As co-authors, each of us two has experience on the front lines of the battle to communicate the risks of climate change to the public.
I am an editorial cartoonist and I have been exposing the hypocrisy of climate change denying politicians and fossil fuel industry front groups and advocates for years on the pages of the Washington Post.
I have felt that the media in general has done a poor job in explaining the subject and its critical nature of its importance. My response has been to keep the subject front and center for readers, and to point out in my artwork both the challenge and the obstacles.
My co-author Michael Mann is a climate scientist who has been on the front lines of the battle. In the late 1990s, Michael published the iconic “Hockey Stick curve which has now become both a symbol of the reality and threat of climate change and an object of attack by climate change deniers.
The Madhouse Effect represents an effort by both of us to draw upon our very different backgrounds and perspectives and to jointly provide readers with a unique take on the issue of climate change.
The cartoons in the book encapsulate several key points.
One example is the “Galileo” cartoon on page xviii. It lampoons climate change-denying cranks who present themselves as modern-day Galileos.
Another is the “abyss” cartoon on page 11 that mocks the “false balance” approach that’s too often taken by the media. The cartoon illustrates the presentation of the fringe viewpoints of a fossil fuel industry-funded climate change denier as if having standing with the overwhelming consensus of the world’s scientists.
Some other favorite highlights are the “climate change tipping point” cartoon of page 28, the climate threat “temperature scale” of page 30, the “pause” cartoon of page 55, which ridicules the shopworn climate change denier myth that global warming “has stopped,” and the “geoengineering” cartoon on page 116 which expresses a cautionary view with regard to massive untested planetary climate change techno-fixes.
Definitely a strong favorite highlight for both of us is the Trump cartoon of page 148. This is a warning that we “will all pay” the cost of “the wall” that now-President Donald Trump is building to separate him from the reality of human-caused climate change.
Tom Toles is the Editorial Cartoonist for The Washington Post. Besides The Madhouse Effect, featured in his Rorotoko interivew, Tom Toles is the author of six collections of editorial cartoons, the children’s book My School Is Worse Than Yours, the syndicated comic strip Curious Avenue, and the syndicated comic panel Randolph Itch, 2am. He has been awarded over a dozen national cartooning awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.