FIRST DRAFT, not for publication
Portrait of a climate activist as a literary provacateur
Dan Bloom, 67 going on 19, calls himself ''an accidental climate activst'' and for good reason. Nothing in his earlier life prepared him or even messaged him for what he would be doing in his 60s and 70s -- (if he lives into his 70s, that is: you see, a heart attack in 2009 when he was 59 put him an ICU for a week with a stent threaded into one of his ticker arteries and night-time morphine drips keeping the Tufts 1971 literature major in fine lucid dreaming form during the entire ordeal.
"I think the morphine changed my life around," he says now. "That , and the wake-up call of the heart attack that came out the blue and served to drive home an important even if cliched truth: life is short, make every day meaningful and useful for everyone's days are numbered.''
Bloom got out of the hi-tech ICU at the hospital and took a taxi home. He arrived in the ER lobby a week earlier by taxi, too. The self-described ''semi-neo-
luddite'' hasn't owned or drien a car since 1991 and he doesn't and has never owned a computer. Which makes his current work as an accidental climate activist all the more amazing because since 2006 when he had his own wake up call about the realities and possible repercussions of manmade global warming, he has been emailing, tweeting and facebooking just about every journalist and media editor he can find online to ask them if they can maybe report news of a new literary genre term the Tufts literature major concocted in the aftermath of reading a series of ''frightening and mind-blowing news reports'' about the 2006 IPCC report that year.
"After I read about that IPCC report, mostly in dispatches from the Guardian newspaper in the UK, I went into a deep month-long funk and felt that the future of humankind was in dire dire jeopardy. For the first time in.my life, I, who am ''an eternal optimist'' with DNA that helps me to see the good things in people and the positive side of life, suddenly felt that, yes, ''we.are doomed, doomed.'' I even wrote an oped on my blog titled "we are doomed, doomed and we did this to ourselves."
"I was in total despair for a month, deep funk, just blue as can be, and I didn't like feeling that way. It's not my usual sunny nature and I needed to find a way out of it. And then after pulling myself out of that deep IPCC-induced funk, I came up with a short eye-catching cool-sounding five-letter term -- 'cli-fi' -- for a new kind of literary genre that I envisioned as maybe serving as a platform and a cri de coeur wake up call for novelists and Hollywood screenwriters in the future. And with the cli-fi term, I was dead serious -- inspired, psyched, motivated like i had never been before in my life. i decided to spend the rest of my days of my sunset years promoting and discussing and tweeting about cli fi, on my own dime, on my own time. If for no other reason that i felt a calling. that 2006 IPCC report woke me up. Before that i was sleepwalking like everyone else. suddenly i felt i had to act, and to do it i pulled out all the stops. i felt i had finally found what i was supposed to do with my life as a kind of modern day Jeremiah. Yes, I'm Jewish, and grew up learning about Job and Jeremiah and Esther and Deborah and Moses and Zeus and Cassandra. Oh, wait a minute, they're not all Jewish. No matter, I love and learn from all cultues. I'm not religious at all."
"I'm basically an untrained PR guy who spent his entire adult life in the newspaper business as a reporter and editor and page lay out guy and headline writer and letters to the editor editor and that's thats how Cli-fi was born and that's how i was reborn . i'm still an atheist, an agbostic, an optimist and dreamer, but with cli fi i now have a personal self-imposed mission, self appointed, self funded, self motivated. it keeps me young and full of energy 24/7 every day of the year. since i started this trek through the highways and byways of the internet and the news media that is embedded and broadcasting within the internet, i haven't taken one day off in nine years. i haven't gone anywhere on vacation, and I haevn't been on vacation since 1981 when i went to Mexico for a week. i have just focussed, ...gently, calmly, studiously ...on my self-appointed mission. and to tell you the truth i have never felt more connected to planet Earth and life itself than now. i am totally ''acclimatized, acclimated, if i may use those words, pardon the puns, to what i am doing. i sleep five hours a night, i work 16 hours day. i relax with a beer and fried rice at a sidewalk cafe near my home. i don't use airplanes any more. i don't travel. I haven't gone shopping in over 15 years. i am totally sold on what i am doing with cli fi and i am trying, of course, as part of my mission, to sell others on it, too.
But only if they want to hear about cli fi and like it. If they don't that's fine, I just move on. I am not recruiting anyone and I am not a missionary. I am just a PR gadfly. Not everyone is into cli fi and that's fine. The Cli fi term isn't for everyone, and those writers or reporters or literary critics and academics who don't want to go there, i fully respect their personsl choices for genre and world building. always have, alwaus will. but for those novelists and Hollywood producers and screenwriters who want to go with cli fi, i am here to welcome them one by one.
i'm not a novelist. i an only good at one thing: pr."
