Friday, February 21, 2020


The Search for New Worlds to Make Us Care More About the Climate Crisis

Properties have been destroyed in bushfires in Australia.
The essays in “An Ecotopian Lexicon” seek to expand the way we describe the present-day climate crisis.Photograph by Dean Sewell / Sydney Morning Herald / Getty
The reason we find ourselves verging toward planetary extinction is fairly simple: for quite some time, it’s been profitable for humans to behave this way. For business and government, it’s always been easier to toggle between plunder and neglect than to mind long-term, civilizational time lines. The actual conspiracy is that we are made to feel as though humanity’s fate were purely a matter of personal choice—our desire to buy this, that, or nothing at all, our collective willingness to recycle or compost. This isn’t to say that we possess no power at all. But the scale of the problem is difficult to comprehend, and discussions leave many of us feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, reduced to myopic debates about whether we are too scared or not scared enough.
Perhaps, as Matthew Schneider-Mayerson and Brent Ryan Bellamy argue, our inability to imagine another path forward reflects a limited vocabulary. Their modest contribution is the recently published “An Ecotopian Lexicon,” a collection of essays that seeks to expand the language we use to describe the present-day crisis and its possibilities. At this point, as they note in their introduction, we know how bad it is out there. They are interested in the “struggle to understand,” at the level of both politics and emotions, how we might meaningfully respond to life in the Anthropocene, the term that scientists use to describe the present geologic epoch, where human activity has substantially influenced the climate and environment.
For Schneider-Mayerson, an assistant professor of environmental studies at Yale-NUS College, in Singapore, and Bellamy, an instructor at Trent University who specializes in science-fiction studies and energy humanities, our emerging reality requires a new language. They invited a range of writers, scholars, and artists to choose a word or phrase, mainly taken from the non-English-speaking world, that might help us understand this struggle anew. These are what linguists call loanwords, or “terms that are adopted into one language from another without translation.” Leaving the words in their original language—in this case: Thai, Gaeilge, Norwegian, and Luganda, among others—is a reminder of the histories and cultures embedded in everyday thought.
“An Ecotopian Lexicon” is part dream, part provocation. In his foreword, the writer Kim Stanley Robinson describes Schneider-Mayerson and Bellamy’s book as a “science fiction story in the form of a lexicon.” As Robinson notes, science-fiction writers often invent new words out of necessity, in order to describe new technologies or social formations. Some of the lexicon’s most provocative moments involve recent neologisms. A “blockadia,” Randall Amster writes, arises in the work of Naomi Klein, and it describes the “vast but interwoven web of campaigns” against the fossil-fuel industry. Today, activists see blockadia not as one place but more of a roving space of protest. A blockadia manifests wherever and whenever people use direct action to oppose resource extraction. Coming up with a single term broad enough to describe these movements around the world would help normalize these demonstrations. Rather than scattered fringe protests, they are part of a whole, constituting the last line of defense against new pipelines or fracking.
Sofia Ahlberg discusses “fotminne,” a term coined by the Swedish novelist Kerstin Ekman, which roughly translates to “foot memory.” “Fotminne,” Ahlberg writes, describes a kind of primeval awareness, a felt connection to all who have walked these grounds before and the ways they changed it. But it can also have a contractual dimension: our foot “strikes a deal with the ground” with each step we take. Daniel Worden writes of the “cibopathic,” a trait possessed by characters in the comic book series “Chew.” A “cibopath” is able to access the full history of something—where it was grown, how it was harvested—by tasting it.
