Although the climate crisis is certainly a dark issue to communicate to people, three studies this year have come to the conclusion that using humor may be the most effective way to engage the public about the crisis.
In March 2017, the American Psychological Association published a report defining eco-anxiety as a “chronic fear of environmental doom”. The report referred to literature that described an increase in depression and anxiety caused by peoples’ “inability to feel like they are making a difference in stopping climate change”.
With psychological stakes this high, humor may seem inappropriate. But according to Canadian film producer Phil McCordic, humor can be an avenue to access “the attention of a lot of people you wouldn’t have otherwise”. Instead of worrying about the politics of the climate crisis, communicating the problem via humor provides the opportunity to simply take in the information.
McCordic’s views are echoed by recent research that found that humor is a useful tool for making 18- to 24-year-olds more politically engaged in climate change. Climate change is no laughing matter, but it’s encouraging to see that people are finding humor an effective way to make the matter discussable.