Monday, November 23, 2015

Cli-Fi TV History: "The Fire Next Time" was an early cli-fi TV feature movie aired on CBS-TV in 1993 in a two part program

From the  pen of Cli-Fi movie maven Michael Svoboda at Yale and GWU:

Cli-Fi TV History: "The Fire Next Time" was early cli-fi movie aired on CBS in 1993 .... *1993* !!!

Cli-Fi TV History: "The Fire Next Time" was an early cli-fi TV feature movie aired on CBS-TV in 1993 in a two part program.... 1993!

There’s a bit of class/cultural conflict in The Fire Next Time.
In this two-part, three-hour movie made for CBS in 1993, Craig T. Nelson plays the role of Drew Morgan, who owns a fishing operation on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. It is 2017 and the shrimp he and his crew seek are leaving the warming waters, even as new disease-bearing ticks and mosquitos are moving into the bayou.

Drew likes his independence, and so he is skeptical of the climate science used to justify the implementation of new rules and limits. But then he encounters wildfires and water wars when he travels to California to retrieve his eldest son from relatives. Back in Louisiana he loses his business and his house – both uninsured because he could no longer pay the premiums with the proceeds from his reduced catches – to an exceptionally strong hurricane.

The family heads north, hoping to resettle in an environmentally-minded community in upstate New York where a former business partner now lives. (“Ecological Laws Strictly Enforced,” says one sign at the gated entrance. “Take a look at paradise: then go home!”) Their move doesn’t work out, so they continue on to a small village in Nova Scotia, the ancestral home of Drew’s wife. Over the course of this long journey, they encounter a Gaia-inspired religious community, a camp of eco-survivalists, and an Amish family living “plainly” in southern Canada. But the film ends ominously, with a heat-shimmering sun setting against a bright red sky.

“The Global Pattern

Caused by the Greenhouse Effect”

Climate change is often a topic on news programs Drew and his family hear and watch, especially in the first part of the mini-series. Most memorable is an interview with the late Stanford climate scientist Stephen H. Schneider, playing on an overhead TV in the storm shelter to which the family has retreated.
HOST: Hurricane Rachel, which has devastated Southern Louisiana, Mississippi, and the coastline of Alabama, has once again focused attention on the global pattern caused by the greenhouse effect. Dr. Schneider?

SCHNEIDER: Even though some people still won’t admit it, the effects of global warming have been with us for a long time. . . Had the global community taken concerted action 25 years ago, much of this might have been mitigated.
Remember, this is 2017 as imagined in 1993. The screenwriters, who must have started work on the script in 1992, imagined a crisis 25 years in the future so that their viewers, if so motivated, could do something about the problems depicted before then. The screenwriters also imagined that electric cars would be commonplace; that heat-deflecting elements would be incorporated into clothing, cars, and buildings; that energy would be conserved wherever possible; and that carbon fees would be levied on air travel. Prescient, indeed!

The final version of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan released last August makes it a little easier to watch this 1993 movie now in 2015. A big step has been taken. But the screenwriters seem to have been right to imagine – in their script for Schneider – that it could take this long.


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