Sunday, July 17, 2016

Indian climate activist Amitav Ghosh ponders the 'unthinkable' in new grand essay on climate change

 

From the book, page 9
 
UPDATE: IPS book review here:
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/%E2%80%8Bindian-climate-activist-ponders-the-unthinkable/

Indian climate activist ponders the 'unthinkable'



by Dan Bloom [THUMBS UP 5 STAR REVIEW!!!!!]
 


UPDATE 1: A tweet summary of 'live-tweet' event #TGDLaunch in India on July 19 w Amitav Ghosh and Sunita Narain
http://northwardho.blogspot.tw/2016/07/note-for-academics-keeping-track-of.html


UPDATE 2: There *are* 'cli-fi' novels in India!  Details of 2015 novel from Indian writer Nilesh Chople titled "Together With You Forever": -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5ketRzlCuQ


 UPDATE 3 -- http://northwardho.blogspot.tw/2016/07/amitav-ghoshs-new-derangement-book.html - A source in the U.S. book industry tells this blog that Amitav Ghosh's new THE GREAT DERANGEMENT book does mention 'cli-fi.' Briefly, In passing. But his target was specifically the realism of mainstream literary fiction, not the rise of the cli-fi genre.

 UPDATE 4: from INDIA TODAY review of THE GREAT DERANGEMENT: "The rest are in the genre of science fiction, with a berth reserved for
'cli-fi,' or climate fiction...
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/amitav-ghosh-the-great-derangement-climate-change/1/720002.html

UPDATE 5:  The 'cli-fi' name came to me as I was thinking of ways to raise
awareness of novels and movies about climate change issues. I toyed
with using such terms as ''climafic'' or ''climfic'' or ''clific,''
for the longer term of "climate fiction." But I wanted an even shorter
term that could fit easily  into newspaper and magazine headlines. So
using the rhyming sounds of ''sci-fi,'' I decided to go with the
short, simple to say and simple to write "cli-fi". And the short term
caught on worldwide, beginning on April 20, 2013 when NPR radio did a
five-minute radio segment about ''cli-fi.'' That was the beginning of
its global outreach and popularity among academics, literary critics,
journalists and headline writers.


***"Curious, empathetic, compassionate: What we should be as human beings."***

SEE THE ''Cli-Fi ''REPORT:
50+ academic and media links:
http://cli-fi.net

 


For acclaimed Indian novelist and essayist Amitav Ghosh, the future of humankind as global warming impact events spread worldwide looks grim. So grim that the 60-year-old literary pamphleteer has titled his new book of three climate-related essays "The Great Derangement."

The way we humans are dealing with, or not dealing with, climate change appears to be deranged. What will future generations in say, 2116 or 2216,  think of those of us in 2016?
Ghosh, a cosmopolitan, globe-trotting public intellectual, is worried. So worried that his hair has turned brilliantly white,
while his eyes burn with a probing yet affable intensity.

There's a reason his book has been subtitled "Climate Change and the Unthinkable," and it's not a pretty picture.
Looking at how novelists and literary circles, geopolitics and academics are reacting to climate change now in the early part of the 21st century, Ghosh has written a brilliant and fearless "wake up call" on global warming that he hopes will reach world leaders and  politicians. 






​Himself ​
a​

​n​

​acclaimed ​
novelist, Ghosh looks at how poets and storytellers are putting climate themes into their published works, from Margaret Atwood to Kim Stanley Robinson. He even gives a shout out to the rising new genre of "cli-fi" (short for climate fiction) while also looking at Indian litera
​ry​
and cinema greats like

Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray. 




In the realm of geopolitics, Ghosh looks at last year's global  climate "agreement" signed in Paris and calls foul. Read the fine print, he says. Connect the dots,

he says.
 Are we deranged, he asks?



 


There's much to contemplate in this "made in India"
​alarm-bell ​
warning
​flare ​
to the world, but it's written in
​an ​
easy-to-digest style

​.
East or West
​,​
we are all in this together now.




