Portugal 2055: Science promoters launch Climate Change Comics
Published on June 29th, 2015
With summer knocking at the door, biologists from the National Museum of Natural History and Science in Lisbon, launched, here, on the 20th June, a book on climate change, whose main audience are young teenagers. The work was developed by ten illustrators and was scientifically reviewed by experts. The idea and script - the portrait of Portugal in 2055 – belongs to the biologist Bruno Pinto, who works at the institution and is a postdoctoral fellow of the Foundation for Science and Technology, and had the collaboration of colleague and illustrator Luís Filipe Lopes.
“Our goal is to use comics to reach a younger audience because we consider that to be more appealing. We saw that there were some publications, in Portugal, on climate change, but they were for a more adult audience and there was a lack of information designed for a young public”, says Luís Filipe Lopes in an interview to Clima@EduMedia.
One question that arises, when looking at the cover of the book, relates to the choice of the year in which the action unfolds. Bruno Pinto explains that most climate projections point to 2100. “We thought that scenario was too focused on the future to be relatable to today's teens”, he explains. “If we think of 2055, a 15-year-old will then be 55”, he adds. The science promoter also states that “it is very difficult to speculate what the world will be like in 2100”, but for 2055, it was possible to build “some plausible scenarios according to what science projects”.
Interested in this topic, and to develop the script and add some imagination and humour, the biologist focused on a theatrical experience of some of the texts he wrote for European Researchers' Night in 2013. They are fiction stories, based on real facts, supported by several books and reports from the project “Climate Change in Portugal. Scenarios, Impacts and Adaptation Measures” (SIAM), which he consulted. The comics also included the scientific review of expert Maria João Cruz from the research group “Climate Change Impacts & Adaptation Modelling”.
“Although it is fiction, there was always a concern of some rigor related to what is projected”
Coastal erosion, tourism, public health, among others, are some of the themes of the chapters of this book that aims to raise awareness among young people to this issue and for future scenarios which involve taking adaptation and mitigation measures. “Illustrators participated voluntarily and were able to choose the topics to illustrate. The book is divided into ten chapters, and each of them has an author behind it”, explains Luís Filipe Lopes.
In a collaborative teamwork between biologists and illustrators, some corrections and adjustments were necessary. “There have been some cases where the illustrators went a little too far, visually speaking, i.e. exaggerated a bit in terms of scenery and we had to tell them that the projection was not very plausible and that it was advisable to ask for an expert opinion”, tells Bruno Pinto. “Although it is fiction, there was always a concern of some rigor related to what was being projected”, he then added.
Funding came through a crowdfunding campaign, which ended in December 2014. After that date, there was also financial support from the coffee brand “Delta Cafés” and the Municipality of Torres Vedras. The paper edition had a print run of 370 copies.
The book, whose printing is the responsibility of the National Museum of Natural History and Science and “Associação Tentáculo”, to which Luís Filipe Lopes is also a member, is available for free on the Internet or can be purchased in the museum at a cost of 12 euros. The two researchers have been visiting some schools in Lisbon and the “feedback has been positive and the interaction very interesting”. The goal is to continue to publicise the book starting the beginning of the next school year. “If more funding is attributed, our idea is to do a reprint and increase circulation”, they added.
By: Renata Silva