Why Write about Climate Fiction/Cli-Fi?

24th September 2016

I am often asked about why I chose creative writing and why in particular I want to write about climate fiction (CliFi). How and why could writing about climate change through fiction, be more effective than non-fiction?

I recently came across the twelve  points below from Dan Bloom (the journalist who coined the term Cli-Fi), who kindly agreed to let me share these points on my blog, and they provide an excellent answer to the above question.

“12 ways that cli-fi novels and movies can encourage action on climate change” by staff writers at cli-fi.net

  1. They can “show” the story with powerful storytelling and characters rather than just tell it with scientific charts and statistics.
  2. The publication of cli-fi novels and the release of cli-fi feature movies to the global media can influence international leaders and public opinion.
  3. They can highlight the emotional side of the climate change story, with well-drawn characters and compelling story arc to bring the story home.
  4. Cli-fi novels and movies can encourage empathy for the future.
  5. Cli-fi novels and movies resonate in any language, be it English, French, Italian, Chinese, or dozens of other world languages.
  6. By leading by example, and getting their books read and movies seen, cli-fi authors and screenwriters can reach people on a local and on a national and international level.
  7. Cli-fi novels and movies pose an important question, which only individual artists can answer with their stories: Is the future to be hopeful or full of hurt?
  8. Make sure that cli-fi novels and movies are part of the cultural spaces we inhabit now in the 21st century.
  9. Cli-fi novels and movies might offer solutions; on the other hand they might picture a dystopian future without real solutions. In that case, or in both cases, readers and viewers will need to come up with personal solutions and understandings of their own.
  10. Cli fi novels and movies will reach the young generations now in their teens and 20s.
  11. Cli-fi novel and movies will stand out from the noise of a distracted culture.
  12. The stories that cli fi novels and movies tell will be pivotal and important. This is the power of art and culture.

Thank you to Dan, for letting me share these points.

The Journey Begins

20th September 2016

On Tuesday 13th September, I finished my last day of work and  commenced my MA in Creative Writing. If you know me, this degree may sound random given that I completed my undergraduate degree in climate change; but there is method to this madness.

My beliefs are firmly in line with the 97% of climate scientists who acknowledge that climate change is happening, caused by humans and that we need to act fast. As an individual, I therefore asked myself what I could do to help bring about the change we need and I have decided to focus on engaging a wider audience about the impacts of climate change, through various forms of creative writing (including the newly emerging climate fiction or ‘clifi’ genre). Various articles have pointed out that this type of writing could reach people who wouldn’t usually choose to read non-fiction books/articles about climate change.

To put this in context, climate change largely became a public issue in 1988, when Dr James Hansen spoke before a US Congressional Committee, confirming that humans were increasing the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In the intervening 28 years, we have taken very little action to avoid a ‘worst case climate change scenario’ from occuring. There are many reasons for this. One of which is that climate science is extremely complex and difficult to convey to lay people. Media sensationalism and special interests have also played a role in ‘muddying the waters’ around climate science and as a result, large swathes of the public are unaware of the future impacts we face and the current events taking place around the world which have been exacerbated by climate change. Yes you read that right, we are already seeing some of the early effects of climate change – it isn’t just a ‘future issue’.

In an auspicious turn of events, it just so happened that the 13th September 2016 was the warmest September day on record for the past 105 years in the UK. In addition, the date also marked the 100th birthday of Roald Dahl, one of the main authors who inspired my love of reading and writing at an early age. Perhaps it was a sign.

I can’t think of a more appropriate way to sum up what I hope to achieve, than with the following quote from Roald Dahl himself:

roald-dahl-1

I think we can all do well to remember that – now more than ever we need a concerted effort to tackle a plethora of pressing global issues, including the ‘planetary emergency’ that is climate change.