Foreign Policy Blogs

American Museum of Natural History

The museum has been a cornerstone of natural history research and public education since it first opened its doors in 1871.  Most people who've grown up in the NY metropolitan area have spent many happy hours there learning and being amazed and tourists come from all over the world. 

AMNH has a brand-new exhibit on climate change.  I went to the press opening last week, toured the exhibit then and have been back once since, and have surfed the website a bit.  In museum parlance, this is a blockbuster show.

The museum's president, Ellen Futter, described the exhibit as an attempt to demystify the subject.  It also offers, in her words, a "mosaic of solutions" to global warming.  Michael Novacek, Provost of Science, said the science on climate change has become much more clear and compelling.  In the exhibit hall, I spoke with Edmond Mathez, co-curator of the exhibit.  I asked him if there wasn't rather more information than could be digested in the exhibit.  He said there was indeed a lot of information on display, but that he expected people to come more than once.  He told me you couldn't properly just put up the "headlines" but that the exhibit has layers of information into which people can delve.  It has both a textual and graphic density that will appeal to the student of environmental and energy issues. 

I also talked to Michael Oppenheimer, an old acquaintance from when I was doing activist work with the Sierra Club on acid rain and he was Senior Scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund.  Michael is at Princeton and is involved in several programs there.  He was also one of the lead authors of last year's critical series of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  He has been, throughout his career, both a top-level scientist and an activist.  He long ago realized the importance of having environmental science understood by the public and policy makers and having the serious message of environmental protection embraced by them.  He is co-curating the exhibit.  You can listen to an informative interview with Michael here talking about the exhibit from NPR, and you can see him here in a 15-minute interview with Charlie Rose talking about the IPCC report.

Get to the AMNH for this exhibit if you can, and take in some of the extensive public programming as well.  It is running through August 16.



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change