From Litter to Climate Change: Pogo +47

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April 21, 2017

Walt Kelly’s famous cartoon of Pogo noting that “we have met the enemy, and he is us!” appeared on April 22, 1970. Pogo wasn’t talking about climate change, but he certainly could have been, as the field of behavioral economics has made so abundantly clear since then.

I didn’t enter the climate fray until 1988, coincidentally after helping to permit the only coal-fired power plant ever approved by the California Energy Commission. Based on my observations and work since then, Pogo’s words are still relevant today.

That’s the theme behind my new cartoon depicting the USS Climate Response in trouble and about to go down. It’s going down not because we don’t have the ability to build the necessary pump, but because we’re each so focused on our own tasks that we don’t see the collaborative opportunity.

The cartoon is simultaneously pessimistic and hopeful. I’ve focused for several years on building the Climate Web as a way to encourage the passengers of the USS Climate Response to collaborate on the rear deck by making it easier for them to do so. The Climate Web doesn’t purport to offer its own better pump design. Rather, it facilitates access to the many excellent pump designs (i.e. climate ideas and solutions) on which the ship’s passengers have been working individually.

It’s coincidental that this cartoon was finalized today. As it happens, it’s great timing — 47 years to the day (it’s already April 22nd somewhere!) after Pogo’s utterance. I welcome your feedback and reactions.

My collaborator on this cartoon is Bob D’Amico, a talented illustrator and cartoonist. It turns out Bob is a big Walt Kelly fan himself. The picture shows Bob posing in 1969 next to another of Walt Kelly’s works, the emblem for the USS Sea Owl submarine.

Cartoonist Bob D’Amico in 1969 aboard the USS Sea Owl

Bob and I have collaborated on several cartoons (shown below). I’m happy to give permission for their use upon request.



cartoon great wall of climate change information deluge









About the author 

Mark Trexler

Mark has more than 30 years of regulatory and energy policy experience. He has advised clients around the world on climate change risk and risk management. He is widely published on business risk management topics surrounding climate change, including in the design and deployment of carbon markets. Mark has served as a lead author for the IPCC and holds advanced degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.

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