YOU notice the weather every day. You don’t see climate change happening every day. That is also one of the prime reasons why people don’t buy into the concept in many parts of the world,” says Somdatta Karak. The former educator, who looks after science communication and public outreach at Hyderabad’s CSIR – Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), a premier research institute for modern biology, has been making short comics with artist Argha Manna, on climate change as part of the institute’s Climate Change Challenge (CCC) this year.
The challenge was launched last year as a means to get high school students to identify the impact of climate change in their localities and find ways to mitigate them. But most of the entries received last year talked of pollution, not climate crises. “People associate darkness with CO2 pollution, but how CO2 is going to have a much longer-lasting impact by changing the climate is not discussed that widely,” Karak shares.
Therefore this year, before the challenge opens up for young students today, a series of discussions have been put out on YouTube with scientists, activists, social entrepreneurs and the like, to prime them on the issue. After the discussions, the team realised that the sessions might be a tad too complicated and then the idea of condensing each session into a comic came to be. So far, three comics have been released online — while the first addresses what climate change is, the other two are centred on balancing energy and the climate crisis, and caring for others during this crisis — and two more are yet to come. “There’s a dearth of content around the climate crisis in India. There’s of course a lot of writing, but not everybody wants to read a 2,000-word article or relate to it. So, comics play a good role,” Karak asserts.
Bigyan, an initiative by researchers that creates science content for school students in Bengali, is also translating the comics. In addition, CSIR-CCMB has also made five zines inspired by the work that they do in the institute. And next year, Karak reveals that games on climate crises will also be developed and part of the challenge this year is to get concepts of the games from school students themselves.
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