Science On a Sphere Needs a Call to Action

images (41)The Climate Center in Hojbygaard, Denmark is home to one of 92 Science On a Sphere® (SOS) displays worldwide. Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is a room sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe. [1] The goal of these spheres is to increase the public’s understanding of the environment. Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is currently educating over 24.2 million visitors each year.

Our MBA study group was privileged to be able to experience the sphere on our Denmark Energy Tour in May of 2013. Upon arrival at the Climate Center in Denmark we proceeded to enter a dark room where images of climate change were projected onto a large sphere.  This dynamic presentation visually depicted the changes that are happening to our world. It was fascinating and scary at the same time.

During the presentation I was once again feeling motivated to do something. I cannot hear this information about climate change and not feel led to act. Yet the presenter didn’t display any sense of urgency. He said that we must not panic, that global warming is what it is and he left it at that. My perception was that he didn’t think it was that big of a deal. He could have had an off day or just been tired the day our group attended. Yet I felt the presentation needed a call to action. If I were hearing any of this information for the first time I would have felt strong emotions. I remember feeling strong emotions the first time I heard the facts about global warming. And since that time I’ve had a whole myriad of emotions – panic at times and a deep sadness at others.

Our presenter had our full attention – we were in a dark room, listening to startling statistics. His presentation would have been the perfect time to issue us a challenge to act, to do something to help slow the consequences of our actions down. If we learn and do not act, what good is it? I believe we must educate in order to change behavior. And we have a long way to go with educating and changing individuals behavior around climate change.

According to an article in The International Herald Tribune, “climate scientists agreed that humans cause global warming in 97.1 percent of the published papers that discuss the issue.” But “a recent survey by Pew Research found that only 69 percent of Americans believe the earth is warming, and only 42 percent believe human activity is largely the reason.” [2]In addition, only about half of Americans (51%) say they are “somewhat” or “very worried” about global warming, a 7 percentage-point decline in worry since Fall 2013.[3] But even though scientists agree and people are becoming more aware of the issues, worldwide people are not doing enough to slow down the effects of global warming.  We need to do more. The SOS project is a great education tool. Yet could it also call people to action. It could challenge people to change their behavior in more specific ways.

I was not able to find any research about the impact SOS had in changing behavior. There were many studies about what people thought about the presentation. The studies published were all focused solely on what people thought about the technology and the sphere itself.

Call-to-action-with-wordsI challenge NOAA to take the Science On a Sphere® (SOS) one step further by adding a call to action. A call to action on the sphere could include a list of simple things viewers could do right away to begin making changes in their consumption of energy and their carbon footprint. Adding a call to action to their current audience of 24.2 million viewers a year could have an even greater impact than they have had to date.

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