Lightening Up: How Humor Can Help Make Climate Issues More Approachable
Is climate change too serious to joke about? Certainly there is nothing funny about threats to public health, or extreme temperatures and historic drought – but there is much to be said for the value of humor in dealing with serious topics. While it’s more vital than ever to raise awareness of the need for climate action, too many depressing stories about impacts or alarming projections about risks can cause people to tune out. Humor can help get those same points across without being overly scary or preachy.
As this Guardian article reports, comedians like Jon Stewart and John Oliver have helped people understand the realities of climate science by poking fun at the absurdities of the science debate. 350.org skewered corporate hypocrisy with a fake ad showing a coal company defending its decision to “commit” to climate action while continuing to pollute. Though these examples are all very funny, they don’t take away from the seriousness of the issue. Rather, they encourage people to pay attention to an important topic they might otherwise ignore.
Travis Irvine, contributor to the Guardian
With the historic People’s Climate March taking place in cities around the world last year, the landmark US-China deal, as well as record carbon-dioxide levels and the hottest year on record, awareness of the potential devastation of climate change continues to grow. Now, even the Pope has spoken about it – and yet, public concern over the issue remains low.
There once was a time when climate change was very popular to discuss. Al Gore made that movie, Leonardo DiCaprio snuggled polar bears, there was a potential green economy and even dumb ol’ Congress debated carbon cap and trade. Then, somewhere along the way, our focus shifted to a crap economy, fighting terrorists and the government seeing our dick pics.
So climate change took the back burner as people had more important things to worry about. And who could blame them? Frankly, if you do believe in the realities of climate change, the future seems pretty scary. Of course, if you don’t – well, your life is probably great!
The worst part about climate change is the longer we don’t do anything about it, the more likely it is to be as bad as scientists say. We’re at the point in human history when our population is rapidly expanding and our resources are being exhausted. And as the science continues to show, burning fossil fuels and filling the atmosphere with chemicals is still a horrible idea. The only glimmer of hope is that if we all start making better choices as a species, the worst parts of climate change could be avoided.
Image credit: Steve Parkins/Demotix/Corbis