‘Is This How You Feel?’

Publication date
Friday, 23 Sep 2016

Joe Duggan didn’t just study a Master of Science Communication Outreach, it’s like he actually is the master of science communication outreach.

Fresh from travelling around Africa with the Science Circus Africa, performing science education shows to 41,000 people in five different countries, Joe is now off to Melbourne for the art gallery opening of his climate change project ‘Is This How You Feel?’ as part of National Science Week.

The ‘Is This How You Feel?’ exhibition is based on Joe’s website of the same name, which collects together the hand-written notes scientists have composed in answer to the question of how climate change makes them feel.

The exhibition is a long way from the laughing faces of the Science Circus crowds. Here, there’s no delight in the wonder of science, but despair, fear and anxiety about what their scientific knowledge reveals.

“Sometimes I have this dream,” writes Professor Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “I’m going for a hike and discover a remote farm house on fire.”

“Children are calling for help from the upper windows. So I call the fire brigade. But they don’t come, because some mad person keeps telling them that it is a false alarm. The situation is getting more and more desperate, but I can’t convince the firemen to get going. I cannot wake up from this nightmare.”

Joe started the ‘Is This How You Feel?’ site as part of his studies with the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at ANU. He says the program taught him the skill of targeting science communication at diverse audiences.

“My master’s at ANU gave me a solid grounding in so many areas of science communication, from show presentation through to professional development and facilitation,” Joe says. “It’s been fantastic to come out of the course and put these skills to use straight away.”

“This exhibition is designed to reach the apathetic, the indifferent. If we can show people that climate change is a real, relatable thing that will influence their lives, then we’re on the way to doing something about the problem.

“I’ve said it before: this is not the only way to communicate climate change, but it is one way. We need to kill apathy through death by a thousand cuts. Maybe this can be one cut."

Exhibition viewers will also get the chance to write their own letter on how climate change makes them feel and see it displayed alongside notes from some of the world’s leading climate scientists.