Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Veteran Philadelphia TV weatherman Glenn Schwartz writes 'cli fi' thriller titled "The Weathermaker" praised by Dr Michael E. Mann


Weathercasters are talking about climate change — and how we can solve it

Veteran Philadelphia TV weatherman Glenn Schwartz writes a 'cli fi' thriller titled "The Weathermaker" #CliFi #TheWeathermaker ON AMAZON *SOON and on publisher's website *now for ordering.

For many years, as the science of human-caused climate change grew ever clearer, TV meteorologists avoided discussing the topic on air. Today, many weathercasters bring up climate change regularly. By embracing the science and presenting it in a simple, locally-relevant manner, TV meteorologists have managed to become some of the most effective and trustworthy climate change educators in the country.
Now some meteorologists are taking the conversation a step further and talking not just about the science of climate change, but how we can solve it.
At the 100th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in Boston earlier this month, a panel of broadcast meteorologists, climate communicators, and policy experts assembled to discuss how solutions to the climate crisis can be woven into TV weather reporting. While wading into politics on the air can carry career risks for many meteorologists, weathercasters are also uniquely positioned to educate the public about climate solutions in a nonpartisan way, whether that’s by delivering locally tailored forecasts of renewable power production or discussing climate resilience strategies in the wake of a major storm.

“Broadcasters have an unusually good platform from which to engage,” said Ed Maibach, the director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, during the panel. “You not only have the access but consistency of relationships with an audience.”
In recent years there’s been a seismic shift on climate change within the weather reporting community. In a 2011 survey of AMS members and the National Weather Association, less than 20 percent felt sure humans are the primary driver of global warming, a statistic that Maibach attributes, in part, to an “aggressive misinformation campaign by the Heartland Institute,” a climate change–denying think tank. But by 2017 that figure had jumped to 80 percent. That’s thanks largely to the efforts of the educators who organized Climate Matters, a climate reporting resource developed by the nonprofit Climate Central, the AMS, and various governmental and academic partners.
The program includes graphics and interactives TV meteorologists can use on air to easily illustrate, say, the linkages between an extreme weather event and climate change. Since 2010, its organizers, including Maibach, have also hosted teaching sessions, workshops, and even conflict-resolution meetings to bring more broadcasters on board with the science of human-caused climate change. The work has paid off: Over the past 8 years, weathercasters telling local stories about climate change has increased more than 50-fold, Maibach told Grist.
“I think the needle has definitely moved on broadcasters talking about climate change,” Marshall Shepherd, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia, told Grist. “The program at Climate Central probably has been the key. They make it so easy.”
For TV meteorologists who are now skilled climate science communicators, discussing solutions is the next logical step. That might mean reporting on local government efforts to adapt to climate change. Michael Page, a broadcast meteorologist at NBC 10 in Boston, has reported stories on how the city is preparing its infrastructure for sea level rise. Tom Coomes, the chief meteorologist for ABC 57 News in South Bend, Indiana, is currently working on a segment about a climate resiliency effort underway in the nearby city of Goshen. Because flooding is a huge issue for the town and across Indiana more broadly, this includes things like buying up flood-prone land to prevent its development. Telling stories about how his local area is responding to climate change is “just good journalism,” Coomes told Grist.

Tom Coomes, the chief meteorologist for ABC 57 News in South Bend, Indiana. Courtesy of Climate Matters

“I’m doing nothing here. Just reporting on and holding the government accountable to what decisions they have made, and letting the public know this is their plan for the future,” Coomes said.
During the panel, Maibach emphasized the importance of solutions stories that focus on governance, but some meteorologists are also getting questions from their audiences on what they, personally, can do to lower their carbon footprints or prepare for a changing climate. Page, from Boston, reported a story on how people can reduce the climate impact of their diet. And Jim Gandy, the former chief meteorologist for WLTX in Columbia, South Carolina and the first participant in the Climate Matters program back in 2010, turned viewers’ interests into a recurring climate solutions segment.
In 2013, Gandy started to worry about what California’s worsening drought would mean for food prices in in South Carolina. “We’re not a wealthy state,” Gandy told Grist. “If you start to affect food prices you start to affect families.”
Gandy’s solution? Show his viewers how to garden. He convinced WLTX to set up a vegetable garden behind the station, and the breakout segment “Gandy’s Garden” became a regular fixture of his evening weather report. In the segment, Gandy would show viewers what he was growing and discuss gardening tips, including how to irrigate and the best way to deer-proof your plot. More than a hyper-local form of climate adaptation, the garden “clued me into some of the subtle changes that were taking place in our climate,” Gandy said. Whenever possible, the weathercaster would discuss how a flood or a heatwave was impacting the garden.
Since Gandy retired from TV in the spring of 2019, the segment has continued. “It became very popular — so popular I couldn’t get rid of it,” Gandy said.

Jim Gandy, the former chief meteorologist for WLTX in Columbia, South Carolina. Courtesy of Climate Matters

Not every TV meteorologist can become a part-time urban farmer, of course. As Amber Sullins, the chief meteorologist at ABC 15 in Phoenix, Arizona, noted during the panel, finding the time to report a solutions-oriented story can be a major barrier for weathercasters who are often expected to be on air multiple times a day.
“It depends on the culture of the newsroom that you work in,” Sullins said. “But there are still obstacles people face in terms of can I get time to do this, can I get the resources to do this.”
For some meteorologists interested in talking climate solutions, there’s a bigger challenge than finding time in the day. At certain stations, these stories might be off-limits because a boss perceives them to be political advocacy. How to lead conversations about solving the climate crisis without angering a skeptical station manager — or compromising the trust of viewers who feel similarly — is an ongoing challenge for many weathercasters.
“I always say the physical science is easy,” said panelist Mike Nelson, the chief meteorologist at Denver 7 in Colorado. “Add heat, get warmer. The political science is a whole lot tougher.”
Climate Matters program director Bernadette Woods Placky, who was also on the panel, suggested a simple framing meteorologists can use to discuss climate solutions that’s pithy enough for TV and doesn’t veer into advocacy. “You can identify what the biggest sources of emissions are and that we have to bring those down,” Placky said. “That’s apolitical.”
One resource that’s made it easier for meteorologists to inject a small dose of apolitical climate adaptation into the daily weather report is Weather Power, a Climate Matters resource launched in 2018 that consists of locally-tailored predictions of renewable power production based on installed wind and solar photovoltaic capacity and forecasted weather conditions. You can think of this like a ski weather forecast but for clean energy, said Sean Sublette, a Climate Central meteorologist who has helped develop the tool.
“As we go forward, weather is going to be powering our future,” Sublette said. “The idea is to make this kind of a normalized part of the conversation.”
It’s already more normalized in parts of Europe, said Jill Peeters, the founder of Climate Without Borders, an international network of weather presenters who share tips and strategies for talking about climate change. “I love to give solar data in spring and winter because [solar panels] work better in low temperatures,” Peeters told Grist. “People are surprised because they think it needs to be hot. Those things are so cool to explain in the weather report.”
Despite the challenges, a growing number of American meteorologists seem eager to take on stories about how to address climate change. Coomes of South Bend said that if his upcoming segment on climate resiliency goes well, he’s “absolutely” doing more solutions stories in the future. For Elisa Raffa, the morning meteorologist at KOLR 10 in Springfield, Missouri, doing more local reporting on renewable energy and clean transit is “a 2020 goal.”
She’s been encouraged, she says, by the positive feedback she’s gotten from her community when she devotes a segment to how rising temperatures are impacting farmers, or beer brewers, or migratory birds.
“I’ve had, more than once, cattle farmers come up to me and say ‘thank you so much for talking about climate change because no one else does that here,’” Raffa said. “That’s the reason I’m doing this.”

