for protecting and caring for the planet and its natural, cultural, and human resources. In both streams one theme was consistent: for the natural world to survive, the conservation movement must activate all available talents and resources; this includes cultural heritage and urban resources often overlooked when the focus is mega marine- and landscapes, and flora and fauna.

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Climate change ripples through life on Earth, 10 November 2016, phys.org, November 2016

Climate change is affecting most life on Earth, despite an average global temperature increase of just 1C, say leading international scientists in a study published today in Science.

The scientific team, including researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE), The University of Queensland and the Queensland Museum in Australia, identified key ecological processes necessary to support healthy terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems. The study found that 82% of these processes, affecting genes to entire ecosystems, have been impacted by global warming.

The effects of these changes extend beyond natural ecosystems and increasingly impact the health and wellbeing of human societies.

“Temperature extremes are causing evolutionary adaption in many species, changing them genetically and physically,” says Professor John Pandolfi of the Coral CoE and University of Queensland. “These responses include changes in tolerances to high temperatures, shifts in sex-ratios, reduced body size and migration of species.”

“In marine systems, physiological responses to both climate warming and changing ocean conditions are widespread,” he adds.

“People depend on healthy ecosystems for a range of goods and services, including food and clean water. Understanding the extent to which ecosystems have been impacted allows us to plan and adapt to rapid change.”

“Some people didn’t expect this level of change for decades,” says senior author Associate Professor James Watson, from the University of Queensland. “The impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere, with no ecosystem on Earth being spared. It is no longer sensible to consider climate change as a concern only for the future.”

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