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Polar bears and wind energy: New York’s climate change-themed mini golf course

(Reuters) – An 18-hole mini golf course opened earlier this month in New York City’s borough of Brooklyn, with the aim of teaching players about climate change.

Each of the 18 holes at the Putting Green mini golf course showcases a climate change problem or solution. A placard at each hole describes the theme.

For example, hole 1 shows how litter and debris get washed down storm drains and into waterways, while hole 2 shows what happens when a whale dies and sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

Hole 3 describes polar bear habitat loss as ice disappears, hole 6 shows how extreme weather could trigger climate refugees, and hole 12 highlights the energy inefficiency of older city buildings.

“Climate change and the environment are such important topics right now,” said Mike Lampariello, the director of Domino Park where the course in located. “So by bringing the environmental issues to the forefront in a fun, playful way like mini golf, it really sparks the conversation and helps folks understand the scope of the issue.”

Each of the course’s holes was designed by local artists or non-profit groups such as the Building Energy Exchange, which designed the “Energy Efficient Buildings” hole.

While many full-sized golf courses are criticized by environmentalists as wasteful and harmful to ecosystems, Putting Green was constructed with “environmentally responsible materials,” including reclaimed wood used for the decking. A model of Earth made from used bottle caps and recycled turf greets guests.

Visitors to the course said they appreciate the climate change message.

“It’s good to teach both adults and kids because there’s some information on these signs that I didn’t even know, especially some of the stuff about urban resiliency to climate change,” said Emanuel Evans, who was playing mini golf with his son Liam.

“All of a sudden you go through the hole, you read the little paragraph and go, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that,'” said mini golfer Brett Serafin. “It’s certainly a way to inform people while also letting them have some fun.”

According to organizers, profits from the course will benefit two local environmental groups – The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Newtown Creek Alliance.

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