''GRETA INC.'' -- a media guerilla docu by Rebel News in Canada


Premiered Jan 24, 2020
Keean Bexte of Rebel News travels to Stockholm to investigate Greta Thunberg's origins and speak with Greta herself.



Eras Incarnate: How FORMER WORLDS' Current and Prior Members Built Their Sci-Fi Sludge Debut, ''Iterations of Time''

Eras Incarnate: How FORMER WORLDS' Current and Prior Members Built Their Sci-Fi Sludge Debut, Iterations of Time

Posted by on January 29, 2020 at 1:45 pm
“I am so excited; it’s been a really long time in the making. The whole progression of things has been exciting to see," says Erin Severson, the vocalist of the Minneapolis-based Former Worlds. Severson's excitement is very much warranted. After a promising EP nearly three years ago, entitled Photos of Eve IX-XVI, the gazey sludge/doom trio is finally releasing their proper full-length debut. The four-song, 41-minute monolith, Iterations of Time, is a deep dive into sci-fi takes on reincarnation and artificial intelligence, among other ideas.
The striking thematic content of the album, inspired by writers like Ursula LeGuin and Kim Stanley Robinson, is only part of an engrossing collection of music and ideas by current and past members of Former WorldsIterations of Time offers a rare glimpse into the evolution of a relatively young band. The debut album features contributions of founding members Mike Britson, JJ Anselmi, and Boone Julius as well as Severson and new drummer, Eric Anderson.

The contributions unfold into long-form majesty. Swaths of doom and lighter, ambient passages coalesce into what the band and press call sludgegaze. The lengthy runtimes allow for ample space for intricate layers and loops in parts of the album where the heavier riffs and plods break. Early moments in "Variations On A Cave" and much of the sensational album closer, "Widow Moon," showcase these ideas wonderfully. Metal Injection caught up with Erin Severson about the album—the processes and inspirations behind it—as well as the visual art that she has done for much of her life.
Iterations of Time arrives this Friday through Init Records. Pick up a copy of the record now and enjoy an advanced, exclusive stream of the album. Follow Former Worlds on Facebook.

Former Worlds formed back towards the end of 2015, what initially brought you all together to play this kind of music?

Erin Severson: Our original drummer, JJ Anselmi, and our bandmate, Mike Britson met through the Minneapolis music scene. Mike had started a new project because it seemed like his other two bands, Earthrise and Lesser Known Saint, were on hiatus. Mike wanted to start a new project and he had a bunch of stuff written for a new project for a new concept of his.
He met JJ when JJ moved to Minneapolis in 2015 and those two started playing together. Mike was using a rig that had ABY split signal from his bass to two different amps. He’d loop his low-end parts through one amp and his high-end parts through another. Essentially, he’s using a Bass VI and playing both roles of guitar and bass at the same time, but he wanted some more textural stuff. That’s when he brought on former bandmate, Boone Julius, who was the original vocalist and he also did noise.
They functioned as a three-piece without me for about a year. They played a show and were still looking to change up the dynamic. I moved to Minneapolis in 2016 and wasn’t playing in any bands at the time. Mike reached out to me to drum for one of his other bands and, in tandem, asked me to do vocals.
I wasn’t a vocalist and I told him “no,” but he kept poking at that. Eventually, I gave in and decided I’d give it a try. I went in for a tryout the summer of 2016 and then it kind of rolled into being the vocalist for Former Worlds.
Nice, so did you have any training, practice, or were there things you did to prepare for tryouts as a vocalist—after making the switch from drummer to vocalist?
Severson: I have a friend—a woman who lives in the Twin Cities—who found out that Mike wanted to bring me on into Former Worlds. She was really enthusiastic about helping me out. She’s a vocalist and I remember early on before her and I were close friends, she invited me over to her house to show me some vocal warmup techniques and other techniques to not damage your vocal cords while doing harsh vocals.
I sat with her and learned some of that right off the bat—get my feet wet with everything. From there, I went into play with Former Worlds. It took me a handful of months to find my own style, I guess? It was an organic learning process from there.
It sounds like it. Almost kind of “trial by fire,” right?
Severson: Yeah.
You have the demo [Photos of Eve IX-XVI] that came out a couple of years ago and that leads into Iterations of Time, what kind of goals or hopes did you personally or collectively as a band have going into this recording session?
Severson: I didn’t get to see much of the writing process. The EP and Iterations of Time were pretty much completed by the time I joined the band. The caveat was, they wanted me to write vocal parts for Photos of Eve so I could perform, but I didn’t want to put all the time and effort into writing parts for the EP and only have it as a performative thing. I wanted it to be recorded.
They were really kind about me approaching them and saying, “If we’re going to release this EP with me having written material for it, I want to go back and record my vocal parts.” So we did that for Photos of Eve.
I teamed up with Boone to do a lot of the vocal patterns and lyrical writing. Towards the end, when he left the band I took over the writing for that. We had to seamlessly get through a complete lineup change besides Mike and I. Eric Anderson started drumming for us when JJ moved to California. We had another dynamic shift with Boone leaving and having to reorganize all the vocal parts because we had some dual, call and response type vocals—basically had to reimagine how those songs were going to function before we went into recording.
JJ had already tracked all of his drum parts, so it was up to Mike and I to figure out how the rest of it was going to shape up. That was one of the things we were hoping to seamlessly tie up. It was really rewarding to see. With everyone that touches the music, it has this evolution. It was cool to see that process—to see how the collaborative nature changed through each person touching the material
That’s a really interesting thing because you don’t often see that with a lot of bands. You typically don’t see lineup changes or personnel changes to that extent within a recording session. It’s a unique glimpse into the evolution or transition of Former Worlds in that case.
With this album, Iterations of Time, and from what I understand you’re working on the next one as well, is there more of an exclusive trio working on this upcoming album compared to Iterations of Time? Or are there still contributions from former members?
Severson: This will be completely Mike, Eric, and I’s collaborative efforts. There may still be some influence from JJ on the drums aspect, but Eric is coming at things from an entirely different approach. This will be Eric’s first time writing with us. We’ve been working and writing together for almost four years, but Eric’s a little newer to the mix and he’s bringing a lot really cool new dynamics to the band.
It’ll be exciting to hear what you all come up with following that record. As it pertains to Iterations of Time, the album title itself seems to suggest repeated sequences of time itself leading to possibly different outcomes within each sequence itself. Could you dive into some of the central themes or the reason for naming your album this?
Severson: You kind of nailed it with that interpretation. We’re very much influenced by science fiction and there are certain themes we gravitate towards. The way Mike composes songs from the bass/guitar standpoint—there will be a riff that will be repeated throughout a song, but it will have tiny variations. It’s never really the same when it comes back. It’s morphed a bit. It’s the same with the lyrical style. There are themes that I repeat and things that are derived from other aspects of songs.
There is this concept we were working with from a book Mike is really into called The Years of Rice and Salt. The concept of this series is kind of like reincarnation for a group of people on Earth. The Bardo is where all of these people after living their former lives, meet up in limbo before they're pushed out into their reincarnated life.
I carried that underlying theme with me through what I was writing for the album and also matching it stylistically with the music. That’s the overarching theme of Iterations of Time’s title.
So, it’s this idea of life in limbo before reincarnation, these various sequences or possible outcomes—it’s a loose theme of what these people could have been or what they became in their new life?
Severson: Yeah, I wouldn’t say every song is telling this one story. Each song has some thematic elements going on, but in an overarching sense, each song has an aspect of that.