Then again, as the book suggests, the intuitive, almost metaphysical link between time and place, past and present, isn’t so futuristic at all. For some, it’s an innate part of one’s identity. There are essays on the Luganda salutation “gyebale,” which Jennifer Lee Johnson translates as “thank you for the work you do,” and the ancient Maya greeting “in lak’ech—a la k’inn,” which John Esposito translates as “I’m another you. You’re another me.” Both suggest a kind of communal ethos baked into how two strangers might regard each another. Allison Ford and Kari Marie Norgaard discuss the Arabic word “ghurba,” a kind of melancholic longing for home. They try to explore how such a term would resonate in a time when we are “confronted with deep collective loss.” “What is special about our homelands that we fear losing? How might we mourn those aspects that will be lost? How might we bring aspects of home into the future, so that when we arrive there we do not have to feel like strangers?”
Perhaps this seems fatalistic. But feelings of instability will only grow more common as the climate crisis deepens, so maybe language that forces us to confront loss directly and thoughtfully might prevent the onset of total despair. Maybe it can lead us somewhere else altogether. Sam Solnick borrows the term “apocalypso” from the poet Evelyn Reilly. The “apocalypse” part is clear; the “calypso” part, not so much. Solnick is interested not in celebrating tumult but in describing that strange ecstasy one might feel among a crowd of strangers, resisting something together. “Apocalypso” offers a “fusion of joy and critique” that collects our diffuse energies rather than sending us off into our “individualist survival fantasies.”
Naturally, there is a risk that borrowing someone else’s language, terminology, or scraps of larger belief systems might feel like a fetishizing gesture. But as Schneider-Mayerson and Bellamy note early on, citing the environmental critic Ursula Heise, the current crisis is one that requires a new kind of global thinking, one that resists single languages or cultures. This is a globalization that seeks to destabilize the center, not absorb everything toward it.
There’s a wonky yet infectious hopefulness to “An Ecotopian Lexicon.” It highlights the cognitive gaps of English to think about the untranslatability of “qi,” the Chinese faith in a kind of all-governing, equilibrium-seeking, life-force energy. Reading these entries, each so careful and thoughtful about their small terrain in a larger debate, one can’t help but slow down. Perhaps not, as many contributors implore, to recalibrate to “plant time.” But to at least reassess the language we use, the sleek, clipped rhythms of modern life, or the disruptive clunk of “Anthropocene.” Think of the terms we use to capture the conveniences and efficiency of today, and how living a “wireless” life or embracing the minimalism of “cord-cutting” actually obscures, say, the vast amounts of electricity required to sustain the Internet. Finally, consider the difference between calling it “climate change” and a “crisis,” the entire history that lives between an organization called Greenpeace and a movement called Extinction Rebellion.
It’s easy to feel weighed down by the discourse, but maybe we’ve simply been using the wrong words. Perhaps, at a time of such stark extremes, there’s something meaningful about language that describes transition, a state of in-betweenness. “Godhuli,” Malcolm Sen explains, is a Bengali term. It means “twilight” but also “the fleeting moments that immediately follow sunset,” when the cows trample up dust and return from pasture. Sen treats “godhuli” as a kind of conceptual placeholder. It’s a mood, a metaphor, a prism through which to admire anew our relationship to “space and time, light and dust.” It’s a word that describes something ephemeral, that moment which invariably passes each day. “An Ecotopian Lexicon,” as Robinson notes, is a story. But it’s one with a dozen different endings, bound by a collective push to rethink what we resign to inevitability.

