Things that are deadly serious don’t make for easy humour. Jokes and church don’t meld well. I’ve been interested in the phenomenon of political jokes for a long time, and have done a post or two about them. Global warming, more recently known as ‘climate change’, has a churchy sort of feeling to it, and in the past all the jokes were against the deniers — well, nearly all of them: ‘According to a new U.N. report, the global warming outlook is much worse than originally predicted. Which is pretty bad when they originally predicted it would destroy the planet.’
President Bush was the butt of a lot of humour, and some of it had a AGW cast, like this quip: ‘President Bush has a plan. He says that if we need to, we can lower the temperature dramatically just by switching from Fahrenheit to Celsius’. Or this one: ‘Heating bills this winter are the highest they’ve been in five years, but President Bush has a plan to combat rising bills. It’s called global warming.’ The Great Action Hero was also a favourite target: ‘Governor Schwarzenegger spoke about the dangers of global warming. Schwarzenegger’s exact words were: fire, hot, bad.’
Because so much of AGW can be pictured, from storms to the endless shots of cooling towers releasing steam, as though what you are seeing is carbon dioxide, it is not surprising that there were many more cartoons than jokes. Search the web, and you won’t find very many jokes, but you will find lots of cartoons. In one set I saw, 25 of 26 were directed at ‘deniers’. The odd one out showed Dr Chicken and Professor Little sitting on a panel called ‘climate experts’. One of them says: ‘The UN says that global warming is real!’ to which the other responds, ‘So we must be right.’
But the humour wasn’t really funny, at least to me. It was as though the issue was just too serious to make jokes of any kind about it. Then came Climategate and Copenhagen, and the wheels began to fall off the AGW cart, while temperature took little notice of the climate models, and stayed at a new mean, despite the increase in carbon dioxide. There was no sudden increase in climate change jokes, so far as I could tell, but little by little the humour began to turn against the believers. I can find a few about Climategate, of which the best seemed to be this one:
‘Q: How many climate scientists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. The consensus is that its going to change, so they’ve decided to leave us in the dark.’
If we widen our search to humour about environmentalism, we get this one, which you wouldn’t have seen in the pre-2007 period:
‘A life-long environmentalist is killed in a plane-cash on the way to a “Save the planet” conference in Bali. Upon arriving at the pearly gates he is shocked to be told that he is destined for Hell. He’s not happy and harangues the gatekeeper with his protestations. “I always paid my carbon taxes in full” “My net carbon-footprint was always less than half my shoe-size” His increasingly shrill protestations went on for some time! Finally, an increasingly irritated St Peter snaps! “Listen loser, we’re doing you a favour. One, you don’t get hassled by angry vegetables that are pissed off with you advocating genocide, through a reduction in their food supply — CO2! Two, rather than freezing your butt off, like the folks on Earth, you’ll stay warm! But, and most importantly, three: you’ll get to meet all your friends, listen to the BBC, throughout eternity, and not have to suffer the “I told you so” taunts of the “denialist” brigade!’
The cartoons sending up deniers and big oil have gone. The only cartoons I have seen recently have been by the talented ‘Josh’ whose work you can see here. I’m not sure that I am at liberty to reproduce any of them, so you will have to do your own searching. But he is droll, with a particular skill in sending up such luminaries as Michael Mann, and in relating predictions to observations.
Nonetheless, it still surprises me that the world of AGW and ‘climate change’ has produced such little humour. If the pause continues and governments back off from doing much more than talk vaguely about it, I expect jokes and cartoons to increase in number. John Spooner, of The Age, has done some, as well as illustrate Bob Carter’s recent book, Taxing Air. Again, I doubt that I am allowed to reproduce any of them here, but if you search for ‘John Spooner cartoons The Age 20 July 2013’ you’ll eventually find a beauty!