Looking through some of the song titles, like “Palimpsest”—something initially written and then scrubbed away in exchange for new writing—how does something like that subject fit into the overall theme you came up with?
Severson: I read a lot about AI and this notion of the creator and created. I was rolling with this topic of AI becoming self-aware and having gripes with the creator not really understanding why they’re there, what is happening, why they’re programmed the way they are, and wanting to be released from the creator to be a free entity.
What sort of materials were you reading, watching, or taking in? Loosely, it sounds like Asimov’s I, Robot or more popular stuff like Westworld.
Severson: During that time, I was reading a lot of Ursula LeGuin. Then, I was reading Left Hand of Darkness. Right now I’m reading Lathe of Heaven. I was influenced a lot by some of her dynamics. I was definitely influenced by the modern pop culture sci-fi but also digging into past iterations like Ursula LeGuin.
Admittedly, I haven’t read too much of LeGuin’s works, but I have heard of some of these stories you mention. As far as some of her writings go, what are some of your favorites you gravitate towards?
Severson: I honestly haven’t delved into too many other sci-fi writers. It wasn’t something I really gravitated towards stylistically until Former Worlds started happening. Mike would introduce me to things—some things I would gravitate towards more than others. Ursula LeGuin was one that really caught me.
She was born to a house of anthropologists and she’s very scientific in her approach—a lot of research-based fiction. She writes a lot about psychology, environmental issues, and societal issues. This was stuff she was writing about in the ‘60s and ‘70s. I’m currently reading Lathe of Heaven and a lot of the environmental issues and climate change she is noting a lot of things that were not in discussion during that era, but are becoming a big focal point in modern society.
I think that’s something I really appreciate from her aspect and other sci-fi writers who make inferences about things that were seen at a microscopic level being an issue and grow into bigger issues. It’s an interesting idea and that general mindset is something I like doing with my own writing and I think Mike likes doing with the way he writes.
It seems like what these people, not necessarily prophesized, but inferred—like you said from research-driven fiction—you four or five decades later are living what they picked up from their research. It has a larger impact now in that sense.
Stepping more towards the overall presentation of the album and the art for the record. In addition to music as art, you’re a visual artist and you’ve been doing a lot of other art including the art for this album. Where did the decision come from for you to step up and do the art for Iterations of Time?
Severson: Before I was a musician, I have been a visual artist for almost my entire life. I do photography and printmaking. I’ve worked as a letterpress printer for the last decade. For me, I have a hand in writing the music and I’m really attached to making visual art, it just made sense to also make the visual components for Former Worlds. It’s easier for me to envision what I want instead of telling someone else, “this is the aesthetic we're looking for.”
It was an innate thing. I don’t’ think anyone in the band expected me to step up and take that one, but I feel it was important for me to do. I’ve done all of Former Worlds art since Photos of Eve.

You make a great point. Instead of trying to take your ideas and give them to someone else—you’re so intimately tied to the music you’re writing, it almost seems like the obvious choice to have you do the art. Especially considering you’ve been doing this kind of work almost your whole life.
Severson: It’s been awesome, and the band has been super supportive of everything I’ve done so far. It’s been an easy process creatively and in every sense.
You’ve been working in letterpress for the last ten years and through most of your life you’ve done photography and other things, what have you found to be your favorite medium to work in? Is it more of the artwork-related things you do with Former Worlds or is it more in another realm?
Severson: Former Worlds is a platform for a culmination of everything I like to do. My favorite thing to do letterpress print. There are so many different components that you can use to make artwork for letterpress. Now, modern-day letterpress you’re not just secluded to wood type or linoleum blocks for carving images.
I have this process where I really love to work texturally with photographs and hand-drawn components; I’m really into making pastel and charcoal drawings. I’ll digitize those and scan them in or take hi-res photos of them, bring them in, and refine them in my design suite.
I spend a lot of time in nature and I do a lot of backpacking, so I’ll take a ton of pictures. I prefer to shoot in film instead of digital, so my camera is pretty much with me anytime I’m outdoors. I’ll scan in all of my negatives and make a bunch of digital collage compositions as well as bringing in the hand-drawn art and meld everything together that way.
That’s awesome.
Severson: Yeah, it’s really fun!
It sounds like it! From everything you mention, it sounds like it affords you a great opportunity to get out into nature and flex a very creative side of your mind as well.
Severson: It’s interesting, I had a very, very specific vision for the artwork on Iterations of Time. I had it in my mind I was going to drive down to these caverns in the middle of the Ozarks and photograph them. I needed these photos of caves, but we just didn’t have the right ones here in Minnesota. I was putting myself through school at the time, going through finals, and working six days a week. Then the record label said, “Okay we’ve got to have everything finished in one week.”
I’m thinking, “Okay, I have week to drive down to the Ozarks, photograph it, then finish off this album design.” So, I just got in my car, drove down to Missouri and ended up photographing these caverns, getting back, and then, for two or three days straight, all I did was finish the design work so I could send it off so we could get the vinyl pressed.
I was out in Europe for a month and upon my return, everything was finished. So, I finally got to see the finished format and I was so enthused over it. You know, you send things off and you can get digital proofs of things, and I think you’re a bit anxious to see the final product, but everything has turned out well.
From what I’ve seen, it’s turned out really well and it’s a beautiful setup. I’m sure people will love it when they get their hands on it.
Severson: Thank you so much!

Juha Raipola in FInland on the rise of cli-fi as a new literary genre


by Mr. Juha Raipola

What is Speculative Climate Fiction?

