Thursday, July 28, 2016

As planet warms, Amazon’s publishing imprint runs with a cli-fi special collection of short stories

You read it right: 'Warmer' is a collection of climate-related short stories from seven noted authors, and it's set to make a big publishing splash when it's released at the end of October.


This is how Amazon puts it: "Fear, hope, and imagination collide in this collection of possible tomorrows. What happens when boiling temperatures stoke family resentments during a long, hot winter; when a girl's personal crisis trumps global catastrophe; or when the storm of the century creates the ideal hookup for two climate scientists to party like it's the end of the world? Like the best of sci-fi, these cli-fi stories offer up answers that are darkly funny, liberating, and frighteningly conceivable.''

The seven stories are by Jess Walter, Lauren Groff, Jesse Kellerman, Edan Lepucki, Skip Horack, Sonya Larson and Jane Smiley.

It's an interesting literary project that Amazon is releasing, with a launch date of October 30: a "cli-fi" short story collection (aka ''climate change fiction''), with stories by Lauren Groff (a two times National Book Award finalist), Jess Walters (of ''Beautiful Ruins''), Jane Smiley (Pulitzer winner) and Edan Lepucki (of the Hachette-Amazon dispute fans), among the others. The collection is part of Amazon's idea to create more benefits for Amazon Prime members.

And note this: the collection does not emphasize speculative sci-fi, but rather this time takes a more hard look at the human relations that are strained under a warming planet, in a way that literary fiction does best. After the recent IPCC report that cautions that humanity has just 12 years to get its act together in regard to stopping runaway global warming, this special Amazon project comes at the right time.

The innovative cli-fi project was pitched by the idea people behind the concept to Amazon as a way of giving fictional writers a collective voice around the greatest existential crisis of our era: climate change and runaway global warming.

The collection will go live at a custom Amazon page: on October 30, according to sources.

Here's the lineup:

''The Way the World Ends,'' by Jess Walter
Sleet in Mississippi? In March? A crazy ice storm lays waste to the South this invigorating, touching story of one slippery night, an open bar, and total abandon.
''Boca Raton,'' by Lauren Groff
A mother’s latent fears rise as relentlessly as the Florida seas in a startling story of a planet, and an imagination, under pressure.
''Controller,'' by Jesse Kellerman
What happens when temperatures flare between a mother and son? A few degrees make all the difference in this blazingly chilling story of psychological terror.
''There’s No Place Like Home,'' by Edan Lepucki
In a climate-ravaged future, it’s not easy to grow up. One girl is trying her best in a story about global catastrophe and personal chaos.
"Falls the Shadow," by Skip Horack
A North Carolina combat vet finds himself far from home on the front lines of an environmental battle to save the planet.
"At the Bottom of New Lake," by Sonya Larson
A girl growing up in Cape Cod explores the collectible debris of a once-perfect world she’s too young to remember. But as the past resurfaces, so do old questions about her place in society

Authors are part of the climate change problem.

WHY AMITIV GHOSH IS DEAD WRONG WHEN HE SAYS WRITERS IN THE WEST ARE NOT WRITING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, NEITHER NOVELISTS OR JOURNALISTS OR POETS. OKAY IN INDIA, HIS NATIVE LAND, YES, and even Ghosh himself has shown himself afraid to tackle climate change in a novel even though he criticizes -- incorrectly in turns out -- other novelists for not tackling climate issues in their novels. Indians don't care that's care, and evem Ghosh himself does not care. If he did, he could off his 60 year old tuches and write a climate-themed novel for 2018 or 2020. But he won't.  SEE BELOW, another silly article from the LAZY INDIAN PRESS:

In The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh has asked why one of the major issues of our time — climate change — has been neglected by the INDIAN literary community of which he is a part.  HE KNOWS THAT NOVELISTS IN THE WEST HAVE FACED CLIMATE CHANGE IN DOZENS, HUNDREDS OF NOVELS, BUT HE WON"T ADMIT IT IN INDIA BECAUSE THAT WOULD SHOW THAT THE WEST IS MORE ADVANCED THAN INDIA AND GHOSH CANNOT HAVE ANY OF THAT, OH NO NO NO.

In South Asia, the answer is easy to see. By catering to an urban, prosperous and global community, INDIAN authors and publishers produce books that allow us INDIANs to ignore the damage taking place in the lives of the marginalised.

The INDIAN literary community is not innocently unaware, but actively complicit in a process that allows us INDIANs to ignore the damage that climate change is doing to the lives of the poor.

Let us be clear as to what the problem is. Pollution is a classic example of market failure, where the true cost of a process is not caught in the price attached to it. The carbon dioxide generated by transport, deforestation to make way for roads, the costs of the plastic wrapping when it is disposed off, all of these are not part of the price in the cherries imported from Australia that you pick up at a grocery store.

