Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cli-fi can incite action on fighting climate change? OPED by

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“Cli-Fi” and How Science Fiction Can Incite Climate Change Action

Climate change is arguably the most pressing issue of our generation. Open any newspaper, listen to any radio show, or scroll through any news website and you are bound to find at least one story concerning issues related to climate change. Despite its heavy media coverage, many people, especially young adults and children, will find climate change to be anything but simple. Climate change is a complicated issue because of its global reach and the variety of problems it causes. It doesn’t take an expert to realize reading scientific reports without a scientific background is extremely difficult, and I don’t think the world needs any more low-budget animated films for high school earth science classes. Is there a way to explain the effects of climate change to the general public, including young people, in an easily digestible form?
The Emergence of Climate Fiction
“Cli-fi” or climate fiction, is an entirely new sort of sub genre of science fiction that deals with effects of climate change or global warming. Climate fiction’s focus is less on doomsday scenarios that appear in more traditional science fiction and more on mitigating and adapting to changing ecosystems. Teachers see forms of climate fiction as a new way to teach students about the current threats of climate change. Cli-fi classes are even being taught in college classrooms across the United States, Britain, and Australia (including SUNY Geneseo!)
Themes of climate change, global warming, and the mortality of the human race in the science fiction genre are nothing new. Books on the imperiled existence of humankind due to changes in the earth have been around even as early as 1960. Well-known examples of movies, tv series, and comic strips that have addressed climate change issues include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Captain Planet, Star Trek, Avatar, Doctor Who, and Transformers.
There is even a professor at the University of British Columbia using Star Wars to teach students about global warming effects and the importance of the IPCCC.
As a child of the Harry Potter generation, I think it is entirely possible to use fiction to not only teach people about the very real threats facing our earth, but to incite hope that we have the power to make a difference.


2 thoughts on ““Cli-Fi” and How Science Fiction Can Incite Climate Change Action
  1. Love it! I have been wanting to make a list too of all the novels and movies I have been coming across with climate change playing a role. Here are a few:
    Movies: Snowpiercer, The Day After Tomorrow, Interstellar, Mad Max, Kingsman
    Books: Margaret Atwood’s MadAdam trilogy, Flight Behavior by Kingslover, Arcadia by Lauren Groff, etc.
  2. This is really interesting. I was skeptical at first because it seems that climate change has come up in science fiction for as long as I can remember. But as I thought about this post, I realized that there’s been a recent surge in “realistic” climate change science fiction. This requires a bit of explanation.
    Climate change has always appeared in science fiction. Even movies or stories with little or no direct relation to climate change or the environment (Blade Runner, The Fifth Element) feature dystopian future mega-cities. But recently we’ve had films that focus more specifically on how a dystopian future isn’t so far off, and how a ravaged environment can look similar to the real world (Interstellar). Maybe (hopefully) this is a sign that people are starting to see the effects of climate change as near-future (or present) threats, as opposed to distant problems for future generations to handle.

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