George Marshall’s book Don’t Even Think About It, which was published in 2014, made a big impact on me early on in my climate journey.
Communicating climate change effectively has always been a challenge that has fascinated me. We have all the data and the evidence we need to prove the science beyond a doubt but we, as a society, are not making the changes we need to – we’re not winning the messaging battle. Marshall’s book is one of the most comprehensive dives into this issue I’ve come across.
It includes a chapter called, perhaps rather unkindly, “Cockroach Tours: how museums struggle to tell the climate story”. Here, Marshall highlights the struggles museums face in engaging audiences with the topic in an effective way, the balance they must find, given that this is such a divisive issue, between the science and the demands of sponsors – specifically in avoiding fossil fuel and climate crisis-denier sponsorship.
This book highlighted to me the potential that sits within museums for education and engagement on the issue, but also the need for museums to be brave and ambitious.
In my work I have come across museums who are doing fantastic work and are making brave stands. They are having a big impact on their communities, but there is still a lot more work to be done.
Alex Smith is the climate officer for Museums Galleries Scotland, Edinburgh