A Fashionable Climate Model

Originally posted on the Waypoints blog at EarthFix.

Some clever and well-dressed scientists are using a pun to spur some fun educational outreach.

Climate Models Calendar cover. Credit: Charlie Naebeck.

Climate Models Calendar cover. Credit: Charlie Naebeck.

The Climate Models Calendar is a project featuring scientists from Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Yes, people who create climate models are now climate models.

Rebecca Fowler and Francesco Fiondella, who are science communicators with two of the climate institutions, created the project. They teamed up with photographers Charlie Naebeck and Jordan Matter to produce the photos for the calendar.

I exchanged a few emails with the Fiondella and Fowler. Fiondella wrote about how the project came about:

The original idea for the calendar likely came from sleep- and caffeine-deprivation, which generally causes me to get anomalously corny. The play on words was too perfect for my brain to let go of! Once I shared it with Rebecca, that was it.

Fowler says that they kept bringing the joke up. Then they started telling others about it. They knew they were on to something.

She notes that the big goal is to educate the public about climate science beyond the traditional way, a.k.a. research results:

Climate science communication often focuses on results of studies or implications for policy, revealing little about the broad scope of climate science, what the process of doing research involves and the diverse group of people behind it. Photos and content in the calendar address these issues, with the goal of humanizing science and helping people to understand all the cool stuff scientists are learning about our planet.

Another goal of the Climate Models project is to encourage scientists to think outside the box when it comes to communicating about their work.

Video: climate scientist models share why they participated in the project.

As someone who has a long history of working in the arts, I found another thing Fiondella shared particularly intriguing. These are some more innovative climate science ‘communications’ efforts which bring together arts and science collaborators:

Our colleagues at PositiveFeedback have been putting together art/science speed-dating events for the last few years, to encourage collaboration between the two communities. They are also working with the SuperHero Clubhouse to put on two amazing theatre productions, Don’t Be Sad Flying Ace! and Field Trip: A Climate Cabaret.

Some scientists are now using crowd funding sites to raise money for their research. which also serves as a way to engage nontraditional audiences. University of Washington’s Dan Jaffe turned to the science crowd funding site Microryza to support his coal dust research. Biologists Jennifer Calkins and Jennifer Gee raised money from Kickstarter for their research on the elegant quail in Mexico.

The Climate Models Calendar has been getting a pretty healthy response so far.  They recently launched a website which has already logged 10,000 visitors. And, less than a week after launching their Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to print the calendar, they are already halfway to their goal.

If you are a scientist or organization doing unique projects to engage people in your work, (or know of someone who is) we’d love to hear from you. Send us an email or join our Public Insight Network.

HT to Grist who drew me in with their juicy headline.

Michella Biasutti, climate scientist with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Credit: Charlie Naebeck

Tufa Dinku, climate scientist with International Research Institute for Climate and Society. Credit: Charlie Naebeck.



Green news blogging

In my official work gig at OPB as part of the environment news team EarthFix, we recently started a team blog called Waypoints. It’s a nice addition to the other media we produce (audio, video and other digital stories) and it’s given me a chance to flex my ‘writer’ muscle professionally.

Here are a few of the recent posts (mine and some of my colleagues’) I particularly enjoyed:

Feasting On “Trash Fish” For Sustainability

– taking a look at seafood that’s typically thrown out because of lack of demand; a new foodie event is trying to bring wolf eel and skate wing some love

First ‘Farm To School’ Census

– in 2010 Congress declared October ‘National Farm To School Month’ and now USDA is completing the first Farm To School Census

New ‘Vanishing Ice’ Exhibit Reveals A Changing Climate Through The Art of the Arctic

– a very rad exhibit will be on view in Bellingham, showing art works depicting alpine and polar regions; the opening will feature a huge block of ice that will – you guessed it – melt

Goats In Boats: An Answer To Invasive Species On Islands?

– goats are cute, but even cuter are goats in boats on their way to munch on an island’s invasive species

As NW Considers Coal Exports, China Chokes On Coal-Fired Smog

– a jaw-dropping satellite photo shows coal-fueled smog covering China as the Pacific Northwest considers sending more coal through to that part of the world

Coal coming through the Northwest + multimedia storytelling

The environmental news team I work with, EarthFix, won a bunch of awards for this year’s SPJ Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest. Yay us! We even took the top two spots for our special/enterprise online reporting on the proposed Northwest export projects and the anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

Though it wasn’t part of our 2012 Northwest coal coverage (we’ll submit the ongoing series again for 2013), our multimedia special Voice of Coal came directly out of the traditional news reporting the team had done. If you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, let me tell you – these coal proposals are very controversial, pitting environmentalists against labor unions, public health officials and politicians against job creators, and folks on all ends of the spectrum. ‘Voices’ was our effort to bring real people’s voices and first-hand experience to the forefront, but always with the backdrop of well-reported journalism on the topic.

