Climate Change Exhibit now at the Field Museum in the Windy City
Depending on your viewpoint, exhibit educates or agitates


by Shannon Downey

I was invited to the Field Museum, as many press were, for a guided tour of the new Climate Change Exhibit. My guide was Project Manager, Janet Hong. She kindly walked me through the exhibit highlighting points of interest and engaging in some exciting conversation about malaria, the arctic fox, and carbon off-setting.

The exhibit is full, and I mean full, of information. It is content-driven which also means it’s a lot to take in. It is without a doubt geared toward middle schoolers and up simply because it is just so much darn reading.

Is the reading worth it? Absolutely. The exhibit raises interesting points, leaves most of the doomsday approach out, and offers guests a chance to internalize their role in minimizing climate change.

What I also appreciated about the exhibit was its many levels of information. If you are new to exploring climate change, you will be carefully introduced to the basics but should you be AFS readers and already know your stuff, you will still leave the exhibit with new information.

The ‘talk back board’ at the end of the exhibit gives guests an opportunity to comment on the exhibit, the changes they are willing to implement to minimize their impact on the environment, or to whine about the number of summer camps passing through. It was here that I saw a particularly interesting comment that led me to do some additional online research.

I honestly don’t remember the exact wording but it was something alluding to this particular guest’s belief that climate change was not real.

I thought this was really interesting. I love a good debate. I love a conspiracy theorist even more. I got home and hopped online and found the most amazing article I’ve ever read.

Norm Rogers of the Heartland Institute reviewed the exhibit after visiting it not once but twice. The Heartland Institute claims to, “produce an ambitious program of research and educational projects in defense of free-market environmentalism.”

Now I’m not one to give the extreme right any additional attention, but if nothing else inspires you to go support this exhibit, good ole Norm’s take on things should.

Norm Rogers writes, “The blatant effort to propagandize children is one of the most disagreeable aspects of the exhibit. The school children are bombarded with alarmist propaganda and then encouraged to post notes pledging to take actions to stop climate change. Children donʼt have the sophistication to recognize propaganda.”

I know I know, take a minute and gather yourselves. Wipe the laughter tears from your eyes.

This exhibit does in fact encourage children to pledge to take steps to help minimize climate change. Use CFL’s, walk more, get a clotheslines, eat more vegetables, in fact, wow…when you look at it, this is just the sort of propaganda that aims to makes kids healthier and get them outside more. Damn you Field Museum, using your propaganda to make our kids and world healthier!

I imagine there would be nothing more grating to Norm and his buddies than the final portion of the exhibit which is dedicated to educating guests about the Chicago Climate Action Plan.

This wonderful city initiative is an action plan for every Chicagoan to follow so that, collectively, “we can achieve an 80 percent reduction below our 1990 green house gas emissions level by the year 2050 in order to do our part to avoid the worst global impacts of climate change.”

This addition to the exhibit is, in my opinion, a fantastic way to help visitors personalize the message of climate change and learn about city initiatives and city successes.

So, when looking for something scandalous to do this summer, I suggest you head to the Field Museum and explore the highly controversial Climate Change Exhibit then weigh in with your thoughts and opinions. Just be careful not to let the do-gooder propaganda win you over! Next thing you know you’ll be riding your bike to work and bringing your own shopping bags to the grocery store.

Climate Change runs through November 28th.

While you are there, don’t miss the Mammoths and Mastodons Exhibit, now through September 6th. So