Here, at the end of 2010s, it is relatively safe to say that cli-fi is here to stay.
Born as the unfortunate love child of global environmental crisis and narrative imagination, climate fiction is a timely cultural reaction to the growing societal awareness of human impact upon the planet and its climate system. During the last 10 years, global anthropogenic climate change has become a stable theme in new narrative fiction, and ''climate fiction'' (aka ''cli-fi'') [coined by Dan Bloom in 2011 at] has been recognised both academically and popularly as a legitimate narrative genre.
As the increasing concern for climate change still has not led to adequate changes in the global consumption of fossil fuels, this kind of cultural interest in the worsening environmental situation can only be expected to grow in the near future. The emergence of global warming and other global-scale environmental issues as themes of fiction highlights the common need for a narrative experience of the changing world. Besides scientific explanations of the causes and effects of ecological change, we yearn for imaginative and affective narrative responses to the shared concern over our future as a species on a warming planet.
Climate fiction comes in many shapes and forms, however. Without the generic category of climate fiction, most of these narratives would usually be categorised as science fiction, science thrillers, science horror, Weird, (post-)apocalyptic fiction, or dystopian fiction. While authors and critics have been doubtful about the abilities of “serious” fiction to tackle the problem of climate change,1 recent “literary” novels have also become increasingly concerned with the ongoing ecological crisis. Due to the large generic variety of fictional climate narratives, it might even be argued that despite forming a distinct thematic category of fiction, cli-fi seems to lack the formal characteristics of a genre proper. There is no common plot form, no shared setting, no recognisable genre-specific characters in the many fictional worlds of climate fiction that would properly tie the entire group together, even by family resemblance. The common denominator of all these narratives is merely the theme of climate change, which can manifest itself in a variety of ways in different genres and modes.
Despite forming such an incongruous group of narratives, climate fiction may typically be examined as representing either a “realistic” (mimetic) or a speculative vision of climate change. While neither can be described as representing the effects of climate change more accurately than the other, these two modes of cli-fi differ in their basic narrative orientation. For instance, in realistic climate novels, the theme of climate change is usually examined in a rather subdued manner. To support the illusion of literary realism, these narratives are set in relatively familiar surroundings of the present day or a very-near-future world, where recognisable human characters ponder the effects of global warming. Questions relating to climate change are usually brought up by the narrator or the characters in their dialogue, while the fictional world itself remains mostly quotidian.
In speculative climate fiction, by contrast, the entire fictional world characteristically functions as a synecdoche for the changing climate. Speculative visions of flooding cities, melting glaciers, catastrophic storms, or drought-suffering environments demonstrate the potentially disastrous effects of climate change on the global environment, while the plot-level events of the narrative focus on the experience of living in a changed world. For example, in Emmi Itäranta’s crossover young-adult novel Memory of Water (2014), a catastrophic change in the global environment has altered the availability of fresh water all around the world and turned the depicted societal setting into a dystopia of tightly controlled water sources. This kind of emphasis on the fictional world instead of the protagonists and their inner worlds is, of course, characteristic to speculative genres more generally, but in climate fiction, specifically, it can be productively used to represent sudden shifts in the global environment.
Realistic and speculative climate narratives also typically differ in their basic approach to the theme of climate change. In realistic climate novels, the focus is often on the various affective and cognitive responses – such as eco-anxiety, climate sorrow, or climate change denial – evoked by the global environmental situation. In speculative climate fiction, more attention is usually paid to the actual dynamics of climate change as a social-material process. There is often more than a hint of didacticism involved in these narratives as they pursue the complex entanglement of human and nonhuman causes of climate change and try to dramatise its potentially disastrous effects on life on Earth.
The emergence of climate change and other global-scale environmental issues as significant themes of speculative fiction has also altered some of the basic expectations of speculative genres. For example, in earlier decades it was common knowledge that science fiction is primarily a tool for societal self-diagnosis, with a rather limited capacity for speculation on hypothetical futures. For example, Fredric Jameson famously argued that SF’s “deepest vocation” is to “dramatize our incapacity to imagine the future” (153), and in SF criticism more generally, futuristic narratives have been typically approached as deformed versions of science fiction proper. In speculative climate fiction, however, the predictive scenarios of climate science are routinely used as a backdrop for the imagined fictional worlds. Consequently, while speculative climate fiction can usually be interpreted as a form of societal diagnosis, it also habitually reads like an ecological prognosis. Part of its value thus stems from its ability to transform abstract scientific information into understandable and relatable “human-sized” narratives. This can be achieved either by representing the speculated direct consequences of climate change, or by analogy, where the fictional world can be fruitfully examined as somehow relating to the present or future material conditions of the planet Earth.
The emergence of environmental problems as a major theme in recent fiction has also transformed the utopian propensity of speculative fiction. There is a widespread cultural acknowledgement that the human impact on Earth systems has made the future far more fragile than before, and with the collapse of the modern distinction between Nature and Culture, the future can no longer be approached as a question of mere human imagination, choice, or will. Contemporary visions of the future need to be aware of the causal role of both human and nonhuman components in the making of our social-material reality, and neither utopian or dystopian modes of speculation can do without a proper recognition of the environmental limits of our planet.
Is speculative climate fiction thus an effective weapon in “saving the planet”, to use the common hyperbolic expression of the environmental movement? The answer is a hesitant “no”. Its material agency – meaning its capacity to induce measurable change in the material practices of human individuals or social groups – is unfortunately quite limited. As Timothy Clarke has rather convincingly argued, the “power of material modes of production, food habits, reproductive trends and so on” generally overpowers the role of “cultural imaginary” (19) in affecting the impact of climate change. Even an “ideal” climate narrative – one that would perfectly capture the complex and abstract nature of climate change in an emotional and thought- provoking story – would probably still have relatively little impact on the global consumption patterns of the human species en masse. In the current situation of climate change denial as part of identity politics, it also seems like an increasingly misplaced idea to assume that climate change is mostly happening due to lack of proper information or that it could be mitigated through didactic instrumental narratives about the effects of the ongoing environmental transformation.
Yet, one would also be misinformed to judge speculative climate narratives as completely pointless because of their apparent inability to alter the progression of climate change. At this very moment, the metaphoric and analogical powers of speculation could prove to be an indispensable cognitive and emotional toolbox for adapting to life on a warming planet. If speculative climate fiction can keep itself from regressing to repetitive survival tales in the post-apocalyptic desert, it has at least the potential to detox our thinking from the automatisms of perception brought on by the current cultural paradigm of consumer capitalism. As the average temperatures keep rising, we need to adapt to the new situation by a shift in our utopian imagination: instead of continuing to nostalgically lament the now foreseeable end of the current cultural order and its future promises, why not start to imagine alternative ways of living with the catastrophe in the coming era of a post-climate change planet?
Biography: Juha Raipola is a postdoctoral researcher at Tampere University, Finland. His current research is centered on questions of narrative in the field of environmental humanities, with a special focus on the limits of narrative form in relationship to the complexity of global ecological issues. Raipola has published articles on posthumanism, ecocriticism, and genre theory. He is currently working on a monograph about the current trend of eco-dystopian sensibility in contemporary Finnish fiction.


SEE ALSO:  ''The Cli-Fi Report'' at

1 See, for example, Dr Ghosh (16–21) and Dr Trexler (240–51).

Works cited

Clark, Timothy. Ecocriticism on the Edge. The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept. Bloomsbury, 2015.
Ghosh, Amitav. The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. U of Chicago P, 2015.
Itäranta, Emmi. Memory of Water. HarperCollins, 2014.
Jameson, Fredric. “Progress versus Utopia; Or Can We Imagine the Future?” Science Fiction Studies, vol. 9, no. 2, 1982, pp. 147–58.
Trexler, Adam. Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change. U of Virginia P, 2015.


