Forecasting the Effects of Climate Change on Biodiversity: Visualizing Change to Inspire Public Action
Climate change impacts to the species and ecosystems upon which human economic and ecological well-being depends receive relatively little attention from the media and the general public. Ecological forecasts of future climate impacts on the geographic ranges of iconic species produce models depicting alternative scenarios that vary dramatically in their degree of projected changes. Using the IPCC’s latest climate model outputs and greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, scientists and science visualization specialists from the California Academy of Sciences are creating multimedia presentations that convey two different trajectories for Earth (and our) future, told through the lens of wildlife icons such as the jaguar and wolverine. These science-based results translate into educational ‘global change vignettes’ that introduce the public to alternative potential futures for the species and landscapes to which they are connected. In this way, the diffuse issue of global climate change becomes more personal, and the viewer may be motivated to become part of the solution that creates the more positive outcome.