Changing Nature, document environmental changes
Environmental changes are the subject of vast research efforts. They are also perceptible by the general public, whose findings can help scientists to understand the subject. This is the whole point of the citizen science program Changing Nature, whose aim is to gather an unprecedented number of eyewitness accounts.
Change and you
How can we get through to people about the upheavals affecting our Planet? By talking about melting glaciers? The 30% drop in numbers of common birds? The 70% of insect biomass lost? Or do they mean something else entirely to you? Which traces of the past can get us wondering about this topic? What objects, documents and memories appeal to us today, and what have we forgotten? There is no single narrative to sum up the environmental changes taking place. On the contrary, they take on different meanings and have a varied history, depending on who is speaking, and where they are speaking from. It is these viewpoints that scientists want to explore.
An original approach
But how can we gather as many points of view as possible on such a vast and complex issue? This is the challenge the Changing Nature citizen science program has set itself. Its aim is to create a 100% original digital collection, made up of documents and personal accounts illustrating the changes affecting our environment. Led by the French Natural History Museum, the project is also the result of a partnership with its Berlin counterpart, the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and, in the long term, the partnership platform should be extended to other European countries to create a multicultural experience. Whether you’re young or old, urban or rural, write your own story now!
Already in the collection
An old matchbox bearing an image of now-endangered salamander, a gold bracelet signifying the ecological disaster linked to the extraction of precious metals, a ski boot that is now useless in Berlin due to lack of snow, an article from 1972 praising a pesticide that has been banned after starving bird populations due to the lack of insects, a mobile phone whose rapid obsolescence leads to an accumulation of waste, and a bilao, a Filipino bamboo dish that has fallen into obscurity. There must be a thousand ways to observe Mankind’s impact on nature...now it’s up to you to give your own impression.
A personal account
Start by selecting something from the past that appeals to you and that evokes an environmental change. It can be private or public, and can be anything from a once-familiar accessory, an old newspaper article, a recipe book, a video clip from your personal archive, an old music recording or a photo from your childhood, etc. It's up to you to decide what will be part of the collection. The most important thing is to choose something that illustrates a difference between the present and the past. Step two is to present your link with the thing you have chosen. How does the object or document evoke changes in nature or in our relationship to it? What lessons would you draw from the current transformations taking place? You should also describe it by mentioning, for example, its origin, how it was made, where it is located, or even where you found it. Finally, complete your story by talking about how you feel about it, as your emotions are an integral part of this experimental collection.
If you also want to report environmental changes, go to the Changing Nature website.
The Changing nature program is co-sponsored with the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.