On September 25th, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a massive 1170 page report delving into the alarming severity of global warming. More than 104 scientists from 36 countries worked together over the past 3 years looking at the disastrous impact of climate change on the Earth’s oceans and the ice formations.
Sound amusing? Of course not.
But while the data is in no way funny, humor can be used effectively to help people understand serious topics and make theories personal.
Using cartoons for better communication
The Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre was tasked with summarizing the extensive report for mass distribution. In order to make their summary engaging and accessible, The Climate Centre used cartoons from Cartoon Collections to illustrate the main concept in each section, creating a pdf cartoon summary.
Their goal was not to make light of the findings but to humanize the data and drive home the personal impact we will all experience. By using a single cartoon to illustrate each of the 7 key take-aways from the report, The Climate Centre communicated the information in an appealing, easy-to-understand way.
Why using cartoons works
Cartoons boil down complex ideas into a simple image that packs a punch. When talking about serious issues such as global climate change, injecting humor via single-panel cartoons keeps your audience interested and helps them “get it” quickly and effectively.
Cartoons Improve Communication – By balancing facts and data with a funny interpretation of the same, you create an understanding shortcut for your audience.
Cartoons Make a Fast Impact – An attention-grabbing drawing paired with a clever, nail-on-the-head caption drives home your point immediately and effectively.
Cartoons/Humor Relieve Tension – Serious topics call for serious thought, but a bit of targeted humor can help ease the tension surrounding tough topics to keep your audience focused while also reinforcing your message.
Cartoons Help Put Everything in Perspective – Cartoons take complex concepts and make them personal and relatable. This cartoon by Alex Gregory is a great example of taking a global scenario and illustrating how it will hit close to home:
Clarify, enlighten and engage with cartoons. View more climate change cartoons
Ready to add cartoons to your next presentation or project?
“Our changing oceans and snow: What do we know?” Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre summary can be downloaded here.
The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) can be found here.
Read more about using humor to tackle tough subjects here: Dying of laughter: comics joke about climate change at U.N. summit