Our Obsession With the End of the World, As We Know It -- from student oped by Morgan Hughes

Our Obsession With the End of the World, As We Know It
Have we reached the end of the world?

In the summer of 2019, a series of headlines flooded the internet claiming that we could face a climate-caused doomsday by the year 2050.

With global warming and total climate collapse becoming an ever-looming and ever-worsening threat, many fear that the apocalypse is now, and we as a society are obsessed with it. At least that’s what Pennsylvania State University philosophy professor Ted Toadvine presented on Feb. 10  during his lecture “Why are We Obsessed with the End of the World?”

Are we actually obsessed with Armageddon? Well, think about it.

Toadvine argues that our obsession is evident in the books we read and movies/TV shows we watch. Young adult reading lists are plastered with dystopian bestsellers like the “Hunger Games” trilogy or the “Divergent” series. At its peak, “The Walking Dead” amassed over 17 million viewers, and films such as “Apocalypse Now” are no strangers to the Academy Awards.
But beyond our apocalyptically themed entertainment, this fear of the world’s end holds real ground in current geological events.
In the past, when storytellers imagined our destruction, mankind was wiped out by natural phenomenons such as earthquakes or plagues. But over the course of the last few decades, human-caused climate catastrophe has become “our favorite vision of the end,” according to Toadvine. Even spurring on a new genre of fiction: cli-fi, or climate fiction; think “Interstellar.”
But why this sudden trend towards a climate-based apocalypse?
Toadvine stated that “it is commonplace to hear climate change identified as the single most important challenge facing humanity.” He pointed out that the United Nations’ website states that “climate change is the defining issue of our time, and we are at a defining moment.”
It truly seems to be our final prediction of doomsday… for now.
In the time of the Cold War, total nuclear destruction was our leading fear. At the beginning of the millennium, the Y2K bug caused mass apocalypse panic. But both times, the world didn’t end, and we can’t actually say it’s ending now.
Even stating that climate change is our most pressing issue is off-putting. Toadvine stated that this makes him uneasy because it pushes other world problems ­— racism, poverty, etc. — to the side and undermines them.
“With those whose lives, livelihoods and communities have been destroyed by extractive industries, by settler colonialism, by forced migration, by police violence, by the intersections of violence and oppression, whether they agree that climate change is the defining issue of our time, or that every available resource should be mobilized to maintain the world in its present form, [is] far from obvious to me,” Toadvine explained.
The double-edged sword is that the most vulnerable, “the poor, women, children, the elderly, communities of color, the displaced, the incarcerated,” Toadvine listed, are those who would suffer the most in the face of climate collapse.
Perhaps the reason the world is so ready to put this problem on the highest pedestal is that climate-based annihilation would affect everyone, even the most privileged. And there is undeniable proof that it is a very real threat.
According to Toadvine, studies have shown that we have already caused an irrevocably altered climate for at least the next millennium. And the list of consequences are catastrophic: rising sea levels, widespread famines, plagues, mass migration, unnatural weather changes; the list goes on and on.
But it’s not time to theorize and mourn our Earth’s destruction. It’s time to demand that action be taken.
Independent efforts against climate change — reducing your carbon footprint, installing solar panels, etc. ­— are very important, but unfortunately, not enough to resolve the issue alone.
“Climate change is like an ocean and every individual is putting an eyedropper in it,” Toadvine said. “Because the numbers are so huge, it can’t be solved by individuals.”
He compared the required solution for climate change to that of the issue of burning lead gasoline. Once the environmental effects were discovered, it wasn’t up to each individual driver to solve the problem, if they chose to, by installing a catalytic converter to their car. That wouldn’t be much help. Instead leaded gas became against the law (with some exceptions) and after a certain year, every car needed to have a catalytic converter.
“We had an institutional solution because it’s a collective problem,” Toadvine explained.
At the 2019 Climate Action Summit, UN Secretary-General António Guterres had a similar viewpoint, stating, “we need more concrete plans, more ambition from more countries and more businesses. We need all financial institutions, public and private, to choose, once and for all, the green economy.”
It’s time to focus on a collective solution to climate change. Because, after all, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

It’s Cli-Fi’s Time -- an oped by Daniel Zeigler

It’s Cli-Fi’s Time

an oped by novelist Daniel Zeigler in New Jersey

Daniel Zeigler is writing a cli-fi novel and hopes to publish

it in the coming years.

webposted on February 22, 2020

Enfant terrible, Greta Thunberg, sheriff of sustainability, CEO of
Climate Change, @Time’s ''Person of the Year,'' patrols the globe from
protest to march, timorously shrieking her raw (as Walt Whitman
wrote) “barbaric yawp across the roofs of the world.”

Acid-tongued, foul-faced, she scorns: listen to the all-knowing
scientists -- you who claim to be sentient citizens. While imprinted on
her waif’s face, with venal verve, is a dour magnum opus, easily
articulated in all languages on the planet: ''I am disgusted with you
adult dolts, to the very core of my being.''

At the other end of the spectrum, and affable, is Joy Lo Dico, a British opinion
writer for the inimitable Financial Times. She suggests that if the
scientists can’t budge the balustrade of indifference among the
global sovereignties, it’s time for the novelists to scale the parapets.

In her estimation, it’s time to open the public’s mind with a new
branch of inculcation.

Enter the birthing mitosis of Cli-Fi (''Climate Fiction'') and Sci-Fi.

The dreary, escalating fate of the world is no longer a Sci-Fi world view.
From Sci-Fi, Cli-Fi metamorphized as its own storyline; emerging as
its own entity, opportunely.

