‘Climate Change Comedy Hour’ on Nov. 2

How to cope with the despair caused by climate change? In the “Climate Change Comedy Hour,” environmental historian Aaron Sachs will use a combination of gallows humor, history and silly videos to show how we can shift our attitude about climate change -- and how that shift might help us get to the next stage of climate activism.

The presentation will be at 5:15 p.m. on Nov. 2, in Lewis Auditorium in Goldwin Smith Hall. The event is free and the public is invited.

“Only a less traumatized citizenry will be able to replace the fossil-fuel economy. Fortunately, dark comedy has a long track record of helping people gain some purchase on impossible situations,” said Sachs, professor of history in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

The multi-media “Comedy Hour” embodies the message of Sachs’ recent book, “Stay Cool: Why Dark Comedy Matters in the Fight Against Climate Change” (April 2023, NYU Press): how laughter can give you strength to persevere even when things seem most hopeless.

It’s important to remember, said Sachs, that this is not the first time in history that humans have faced what seems like overwhelming catastrophe. As he quips in “Stay Cool,” “Why did the Jews and Arabs wind up living in the desert? It seemed like the safest place after the Flood.” 

And yet, said Sachs, “climate activists, known for spouting doom and gloom, have almost never tried to use humor in their messaging.  At this point, it’s probably too late, but we could at least try to prevent the oil companies from having the last laugh.”

The “Climate Change Comedy Hour” is sponsored by the Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences and by the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.

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Illustration of a polar bear in a kettle, sipping a pink cocktail and roasting a weenie over a fire
David Levine Illustrating the humor in "Stay Cool: Why Dark Comedy Matters in the Fight Against Climate Change,”