Future Tense

This Time, It’s OK to Laugh at Climate Change

When all seems lost, sometimes all there’s left to do is laugh.

Last month, 487 artists from 72 countries submitted 1,063 drawings to compete for the Niels Bugge Cartoon Award, an international competition aimed at drawing attention to environmental issues. Their combined perspective (how often do you get to see political cartoons from Iran, Serbia, and Brazil side-by-side?) is a powerful reminder that we’re all dreading the next news of the painful state of our planet’s health together.

A quaint Danish hotel named for a 14th-century knight organized the competition, which is now in its second year and is billed modestly as the “World Cup of satirical cartoons.” This year’s theme, “the oceans are in our hands,” focused on climate change. The jury is composed of nine, mostly European, cartoonists, and the competition is sanctioned by the Federation of Cartoonists Organizations. After the Prophet Muhammad cartoon controversy in 2006, FECO organized a competition called “Make Humor Not War.”

From one of the jury members, Peter Nieuwedijk:

Oceans are changing in a bad way. We can yell, we can complain and tell the world that we’re killing our main source of life. But serious talk not always helps. A better way is to pack your message in humourous drawing that makes people think and laugh at the same time. That’s what cartoonists do. Cleaning the earth and the waters with humor!

Here’s my favorite selections from this year’s contest. You can view the rest of the jury selections, and the winners, here.