For a

​longtime ​
Indian climate activist living in New Zealand, Ghosh's distinctive approach of speaking truth to power packs a punch.
"Coming from a leading Indian author who is widely-read in the West, this book will likely have a major impact in shining  a  spotlight on global warming issues before a much wider audience," he

​told this blog in a recent email
. "In addition, a book such as this has the potential to bring together the stories of global warming and climate change from a combination of  Indian, South Asian and Western perspectives. So it's invaluable in bridging the gap among nations and why I think the essays need a global audience beyond the India edition."
Originally commissioned by the University of Chicago Press, the essays will be published in a U.S. edition in September with a slightly different cover for Western readers. Until then, the book is in India's hands this summer and is getting plaudits left and right in dozens of the country's newspapers and magazines.




Ghosh, in his 60s with a handsome shock of white hair gracing a usually smiling face, is married to the American writer Deborah Baker. The couple have two grown children and live part of the year in New York and part of the year in India.



With "The Great Derangement," Ghosh has shown himself to be an international climate activist of the literary kind, fearless in attacking both "the powers that be" in his own country and the "business as usual" mantra of the West.



How the book will be received in North America in the fall will be critical in breaking through the fog of climate denialism.


​​In India, where climate denialists don't actually exist,  Ghosh's book has been received with high praise. However, in America and Britain, where denialists are legion and have spit on the truth with unbridled, deranged venom for years, it might be a different story.​


Someone might even write a 'cli-fi' novel one day about this "great derangement." It could be explosive.​


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cli-Fi: blockbuster movies motivating action on climate change

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Cli-Fi: blockbuster movies motivating action on climate change

As the world looks to Paris for a global climate deal from leaders and business, another angle is growing which may help provide the political momentum to support the political decisions: blockbuster movies on climate change. Movies provide a great opportunity to engage audiences on the issue of climate change, from informing people, all the way through to encouraging behavior and attitude change to motivate action. Movies are big business: this winter sees two long awaited films released: the latest James Bond thriller, Spectre, and the new Star Wars Film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Spectre is holding the #1 spot Box Office spot at the moment, and Star Wars is preselling tickets with an estimated opening box office gross of US$185-$210 million. Clearly, movies, especially blockbusters, are exceptional in their ability to draw people in with a compelling story (or A-List actors).



Even multilateral development banks are pushing movies as an important avenue for climate communications. The World Bank’s Connect4Climate programme recently highlighted how to communicate climate change better in a special event pre-COP 21 in Paris. This included how films can assist in communicating climate change issues effectively. The short answer is films can help, but we have yet to find the formula for success. Here’s a summary of the analysis (for the full article see here) to digest in between watching trailers for Bond and Star Wars, or your COP21 digests.

“It's a trap!” – Admiral Ackbar, Star Wars

Films with strong climate content may fall into the trap of over exaggerated impacts on one side, combined with unworkable solutions on the other. The Day After Tomorrow, for example, depicts a sudden and calamitous climate shift, which, in reality, is highly unlikely to occur.
Certain messaging tactics such as using fear, and focusing too much on the (often inaccurate) science, is also a problem with classic catastrophe films. Fear, for example, can provoke a defensive response and undermine the belief that as an individual, we can make a difference.
So how do you get the climate message across? Communications about climate change should explain or show what people can do to mitigate the problem. A positive framing of action against climate change, rather than focusing on what will be lost if we do not act, may encourage more positive attitudes towards action. The only problem with this approach is that positive versions of a future have not done so well at the box office (for example Disney film, Tomorrowland, which flopped a little despite having an A-list actor and director).
We also know that to generate awareness and action on climate change, the movie must be popular and watched by the masses. Similar to companies that sell solar panels to households, movies need to be profitable and popular if they are to have a positive effect on the environment.  If we look at the box office gross for climate-related movies since 2004 (see Fig. 1), however, we can see that the dramatic blockbusters make the most revenue, with documentaries further down the popularity line. As a result, this might suggest that although documentaries are important to convey messages, for real, widespread, ‘preaching beyond the converted’ communications on climate change, the narratives need to be incorporated into the mainstream.

