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Your Climate Change Talking Points

We asked museum scientists, volunteers, and Angelenos to tell us how they wrap their heads around the topic of climate change, how they explain it, and how it informs their everyday lives.

story climate change header image


illustration of sea otter

Jorge Velez-Juarbe, Mammalogy Curator
“What can 16-million-year-old fossils of whales and dolphins tell us about the survival of sea lions in California over the next century? Global fluctuations in temperature are getting faster and organisms cannot adapt. Sea level rises and the sea grasses they eat grow too deep which means sea cows disappear.”






illustration of a frog in circle



Greg Pauly, NHMLA’s Assistant Curator, Herpetology
“Together, climate change and urbanization are making it easier for many nonnative species to become established in California. Historically, our Mediterranean climate meant we had a long, dry summer, and many nonnative species couldn’t survive these harsh conditions. With urbanization, water is much more available—just think about sprinklers, reservoirs, and urban park ponds. As our climate warms, fewer Winter freezes means more non-natives are likely to make it here.”




illustration of iceberg



Aaron Celestian, NHM’s Mineralogy Curator
“As the climate changes, minerals have to change as well, so it’s just a matter of which minerals to look at in a particular area and how they might have changed. In glaciers, certain minerals form only in very, very cold conditions and change to other minerals when they warm up. We can look back millions of years and get a glimpse of the climate before the dinosaurs.”




illustration of fish in circle


Crystal Tierney, museum volunteer and citizen scientist
My son Nigel, who is four years old, is interested in being an oceanographer and exploring the depths of the ocean. We watched a documentary, Chasing Coral, about the killing of reefs and afterward he said, “Mom, I still want to work in the Mariana Trench because they have cool animals down there, but there’s so much going on about the reefs!” It’s important for kids to be passionate because they are the pioneers. We can affect change, whether it’s the tiniest thing like making sure that the household products you buy come in containers that are biodegradable. It’s important for me as a mom for him to understand that this is our home and we have to protect it.



illutration of tree in circle

Brad Rumble, a leader at Esperanza Elementary School
The whole idea of climate change can be overwhelming. I mean, can one person make a difference? I now see that in being a steward of the land, even in the most urban parts of central Los Angeles, indeed, I can make meaningful change. Stewardship takes different forms. Three examples are the restoration of formerly paved land to native habitat, the planting and maintenance of street trees and shrubs, and the regular observation and reporting of the occurrence of wildlife in my neighborhood. I’m grateful that as a school leader I am able to foster stewardship among the students, teachers, and the parents I serve.

How do you talk to friends and family about climate change? We want to know! Tell us on social media with #climateNHM or contact us via email: naturalist@nhm.org.



The La Brea Tar Pits, in collaboration with the UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability, recently held a new kind of climate series: a four-night conversation between the L.A. community and some of the world’s experts on all things climate change — A Climate Series for the Ages. Bringing together scientists, writers, artists, lawyers, and our own La Brea Tar Pits Assistant Curator, Emily Lindsey. They covered it all, in a conversational manner, like a big dinner party with some serious discussions.

How do you talk to friends and family about climate change? We want to know! Tell us on social media with #climateNHM or contact us via email: naturalist@nhm.org.