Saturday, October 21, 2017

CliFi – A New Way to Talk About Climate Change - by John Abraham

South Pole Station: A Novel (Credit: Click to visit.
Cli-Fi refers to “climate fiction;” it is a term coined by journalist Dan Bloom.  These are fictional books that somehow or someway bring real climate change science to the reader.  What is really interesting is that Cli-Fi books often present real science in a credible way.  They become fun teaching tools.  There are some really well known authors such as Paolo Bacigalupi and Margaret Atwood among others.  A list of other candidate Cli-Fi novels was provided by Sarah Holding in the Guardian.

What makes a Cli-Fi novel good?  Well in my opinion, it has to have some real science in it.  And it has to get the science right.  Second, it has to be fun to read.  When done correctly, Cli-Fi can connect people to their world; it can help us understand what future climate may be like, or what current climate effects are.

As I write this, we are getting a steady stream of stories out of Puerto Rico the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria.  It is hard to imagine the devastation, what life is like without electricity, food, or water.  What is life like on an island of 3 million people, each fending for themselves, just trying to survive.

Another thing that is hard to imagine is the future.  What will the world be like decades from now when Earth temperatures have continued to rise?  What will agriculture be like?  What will coastal communities be like?  What will international relations and armed conflict be like?

It is also hard to imagine what living a subsistence agriculture life is like, today.  What happens to lives and communities when the rains change, or don’t come at all?  What would that world look like?

Cli-Fi stories are vehicles that can help us imagine.  The authors get us to think about these what ifs – these future Earths. Cli-Fi novels (and movies for that matter) can make experiences far more real than endless graphs or plots of temperature variations.  And that, perhaps, is the most important contribution Cli-Fi can make to the discussion of climate change in our everyday lives.  These authors get us to imagine what experiences are or would be like. 

Read more at CliFi – A New Way to Talk About Climate Change

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