Why our secret weapon against the climate crisis could be humour

(The Guardian, 13 Jan 2022) We can’t just sit back and watch what’s happening to the planet. We are not an audience. Like it or not, we are in this story.

As a scientist and a movie maker, we both once naively assumed that data and storytelling would converge to help prevent the imminent collapse of our habitable climate. Fire tornadoes, mega hurricanes, biblical floods, fossil fuel companies misleading the public and gambling our lives for huge profits – of course, such apocalyptic imagery would lead to gripping newscasts, dramatic interpretations, and stirring speeches from our leaders, sparking action at every level of society.

After all, the real-life story of the climate crisis makes even the wildest, biggest-budget film like Don’t Look Up seem like a charming EM Forster adaptation. But does this story-of-all-stories get wall-to-wall news coverage? Nope. Not by a long shot.

Despite a horrifying parade of extreme weather events fit for an apocalypse film, only 0.4% of corporate news airtime in 2020 was about climate. According to a recent study by MediaMatters, corporate news coverage of the climate catastrophe plummeted by 53% in 2020 compared to 2019. Even before the pandemic, across the entirety of 2019, major networks devoted less than four hours of coverage total to the greatest threat to life on Earth in 65 million years, since the asteroid that took out the dinosaurs.

External link

The Guardian, 13 Jan 2022: Why our secret weapon against the climate crisis could be humour