Thursday, May 28, 2015

China 2015 | Environmental Education and the Cube Oceanarium

Billy Spitzer, Ph.D., is Vice President for Programs, Planning, and Exhibits at the New England Aquarium and Principal Investigator for the Aquarium’s climate change education initiatives. He is traveling to China on invitation from the U.S. State Department to discuss the Aquarium's climate change education work with several aquariums and zoos. 

THURSDAY, May 28, 2015
I spent the morning today with staff at the US Consulate, learning more about China’s political, economic, social and environmental context, and talking about possibilities for future US/China collaboration on climate change communication. We also talked about the increasing concern among Chinese people about air quality, which may be an avenue to engage with the broader topic of environmental protection and to make the connection to fossil fuel burning and climate change. Public reports of air quality first came from the US consulates here, but are now also provided by the Chinese government.

Air quality in Chengdu, indicating high levels of small particulates (PM 2.5)
In the afternoon we visited the Cube Oceanarium, which just opened in February, and is located in the Seaside City shopping mall just outside downtown. It is privately owned and represents an impressive investment by the developer, who integrated the aquarium into the design of the mall, and envisions it as a unique draw for the mall. The aquarium has a great deal of space and a wide variety of exhibits. Although there is an admission fee, the large window of the big tank is part of the public space in the mall. I met two Australian consultants who were helping with life support design and start up of the exhibits and systems.

Immersive Amazon rainforest exhibit, complete with rain, lightning, and thunder
Amazon rainforest exhibit, looking up from below

Ahe “big window” at the Cube Oceanarium, apparently now the biggest acrylic window in the world
(Dubai had the previous record)

The mini-submersible we used to cruise around the big tank

The view from the window of the submersible

Talking with managers, educators, and visitor services staff at the Cube Oceanarium

I spoke with the staff about our climate change education work, and we discussed examples of how some of their exhibits with corals, sea turtles and penguins could be used as an avenue to communicate about climate change, its impacts on the oceans, and how we can work together to reduce our use of fossil fuels.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Beijing, and then back home to Boston. I am looking forward to maintaining contact with many of the people I have met, and continuing to explore opportunities for collaboration on climate change communication and environmental education in general. I think this is an opportune time US and China to work together.

Billy has been blogging throughout his trip. Click here to see the complete set of posts.

Facebook Comments


Post a Comment