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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

ben goldfarb on the movie ''PARASITE'' as a cli-fi movie

Parasite Is Great Cli-Fi

An opinion that I often share at social functions, usually without provocation, is that Snowpiercer is one of the best movies of the 21st century. Most people seem not to share that view. Most people are wrong.
If you’re among the benighted millions who’ve never experienced Bong Joon Ho’s masterpiece, I suggest you rectify that shortcoming immediately. (It’s on Netflix — no excuses!) In the meantime, here’s the wild premise. It’s 2031. A desperate stab at geoengineering has backfired catastrophically, entombing the world in ice. The few survivors — Chris Evans and Octavia Spencer among them — are trapped on a train, a “rattling ark” that, y’know, pierces the snow as it circles the earth. The dirt-smudged hoi polloi rot in steerage, locked down by armed guards, while the über-wealthy (led by Tilda Swinton, playing a creepy mashup of Hitler, Gaddafi, Thatcher, and, um, Silvio Berlusconi) frolic in opulence at the train’s head, waltzing through cars filled with orange orchards and saunas and party drugs.
The Snowpiercer haters I encounter, whose legions include my wife, complain that it’s too heavy-handed. Which, fine. (Maybe they prefer the nuance of Mad Max.) The train isn’t a metaphor for how climate change will exacerbate inequality, but a shamelessly literal manifestation of it. I concede the point: Snowpiercer ain’t subtle. Well, neither are the Australian bushfires.
If you’re one of the people who thinks Snowpiercer is too crude a satire of our grim future, you might prefer Bong’s latest work of thinkpiece-inspiring brilliance, which is, of course, Parasite. If Snowpiercer was a movie about global warming with overtones of class warfare, Parasite is a movie about class warfare that ingeniously backgrounds global warming. At its heart are two Korean families, the wealthy Parks and the poor Kims. They’re divided not only by social status, but, crucially, by topography. The Parks live behind locked gates in a massive, spotless house designed by a renowned architect, up a steep street in the Seoul highlands — a city on a hill. The Kims, who resourcefully insinuate themselves into the Parks’ lives over the movie’s course, squat in a cramped subterranean bunker in a low-elevation slum, plagued by crappy WiFi and pissing drunks.
Bong frequently and cleverly emphasizes this altitudinal gradient. The Kims, it seems, are forever hustling up or down the vertiginous stone staircase that leads to and from their downtrodden neighborhood, which is eternally cast in a sickly pall. Said the film’s cinematographer, Hong Kyung-pyo, in an interview: “In terms of topography, if you visit the concentrated semi-basement area in the lowland and the rich area in the highland, the difference in the amount of sunlight is obvious.” The Parks’ bright hilltop home feels clean and salubrious, while the Kims’ corner of the city gives off a grimy, polluted vibe, smothered by Seoul’s unshakeable layer of particulate matter.
The elevational difference between the families isn’t just a symbol of their respective statuses, it also drives a critical plot point. (Mild spoiler upcoming!) Near Parasite’s end, a torrential rainstorm triggers a flash flood that submerges the Kims’ slum and backs up the city’s sewage; as Eileen Jones put it in Jacobin, “the shit literally flows downhill.” The flood inundates their apartment, forcing them to abandon their few possessions and take shelter in a local gymnasium — a crushing humiliation that, in part, triggers the film’s bonkers final act.
This, I think, is a pretty savvy understanding of how social class and urban geography collude to influence climate risk. Disaster after disaster, we’ve seen that lower-income neighborhoods at lower elevations are more susceptible to extreme weather events; Hurricane Katrina and the Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan are just two top-of-mind examples. One recent study that surveyed more than 200 homes in Myanmar’s Bago City suggested that “poor people who live in fragile houses tend to live in flood-prone areas, where floods have the effect of trapping people in a cycle of poverty” — the precise predicament in which the Kims find themselves.
An equally ominous 2018 study, which examined around 800,000 property sales records from Miami-Dade County, investigated a phenomenon called climate gentrification. The authors found compelling evidence backing the “Elevation Hypothesis” — i.e., in low-lying, climate-vulnerable cities, property values appreciate faster at higher elevations, away from the rising ocean. They also found support for the inverse “Nuisance Hypothesis”: that annoying flooding has suppressed the value of low-elevation homes. Ultimately, the authors conclude, society’s growing preference for the safety of lofty heights “may lead to more widespread relocations that serve to gentrify higher elevation communities.”
Parasite never explicitly mentions climate change, nor have I seen anyone posit the movie as cli-fi. But it doesn’t have to mention climate change to effectively deploy it — global warming, in both the film and in life, is an inescapable fact, the backdrop against which we stand, the water in which we swim, simultaneously unobtrusive and omnipresent, like well, the weather. The best kind of cli-fi, for my money, is the kind in which climate change has become such a fixture that it’s almost unremarkable, inconspicuously setting the stage against which plays the drama of daily life. 
And that’s precisely how it’s cast in Parasite — the rich, blithe Parks are oblivious to their climate privilege even as it determines their experience of the world. The morning after the deluge, the affluent Park Yeon-kyo chats on the phone with a friend from the backseat of her car. She’s dressed, as ever, to the nines; up front, Kim Ki-taek, her driver, seethes in his own salvaged, ill-fitting clothes. “Did you see the sky today?” Park chirps. “Crystal clear. Zero air pollution. Rain washed it all away.”
Photo of 2011 Seoul floods by 최광모.

0 thoughts on “Parasite Is Great Cli-Fi

  1. Fantastic and perceptive analysis of, yes, an important cli-fi movie that, as Ben points out here, nobody ever mentioned as being a cli-fi movie until this must-read review. I loved it. Thanks for writing this, Ben. Provocative. Brilliant.

Can 'climate fiction' save us from the climate apocalypse? - AN ESSAY BY CLEMENT COULET



La climate-fiction va-t-elle nous sauver de l’apocalypse climatique ?

English translation here via

Food, tourism, energy, transport ... as a global and systemic phenomenon, the climate crisis, like a wave, is shaking up all the components of our societies. For literature, this wave is embodied in the emergence of a new science fiction genre: cli-fi. Bearing a virulent social, economic and ecological critique, and engaged in the battle of narratives, the cli-fi nevertheless often struggles to go beyond the simple prospect of a collapse of our societies or even of humanity. However, it has every interest in thinking about this "post-collapse" in order to transform itself into a stimulating laboratory for political experimentation, arming our imaginations with stimulating utopias.

A world without bees? Entire cities swallowed up by the waves? Climate refugees fleeing by the millions from the deserts that are constantly advancing? Summers so hot that everything is on fire?  Scientists are predicting it. Writers tell us.

''Cli-fi" for climate-fiction is a neologism coined by the American journalist Dan Bloom in 2011 to describe a genre of climate  fiction in which the reader is immersed in a world where the climate and ecological crisis has reached an "ultimate stage", a stage where the question of man's survival on the planet is clearly posed.

Despite the absence of a unanimously shared definition, most cli-fi works attribute, in accordance with scientific discourse, an anthropic origin to the ecological crisis.
Witness to its time, this literary genre has gained considerable popularity in the last decade, prompting Dan Bloom to assert that "the 21st century will be known as the Age of the cli-fi. Nevertheless, while the spectacular fires in Australia and increasingly hot summers have led to an ever-increasing number of readers taking an interest in cli-fi, the genre began long before the "climate generation" could read.
Identifying a date of birth for the cli-fi is futile. Many trace it back to the 1960s with the post-apocalyptic novels of the British author James G. Ballard (Le Monde Englouti in 1962, Sécheresse in 1964 ...). Others, like Claire Perrin who is preparing a thesis on the subject at the University of Perpignan [1], prefer to start from Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath (1939) arguing that the terrible Dust Bowl is a direct consequence of human agricultural activities.
If the cli-fi is much more developed in the United States than in France, it is because it could have benefited from a more favorable cultural context, Claire Perrin analyses. Indeed, with "natures writing", 19th century American authors such as Thoreau and Walt Whitman made nature a central character in their works very early on, whereas French authors of the same period, from Hugo to Maupassant, most often preferred to write about the City of Light.  Today, with the cli-fi, this nature is once again at the centre of the stories, but it has become dangerous, almost vengeful. In addition, a certain literary elitism scorning science fiction may have delayed the development of the cli-fi in France.
Dust Bowl Blues ©Patrick Emerson

The cli-fi, a genre at the service of ecological mobilization

Cli-fi is an inevitably militant and political genre. As such, and as with a vast array of artistic production, it participates in the cultural battle on its own scale.
Indeed, cli-fi works offer a different reading of the long IPCC reports. Far from figures and statistics that are difficult to understand, cli-fi's works can give us a glimpse of what a world at +4°C would be like. They bring to life the scientists' cries of alarm. For example, the American Paolo Bacigalupi describes, with Waterknife (2015), a terrible drought in the southwestern United States that leads to a latent war between California and Arizona for control of the Colorado River. In A History of Bees (2017), Norwegian artist Maja Lunde depicts a world where these indispensable yellow insects have disappeared, forcing humans to pollinate billions of flowers by hand. Here the cli-fi plays a role in awakening consciousness.

