March 25, 2019

Climate Change Is No Joking Matter. Except, This Week, It Was.

Trevor Noah jumped on the beer news, too. “Climate change: Sometimes it feels so hopeless, all you want to do is get drunk and forget about it,” he said. “Well, sadly, that won’t be an option, because of climate change.”

To his credit, Mr. Noah talks about climate change fairly often.

Does joking about climate change blunt the message that it is a threat, even a crisis?

Hardly, said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. He noted that broadcast media rarely talks about the topic, and it barely came up during the 2016 presidential debates. So for many television viewers, he said, seeing a segment on “Weekend Update” or “The Late Show” means “millions of people just had a conversation or watched on television discussions about climate change that they otherwise never get exposed to.”

What’s more, his center’s own research, he said, shows that “comedy is a really effective means to engage people,” and especially young people, in what he called “a sideways way.” He said that “through humor, people can deal with very difficult and scary topics that people will tend to ignore or avoid.”

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