Is climate change getting you down? Why not check out over a hundred cartoons that will make even the most fatigued among us crack a smile (or two)! Fish getting acid face peels? Polar bears getting it on with grizzlies? Noah’s Ark becoming a bit of a squeeze? Quirky and with a fair bit of cheek, these are just a few of the cartoons in the new book “Little Climate: We need to talk about climate disruption”.
Let me ask you this – when was the last time you talked to a friend or family member about climate change? Research by Yale University found that only 1 in 25 Americans hear people they know talk about it at least once a week. This rises to 16% who hear people they know talk about it at least once a month, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, a full quarter of Americans never hear people they know talk about it at all. What about you?
Why aren’t we talking more?
There are many reasons, but it probably doesn’t help that our most recognized climate change reports are practically unreadable. Research published in Nature Climate Change tested the readability of reports by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and compared these with keynote physics papers by Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. You can probably guess the result! Not only did the IPCC reports score lower, they scored exceptionally low.
When tested, coverage of research findings in the IPCC reports by quality newspapers scored 41 points. Tabloid papers scored higher with 52 points. What about the IPCC reports themselves? 14 points for the report summaries, with just 7 points for the key report focused on our climate mitigation solutions.
This in itself might be rather worrying – after all, they’re written for a non-technical reader, which many of our policymakers may be. But, how important is it really if most of us rely on the papers for our news? Turns out, the same research shows that the more readable the media coverage, the more pessimistic it’s likely to be.
If we think it’s all too awful to even talk about, how can we start reclaiming the power we have to solve it?
How much power do we have?
Behavioral change, tough though it may be, is one of the biggest hammers in our toolbox against climate change. Choices like moderating how much beef and mutton we eat, adjusting our thermostat by one degree less, washing our laundry on a cold cycle, choosing an electric car – you’ve heard it all before, but now let’s throw in some numbers!
Looking just within Europe, research by the European Commission found that realistic behavioral change could shave off around 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide just from the continent in 2020. Research by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency found that if we all chose a healthy diet, we could bring down the cost of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius by half. That’s a whopping 50% discount from following a healthy diet, as recommended by the Harvard Medical School for Public Health, of around 90 grams of meat and eggs a day.
Just how much faster could all our everyday actions take us?
Everyday conversations, everyday actions!
That’s where this little book of cartoons comes in – to bring climate change back into our everyday conversations, and hopefully spark a few everyday actions. Happily readable and bubbling with fun facts, these cartoons crystallize key findings from the IPCC reports and other published papers, showcasing the science, solutions and many opportunities we have. Saving the world whilst laughing in the face of adversity? There’s no better way to start!
Suzanne Chew is the Founder and Director of Little Climate, an organization based in Singapore focused on building climate change awareness through innovative media. She is also the author of “Little Climate: We need to talk about climate disruption”, a fun book of cartoons with everything you need to know about climate change. Suzanne has worked in the climate change sector since 2007, and was previously the Director of a non-profit focused on low-carbon projects for poverty alleviation in Asia and Africa. She holds two Masters degrees in Physics and Environmental Technology from Imperial College London.
All images from “Little Climate: We need to talk about climate disruption” by Suzanne Chew. Used with permission.