Because IPCC!: A Graphic Novel on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Guest post by: Authors at Because IPCC

On a cold winter evening, “the author” hosted a dinner party. It was a typical dinner party with acquaintances, friends, and food. The night was going well. That was until “the author” had one of the most infuriating interactions of their life. An avid climate change denier, a guest “the author” was not well acquainted with, had struck up a conversation with “the author” that began the typical way these conversations do: climate change does not exist and here are the reasons why. The conversation quickly escalated into an argument; in which “the author”, who had been passionate about climate change their entire life, found themselves struggling to combat the arguments being brought up by the guest. The guest was relentless in his opinions and despite knowing his arguments were wrong, “the author” found that in the moment, he did not have enough information to support his own view. The night left “the author” incredibly angry, flustered, and a bit disappointed in their lack of knowledge. But it also left them determined. They made the commitment to learn as much about climate change as possible so they would never be put in that situation again. 

During their climate change research, they landed on an interesting discovery. There were thousands of resources on climate change. In fact, it seemed like a new environmental podcast popped up every day, a rather positive realization, considering the lack of climate focused resources available in the past. However, there was a climate topic that seemed to be getting minimal attention: the IPCC. “The author” found that despite the magnitude of this organization, information of this organization was not widely presented to the public. This began their journey on telling the story of the IPCC. With the help of a local graphic novel company and lots of late nights of research, Because IPCC! was born. 

Because IPCC! is a graphic novel set 100 years in the future in a classroom setting. It displays a world in which the threat of climate change no longer exists. As told by characters within the graphic novel, a big reason as to why climate change is no longer a threat is in large part due to the IPCC. Specifically, the reports created by the IPCC were taken into careful consideration by leaders, who in turn took effective and powerful climate action. The graphic novel introduces who the IPCC is, what the IPCC does, and mentions a variety of scientific topics along the way. Since its inception in 2020, Because IPCC! has been translated into 7 languages, distributed to various locations around the world, and has even been incorporated into presentations at a variety of schools. It is important to note that all of this would not be possible without the MASSIVE involvement of volunteers who helped with translations, art integrations, social media, and so much more. 

Words from “the author”

When I was first introduced to Because IPCC! I was not only blown away by the beautiful artwork but also by how much I didn’t know about the IPCC. I have always considered myself to be an environmental advocate and fairly integrated into the science world, but truthfully, I knew very little of the IPCC. It was through the graphic novel, that I received a deeper understanding of what the IPCC is. For me, Because IPCC! served as a massive bridge; the introduction to this graphic novel led me to further investigate the IPCC. I started working on this project this past fall and I truly believe that it is an important tool for children, parents, and individuals of all ages. 

So, why do I believe Because IPCC! is so important? Here are three reasons why:  

  1. The IPCC is important.

The main goal of this graphic novel is to address the lack of information available on the IPCC. Not enough people know about the IPCC and with that, not enough people know how we know what we know about climate change. So of course, I could not talk about Because IPCC! without talking about the IPCC. 

The IPCC stands for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It was created by two UN bodies in 1988. In the simplest terms possible, the goal of the IPCC is to provide climate change information to governments of all levels and from all around the world. The hope is that the information provided by the IPCC will encourage governments to develop impactful policies for climate action. The IPCC passes this information on to governments in the form of reports, which are based on published scientific papers centered on climate change. The IPCC does not conduct its own research; all the information in the reports is based on published scientific papers. The reports of the IPCC are created by scientists from around the world. 

So that is WHAT the IPCC is. But WHY is it important? A big reason as to why we know so much about climate change is thanks to the IPCC. While the IPCC doesn’t conduct research, it collects research. It acts as a collection hub for published climate change data. With this collected research, the IPCC makes summaries about all the research available, determines where more research is needed, and gives scientific predications based on the research. The IPCC continues to prove to the world (with data) that climate change is real, caused by human activity, and is happening now. Also, as mentioned, the IPCC is targeted towards governments and political leaders. In the climate crisis, there is a massive disconnect between climate change science and climate policies that are enacted (or not enacted). The IPCC provides reports specifically made for policies and policymakers. In this way, the IPCC almost acts as a precursor to an instruction manual; although it is up to the policymakers who read the reports to make policies that reflect the report. The IPCC and the reports by this organization should serve as instigator for governments. If the information in the reports is regarded as the scientific data that it presents to be, it could create massive change.  

2. Climate education is important. 

 How do we implement climate action that will create positive, long-lasting change? The answer (in part) is climate education. We simply cannot act and more importantly act effectively without all the information. Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of educational resources available on climate change, which is extremely positive but also extraordinarily necessary. Climate change denial is still very real today, and a some of that denial comes from a lack of exposure to education on climate change. Because IPCC! is a method of climate change education, despite not fitting the “traditional” mold of educational information distribution. It talks about the IPCC, climate change, and scientific terms which all tie in with climate education, but it also talks about hope. The realities of the climate crisis are nothing short of terrifying, but it is also important to note that there is the possibility of a brighter world if action is taken. This is also part of climate education. The graphic novel tries to frame hope in a climate future that starkly contrasts the reality today, perhaps a motivator for creating such a future. The target audience of this graphic novel at initial glance is for children, but as I mentioned in my introduction, it is also an effective bridge for anyone who wants to learn more about the IPCC. Reading this novel may encourage others to read IPCC reports, leading to a chain reaction which results in questions, investigations, and greater climate change knowledge. When we had the opportunity to present Because IPCC! in schools, we were always challenged with questions and personal ponderings from students that without the graphic novel, probably wouldn’t have been brought up. My belief is that Because IPCC! shows us why climate education is important; it gives us information, it spurs on investigation, and hopefully sparks further action. It also shows us that climate education can include hope and that climate education is important for all audiences. Everyone is impacted by the climate crisis, and everyone should (and needs to) learn about it. 

3. Creativity is important. 

The final reason as to why Because IPCC! is so important is because it demonstrates the value of creativity and more importantly creativity with a message.  Not everyone finds scientific journals thrilling, and even those who do, may like the inclusion of scientific topics in more visual and creative spaces. Art has begun to shift in a way that allows more expression in terms of opinions and issues, including issues such as climate change. A notable example was the “Bristol Whales,” which created art out of plastic water bottles to demonstrate the harmful impact of plastic to marine life. Using creativity to talk about the IPCC, not only gets the message across to a broader audience but also shows others that there are so many ways to be involved with climate initiatives. Being creative and thinking outside the box can be a massive form of outreach and a source of inclusion.  As mentioned, climate change effects everyone, and being able to understand climate change in a format that makes sense and is personal can make a difference. 

Understanding the basis of climate change information has never been more important.  The IPCC has contributed to so much of what we know about climate change and continues to do vital work. The entirety of the Because IPCC! graphic can be read online, and I encourage you to share it with others. I hope this graphic novel serves as a basis to take climate action with knowledge, perspective, and creativity.

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