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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

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And I'm Melissa Block.

Think global warming and then think fun. That might seem like an odd juxtaposition, that is the aim behind the largest public art project in Chicago.

NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

CHERYL CORLEY: The big attraction with public art projects began about eight years ago in Chicago. That's when displays of decorated cow statues were all the rage. This time, it's the world itself making a big splash, more than 120 colored models of Earth with messages about global warming.

Wendy Abrams is an environmental activist who's the force behind the Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet.

Ms. WENDY ABRAMS (Environmental Activist; Founder, Cool Globes): The problem with climate change is that you don't see it or feel it or touch it. You can see, to some extent, melting ice, but a lot of people have a problem understanding why does that affect me. The globe itself is tangible.

CORLEY: The bulk of the globes are situated on Chicago's museum campus and they are big, five feet in diameter. It's Earth in paint, plaster and mosaics.

Ms. KATE TULLY(ph) (Artist): My globe is right over there, it's Plant a Tree.

CORLEY: Wide oak, silver birch and Acacia tree trunks - actually, plaster versions of them - cradle artist Kate Tully's globe and then they grow spreading painted branches around vibrant green and yellow leaves.

Ms. TULLY: Some of the globes are a little bit more complex ideas, but mine is, you know, just kind of right out there, you know, plant a tree.

CORLEY: And help get rid of some carbon dioxide emissions. Ten-year-old Harrison Moore(ph) read about the globes in the newspaper.

Mr. HARRISON MOORE: So I was like, oh, these look cool. They're all trying to get a point across. But if you don't look at them all closely, sometimes you will miss the point.

CORLEY: But the globes have all sorts of suggestions. They call for recycling, walking more, conserving water, and the Web site coolglobes.org asks people to commit to making just five lifestyle changes.

Walking through the exhibit with friends, Carol Napoly(ph) says sometimes people don't know what they can do. But for her, looking at the globes is an affirmation.

Ms. CAROL NAPOLY: I don't drive very much. I have a small car. I don't have an SUV and I recycle everything and I bike a lot.

Unidentified Female #1: I'm talking to the choir here.

Unidentified Female #2: Yeah, right.

Unidentified Female #3: No, you're not. No, you're not.

CORLEY: Mary Kelly(ph) says she's not worried at all about global warming, really doesn't buy the climate change argument, but the globes did influence her.

Ms. MARY KELLY: Looking at this, I will start to recycle. It has convinced me, certainly, to recycle.

CORLEY: And it's those kinds of small environmental steps, the Cool Globes public exhibit is designed to inspire.

Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.

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