SAN FRANCISCO, December 12 — Washington Post Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Tom Toles took no prisoners at a program in which he blasted the incoming Trump administration.

Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, left, at book signing with co-author Tom Toles of The Washington Post.

Speaking on a panel organized by Climate One, which offers a forum for climate discussions, he left little doubt that his cartoons will consistently voice blistering views of the incoming Trump administration on climate and a wide range of other issues. Among his fellow panelists was his recent book co-author and Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann.

For nearly two decades, Toles has been one of the leading daily newspaper editorial cartoonists. Over that time, he’s consistently turned his rapier-sharp humor to climate change in ways no other cartoonist has approached.

Answering a question from Climate One’s Greg Dalton, he characterized overall media coverage of the climate issue over the past three decades as “abysmal.”

He faulted reporters and editors for too long seeking “both sides” of a science debate in which only one side, he argued, has been evidence-based, and for burying the issue on little-read inside pages. Toles compared the risks posed by climate change to the public’s merely standing by watching a threatening asteroid, with the media distracted by balanced coverage on whether there really is an asteroid in the first place.

”Post Click To Tweet

At one point he was asked if he thinks “tragedy is hilarious.” He joked that he expects to have “a really great time” lampooning the Trump administration on climate change, so long as one doesn’t mind watching what he feels will amount to “the destruction of the planet.”

Clearly dreading what he fears will be Trump administration approaches to a wide number of domestic and international issues, Toles cautioned that “we are entering an extremely hazardous time.” On climate, he said, “we are out of screwing-around time. We are now in a horrible place …. We are entering a genuinely permanently dangerous” period on climate, and “we are right at the edge of the precipice, and we’re teetering.”

Toles and Mann spoke at the meeting of their recently co-authored book The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy.

One questioner appeared to capture the mood of the highly supportive and appreciative audience when he commented that “it takes a cartoonist to make us serious.”

Bud Ward

Bud Ward is Editor of Yale Climate Connections. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as Assistant Director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission on Air Quality,...