The works of cli-fi do indeed offer a different reading of the long IPCC reports. Far from figures and statistics that are difficult to understand, cli-fi's works can give us a glimpse of what a world at +4°C would be like. They bring to life the scientists' cries of alarm. For example, the American Paolo Bacigalupi describes, with Waterknife (2015), a terrible drought in the southwestern United States that leads to a latent war between California and Arizona for control of the Colorado River. In A History of Bees (2017), Norwegian artist Maja Lunde depicts a world where these indispensable yellow insects have disappeared, forcing humans to pollinate billions of flowers by hand. Here the cli-fi plays a role in awakening consciousness.

They do not claim to faithfully predict the future, no one can do so, nor are they writings of scientific value, but they propose "rational romantic conjunctures".
Of course, even though many authors claim to write based on the predictions of scientists, cli-fi works remain primarily works of fiction and should be considered as such. They do not pretend to faithfully predict the future, no one can do so, nor are they writings of scientific value, but they propose "rational romantic conjunctures". Cli-fi authors are first and foremost novelists who write stories. As such, they will not hesitate to move away from scientific discourse if it can serve their narrative.
Unlike scientists, fictional writers therefore have the possibility of acting on a lever that is not rational but emotional. By creating characters, they make it possible to mobilize the reader through empathy. At the Frankfurt Book Fair, essayist Elizabeth Rush explained that cli-fi offers us the opportunity to imagine ourselves in the place of "a person driven out by floods or drought, and from this imaginary position can come radical empathy". For her, the cli-fi could even be "the spark that will lead to a global political transformation". Without going as far as this conclusion, it is fair to point out that the cli-fi is fully engaged in the battle of narratives.
The cli-fi, a genre engaged in the battle of narratives
Stories, by giving meaning to the elements and having an identifying capacity, can bring about a change in individual and collective mentalities and therefore have a mobilizing power[2]. 2] However, against the backdrop of the cultural battle, a war of narratives is being played out.  In this struggle, the liberal, capitalist, productivist and consumerist narrative has long prevailed. Nevertheless, it now seems to be losing momentum. The narratives proposed by the cli-fi are in direct conflict with these dominant narratives by describing societies that have been subjected to harsh catastrophes due to a destructive and inadequate economic system.

Alongside this critique of the narrative of Progress, the cli-fi attacks another narrative, this one being born: the narrative of an ecology of consensus.
Science fiction is often the source of strong political criticism. It particularly attacks the narrative of Progress, which is approached with both fascination and mistrust. Without being technophobic, science fiction offers highly developed reflections on technology, allowing us to take a salutary step back from it. The cli-fi thus proposes a strong criticism of environmental geo-engineering, which consists of the voluntary modification of the climate by very large-scale technical projects in order to contain the effects of global warming [3]. 3] Among the geoengineering projects, we find, for example, that of Roger Angel of the University of Arizona, who proposed in 2006 to build a gigantic space umbrella made up of 16,000 billion transparent screens 60cm in diameter. Geo-engineering is often present in the cli-fi, but it is to better show its failure "to save us". It is thus particularly wary of technological solutionism.

Cover of the novel Exodes by Jean-Marc Ligny
published by folio SF (screenshot) ©Johann Bodin

Alongside this critique of the narrative of Progress, the cli-fi is attacking another narrative, this one being born: the narrative of an ecology of consensus. This narrative suggests that, since humanity has only one planet, we "would all be in the same boat" and therefore we would all have the same interest in working for ecology. This narrative deconflicts ecology and depoliticizes ecology. In reality, the ecological struggle re-actualizes a form of class struggle since it reinforces inequalities: whether on a national or international scale, it is the poorest who pollute the most and the most vulnerable.

Alongside this critique of the narrative of Progress, the cli-fi is attacking another narrative, this one being born: the narrative of an ecology of consensus. This narrative suggests that, since humanity has only one planet, we "would all be in the same boat" and therefore we would all have the same interest in working for ecology. This narrative deconflicts ecology and depoliticizes ecology. In reality, the ecological struggle re-actualizes a form of class struggle since it reinforces inequalities: whether on a national or international scale, it is the poorest who pollute the least but who suffer the most. The cli-fi makes this reality one of its privileged themes. Thus, in Bacigalupi's Waterknife (2015), while the majority of the population is literally dying of heat and thousands of refugees are abandoned in the American desert, the ultra-rich live comfortably in privatized and ultra-secure complexes with a controlled climate. This theme of the secession of the elites is found in France in Jean-Marc Ligny's Exodes (2012), which describes a small world elite living lavishly under a few domes totally cut off from the rest of humanity in total loss. One of these domes is ironically located in ... Davos.  In the film Elysium (Neil Blomkamp, 2013), the richest of the richest have fled an overpopulated and devastated Earth to take refuge in a space station.
Being truly "post-apo": thinking about what comes after to become a political laboratory
If the cli-fi is opposed to great stories, she offers little in return. The main identifiable narrative would be that of the collapse of our societies. This difficulty in imagining desirable futures seems to be fairly common in science fiction as a whole, if we are to believe the genre specialist Raphaël Colson, who states in Usbek et Rica magazine that "the post-apocalyptic sub-genre is merging with the anticipation sub-genre, making collapse inevitable even in our imaginations". To use the famous formula, the authors would seem to have more difficulty conceiving the end of capitalism than the end of the world.
The ruins of civilization. ©Enrique Meseguer

However, the collapse is not necessarily entirely negative. The post-apocalyptic genre, if it needs a collapse (natural disaster, nuclear war, epidemic, zombie invasion ...) to envisage the way out of the neo-liberal impasse, may subsequently propose the reconstruction of a society on new bases. This form of robinsonnade could thus be an opportunity to imagine alternative narratives. It would be a matter of turning the collapse into a political laboratory, as Yannick Rumpala, a lecturer at the University of Nice, explains: "If there is no annihilation, what can start again after the red zone has been crossed? Can a collapse for ecological reasons open a window for a new socio-natural contract? How and on what basis? Here, too, fictional production is like a kind of laboratory at your disposal. »