Though I don’t often have time to create content for EarthFix myself (I mostly do community engagement, events and social media), I had the opportunity to pitch in for this. Here are two audio slideshows I produced as part of the ‘Voices of Coal’ project:

It’s a pretty exciting time to be doing digital media and storytelling. We were very inspired by the Climate Wisconsin project for Voices of Coal. I’ve since seen some great interactive multimedia/transmedia projects (using video, audio, photos, text) including Black Gold Boom, about the big oil boom in North Dakota, and Reinvention Stories, looking at the identity crisis and ultimate efforts to reinvent the city of Dayton Ohio. Both those projects were part of some public media experiments called Localore. And of course there’s the epic, sublime experience of consuming Snow Fall: The Avalanche At Tunnel Creek. There you go. Now you’ve got several sittings worth of excellent transmedia storytelling to geek out on.

Gorging on the gorgeous Gorge

Matt and I took a much-needed day off today. It was time for a little nature adventure. Our first thought was to hit the famous Multnomah Falls. A friend advised we try some of the other, slightly less popular (and less crowded) hikes. So, we consulted our trusty Afoot & Afield Portland/Vancouver hiking guide. After considering a few, we decided to check out Horsetail Falls.

I can’t believe how close all this stuff is to Portland. The Columbia River Gorge is only about 30 or so miles east. I’m embarrassed and a bit regretful that we haven’t explored here sooner.

This is Horsetail Falls. So wonderful to sit underneath and just experience the falls crashing into the creek. It’s springtime so all the falls are going off.

As you can see from my curry chicken salad sandwich, we enjoyed a divine lunch in front of Three Falls.

The famous Multnomah Falls. Stunning.
You can see more of our photos from the trip at my flickr photostream.

And here’s my curry chicken salad recipe:

2-3 cups of chopped chicken (you can use canned, or I always used leftover rotisserie chicken)
2-3 tblsp curry powder
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 -3/4 cup peas
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2-3 tblsp mayo

Fold all that stuff together in a bowl until well-mixed. Serve with greens or in a sandwich.

when in doubt, make a list

oy, i’ve been so busy that i’ve had little energy for blogging. so, what to do? time to make a list. here’s a list of places i’d like to see, based on recommendations or inspiration from trusted friends. domestic sites for today; i’ll go international another…

the boneyard: a part of the neon museum in las vegas, the boneyard is a a lot filled with non-restored signs of all kinds. seems pretty surreal, industrial, nostalgic.
(photo by angie1611 on flickr, creative commons license)

Neon Boneyard Vegas

grand canyon: what can i say, i’ve never been.

high desert test sites
: from their website – “The High Desert Test Sites are a series of experimental art sites located along a stretch of desert communities including Pioneer town, Yucca Valley, Joshua tree, 29 Palms and Wonder Valley. These sites provide alternative space for experimental works by both emerging and established artists.” andrea zittel is one of the artists who founded it. rad stuff.

sequoia national park: hamblog recently made the trip, and it inspires. big, old gorgeous trees in the amazing sierra nevadas.

Watery goodness

After a little cranky morning, I settled into a brief, but needed yoga session. The sun is actually shining today, but I found myself channeling the water that defines this season in the Pacific Northwest. Or maybe I’m still holding on to my turn as the dingy water in a Sea World dolphin show scene from my improv class last night. Or maybe I’m still dopey from my restless night of sleep. Whatever the inspiration, I moved slowly through my vinyasa, never really stopping the movement, like the steady drizzly rain we often see in Portland. Even in the stillness of downward dog or mountain pose, I enjoyed a subtle pulsing of the breath, of the muscles. And, rather than fight the restlessness I’ve been feeling, I’m sticking with that riding of the gentle waves for the rest of my day. So far, steadily accomplishing a variety of tasks, running a little behind on things, but feeling content with where I’m at.

Cross posted to Yogster.net

the real dirt on the real dirt

went to see the real dirt on farmer john at the hollywood theatre last weekend. it’s a wonderful coming of age documentary, not only of farmer john, but of society and our country as we grapple with issues around sustainability, community and healthy living. the filmmaker taggart siegel and farmer john have known each other for over 20 years and that closeness reveals intimate moments in john’s journey from failed family farmer in the 80s/90s to cutting edge eco-conscious farmer/artist/community builder in present times. included are clips from john’s old 16mm art films shot on the farm which add a nostalgic, dreamy, quirky tone. the film brought tears to my eyes at several points, not from saccharine, sappy manipulations, but from visceral emotional connection to farmer john’s odyssey. from an activist perspective, the film leaves you hopeful and encourages individuals to make pro-active choices in their own lives. as for me, it reminded me of the joy of being a csa subscriber when i lived in cali and now i’m looking for a farm to join in the portland area. highly recommend the film. i think it’s at the hollywood for a few more days, then should be available on dvd soon at farmer john’s website for angelic organics.

kitchen sink and minh tran

There’s couple of art events that I’m looking forward to this week. I’m volunteering at Kitchen Sink PDX’s Step Into My Office. It’s an art show that’s being installed in an office space with all kinds of crazy cool art projects including an email performance piece; a wild green installation including lots of botanical life and even a waterfall; id badges for all visitors; and several video installations. And that’s just the tip of the cubicle iceberg. It opens at First Thursday in the Pearl.

The other event is a new completed program by Minh Tran & Company, Forgotten Memories. The piece reflects on the Khmer Rouge genocide, creating a powerful and interactive dance performance experience at the Wonder Ballroom. I had the lucky opportunity to see a recent rehearsal and it’s looking to be a very intense and beautiful work. The dance company also collaborated with a visual artist, a composer and a filmmaker. Performances are Friday and Saturday night.