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Climate Change Explained In 10 Cartoons

“Do I need to draw you a picture?”



If you’ve ever attempted to skim the latest 30-page scientific study from Nature Climate Change, or tried to go shot-for-shot with a climate change denier on Twitter, you’ve probably asked this question with at least some frustration in your voice. The fact of the matter is, showing a visualization can be very useful in understanding a subject – or even convincing someone of your point of view.

With that in mind, we gathered some of the best cartoons to explain the climate crisis – and how we can solve it.

1. So, What Is Climate Change?

If you’ve heard Bill Nye explain the basics of climate change, you know that greenhouse gases, mainly released by the burning of fossil fuels, are causing the average temperature of our planet to increase. By the end of the century, it could be 4–5˚C warmer. So what’s the big deal? XKCD shows how just a few degrees can cause a huge shift.

2. Modern Weather

What’s going to happen during that big question mark around the one-degree change? We’re already seeing the impacts of warming. Our weather is changing, and seasons are shifting. Droughts are becoming longer and well, drier. Then, when the rains come, they’re stronger and inundate the now-parched land, causing floods – and as Not My Earth, Not My Problem dramatizes, the results are serious.

Related: “Hasn’t the Climate Changed Before?”

3. This Time, It’s Personal.

That’s what’s happening with our weather. But what else is going on? Bird and Moon anthropomorphizes climate change and it’s pretty clear: We wouldn’t put up with a person who behaves like this. Why should we wait to take action on climate?

4. Climate Change Is Rough For People (And The Rest Of The Residents On Planet Earth)

As the seasons shift and unexpectedly extreme events become the norm, wildlife has to adapt – or die. Bird and Moon visualizes the climate change shuffle that species are trying to learn to stay alive.

5. The Signs Are Everywhere

Let’s face it – the signs are everywhere. If these species could protest, they would – and Bird and Moon shows how it would look when a climate change denier is confronted with the wisdom of mother nature.

Related: 10 Clear Indicators Our Climate is Changing

6. Despite All the Evidence, Some People Still Just Don’t Get It.

We’re seeing the signs more and more. Strange seasons, extreme weather, hotter heat waves, and species changing their behaviors just to survive. And yet every winter without fail, there’s that one guy who says “So much for global warming!” as soon as the thermometer drops below 32 degrees. XKCD puts the gradual shift into a human perspective.

7. Risky Behavior


Say you surveyed 100 structural engineers, and 97 said a nearby bridge is structurally unsound and driving over it would be dangerous. Would you take the advice of the only three who disagreed, and proceed to drive over that bridge day in and day out?

It’s the same thing with climate change: 97 percent (or more) of climate scientists say climate change is real, and caused by humans. So do you believe that other remaining 3 percent and ignore the risks? Here’s what would happen if you apply that same reasoning to other areas, according to Skeptical Science.

8. Trust The Scientists. They Know What They’re Talking About.

A cartoon by Paul Noth. Find more cartoons from this week's issue here:

Posted by The New Yorker Cartoons on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Scientists are experts in their fields, much like the structural engineers you asked about that bridge. Or the doctors you see at the hospital. That’s why we trust their recommendations. You don’t have to know the minutiae of every scientific study on climate change – you just need to trust valid science on the subject. Most of all, please don’t believe this politician from a recent New Yorker cartoon!

9. Times, They Are A-Changin’.

Together, we’ve solved a lot of tremendous problems the world has faced, and made wondrous advances in the span of decades, or even years that naysayers swore could never happen. Just look at computers: They used to take up an entire room. Now they fit in the palm of your hand.

Not My Earth, Not My Problem demonstrates the stark difference between advances in our computer technology and advances in our energy systems. Which sparks the question: with all the incredible advances in wind and solar we’ve seen recently, why aren’t we making bigger and faster changes to our energy system?

10. We’re Big Fans of Renewable Energy. 

We can make changes to our energy. In fact, the shift to power our lives – and the economy – with clean, renewable energy is already underway. As Bob Dylan said, the answer is blowin’ in the wind. We can transition from dirty, dated fossil fuel energy to clean sources like wind and solar power. And when it comes to that plan, we’ve got to say it: We’re big fans!

Related: Download the free e-book: Top Wind Energy Myths

Put Your Knowledge To Use.

Now that you’ve got the basics, it’s time to take action. You’ve got the drive — help stop climate change by pledging to support leaders who make climate solutions, like more fuel-efficient vehicles, a reality.