All-ages coloring book communicates the science behind climate change (Video)

Brian Foo
© Brian Foo

Touted as a great way to destress, turn off the thinking mind and exercise a bit of easy creativity, adult colouring books (yes, there really is such a thing) have recently become quite popular. But a new crowdfunded project is seeking to use the medium of the colouring book as a way to effectively communicate the hard science behind climate change.

The Climate Change Colouring Book is the brainchild of Brian Foo, a 31-year-old data artist and computer scientist based out of New York City. The book presents published data from official sources like NASA, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the EPA in a visually organized way, inviting people to read the research, and to take their time to colour in the data visualization diagrams, allowing them to slowly absorb the information.

Brian FooBrian Foo/Video screen capture

As Foo explains:

As a computer scientist and artist, I've been working on creating effective ways of communicating complex data sets. I chose the format of a colouring book because the act of colouring is slow. A chart or article may give information quickly, but with a colouring book, there is more time to absorb the information, and reflect upon the underlying issues.

Brian FooBrian Foo/Video screen capture

The 40-page book, which has already been funded twice as much as its original goal, will be printed on recycled paper using plant-based ink. The book is intended for both kids and adults (we definitely think it would be a great supplement for science classes everywhere) and offers over 20 activities that are educational and based on real, scientific observations on the effects of climate change. For instance, one can colour the extent of the loss of Arctic sea ice during the last few decades, or the projected loss of shoreline if sea levels rise, or how many football fields of global forest we are losing every minute.

Brian FooBrian Foo/Video screen capture

Brian Foo© Brian Foo

Brian Foo© Brian Foo

For some, this may seem like a depressing activity. But these diagrams of data are based in the reality that is currently being observed around us, and the threat of climate change is real, and it's something we must confront. Even more urgent is the apparent apathy and misinformation surrounding these very real issues, says Foo:

Climate change is one of the most significant issues that uniquely affects everyone around the globe. There currently is a significantly large gap between scientific consensus (97%) and public perception of climate change (48%). Since public perception influences government and business policies around environmental issues, it is important to ensure enough unbiased and reliable information about the issues are available to the public.

This book is not political, but a celebration of information, learning, and research.

As we've said time and time again, numbers don't mean much to us unless we are able to parse it in another way, whether that's through thought-provoking art, changes that we can observe in our own lives, or yes, even through a simple colouring book. And sometimes, the simplest way is the most effective.

Pricing for one book starts at USD $15 each (cheaper if you buy more). There's also a teacher's set that includes 10 books and printable PDFs for handouts for $90. To find out more or to pledge, visit Kickstarter.

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