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Mark Knight explains why he drew Greta Thunberg rowing rock band Coldplay to their next gig

Mark Knight, November 28, 2019 6:00PM Herald Sun

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Part of Mark Knight’s cartoon on Coldplay banning touring. media_cameraPart of Mark Knight’s cartoon on Coldplay banning touring.


Reading level: green

British rock supergroup* Coldplay recently announced it wanted to reduce its carbon footprint* and would not tour the world to promote its new album until it worked out how to do it.

An admirable* quest*, I thought, but I wondered how a rock band with tonnes* and tonnes of sound gear, lighting, stage equipment and an army of workers to build it all and make it work could travel the planet without burning a few fossil fuels*?

They play stadiums, not local pubs. Their transport is not a small van with their guitars in the back but a fleet* of jumbo jets and massive trucks!

So, I thought I would draw a cartoon on how Coldplay might reduce their carbon emissions* at their gigs.

media_cameraLead singer Chris Martin performs with Coldplay at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. The band has now announced it won’t tour because it’s harmful to the environment. Picture: AFP

One obvious way was to just play at their local pub every Friday night instead of touring the world.

They could walk down to the Pig and Whistle pub in South London, set up in the corner and belt out their number one hits for a couple of hours on acoustic guitars (no electricity needed) and then go home. But I thought this idea was unlikely.

Then I remembered Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl climate activist who decided to travel to the UN in America by boat so she didn’t have to fly and burn fossil fuels. Greta is great to draw, her plaits are a signature* characteristic. But don’t let this lead you into underestimating her resolve*. She is a warrior* for climate change.

Maybe Coldplay and Greta could work together?

Mark Knight’s Coldplay cartoon. Right-click and open in new tab to see full size


That’s how I came up with my idea that Greta could assist Coldplay in reducing their carbon footprint by rowing them around the world from continent to continent in the simplest, and most carbon-neutral* transport available — a rowboat.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and as the cartoon shows, the band with their instruments are squeezed aboard and we can see Greta heaving on the oars, as determined as ever.

Coldplay 'not touring' new album over climate change fears

A little pig appears in my cartoons, usually making a funny comment in the corner. On this occasion he is making one about rockstars from days gone by. Once upon a time, rock bands were seen as “bad boys or girls”. They did excessive things, like ride in limousines, have flame-throwing effects at their concerts and they even threw television sets from their hotel windows!

And as the pig reminds us, “They used to fly Concorde”, which was the world’s only supersonic passenger airliner that burned thousands and thousands of litres of jet fuel flying performers such as Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones across the world.

Nowadays, rockstars want to reduce their emissions. How times change!


  • supergroup: world-famous group
  • carbon footprint: the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, group or community
  • admirable: something to be admired
  • quest: something to aim for
  • tonnes: weight equal to 1000kg
  • fossil fuels: include petroleum (oil), coal, and natural gas and, like fossils, they are the remains of organisms that lived long ago
  • fleet: a group of things moving together
  • emissions: release of something, especially gas
  • signature: something distinctive that identifies a person
  • resolve: determination
  • warrior: fighter
  • carbon-neutral: resulting in no emissions into the air


Mark Knight: banning dogs makes Aussies barking mad

Climate activist Greta Thunberg sailing to America


  1. Which British rock group wants to reduce its carbon footprint?
  2. What has the band announced it will stop doing?
  3. What is an acoustic guitar?
  4. Why did Mark Knight choose Greta to row the boat?
  5. What was the Concorde?


1. On the bandwagon
Read Mark’s explanation about why he chose to draw Coldplay and Greta Thunberg in a rowboat for his cartoon and write two, three or four short sentences, just to make sure you understand what the cartoon is saying.

Now consider a new caption for the cartoon to describe how you feel about the issue. Or consider what the band members and Greta might be saying to each other.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about. Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

  • What is my subject?
  • What do I want to say about this issue?
  • How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

With a partner see if you can identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP

HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you think of Coldplay’s decision to stop touring the world because of climate change?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

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