Science fiction can thus ask the question "what if? "which can be a very fertile question.
The author of Out of the Rubble of the World - Ecology, Science Fiction and Ethics of the Future, completes this idea of a political laboratory in an article published in Raisons politiques: "By more or less pressed keys, they (science fiction works) also propose visions of the future. There is no question of taking them as predictions or prophecies. Rather, it is a question of considering that science fiction is also a way of posing hypotheses. And especially bold hypotheses! ». He therefore underlines here the "heuristic potential of science fiction" which can afford to explore fields that research cannot invest in. Science fiction can thus ask the question "what if? "which can prove to be an extremely fertile question. Like philosophers who study societies through a state of nature, science fiction narratives allow "thought experiments".  Now, he continues, "the particularity of science fiction narratives is that they set up thought experiments as deconstruction/reconstruction"[4].
4] Thus, it is in this last characteristic of deconstruction/reconstruction through thought that the political force of science fiction and cli-fi is to be found. It is now up to them to take full advantage of it in order to offer us new narratives that carry meaning, so as not to lock our imaginations into a new "apocalyptic
Illustration du documentaire de Ken Burns «Dust Bowl», © Patrick Emerson

Alimentation, tourisme, énergie, transport … en tant que phénomène global et systémique, la crise climatique, telle une vague, bouscule toutes les composantes de nos sociétés. Pour la littérature, cette vague s’incarne dans l’émergence d’un nouveau genre issu de la science-fiction :  la cli-fi. Porteuse d’une virulente critique sociale, économique et écologique, et engagée dans la bataille des récits, la cli-fi peine néanmoins souvent à dépasser la simple perspective d’un effondrement de nos sociétés voir de l’humanité. Elle a cependant tout intérêt à penser cet « après effondrement » afin de se transformer en un stimulant laboratoire d’expérimentation politique armant nos imaginaires de stimulantes utopies.

Un monde sans abeilles ? Des citées entières englouties par les flots ? Des réfugiés climatiques fuyant par millions des déserts qui ne cessent de progresser ? Des étés si caniculaires que tout s’embrase ?  Les scientifiques nous le prédisent. Les écrivains nous le récitent.
La « cli-fi  » pour climate-fiction (« fiction climatique » en français) est un néologisme inventé par le journaliste américain Dan Bloom en 2008 pour qualifier un sous-genre de la science-fiction dans lequel le lecteur est plongé dans un monde où la crise climatique et écologique a atteint un « stade ultime », stade où la question de la survie de l’homme sur la planète est clairement posée. Malgré l’absence d’une définition unanimement partagée, l’essentiel des œuvres de cli-fi attribuent, conformément aux discours scientifiques, une origine anthropique à la crise écologique.
Témoin de son époque, ce genre littéraire a fortement gagné en popularité ces dix dernières années, poussant Dan Bloom a affirmé que « le XXIe siècle sera connu comme l’Âge de la cli-fi  ». Néanmoins, si les incendies spectaculaires en Australie et les étés de plus en plus caniculaires amènent un nombre sans cesse croissant de lecteurs à s’intéresser à la cli-fi, ce genre a vu le jour bien avant que la « génération climat » ne sache lire.
Identifier une date de naissance de la cli-fi est vain. Beaucoup la font remonter aux années 1960 avec les romans post-apocalyptiques du britannique James G. Ballard (Le Monde Englouti en 1962, Sécheresse en 1964 …). D’autres, à l’instar de Claire Perrin qui prépare une thèse sur le sujet à l’université de Perpignan[1], préfèrent partir des Raisins de la colère de Steinbeck (1939) arguant que le terrible Dust Bowl est une conséquence directe d’activés agricoles humaines.
Si la cli-fi est bien plus développée aux États-Unis qu’en France c’est parce qu’elle aurait pu y bénéficier d’un contexte culturel plus favorable analyse Claire Perrin. En effet, avec les « natures writing » les auteurs américains du XIXe siècle tel que Thoreau ou Walt Whitman, ont très tôt fait de la nature un personnage central de leurs œuvres, là où, les auteurs français de la même époque, de Hugo à Maupassant, préféraient le plus souvent écrire sur la ville lumière.  Aujourd’hui, avec la cli-fi, cette nature est de nouveau au centre des récits mais elle est devenue dangereuse, presque vengeresse. En outre, un certain élitisme littéraire méprisant la science-fiction a pu retarder le développement de la cli-fi en France.
Dust Bowl Blues ©Patrick Emerson

La cli-fi, un genre au service de la mobilisation écologique

La cli-fi est un genre inévitablement militant et politique. À ce titre et comme pour un vaste pan de la production artistique, elle participe à son échelle à la bataille culturelle.
Les œuvres de cli-fi offrent en effet une lecture différente des longs rapports du GIEC. Loin des chiffres et des statistiques difficilement compréhensibles, les œuvres de cli-fi peuvent nous donner à voir ce que serait un monde à +4°C. Ils donnent vie aux cris d’alarmes des scientifiques. Ainsi, l’américain Paolo Bacigalupi nous décrit, avec Waterknife (2015), une terrible sécheresse dans le sud-ouest des États-Unis qui conduit à une guerre larvée entre la Californie et l’Arizona pour le contrôle du fleuve Colorado. La norvégienne Maja Lunde, elle, nous peint, dans Une histoire des abeilles (2017), un monde où ces indispensables insectes jaunes ayant disparu, les humains se retrouvent contraints de polliniser à la main des milliards de fleurs. La cli-fi assume ici un rôle d’éveiller les consciences.
Elles ne prétendent ni prédire fidèlement l’avenir, nul ne peut le faire, ni être des écrits à valeur scientifique mais elles proposent des « conjonctures romanesques rationnelles ».
Bien évidemment, même si beaucoup d’auteurs affirment s’inspirer des prédictions des scientifiques pour écrire, les œuvres de cli-fi demeurent avant tout des œuvres de fiction et doivent être considérées comme telles. Elles ne prétendent ni prédire fidèlement l’avenir, nul ne peut le faire, ni être des écrits à valeur scientifique mais elles proposent des « conjonctures romanesques rationnelles ». Les auteurs de cli-fi sont avant tout des romanciers qui écrivent des histoires. À ce titre, ils n’hésiteront pas à s’éloigner des discours scientifiques si cela peut servir leur narration.
Contrairement aux scientifiques, les auteurs de fiction possèdent donc la possibilité d’agir sur un levier qui n’est pas rationnel mais émotionnel. En créant des personnages, ils permettent de mobiliser le lecteur par l’empathie. L’essayiste Elizabeth Rush explique ainsi, lors du salon du livre de Francfort, que la cli-fi nous offre l’opportunité de nous imaginer à la place « d’une personne chassée par des inondations ou la sécheresse, et, de cette position imaginaire, peut venir une empathie radicale ». Pour elle, la cli-fi pourrait même être « l’étincelle qui conduira à une transformation politique planétaire ». Sans aller jusqu’à cette conclusion, il est juste de souligner que la cli-fi s’engage de plein pied dans la bataille des récits.

