Danny Bloom
I seek the truth wherever it lies.

Tackling climate change with humor and a comic funny bone: ‘Climate Adam’ rocks

Getting a PhD in physics from Oxford University wasn’t enough for a British YouTuber known as ”Climate Adam.” Worried about the future impacts of runaway global warming, but full of hope and optimism that humans can find ways to stop climate change before it gets unstoppable, he decided to dive deep into his easy-going conversational personality and use his acting chops channel his ”inner Adam” with comedy routines to talk about climate issues with ordinary people online.

Meet Adam Levy, scientist and YouTube personality.

With a doctorate in atmospheric physics from the University of Oxford, he has created an engaging YouTube persona who in short video segments breaks down dead serious climate change issues in humorous and accessible ways. His online alder ego is mischievous, a little bit lacking in self-awareness and most important of all, funny.

“Climate change is a huge hurdle for humanity, but it’s also an incredible opportunity,” he says. “Never before have humans been presented with such a genuinely global threat that at the same time we have such important tools to overcome the threat.”

Although runaway climate change can seem insurmountable, Adam feels that solutions are in fact already available, if only we work together across borders around the world.

“My YouTube channel is all about making this huge, complex and often an alienating problem more relatable,” he says. “I hope to communicate key issues about climate change in a way that reaches and engages diverse groups of people. Hopefully this can help motivate more action on climate change.”

Levy’s shtick, created and refined in Britain​, is a brand of stand-up comedy that laughs with — and not at — climate change. His mission is to change the way people around the world talk about climate change, problems as well as solutions. He uses comic routines and the presenting chops of a natural-born entertainer to take take global warming and turn it into a wake up call.

Online, the science communicator and former co-host of the Nature Podcast plays the roles of both skeptic and scientist and has been finding audiences around the world. While he is based in London, the internet gives him a platform where he can reach viewers in a world that is now borderless and multilingual.

A very funny guy, with an inviting personality that is both show business and lecture hall, Levy uses YouTube to deploy a cast of supporting characters to demystify and explain the finer points of global warming: A plate of ravioli, a woolly sweater, a gin and  tonic, the planet Mars, online dating, and a cup of fictional arsenic that ruins a perfectly good dinner to make a point about CO2.

On one video, he even dresses up as a character he calls “Climate Madam” to make a point about the difficulties of trying to communicate about climate change.

So why did a brainstorming comic bloke in the UK decide to become a climate comedian with an online Youtube channel following?

“Climate change can be such an abstract, intangible, intimidating thing, and humor is a way to make it less daunting,” he says.

”In my act, I try not to make light of climate change, but rathr to use my personal to make light of myself. The thing I try to do the most with the Climate Adam shtick is to tell science stories in a playful style. I hope viewers will enjoy the videos and learn something in the process. Why not?”

While working on his doctorate at Oxford, Levy says it’s true that he met many highly-qualified academics doing amazing cutting-edge research. But he found that there was a huge gulf between academia and the level of public or political conversation. While a lot of the most important scientific questions about climate change had been answered, the answers weren’t being taken into account in public opinion or policy. And so the test tube and laboratory man decided a better use of his time on Earth helping people understand the scientific knowledge about climate change that already exists.

Thus was an entertaining science communicator named Climate Adam born on YouTube.

With Greta Thunberg making waves worldwide with her spellbinding climate speeches, Adam Levy comes at the same subject in a very different way — with British humor and comic pizzaz.

Why is he dking this?

“I wanted to do something that used my skills as a physicist, but actually helped the world in some way, and so I started a doctorate in atmospheric physics (climate science).  While I was doing this, it slowly dawned on me that the biggest challenges were not necessarily our scientific understanding, but how that understanding is (or – rather – isn’t) communicated.  So I started making videos to try to get that point across.”

“I have no show biz training, but at home in London when I was a kid, we’d all go round the dinner table and tell jokes we’d hear, and I think I’ve relished the sound of laughter ever since.”

”I’ve made about 50 videos so far.  My favorite depends on the day you ask me, but I’m still very proud of my second video, ‘Global Warming & Warm Sweaters.’  I think my first video (‘Sea Levels and Gin & Tonics’) got the most positive response.  I’m not sure people had seen many climate science people be so playful before!”

“I was born in 1987 in London.  I studied physics for my undergraduate, and then (after a two year break working on various things) returned for a doctorate in atmospheric physics.  Both were at the University of Oxford.  I would indeed describe myself as a scientist, though I no longer do my own research.”

“I think I aim to make videos that will be enjoyable even to an audience that doesn’t (yet) care about climate change.  Hopefully by making videos like this I can trick people into learning!  I think the tone of the videos primarily appeals to young-ish (35 and younger) people, but I hope they’d appeal to anyone who’s still playful at heart.

“The videos are actually most watched in America, with other English speaking countries (UK, Canada, Australia) also up there with the biggest audiences.  It’s amazing to see them being watched in other countries too, though, and a few videos have been translated into Portugese and Polish by some incredibly generous volunteers!”


About the Author
Danny Bloom is editor of The Cli-Fi Report at www.cli-fi.net. Danny graduated from Tufts University in Boston in 1971 with a major in Yiddish Literature. A newspaper editor and reporter since his days in Alaska, Japan and Taiwan, he has lived and worked in 14 countries and speaks French, Japanese and Chinese. He hopes to live until 2032, when his tombstone will read "I came, I saw, I ate cho-dofu."
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