Keep it emotional

Psychology theory has shown that film can be a great communicator of issues, solutions, and action in areas such as health, indicating that film could also work well for climate change communications. Studies indicate that for communication to be effective in raising awareness and promoting active engagement, providing more or better information is not enough. Engaging people at an emotional level through music, iconic imagery and camera angles, easily relatable characters (i.e. don’t let the scientists do all the talking) can be far more effective at bringing the audience in than presenting just more information.

Here are some of the key recommendations and opportunities for the film industry to support the broader use of films:
  • Films do not need to explicitly state they are about climate change, but they should be clear on the climate message they are telling and weave this into a compelling story.
     
  • People watch fiction primarily for entertainment so the climate message has to be entertaining. Filmmakers should embed persuasive content and messages into enjoyable movies rather than making the message too overt. Films should contain realistic depictions of the issue to provide accurate information, and show how ‘people like me’ can tackle the problem, to promote engagement and action. Film offers a number of advantages as a means of promoting climate change action to individuals. Visual images can convey messages instantly in a way that makes them memorable and movies appeal to people’s emotions: they are well-placed to bring people into the issue through multiple, concurrent techniques such as the use of imagery, music, and sound effects.
     
  • Climate messages will be better absorbed if filmmakers understand their audiences, and their values, fears, and hopes. Use narratives that facilitate engagement without triggering the audience to reject the message, and even use of celebrities to pull in audiences. Enjoyment of the story and identification with the characters reduces avoidance of the message (i.e. ‘turning people off’), which is particularly problematic for difficult or overtly persuasive messages.
     
  • How film influences attitude and behavioral change is still a complex and little understood phenomenon. Very little exists in the popular or academic literature, however, to suggest that climate change films create behaviour change. Filmmakers could therefore share information collected during the test screening, pre-testing of frames, narratives, imagery and messages, to enable partner organisations, and other communication channels, to improve engagement practices, and to document the impact of individual films.

Vidya Venkat in conversation with Amitav Ghosh, author of a powerful new book of essays on the literary, historical and geo-political raminifactions of climate change, titled THE GREAT DERANGEMENT: Climate Change and the Unthinkable," published now in India by PenguinIndia since July 12 and coming soon in a USA edition from the University of Chicago Press in mid-September.

July 17, 2016


Vidya Venkat in conversation with Amitav Ghosh, author of a powerful new book of essays on the literary, historical and geo-political raminifactions of climate change, titled THE GREAT DERANGEMENT: Climate Change and the Unthinkable," published now in India by PenguinIndia since July 12 and coming soon in a USA edition from the University of Chicago Press in mid-September.
 
It’s time we humans shed our hubris to reckon with the forces of nature shaping lives and fates, says Amitav Ghosh
 
It was happening, we knew that at the back of our minds, yet we continued to ignore it, until one fine day it came to claim our lives... Climate change — the upsetting of weather patterns across the world — forms the core concern of Amitav Ghosh’s latest work of non-fiction, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. It is dealt with a touch of Márquezian magical realism as Ghosh speaks about the inevitability of the very real ecological disaster unfolding in our midst, so familiar yet unfathomably fantastic in its proportions. The book, parts of which he delivered as a series of lectures at the University of Chicago in 2015, not only raises crucial questions about our lack of intellectual engagement with this natural phenomenon, but also calls for a radical dismantling of the Enlightenment-era hubris possessed by mankind, which sees “nature” as something outside of man.

