Climate Café: Can cartoons transform our attitudes to climate change?


The evidence that our climate is changing due to human activity is overwhelming. Yet attitudes towards climate change vary widely within the Australian community, with a small minority of people denying this evidence. Many more are ambivalent about the issue.

Research shows that views about climate change are linked to our underlying values and world views. Directly confronting people’s beliefs has a tendency to actually reinforce them. But there are other, less direct ways to approach the issue.

Stuart McMillen is a Canberra based cartoonist who uses comics to throw light on environmental issues. He’ll discuss how he uses intriguing real-life historical events, such as published science experiments, as the basis of his non-fiction comics. The comics capture the literal truth of what occurred in the incidents. But Stuart also transcends the facts, by encouraging readers to think about the relevance that these historical events have for our lives today.

Participants will then split into small groups to discuss:

  • Collectively think of an impact / aspect of climate change that interests you. What kind of analogies could we use to talk about it, without actually mentioning the subject? As a group, draw a cartoon to illustrate this.
  • What other approaches can be used to communicate about climate change, without challenging people’s underlying values?
  • Have you been exposed to art forms that have altered your views about a subject? What was it that changed your mind?

About the Speaker

Stuart McMillen is a crowd-funded Canberra based cartoonist who focusses on social issues involving science, ecology, sustainability and economics. He uses comics as his medium of choice for his thought-provoking non-fiction stories. Many of these comics have ‘gone viral’ on the web. For more information, visit

About Climate Café

Climate Café is a relaxed gathering of people interested in discussing ideas and questions on climate change and related topics. It cuts across disciplines, is inclusive, jargon-free and fun. The approach is modelled on dialogue events such as Café Philosophic and Café Scientifique.


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Updated:  2 September 2019/Responsible Officer:  College of Science/Page Contact: