Global Warming: France’s Noble Gesture

At a time when climate change and global warming are reshaping the Earth’s poles, a new museum in France aims to “freeze the beauty of polar landscapes”.
The centre in eastern France, Escape des Mondes Polaires Paul-Emile Victor, provides a visually compelling tutorial on climate change and its effects on the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Espace des Mondes Polaires Paul-Emile Victor, the world’s first polar lands museum, is the only permanent museum devoted to the Arctic and Antarctic.
Built in the shape of a jutting iceberg, 60% of its volume is buried underground. Inside the museum, visitors are plunged into a world of intense white. They will find huge video screens showing ice caps amid the noise of an icy blizzard. The museum – built by anthropologist Jean-Christophe Victor, the son of the French polar explorer Paul-Emile Victor, and naturalist Stephane Niveau – provides a visually tour. The museum highlights objects and documents from Paul’s expeditions. After Paul’s death in 1995 at the age of 87, his son planned to construct the museum.
The museum is a must visit, as photos and video presentations – on ecosystems, rising sea levels, indigenous peoples and other themes – not only bring the polar environment to life, but also expose its vulnerability to global warming.
Director (Communications) of the museum Anthony Renou expressed hope that they could attract 50-70,000 visitors per year. Talking to the media, he said that they tried hard to illustrate the consequences of climate change through photos and videos. Director Stephane Niveau backed Renou’s claim, stressing: “The idea was to open a place that could serve as a support to teaching about the polar world, while approaching it in a playful way.”
Jean-Christophe, who died in December 2016 at the age of 69, once said that he wanted to make visitors “feel the beauty of these polar landscapes and lights, of the disproportion of man in relation to the nature which surrounds him”.
Meanwhile, scientists have expressed serious concern over rising temperatures in Polar Regions. The Arctic’s surface temperature has risen by more than two degrees Celsius since the late 19th century – double the pace of the world as a whole. Scientists are also concerned about Antarctica’s western peninsula, sitting underneath a kilometre-thick ice sheet with enough frozen water to lift the global sea levels by more than 20 feet.


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