In a freewheeling conversation in New Delhi acknowledged that within Western academia, and particularly at the University of Chicago where he delivered the lectures, there is a strong awareness and interest in climate change and the Anthropocene, the current era in which human activity has dominated the planet. How man-made global warming (AGW) affects our history, thought and consciousness are major questions they are grappling with. But this cannot make up for the conspicuous absence of discussions on climate change in works of literature and art, he pointed out.......
............. As the conversation ends, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ''One Hundred Years of Solitude'' comes to this reporter's mind. It is a reminder of what Aureliano (II) feels when he finally translates the scrolls of Melquíades, the prophetic gypsy.

The gypsy had foreseen the whole history of the man’s family, including that one day he would have a baby with a pig’s tail, something his great-grandmother had once feared.

As Aureliano (II) finishes reading the scrolls, the house, and the rest of the town he lives in are wiped away by a hurricane; he deciphers the prophecy concerning his future when it is too late to do anything about it.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Amitav Ghosh, the cosmopolitan Indian literary critic, pronounces his judgment on new literary trends, especially in regard to ''climate-affected fiction'' (his coinage) and his distaste for ''hypenated'' literary terms like sci-fi and cli-fi

UPDATE: SEE COMMENT SECTION BELOWLexi said...
''How frustrating! And truly, I think i do believe there needs to be (and quickly, for cataloging and metadata) a universally accepted searchable label for the genre. I'm sure Mr. Ghosh's publishers would appreciate that too! ''



Amitav Ghosh TWEETED on July 15 during a public roundable sponsored by his publisher in India, PeguinIndia, which had just published his new essay book about climate change and why humans are not doing much to stop, a book he has titled "The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable" which is really an important and brilliant analysis, except for a few minor omissions and slip-ups. See Nitin Sethi's savvy analysis of the book here:

http://northwardho.blogspot.tw/2016/07/the-most-important-review-of-amitav.html

During the PenguinIndia Tweet event hosted by Dr Ghosh, onlookers were invited to send in questions to the three experts on the panel, Dr Ghosh in India and Adam Sobel and Deepti Singh in Manhattan.  It was a spirited and fascinating 90 minutes Twitter discussion, with only a few sour notes.




 
The ''Twitter brouhaha'' started off like innocently and politely like this:
 
Twitter India                          
Tweet your climate Qs to & his panel of climate experts as they talk about
 
So nn Indian woman Priyanka RoyBanerjee, tweeted a question to me and Dr Ghosh in the public chatroom. saying, after I had sent in a question to Dr Ghosh asking him very politely, since I  know that he used the cli-fi term in his term book, and remembering that in 2014 he answered an email query I had sent him about his view of the cli-fi term in which he said: "Dan, I think the cli-fi term is useful for some Western fiction." So since his editor in Chicago told me the other day that Ghosh talks about cli-fi novels in his new book, and uses the term, and since the 2014 email made it sound as if Dr Ghosh was okay with the term and felt it was useful in some cases, I asked him: "Will your next novel, or next next novel, be a cli-fi novel?"
 
[Dr Ghosh elected not to answer my question, which I was told by PenguinIndia show runners I could submit as part of the Twitter event. He never answered that question during the entire 90 minute event and never explained why he ignored the submitted question.] 
 
Then Priyanka RoyBanerjee saw my question since it was printed online for all in the Twitter event to see, and she tweeted: "Wasn't ''The Hungry Tide'' [an earlier novel of his] cli-fi to an extent with the state of Gangetic Dolphins?
 
I replied to Ms RoyBannerjee: ''Yes but Ghosh never uses the term and I am just curious why is afraid to use [cli-fi in public or here in Twitter today during this event]. Yes, 'Hungry Tide' was [cli-fi'] [I wish he would explain himself here.]
 
Dr Ghosh's response to my response to Ms Roybannerjee was to quip:  ''I think 'climate-attentive fiction' won't be taken seriously while it's a hyphenated genre.''