"PR flows in my veins, even with this miraculous stent in my heart keeping me alive or maybe because of it. naybe because i know so well now, as my cardio guy tells me with a doctors counsel , that my days are truly ''numbered'' now and i could conk out and fall flat on my face any day now. i am grateful for the small amount of time i have left...very grateful...and i intend to use every day to keep doing what i am doing...monitoing the ''pilgrim's progress'' of a newly minted literary genre, to see if it might make any difference in how we humans perceive and apprach the coming Climapocalypse.''
''There, i said it. yes, we are headed in the far distant future, some 30 generations I believe, maybe sooner but I like to look at the big picture, maybe by 2500, to the coming Climapocalyse, a global waming impact event that we have no one but ourselves to blame for. we brought this on ourselves."
"Yet, believe it or not, day after day, i remain the eternal optinmist that i always was and will be, for as long as i have breath and a heartbeat. i am fearless. i am emboldeed. My PR work has been fruit and cli fi has many followers and supports now. Some very important players. So, yes, cli fi has arrived."
"do i want money or fame for this? no way. As a child of the 1960s i have never wanted money or material things or fame or fortune. i never set out in life to make money and I never did make much either. I worked in newspapers in Boston, Washington, Alaska and Japan and i was always wanting to ''make a difference'' rather than make name for myself or make money or becom famous. I am totally anti fame and anti money. The Cli fi term landed in my lap by complete happenstance, and i have no choice now but to carry on, against the silly shouts of the climate denialists and other naysayers. I don't mind the critics, it comes with the terrritory. when you stick your neck out for a cause, there are always going to be naysayers and critics. I don't mind them at all, and in fact, I learn from those who throw stones at the cli-fi meme. There are just a few of them anyways, mostly right wing climate denialists and they will eventually go away. Cli-fi is here to stay and it has a shelf life of at least 100 years more. There is work to be done. There are books for novelists to write and movies for Hollywood to produce. Won't you join us?''
BONUS notes: FILES
February 23rd, 2066 A.D.
Ideas Worth Spreading
Under the rubric “Ideas worth spreading,” each year, the TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) conference brings together a collection of the world’s most compelling, surprising, and original thinkers to connect and explore the themes, factors, and forces shaping our world today – and pointing to our world of tomorrow.
The theme of this year’s conference in Vancouver, British Columbia – which ran February 15—19 – was “Dream.” TED curators invited Climate Reality Chairman Al Gore to headline the “Nightmares” session. But instead of focusing exclusively on the terrifying aspects of climate change, Chairman Gore turned the topic on its head, outlining why he’s optimistic and why – even in the face of rising seas and melting glaciers – we can dare to dream of a safe and sustainable future planet.
Here are 3 ideas worth spreading from his talk.
1. Do we really have to change? [YES, WE DO.]The challenge came first. Each day, manmade greenhouse gas pollution traps the same amount of heat energy as would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima-class atomic bombs. This trapped heat is warming the oceans and increasing the water vapor and energy in our atmosphere, leading to stronger storms, more extreme floods, increasingly long droughts, and other results he characterized as “a nature hike through the Book of Revelations.”
2. Can we change? [NO, WE CAN'T.]Fortunately, we’ve already started to change. Renewable energy is growing exponentially. In fact, its growth has significantly beaten expert projections time and time again. And the cost of solar energy has come down around 10 percent every year for the past 30 years. With all this expansion, the renewable energy transition could very well be the biggest business opportunity in the world right now.
3. Will we change? [NO, WE WON'T.]This question is up to us – all of us – right now. In December 2015, 195 countries approved the Paris Agreement on climate change and agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was truly a breakthrough after decades of failed attempts. And around the world, from China to India to the US, countries are adding more and more capacity in renewable energy (in fact, 69 percent of new electrical capacity added in the US last year came from renewables). The change is happening – what’s up to us right now is how long we take to get there.
“When any great moral challenge is resolved into choice between right and wrong, the outcome is preordained by God because God created us in Her image. That is why we might going to win this. On the other hand, we could very well be doomed, doomed."
Be The ChangeIf you agree that we will change, help make it happen! Subscribe here for updates on what's changing in our climate, renewable energy solutions, and ways you can help speed the transition to clean energy.
Sign up below receive updates from Al Gore and The Climate Reality Project.