New exhibit examines Earth's future

6:21 PM, Apr 19, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With Earth Day approaching, it's a good time to think about our planet and how we can take care of it for future generations. In honor of the green event, the Science Museum of Minnesota is opening a new exhibit.

The finishing touches are being put on the new Future Earth Exhibit, which looks into the way humans are changing the planet. Some of those changes are detrimental, yet others have a positive side.

"Never have so many people on this planet lived so well. The down side is that we are changing the way the planet works," says Patrick Hamilton, Environmental Sciences and Earth-System Science program director.

With a growing population, the demand for food supply is ever increasing.

Hamilton said, "if you took all the pasture land on the planet now used to raise goats and cattle and sheep, it would cover the entire continent of Africa."

Although it seems natural for animals to graze on the earth, Hamilton says it's the creation of those grazing lands that makes a difference. Clearing rain forest land is one example.

"And those forests have a tremendous role in how energy moves about the planet. They take a tremendous amount of solar energy in and they evaporate huge amounts of water into the atmosphere. And that water precipitates out elsewhere. It becomes someone's rainfall, someone's snowfall," he says.

Scientists are working to keep up the food supply in an earth-friendly manner.

Hamilton says, "there are tremendous opportunities to dramatically increase the productivity of land already being cultivated in Europe, in Central America and in Africa without having to clear new land for agriculture."

The exhibit ultimately urges visitors to think about how they can save energy and water and how they can be part of a global change.

The Future Earth Exhibit also tackles topics like increasing ocean acidity, climate change and energy waste.

The exhibit opens on Saturday, April 21.

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