Climate Control: Climate Exchange

Today’s post is by Catherine and Laura from the Visitor Team at Manchester Museum. We are not experts, but we are people with a passionate interest in the museum and its objects. We each bring our own insight into Manchester Museum and its collections.

For more about our public programmes, please visit Museum Meets, and for more about nature see the curator’s blog, Nature Manchester.

climate change pic

Climate Exchange

Over the past few months, there has been an excited buzz around the museum, a flutter of conversation and a meeting of ideas between academics, artists, school children and visitors. There has also been the appearance of a certain Peppered Moth. The subject of this commotion is Climate Control, the Manchester Museum’s latest exhibition.

climate change blog

As part of Climate Control, Catherine and I have been working on Climate Exchange, a project that encourages an exchange of ideas and discussions to highlight the issues surrounding climate change. Visitors are given the opportunity to have 1-2-1 conversation with experts from the field and we’re proud to have welcomed a whole range of people all generously giving their time for this important cause. Some of those people have come from Friends of the Earth, BBC Sustainability, Manchester A Certain Future and Tyndall Manchester and across the University of Manchester.

There has been many wonderful conversations and we’ve learnt so much but Catherine and I just wanted to share a couple we found interesting.

Laura – One discussion I found helpful was Rachael Webster’s insight into the palm oil industry. Rachel is the Curator of Botany at the Museum and she showed us examples of palm oil seeds from the collection and explained how palm oil is produced from them. Palm oil is used in a whole range of products including food, cleaning products and even biofuel. It can be found in up to 40% of supermarket items.

The problem with palm oil is that it takes a lot of land to grow the trees, which is cleared by burning vast areas of rainforest. This has deadly effects on its inhabitants and releases dangerous amounts of CO2 in the process. This slash-and-burn method of deforestation is always a threat to the environment and wildlife; December 2015 saw forest fires in Indonesia burn out of control killing many Orangutans.

Rachel told me about a website set up by Chester Zoo called the Palm Oil Challenge, which lists all the products that use sustainable palm oil. You can also add items to the list.

Look for this symbol to find sustainable palm oil products.

palm oil symbol

Catherine – Over the course of Climate Exchange, I’ve had the chance to speak to a wide range of people with many different specialities. One of the things I’ve found most interesting about the sessions is their diversity. Before I started working on the project I’d mistakenly thought that the experts would all be climate scientists focusing on the scientific side of climate change. I’ve been surprised by the number of people who have approached climate change from different viewpoints.

A small selection of these sessions include:

  • Climate Change Art – visitors adding to giant artworks representing different elements of climate change
  • A historical look at how past societies dealt with changes to their own climate
  • Climate Change Poetry – led by Sam Illingworth, a chance for visitors to respond creatively to climate change through poetry.

By approaching climate change from a variety of different angles; from sport to poetry, – we’ve aimed to connect with more people than focusing solely on scientific approaches.
climate change blog 2

With the summer holidays just around the corner, Catherine and I have been working on a really exciting line-up of speakers that we think will really inspire the visitors. Highlights include Matt who will be discussing ‘The Biological Effects of Climate Change’ (Bees – always a big hit!) and Judith’s research into ‘Cocoa Sustainability Initiatives’.  Climate Conversations take place daily in the Climate Control Exhibition starting from 11am and 1pm.

climate change blog 3

Laura Bennett and Catherine Tindsley

For more about our public programmes, please visit – Museum Meets, and for more about nature see the curator’s blog, Nature Manchester.

Read more about the Climate Control exhibition from the Visitor Team;
Climate Control: Marvellous Moths
Climate Control: Changes We Can See
Climate Control – The Polar Bear Fact File 


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