• 12.19.13

19 Illustrated Haikus That Tell The Story Of How Climate Change Is Ruining The Planet

If lengthy, boring reports don’t get you concerned about climate change, maybe a series of haikus can help break it down.

If the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2216 pages) isn’t your idea of holiday reading, you may be a looking for an easier way to digest the latest scientific evidence. There’s the IPCC’s 27-page summary, of course. Or this clear-English outline (which is readable). But they’re all heavily textual, and don’t fully communicate the poignancy of the subject.


That’s where these 19 haikus come in. Each tells a different story from the IPCC’s opus, and even come illustrated with watercolors. They were created by oceanographer Greg Johnson and published by the Sightline Institute, an environmental research group. See some highlights in the slide show above, or view the same images in the video below:

For those still learning about Japanese poetry, a haiku is made up of 3 phrases: 5 sounds, 7 sounds, then 5 sounds (learn how to write your own here). Johnson tells Sightline’s Anna Fahey that the series is a kind of “meditation,” and that he likes haikus for all kinds of occasions (including posting on Facebook). The paintings were his daughter’s idea. Johnson has talent, and his sideways approach to discussing climate change breaks through the exhausting details and gets to the point.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.