An Inconvenient Joke? A Review of Humor in Climate Change Communication

Miriam Kaltenbacher, Stefan Drews*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Researchers and practitioners are searching for alternative ways to communicate climate change and other environmental problems beyond the dominant approach of shock and fear. Using humor is one such an alternative, but can we laugh in the face of environmental danger? This study investigates, through a systematic narrative review, the existing interdisciplinary literature of humor in climate change and environmental communication. The findings are organized into four themes. First, we present the overall effects of humor on environmental awareness, perceptions, learning and behaviors. Next, the types of humor are analyzed, such as satire and irony. Third, we explore what forms of communication are most dominant. Finally, we show that most studies target audiences from the general population, with little focus on specific segments of the population. To conclude, we evaluate the benefits and challenges of using humor in climate and environmental communication and make suggestions for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-729
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Communication
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2020


  • climate change
  • environmental communication
  • Humor
  • irony
  • satire


Dive into the research topics of 'An Inconvenient Joke? A Review of Humor in Climate Change Communication'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this