Professor Adam Sobel at Columbia, one of the three experts at the event, stood up to Dr Ghosh and spoke up tweeting a comment in reply to Ghosh's negative quip that
 [''I think 'climate-attentive fiction' won't be taken seriously while it's a hyphenated genre.'']

Adam Sobel tweeted:  ''Maybe so, but I still am excited about how much of it [cli-fi] is coming out now [in the US and UK].''

After I asked Ghosh in a subseqent tweet to him what he had against literary terms that contained a hyphen, such as sci-fi [or cli-fi], he answered like a Brooklyn comedian: ''And what after that? cyclone-fi? Heat-wave fi?''
          
 
And THAT WAS THE END OF THE DISCUSSION WITH DR GHOSH!!!!!



 





Later,. an onlooker in the France, Yann Rousselot, ‏TWEETED after reading Ghosh's silly tweets:                          
''Lit Snobbery is the norm it seems... But I think the tide is changing, genre is the new lit, Ghosh just hasn't noticed ^^''

A New Cli-Fi Novel Envisions 'Global Cooling' Rather than 'Global Warming'

                                  

A New Cli-Fi Novel Envisions Global Cooling Rather than Global Warming

Jenni Fagan /   Credit Urszula Soltys

''THE SUNLIGHT PILGRIMS''
By Jenni Fagan
272 pp. Hogarth. US$26.
 
EDITED EXCERPTS FROM MARISA SILVER'S REVIEW
 
As carbon dioxide levels rise .....writers respond. They bring us cli-fi novels of the post-apocalypse — philosophical explorations of what the world might look like when the fraying center finally shears. Whether the approaches are starkly realistic or fancifully speculative, these visions generally posit an end-time far enough into an unrecognizable future that we can maintain our illusions of safety from the comfort of our reading chairs.
Jenni Fagan, the fierce and cleareyed Scottish writer, will have none of that. In her new cli-fi, “The Sunlight Pilgrims,” she is committed to disrupting our ease by setting her story of impending cataclysm at a moment unnervingly near at hand. Fagan’s novel is set in 2020, and the world is familiar in every way but for one menacing difference: It is very, very cold.
The polar ice caps are melting, and the seas are rising. The mercury, as the story opens, is set at minus 6 degrees — ­colder than most of us regularly experience, but not unimaginable. And it is not so for the three characters who are the novel’s focus. ;;;;;;Dylan strikes up a friendship with Stella and Constance just as what is predicted to be the worst winter in 200 years descends over much of the planet.
 

 



The mercury plummets, ultimately reaching an unfathomable and unsurvivable minus 56 degrees. As the days grow short and most of life must be spent inside the confines of a trailer, the claustrophobia Stella feels inside a body that might soon betray her is mirrored by what is happening in the world.
 
When she takes an ill-advised bike ride into the freezing weather, we feel not only her physical desire to break out of her trailer home but also her desperation to escape the gender she was born into. Fagan joyfully summons the sheer jubilance of the girl’s physical power as well as her fear when she realizes she’s out of her depth in the freeze. The evocation of that maturational tipping point where wisdom trumps desire is one of the novel’s wrenching explorations. There is so much for this young girl to lose. That she receives news of frozen bodies and devouring sinkholes, of food shortages and economic collapse from the internet makes her isolation that much more devastating. A young Italian transgendered man who is Stella’s online consigliere suddenly disappears from the web, and we, like Stella, can only wonder if he has fallen victim to the freeze.
 
[“The Sunlight Pilgrims” is a stylistically quieter novel than Fagan’s bravura debut, “The Panopticon” — a fiery and voice-­driven effort that landed her on Granta’s 2013 list of the best British novelists under 40 years old — but it is no less critical in its portrayal of marginalized people under the pressure of society’s norms.]
Fagan is a poet as well as a novelist, and many of her images of this unbidden winter are shot through with lyric beauty. Early on, we are told that in this worst of winters “icicles will grow to the size of narwhal tusks or the long bony finger of winter herself.”