Cartoonist L.J. Kopf Brilliantly Captures Our Current Moment

There’s something to be said for brevity

Steve Genco
5 min readMay 15, 2024


This is a two-panel cartoon by L.J. Kopf that was recently published on Medium. Across the top it says “Mixed Message”. Each pane shows a man and a woman sitting on a couch watching TV. In the first pane, the woman says “If we don’t continue to buy stuff the way we have been, the economy will collapse.” In the second frame, she says “If we continue to consume the way we have, we’ll destroy the environment.” That’s the mixed message that civilization faces today.
Cartoon by L.J. Kopf. Source: “World Match — Humans versus the Environment” on Medium. Reprinted with permission.

When the world stops making sense, we turn to the cartoonists. At least they can make us laugh … and help us feel like we’re not the crazy ones. I recently came across L.J. Kopf’s climate-related cartoons here on Medium, and this one in particular just made my day. So clear, so concise, so true. But also, if you think about it just right, so pregnant with its own resolution.

These indeed look like two irreconcilable messages. Each makes perfect sense on its own and is backed by tons of supporting evidence.

The left-hand pane captures the basic dilemma of capitalism. In a nutshell:

  • Capitalism requires capitalists.
  • Capitalists provide capital (money) in the form of loans and other funding instruments that fuel economic growth.
  • Capitalists make a profit (aka generate more capital for themselves) when the businesses they invest in grow and are able to pay back their debt, with interest.
  • For businesses to grow, consumption of their products and services must grow.
  • If consumption doesn’t grow, businesses can’t grow; if businesses can’t grow, their debts can’t be repaid; if debts can’t be repaid…



Steve Genco

Steve is author of Intuitive Marketing (2019) & Neuromarketing for Dummies (2013). He holds a PhD in Political Science from Stanford University.