Exhibits often offer a glimpse into the past.
They chronicle the way things were, and they take us on a visual and interactive journey through spent decades.
We enter, read, gawk, snap photos and leave thinking about our history and how we arrived at our own place in time. We wonder where we will go, how we will get there and what the eternal timeline has in store for us.
But occasionally an exhibit carries its visitors into the future. It manifests the way things could be. Every now and again, it completes the timeline for us.
It doesn’t take long for visitors to the new climate change exhibit at Costa Rica’s INBioPark, in Santo Domingo de Heredia, north of San José, to realize that the future for humans and animals on planet Earth will be much different in the years to come. If the exhibit is spot on, the future world is ripe for drastic climatic changes.
Take a peek at the exhibit: A polar bear and its mother stand between melting icebergs; a menacing hurricane swirls above the heads of visitors; the small and colorful sapo dorado (golden toad) slowly disappears, along with thousands of other species.
Additionally, photos depict rapidly melting ice caps, and a three-dimensional diagram of the peninsula of Puntarenas turns into an island after water that was once trapped in glaciers erodes the coastline. Moreover, dengue fever takes root in the Central Valley.
The recently inaugurated exhibit says a great deal in a room of only 100 square meters. Charts warn of an earth that is warming faster than it has at any point in its history.
Guillermo Alvarado, general manager of INBioPark, said humans are not entirely to blame for the warming of the planet but they must assume part of the responsibility.
“The first thing that we explain is that climate change is a natural phenomenon,” he said. “The problem is that human activity is accelerating it and intensifying it.”
Deforestation rates have more than doubled in the 20 years between the 1970s
and 1990’s, and transportation accounts for the emission of more carbon dioxide every year. Scientists say this contributes to global warming.
Alvarado said that while the human race might be the major culprit in damaging the planet, it could also be the best cure for what ails planet Earth.
A 12-minute video that follows the exhibit walk-through highlights what everyone can do to help cool a warming planet.
“The effect is reversible – if we change consumption habits,” Alvarado said.
The video advises people to walk more and use cars less, reuse plastic bags from supermarkets, change incandescent light bulbs for fluorescent ones and plant trees to help capture carbon dioxide.
“All of these things actions can reduce the amount of CO2 we emit in the atmosphere,” Alvarado said.
As visitors leave the short video through a tunnel of plastic ice filled with scientific evidence of global warming, the message is clear: change for tomorrow starts today.
“Act now,” the video concludes. “If we all do our part, the planet can be saved.”
The exhibit, which was completed with a $40,000.00 donation from the British Embassy in Costa Rica, opened on Oct. 14, marking the 20th anniversary of the park. Alvarado said the park is well on its way to attracting approximately 180,000 visitors yearly.
During a recent visit, dozens of awestruck local school children crowded into the small climate change exhibit room and gaped in wonder at the various displays and figures.
Several of the recommendations that the climate change exhibit video mentions are evident at the park’s self-sufficient household.
For more about this unique house and tips on how to reduce energy consumption at home, see The Tico Times’ article in the Feb. 13, 2009, edition.
INBioPark is in Santo Domingo de Heredia, north of San José. Open Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission: Non-residents: adults, $23, students, $17, children 3 to 12 years of age, $13. The climate change exhibit is free with admission to the park. For more information, visit www.inbio.ac.cr/inbioparque. Also, check out www.efectoreversible.com for information on global warming and emissions reduction.