Legions of scientists hawk the coming of age of Climate Change; but
the public has demurred from this homecoming.

Writers have written books about Climate Change (as ''Cli-Fi'') that the public has
cavalierly waved off. The topic, like a bad headline, has been
sophomorically ignored. Cli-Fi hasn’t exactly caught on, planet-

In whose hands does this blunder belong? Has Cli-Fi’s paucity, all
along, matched its readers lack of trepidation to a seemingly dubious

Have publishers dimmed the prospects of writers engaged with its
burgeoning curricula? Are we as backwards about Climate Change,
as we once were about the Earth being flat? Isn’t the pen mightier
than stratospheric CO2? More publishing, please!

Joy Lo Dico in London claims that Cli-Fi is now a ‘growing’ genre of urgently
enlightened lit. But no novel has garnered acclaim like a killer
Stephen King plot or the Mommy-Porn of Fifty Shades of Grey.

No author has become a championed laureate. The breakthrough
bestseller hasn’t been born or bronzed yet.

Dico’s FT Op-Ed is a languorous, content missive like a melliferous
comb of sun-infused nectar. On the other hand, Thunberg has
thrown down the gauntlet like an iron anchor. She’s an angry

Her message has no mercy, it is a blunt cudgel that she carries in a
child’s rueful heart. She parries her crucifix like a baton at the front
of a parade. The nails in her extremities are evident as the
Australia’s conflagrations.

Her mantra, to the powers everywhere, is
an early maturation of an august vision: ''You have failed us.''

She condemns the lassitude of world leaders as thoroughly as a
Cardinal’s dictum. Extirpate the establishment if you have to, she
avers; start fresh and ecological.

She rails against the scoundrels who have perpetrated this colossal, polarizing predicament.

Greta is, for an ungravitas seventeen-year-old, grimly polished about
her message to the world: ''if you listen to me, then listen to the
scientists'' (is the refrain). The facts have been unchallenged for 30
years, known for 40, suspected for a 100.

Cli-Fi niovels have been written since 1962, beginning with British sci-fi author J.G. Ballard’s novel, ''Drowning.''

But according Dico, Cli-Fi’s time is now. The scientists haven’t hit
the bullseye.

The line quoted in the first paragraph is from Walt Whitman writing
about himself, eons ago, as he loafed and spied a leaf of grass.

Greta’s clarion echoing belongs to a generation ready to storm the
Bastille about Climate Change.

In contrast to Greta’s lonesome soliloquy, Dico wonders hopefully,
can the writers living today, in the Anthropocene ethnology of the
21st century, usher out the delaying insanity of the world, the
spurious mindlessness poking at the truth about climate change like
a headless chicken, awash up to their disembodied eyeballs, in the
waters the North and South poles liquefaction.

Dico ponders credulously, if the armies of authors, currently
inhabiting the Earth, can get the truth out, the yawp of this age,
about the arrival of Climate change.

Literary journalist Dan Bloom, one of the originators of the Cli-Fi abbreviation for ''climate fiction,' believes publishers have to step up to the plate.

Corralling writers to tackle Climate Change is only half the battle.

Publishers must lasso the worthy works of literary quality and
dispatch them to the ill-informed populace.

Can current novels sound the alarm about Climate change?

There has been a multiplying appearance of them, but they haven’t
sparked the public yet.

In contrast, Rachel Carson’s, Silent Spring, written in 1962, had the
citizenry of America aroused, as if hunting
down Frankenstein with their pitchforks, in the months after its

Why has ''Cli-Fi'' been received so tepidly?

America has had a number of tomes that compelled the countryside
to wrath and action: Common Sense by Thomas Paine, Uncle Tom’s
by Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

Climate change authors collectively have so far caused the general
electorate to wither like a wilted plant; while Thunberg speaks to
youth like Holden Caulfield has for an eternity. No novelist has had
the nerve to label the politicos as dopey phonies for the Millennials.

Fiction about Climate change still hasn’t breached the imminent
horizon like galloping calvary. What has been written are stories
that don’t match the calamity. People may not have been moved to
action, but they can still recognize the truth. Climate Change is still a
quandary for the man or woman on the street. Its truth is stubbornly hazy.

