Climate Inaction Figures!
Yesterday I saw these clever and hilarious Climate Inaction Figures created by the folks who do the TV series Years of Living Dangerously. Funny stuff. Great details.
No doubt this sort of thing is a real a crowdpleaser with a lot of my Quaker friends and progressives. I find them to be cute but boring. I have been exploring climate comedy, and it seems the number one place comics and humorists go is to make fun of people who deny the reality and danger of global warming.
Yes people are frustrated and annoyed with politicians and businesses who actively deny the reality and danger of climate change, and in some cases even outright lie and deceive the public. This requires a response. Humor is one of them for sure. Late night talk show hosts have been mocking these folks for years now. It’s gotten old, though. Comics, 2011 wants its climate comedy back.
Potential dangers with climate denial comedy
But besides being boring, is there a bigger problem with this sort of climate denial comedy? Could it actually lead to more inaction, even by the very people who say they are alarmed?
I have been thinking about the effect these comic jabs have on the people laughing it up the most. I find that each jab can actually serve as an inoculation. By looking at the extreme cases of denial, do we exempt ourselves from considering our own denial and inaction?
It is easy to see another’s faults, but much harder to find the speck or log in our own eyes.
I see this happen when I lobby Democrats in DC. I talk climate action, and they immediately point their fingers to members of congress across the aisle. “Listen I know climate change is happening, unlike those clowns over there.” Then they go off to list all of the environmentally friendly, but mostly futile efforts they have been making, at least futile when it comes to actually addressing climate change.
Not our first rodeo
It reminds me of the days when I did a lot of LGBTQ activism. I would visit a church that was not open and affirming to LGBTQ people: they did nothing proactive. LGBTQ people were second class citizens.
These church leaders did not see their intolerance and discrimination. They were blinded by their fellow believers hate. They would puff out their chests and point to the Fred Phelps “God hates Fags” crowd and say–Oh, those people are awful. We are not like them at all.
Inaction is inaction regardless if someone is vocal about it or simply passive. Climate change is difficult to grasp. It is so large. It is easy to deny the reality of what is going on in our world. In fact, I think most people in the USA are in some level of denial. Some are just more flamboyant about it.
I am a big fan of comedy; it is what I do. Besides being downright lazy comedy, making fun of people who deny climate change is distracting. It dehumanizes people who for a variety of reasons are refusing to acknowledge the trouble we are in. These public officials represent many people who feel similarly. How do we get past simply mocking them to using comedy to explore what the heck might be going on for some of them.
Also, we have the opportunity to focus our comic lenses on the places where we live in denial and inaction–not to make light of the situation, rather to shine light on ourselves.
Here are some examples of going beyond the basic climate denial comedy