re-telling climate change stories

Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine Highlight

‘Stand Up for Climate Change’ event to fuse the sober topic of climate change with the unifying power of humor


Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine
March 14, 2017

Climate change is about as amusing as death, but the gallows can inspire a kind of humor. Consider this, from late-night jokester Conan O’Brien:

“Yesterday, a group of scientists warned that because of global warming, sea levels will rise so much that parts of New Jersey will be under water. The bad news? Parts of New Jersey won't be under water.”

Rising sea level is no laughing matter. Teasing New Jersey, however, is. Such humor can help those with different perspectives find common ground, at least to the extent that they laugh together.

That’s a rationale for “Stand Up for Climate Change: An Experiment With Creative Climate Comedy,” a comedy showcase scheduled for 7 p.m., Friday, March 17, in the Old Main Chapel at the University of Colorado Boulder. The event is free and open to the public.

The event’s organizers contend that humor is underutilized in climate-change discourse and that comedy has the “power to connect people” on this topic.

Friday’s event will include stand-up comedy, sketch and situational comedy. Also, there’s a video competition featuring videos from students in this semester’s “Creative Climate Communications” course and from contenders elsewhere.

The course, taught by Associate Professors Max Boykoff of environmental studies and Beth Osnes of theatre and dance, is part of CU Boulder’s Inside the Greenhouse project. Inside the Greenhouse describes itself as a “collective of professors, students, scholars, practitioners” who creatively frame climate-change issues via video, theatre, dance and writing.

Inside the Greenhouse, founded by Osnes, Boykoff and Rebecca Safran, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, is an interdisciplinary project. It reflects the fact that climate-change discourse can amount to little more than a dueling fusillade of talking points.