What is truth, asked Pilate, contemplated Socrates. The truth about
climate change is identical to the footnote in history about the
obliviousness of the Pompeiians living under the smoldering,
inevitable fate of Mt. Vesuvius. They were merry under an ominous
shadow of disaster. Aren’t we?

Millenia later, Pompei's inhabitants are still frozen in their fetal positions
they were reduced to, seconds after the obviousness of their
undeniable miscalculation.

If ever a society waited too long to act, it was the victims of Pompei.

Or in an increasingly short time: us.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Love this line from Kim Stanley Robinson during taping of an upcoming @buellcenter & @earthinstitute podcast ahead of his #greennewdeal #sustcomm panel with @mcmansionhell @moraymo & special guest @AlexandriaV2005. It's getting "weirder" to keep writing utopian narratives. …​


Love this line from Kim Stanley Robinson during taping of an upcoming & podcast ahead of his panel with & special guest . It's getting "weirder" to keep writing utopian narratives.

Love this line from Kim Stanley Robinson during taping of an upcoming & podcast ahead of his panel with & special guest . It's getting "weirder" to keep writing utopian narratives.

Alexandria Villaseñor @AlexandriaV2005 Feb 18
Thank you for a great intergenerational talk Kim Stanley Robinson, Kate Wagner , & ! Let's keep dreaming!

Extinction Rebellion UK @XRebellionUK ·


激進的讀書俱樂部播客將於下周啟動-敬請期待!     Extinction Rebellion UK   @XRebellionUK                    23 hours ago           
‘Every revolution begins with a bookclub’

The new book club talk decolonisation after reading "The Great Derangement" - essential reading for all Rebels.

The radical bookclub podcast launches next week - stay tuned!

4:31 PM·2020年2月19日Twitter Web App

''Doomer lit'' — the latest trend in fiction, by UK satirist James Marriott at the Times (deputy book editor)

James Marriott, columnist

THE LOWDOWN - a newspaper column

A silly and sophomoric newspaper column by a silly man in London, James Marriott, Deputy Books Editor of a rightwing British rag owned by the Murdoch people


''Doomer lit'' — the latest trend in fiction 

Published online on February18, 2020 

How are you feeling today? Terrible. We're all doomed.

Well, I don't think it's all that bad, is it? After all, it's an unseasonably warm day for February!

Argh, stop it, stop it! The unseasonably clement weather only serves to justify my anxiety about
imminent planetary immolation.

Oh no. I know what's wrong. You've been watching those Greta Thunberg videos again, haven't you?

I haven't been near them. I promise.

What on earth is the problem?

It's this ... "doomer lit". I can't get enough of it.

Boomer lit? You mean like Antony Beevor's books and those historical romance novels set in the
Blitz? That sounds quite cheerful.

Doomer lit. It's the latest trend in fiction: novels that vividly imagine the various ways in which
human beings will destroy the planet.

I'm addicted to reading about the destruction of everything I hold dear.

Get a grip on yourself. I don't think a few measly greenhouse gas emissions and unrecycled milk
bottles are going to hurt anyone.

You're an idiot.

Well, show me what you've been reading.

Ah, Weather by Jenny Offill. Hmm. A librarian driven
almost mad by fear of climate change who spends her days learning survivalist techniques.

Can't you read Jilly Cooper?

Cooper's novels do nothing to address the impending climate disaster.

Well, there will still be shagging during the impending climate disaster, won't there? You're straying
from the point.

All right, what else are you reading ... ?

Gold Fame Citrus. It's the tale of a couple searching for
refuge in an American Midwest that has been transformed into a dune-covered wasteland.

And next
up is Jeanette Winterson's The Stone Gods, about humans screwing up a new planet.

I despair. If you need me I'll be out basking in the blazing winter sunshine with a copy of Riders.

A satirical newspaper column by @j_amesmarriot
James Marriott, Deputy Books Editor in London at the


A silly column by a silly man in London, James Marriott, Deputy Books Editor

 Doomer-lit' 18 Feb 18, 2020


The Hottest New Literary Genre Is 'Doomer Lit'

Sure enough, a doomer perspective seems most at home in so-called climate fiction (cli-fi for short). The genre, which imagines stories and ...