La cli-fi, un genre engagé dans la bataille des récits

Les récits, en donnant du sens aux éléments et en ayant une capacité d’identification, peuvent entraîner un changement des mentalités individuelles et collectives et possèdent donc un pouvoir de mobilisation[2]. Or en toile de fond de la bataille culturelle, c’est une guerre des récits qui se joue.  Dans cette lutte, le récit libéral, capitaliste, productiviste et consumériste l’a longtemps emporté. Néanmoins, il semble aujourd’hui en perte de vitesse. Les récits proposés par la cli-fi viennent heurter en plein ces récits dominants en décrivant des sociétés soumises à de rudes catastrophes du fait d’un système économique destructeur et inadapté.
À côté de cette critique du récit du Progrès, la cli-fi s’en prend à un autre récit, naissant celui-ci : le récit d’une écologie du consensus.
La science-fiction est souvent émettrice d’une forte critique politique. Elle attaque particulièrement le récit du Progrès qui est abordé à la fois avec fascination et méfiance. Sans être technophobe, la science-fiction propose des réflexions très développées sur la technologie permettant une prise de recul salutaire vis-à-vis de cette dernière. La cli-fi propose ainsi une critique forte de la géo-ingénierie de l’environnement qui consiste en la modification volontaire du climat par des projets techniques de très grande ampleur afin de contenir les effets du réchauffement climatique[3]. Parmi les projets de géo-ingénierie, on retrouve par exemple celui de Roger Angel de l’université d’Arizona qui proposait en 2006 de construire un gigantesque parasol spatial constitué de 16 000 milliards d’écrans transparents de 60cm de diamètre. Dans la cli-fi la géo-ingénierie est souvent présente, mais c’est pour mieux montrer son échec « à nous sauver ». Elle se montre ainsi particulièrement méfiante vis-à-vis du solutionnisme technologique.
Couverture du roman Exodes de Jean-Marc Ligny publié chez folio SF (capture d’écran) ©Johann Bodin
À côté de cette critique du récit du Progrès, la cli-fi s’en prend à un autre récit, naissant celui-ci : le récit d’une écologie du consensus. Ce récit suggère que, puisque l’humanité ne dispose que d’une seule planète, on « serait tous dans le même bateau » et par conséquent nous aurions tous le même intérêt à œuvrer pour l’écologie. Ce récit déconflictualise l’écologie et la dépolitise. En réalité, la lutte écologique réactualise une forme de lutte des classes puisqu’elle renforce les inégalités : que ce soit à une échelle nationale ou internationale, ce sont les plus pauvres qui polluent le moins mais qui en souffrent le plus. La cli-fi fait de cette réalité un de ses thèmes privilégiés. Ainsi, dans Waterknife (2015) de Bacigalupi, alors que la majorité de la population meurt littéralement de chaud et que des milliers de réfugiés sont abandonnés dans le désert américain, les ultra-riches, eux, vivent confortablement dans des complexes privatisés et ultra-sécurisés avec un climat maîtrisé. Ce thème de la sécession des élites se retrouve en France chez Jean-Marc Ligny qui décrit dans Exodes (2012) une petite élite mondiale vivant fastueusement sous quelques dômes totalement coupés du reste d’une humanité en totale déperdition. L’un de ces dômes se situe ironiquement à … Davos.  Dans le film Elysium (Neil Blomkamp, 2013), les plus riches ont carrément fuit une Terre surpeuplée et dévastée pour se réfugier dans une station spatiale.

Être véritablement « post-apo » : penser l’après pour se transformer en laboratoire politique

Si la cli-fi s’oppose à de grands récits, elle n’en propose en retour qu’assez peu. Le principal récit identifiable serait celui d’un effondrement de nos sociétés. Cette difficulté d’imaginer des futurs désirables semble assez partagée dans l’ensemble de la science-fiction si on en croit le spécialiste du genre Raphaël Colson qui affirme dans le magazine Usbek et Rica que « le sous-genre post-apocalyptique est en train de fusionner avec celui de l’anticipation, rendant l’effondrement inévitable même dans nos imaginaires ». Pour reprendre la célèbre formule, les auteurs sembleraient avoir plus de mal à concevoir la fin du capitalisme que la fin du monde.
Les ruines de la civilisation. ©Enrique Meseguer
L’effondrement n’est néanmoins pas forcément entièrement négatif. Le genre post-apocalyptique, si il a besoin d’un effondrement (catastrophe naturelle, guerre nucléaire, épidémie, invasion zombie …) pour envisager la sortie de l’impasse néolibérale, peut proposer par la suite la reconstruction d’une société sur de nouvelles bases. Cette forme de robinsonnade pourrait ainsi être l’occasion d’imaginer des récits alternatifs. Il s’agirait de faire de l’effondrement un laboratoire politique, comme l’explique Yannick Rumpala, maître de conférences à l’Université de Nice : « S’il n’y a pas un anéantissement, qu’est-ce qui peut redémarrer après le franchissement de la zone rouge ? Un effondrement pour des raisons écologiques peut-il ouvrir une fenêtre pour un nouveau contrat socio-naturel ? Comment et avec quelles bases ? Là aussi, la production fictionnelle est comme une sorte de laboratoire à disposition. »
La science-fiction peut ainsi poser la question du « et si ? », question qui peut s’avérer extrêmement fertile.
L’auteur de Hors des décombres du monde – Ecologie, science-fiction et éthique du futur, complète cette idée de laboratoire politique dans un article publié dans Raisons politiques : « Par touches plus ou moins appuyées, elles (les œuvres de science-fiction) proposent aussi des visions du futur. Il n’est pas question de les prendre pour des prédictions ou des prophéties. Il s’agit plutôt de considérer que la science-fiction est aussi une manière de poser des hypothèses. Et surtout des hypothèses audacieuses ! ». Il souligne donc ici le « potentiel heuristique de la science-fiction » qui peut se permettre d’explorer des champs que la recherche ne peut pas investir. La science-fiction peut ainsi poser la question du « et si ? », question qui peut s’avérer extrêmement fertile. A la façon des philosophes qui étudient les sociétés à-travers un état de nature, les récits de science-fiction permettent des « expériences de pensée ».  Or, poursuit-il, « les récits de science-fiction ont pour particularité d’installer des expériences de pensée comme déconstruction/reconstruction »[4].
Ainsi, c’est bien dans cette dernière caractéristique de déconstruction/reconstruction par la pensée que se trouve toute la force politique de la science-fiction et de la cli-fi. A elle désormais de s’en saisir pleinement afin de nous proposer de nouveaux récits porteurs de sens pour ne pas enfermer nos imaginaires dans un nouveau « TINA[5] apocalyptique ».

[1] Claire Perrin, « La sécheresse dans le roman américain de John Steinbeck à la « fiction climatique », thèse en cours de rédaction à l’université de Perpignan.
[2] Pierre Versins, « Encyclopédie de l’utopie, des voyages extraordinaires et de la science fiction », Lausanne, L’Âge d’homme, 2000 [1972]
[3] Ici, le terme « récit » sera synonyme de mythe définit par le Larousse comme étant un « Ensemble de croyances, de représentations idéalisées autour d’un personnage, d’un phénomène, d’un événement historique, d’une technique et qui leur donnent une force, une importance particulières »
[4] L’Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) en 2014 a définit la géo-ingénierie comme « l’ensemble des techniques et pratiques mises en œuvre ou projetées dans une visée corrective à grande échelle d’effets de la pression anthropique sur l’environnement » Collectif, « Atelier de Réflexion Prospective REAGIR – Réflexion systémique sur les enjeux et méthodes de la géo-ingénierie de l’environnement », ANR et CNRS, mai 2014,

[5] There Is No Alternative, est un slogan politique souvent attribué à Margaret Thatcher qu’il n’y a pas d’alternative au capitalisme, à l’extension du marché et la mondialisation.