''Cli-Fi'' – How Novels and Movies Can Help in the Fight Against Climate Change
We’re under climate ‘machine gun fire’, an incessant spray of popping climate-bullets which evokes from the population an endless cyber scream. There is the occasional offering of a cease fire, Al Gore’s recent ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ and podcasts such as ‘Bionic Planet’ allow us to navigate the ‘bullet’ stricken landscape, but where else can we find a peaceful place to nurture our outlooks? We believe that fiction offers that objective space, here we explain why:
Our society is a dense web of virtual connections – a labyrinthine network of links and ties – we have created a ‘fourth dimension’ – a virtual reality where ourselves and our smartphones can leisurely elope. In this realm of multimedia, there is 24-hour non-stop-news, free enrolment for a ‘notification education’ and zingy access to all the latest research. As such, the consequences of climate change appear to be everywhere – we spin in a hurricane of shocking headlines, swim in a flood of bitesize climate tweets and sink in the rising sea of disquieting statistics. Yet, intelligent exploration and intricate discussion of our current climate seems to be nowhere – for many who find climate science and policy impenetrable and whose environmental discussion is constrained to the fly-by nature of the media – climate change remains an ethereal and gossamer concept with a fractured and distant nature.
This is where we believe cli-fi comes in – novels and movies are special in that they can construct immersive futuristic worlds that we can experience in the present, and weave stories that empower us to look more critically at the decisions and choices we make today. Unalike the media, novels and movies give us the time and space to think, explore and fiddle with our perspectives – that’s why we believe that reading climate fiction is the perfect accompaniment to our fleeting ‘notification education’.
Importantly – unlike, the chirping, chittering quick-fire nature of the media, cli-fi with its in depth exploration, elaborate construction and intricate narratives provides us with a ‘quiet spot’ to broaden our environmental understanding and explore imagined yet potential futures. It was Sylvia Plath who once said: ‘it is in the novel that people brush their teeth’- it is this intricacy and hint of the mundane and everyday in fiction that makes climate change seem less clinical and more personal. Thus, climate fiction has the unique ability to take a global problem and weave it into the tiny grandeur of our everyday individual lives.
So – with the power of cli-fi novels and movies in mind we want to encourage people to read novels with climate change themes – many such novels are now being branded as part of the growing genre – cli-fi – which explores the possible environmental nightmares to come – using thrilling plotlines and a plethora of unique protagonists – these works imagine what a world wrecked by the consequences of global warming, rising sea levels and pollution would look like.
Climate novels can never be the solution in themselves – however their unique combination of science, humanities and activism – has the capacity to inspire and engender action. So – if you want to know what it would be like to brush your teeth in a world wrecked by climate change – go out and grab some cli-fi.
Snooks Books Suggestions:
- Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver.
- The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
- Through the Arc of the Rainforest – Karen Tei Yamashita.
- Freedom by Jonathon Franzen
- The Wind Up Girl & The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigulupi.
- The Drowned World by JG Ballard
- 10.04 by Ben Lerner
- Salvage the Bones – Jesmyn Ward
- Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich
- White Noise by Don DeLillo
- Here by Richard McGuire
- The Carbon Diaries by Saci Lloyd
- The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
- Breathe by Sarah Crossan
- The Lorax by Dr Seuss