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Ashley Mitlitsky

Ms. Dott

Honors English III

30 October 2017

A Comic and the Shocking Realization Behind it

If everyone in the world lived the same

way that people in the United States live, it

would take five Earths to supply enough

resources for everyone (McDonald. How Many

Earths Do We Need?). Research from the

National Wildlife Federation has found that when

carbon dioxide from human activities is released

into the air, it results in drastic temperature

changes for years to come (Climate Pathway

Facts). This impactful issue affecting the lives and habitats of millions of species of animals is

currently being denied in American society. The political cartoon illustrated by Dan Wasserman

in 2008 depicts polar bears and seals laying on the North Pole, except that in this futuristic

cartoon, the North Pole is a tropical beach. This simple, humorous cartoon portraying polar bears

dressed in bathing suits and seals playing volleyball is sincerely misunderstood.

Dan Wassermans political cartoon is more than a comic from the newspaper; it is the

artists way of forewarning the audience about how significant the issue of global warming really

is. In the cartoon, two scientists are saying, Global warming does seem harder and harder to

deny. Some people reading the newspaper may glance at this, interpret it as a joke, and refuse
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to believe that the climate change happening in the cartoon may affect them. However, if the

North Pole, once frozen, is at tropical temperatures, then what will the rest of the world be like?

In 2016, National Geographic has found that over the last century, sea levels have drastically

increased (The World is Getting Hotter). In August 2017, a devastating hurricane, known as

Hurricane Harvey, flooded parts of Texas destroying land, homes, and people in the process. In

fact, the number of climate-related disasters has tripled since 1980. In spite of these evidential

and catastrophic events, people may still deny the existence of global warming, which will cause

people to see this image as a joke. The artist of this political cartoon is fully aware of this. So, he

created an image of what seems like something that would be found in the comic section of the

newspaper, but he added details such as the sign indicating that the North Pole has melted and

the scientists suggesting that global warming should be acknowledged. These details transform

the cartoon into a different form of persuasion that is meant to open the eyes of Americans. The

environment illustrated in Dan Wassermans cartoon is implying that global warming is real, and

that Americans are living in denial about the truth.

On a Sunday morning, a man is eating breakfast and reading the newspaper. He takes a

drink of his coffee and turns the page to the comic section. As he laughs at all of the amusing and

entertaining comics, he comes across this particular cartoon illustrated by Dan Wasserman. He

laughs, moves on, and doesn't even think about the shocking message that the artist is trying to

send. Although it may seem humorous at first, Wassermans cartoon is showing the traumatic

impact of global warming on animals, their habitats, and even their prey. Something that gives

away the fact that the artist is trying to send a message to the audience is the personification of

the animals and that Wasserman decided to illustrate the polar bears, the seals, and the fish as

being together. Due to the fact that polar bears eat seals and seals eat fish, it can be inferred that
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Wasserman wanted to show that it is not just polar bears affected by climate change, but that

several species are in danger. The artist is trying to show the seriousness of the danger of global

warming involving species and their habitats.

The artists purpose for illustrating this political cartoon is to provide an unsettling

realization of what the future may look like if climate change due to human activities does not

change. Although some may regard this illustration as insignificant, it is unlike other political

cartoons or comics that would usually be seen in the newspapers. For example, Wasserman

informs the audience of what is at stake by using a humorous tone to express a serious issue. The

effect of the comedy in this image is that it is appealing to the audience and attracts more viewers

than it would if the artist expressed the situation literally rather than jokingly. While the artists

purpose is to humor, it is also to inform the viewers about the situation. The reason for this is that

the topic of climate change is not currently the center of attention because of other political

issues occurring in the world. This reveals that Wasserman really cares about the future and

about generations to come. Although the viewer may think that the issue of climate change does

not directly affect him or her, the evidential signs of climate change are increasing more and

more each year.

Looking at this political cartoon, polar bears are reading books and listening to the radio,

and seals are playing volleyball on the beach. A cooler and drinks are nearby and the polar bears

are listening to music with sunglasses on. Two scientists standing nearby are saying that climate

change is getting harder to deny. In the middle of this scene, there is a sign that reads, North

Pole. This image is important because it states the point in a form that people are interested in

and will most likely be persuaded to take action. This political cartoon is genuinely

misinterpreted throughout American society.


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Works Cited

The World Is Getting Warmer. Climate Change, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/climate-

change/.

Climate Change Pathway Facts | National Wildlife Federation. The National Wildlife Federation,

www.nwf.org/Eco-Schools-USA/Become-an-Eco-School/Pathways/Climate-Change/Facts.aspx.

McDonald, Charlotte. How Many Earths Do We Need? BBC News, BBC, 16 June 2015,

www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33133712.

Visual Rhetoric. Soccerstudbilly - Visual Rhetoric, soccerstudbilly.wikispaces.com/Visual


Rhetoric.