The Climate ‘Tipping Point’ for Cartoonists
So what is this Tipping Point that those smarty-pants scientists and that Swedish teenager keep talking about? Something about the climate and crisis and it’s coming in 11 years if we don’t end all cow farts now – but what is it exactly?
The tipping point concept actually is pretty easy to get – in fact it’s a staple of cartooning. It’s the point when things that seemed to be stable are stress-s-s-s-ed to that final, ridiculous limit. They suddenly spiral into absurd levels of crazy chaos, then finally settle down into some new god-knows-what that can never be reversed.
Like when a bunch of animals end up in a crazy reversepyramid, bisons on top, shrimp on the bottom, and a teensy flake of that hedgehog’s dandruff drifts down and tickles the shrimp’s nose…
Or when the chipmunk brings that last nut up to its hole in the tree for the winter, the weight tipping it over into some more squirrels’ trees, causing a nut avalanche that buries Finland.
Or, in the case of the climate, when that very last little atom of carbon (let’s call him Eugene) gets coughed out into the alreadystrained atmosphere and our planetary balance is sent permanently haywire. Kitten chow spiking to $3000 an ounce. A hamster elected Pope. Or, quite possibly, the mass collapse of species, ecosystems and everything we have ever known or loved. A million yuks.
Lucky for us, tipping points work the other way too. Like when Popeye has been pushed to his final stress point by Bluto – that’s all he can stansk and he can’t stansk no more — then pop goes the spinach can and BAM POW WHAM, he’s unleashing whup-ass like the world has never seen.
Kids are demanding action on climate in massive numbers, and those numbers have been growing exponentially. Polls show it’s one of the very top subjects on kids’ minds.
So why aren’t we, the kids’ media industry, rushing to connect with this massive kid phenomenon? We’re starting to.
Content creators are beginning to brainstorm the hell out of this issue to figure out how to make super fun, super funny shows that can do a super amount of good.
Climate conversations that produced eyerolls last Kidscreen were, by Annecy, meeting enthusiastic response from producers and network buyers alike.
MIP Jr.’s opening party this year was dedicated to a new climate cartoon, Sea Believers.
This Fall, one of the biggest networks held a brainstorm summit on climate, and how to engineer content that reflects its new relevance to kids.
Right now, the topic of climate and kids’ media is mostly still in its conversation stage. But there are many more conversations than a year ago. The more we have these conversations – the more you have them — the more connections are made. The more alliances. The more great content to move forward from talk to action.
Already, more funding sources are engaging with climate slates. More green shows are being pitched and more network execs are receptive to them. Many forces are independently churning in different corners of our industry, and starting to churn each other. These are starting to turn into collective actions.
And one thing our tribe does once we decide to – we get stuff done. Lots of it. What’s more, those of us starting to engage with the problem are having a blast. Imagine the whole industry going from a mood of helplessness to one of tremendous empowerment. Empowerment because we’re actually getting brilliant, hopeful ideas for climate action— in the form of awesomely fun and hilarious shows — into the hands of kids around the globe.
Then imagine those ideas mixing with kids’ own ideas — and how much change could occur. If we keep it up, all signs point to, you got it: a tipping point of our own.
And if we’re going to beat this thing, that’s exactly the can of whup-ass we could use right now. ◆
“Imagine the whole industry going from a mood of helplessness to one of tremendous empowerment.”