Humor can get young people fired up about climate change. - Grist


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Humor can get young people fired up about climate change.

A study published in the Journal of Communication aimed to find out whether humor, fear, or straightforward facts would best motivate people to act in the environment’s favor.

Researchers from Cornell University and the Environmental Defense Fund showed participants three mock weather forecasts to gauge their reactions. The videos, all featuring the same weatherman, showed climate change in dramatically different lights. One took an ominous tack, while another presented the facts in a straightforward fashion.

The academics enlisted the help of Second City, the Chicago improv group where Tina Fey and Amy Poehler got their start. The humorous version features a bumbling meteorologist failing to interpret the obvious signs of climate change, in the style of The Colbert Report. (Watch it here.)

Each video concluded with a call to action about climate change. While researchers found that the fear-inducing video was a good climate-change motivator across age groups, humor was the most effective approach for 18- to 24-year-olds.

“The humor video made people laugh more, and people who found it funny were more likely to want to plan to partake in activism, recycle more, and believe climate change is risky,” said Christofer Skurka, the paper’s lead author.