The existence of “climate fiction”, or Cli-Fi, has always been around. What happens when the very weather, the coastline, or the climate changes in the (not-so-distant) future? According to Wikipedia, the genre has been relatively recent, but films decades old such as Soylent Green (based on the novel “Make Room, Make Room!“), and Silent Running show that this topic was on people’s minds for a while, although more with an ecological slant.
How those films dovetailed with the environmental movement of the time is open; I can’t speculate too well on the zeitgeist of time, and if this nudged people to think about environmental issues in any substantive way. After all, the environmental movement didn’t give us an environmentally cleaner future, and in 1980, Ronald Reagan was taking solar panels off the White House.
The recent crop of cli-fi, using up to date knowledge and projections, ranges from JMG’s Star’s Reach and JHK’s World Made By Hand series and from big budget films like The Day After Tomorrow to small productions seen on Guy McPherson’s site (the name escapes me – anyone remember it)? Now, you may disagree with the science (The Day After Tomorrow caught some flack for that) and timeline of some of these works, but the essence of them – the climate is changing rapidly, and changes are upon us are their common themes.
But it seems in our society, very few people can look at a scientific report or finding (or a simple graph):
and think about what it means for them personally. We live our lives, day to day, not thinking about what it really might mean for us. 400 pm? Who cares? 450 ppm? What is a number?
Stories, however, no matter how fanciful, change that. They put us in the action, and in the environment, and make us think what getting up in the morning, going to work, meeting friends, finding food to eat, and all the sundries of life may look like, surrounded by these real changes. Of course, these are stories; not predictions, and by their very nature – they aren’t true. They do give a glimpse of possible futures, and that’s probably enough to get people thinking about things. A few folks have written about this as well; a good list of pieces to read is given there.
Questions for the audience (yes, you’ve been increasing, since the Star’s Reach maps were published):
- What piece of cli-fi (or sci-fi) changed your worldview?
- What piece of cli-fi would you recommend to a newcomer, or to convince someone of these realities?
- Can cli-fi be damaging to the cause of awakening people?