These are what economists call externalities — costs or benefits paid by somebody who did not choose to be part of the transaction. And somebody does pay the cost of these externalities, whether it is a beautiful village in Sikkim threatened by a glacial lake or an influx of mosquitoes, or it is villagers in West Bengal suffering from arsenic poisoning.

Frankly, you do not even have to go so far. The heatwaves, which become more extreme every year, claim the lives of people living in the cities of South Asia all the time. See: Glacial lake threatens Sikkim’s heritage village, Climate change worsens arsenic poisoning, India’s killer heat wave linked to climate change

The striking similarity of all who pay the costs of these problems is that they are the poor, the people living in villages and the outer periphery. They are the marginal people of the countries – precisely the people that much of the INDIAN literary community is not only divorced from, but is actively running away from. This is true across Asia, with very few books even touching on the subject of water. EVEN INDIAN  MASTER GHOSH DARES NOT WRITE ABOUT CLIMATE ISSUES IN A NEW NOVEL.

See: Water speaks in Asian literature

The production of INDIAN literature is measured by three main things: numbers of books sold, awards, and recognition both locally and globally through speaking activities at book festivals and the like. All of these, in one form or the other, exclude the participation of the very people most affected by climate change.

Myth of an aspirational readership in INDIA

Working at one of India’s most widely read news magazines, I would often be frustrated when my editor shot down one story idea or other by saying, “This is not what our readers want.” In his mind, there was this mythical magazine reader that could afford to pay the INR 30 for the weekly shot of news we provided. This reader was not interested in what happened to the small town boys that became criminal dons in Bombay, nor was this interested in the lives of neglect most of India’s sportsmen lived in, no matter how many awards they had won – unless they were cricketers, of course.

These mythical readers were interested, though, in the new Rolls Royce just launched in India, priced at about INR 40 million, or just about USD 1 million at that time, in 2007.

These mythical readers are also who the literary publishers cater to – aspiration, middle class consumers who are far more interested in wasteful spending, even if only in their imagination, than in sustainable living. The grim challenges – or even small victories such as Chhewang Norphel’s artificial glaciers in Ladakh or a technological breakthrough to create a new arsenic filter – related to climate change are not the stuff of novels that publishers feel will sell. It may be that they are right, but if these stories are not commissioned in INDIA , if they are not published and promoted, how will we ever cultivate the INDIAN authors that can tease out  the complexities of life in this increasingly fragile environment? See: The iceman of Ladakh, Indian scientists develop low-cost arsenic filter

Problem with literary awards

Beyond publication are the awards, and the major problem with these are that they are hardly any important ones within small countries. The big names of Indian fiction (and many of these are Indian only in origin, not by citizenship) – whether they are Salman Rushdie, VS Naipaul, Arundhati Roy, Aravind Adiga, Jhumpa Lahiri or even Amitav Ghosh – have largely won awards out of the country.

 It is hard enough to translate the difference between the poor, or the rural to the rich and urban within India, to make the jump and be able to explain these issues to a global audience is nigh on to impossible.

It is little surprise that Naipaul is unable to explain, or even comprehend, the rural areas he describes in his Area of Darkness. Adiga’s Booker Prize winning The White Tiger does not even try, and calls the village from which the protagonist fled merely “the darkness”.

Roy’s and Ghosh’s books have local dynamics. In particular Ghosh’s earlier books such as the sci fi Calcutta Chromosome, The Shadow Lines, and cli-fi The Hungry Tide, may pave the way to highlight the value of local dynamics, but for most new INDIAN writers wishing to walk in the footsteps of the INDIAN literary greats is to walk away, to the urban and the global. Cossetted in air-conditioned spaces which keep the rising heat at bay, INDIANS write for an audience similarly cosseted, and both ignore the slow tragedy unfolding outside. Including Ghosh!

Voices in the margins

The success of one type of fiction to directly address this issue – the ironic graphic novel, All Quiet in Vikaspuri by Sarnath Banerjee, is the exception that proves the point.

A tongue-in-cheek telling of a Delhi scarred by water wars, as the capital of India dries out and various middle class and upper middle class housing colonies face off in combat works because of how ludicrous it seems. The residents of these colonies do not have to look for water. They can imagine a scenario of travelling kilometres for the precious liquid only as satire.

Another type of fiction, undertaken in local languages, too shows promise. The work of Mahashweta Devi, one of the great Bengali authors, has consistently looked at the issues involving tribal communities and the marginalised poor.

But even this type of literature – often called regional literature, is often urban in nature, hiding the true costs of climate change playing out, in the dry fields, and the floods that hit the rural areas the worst.

INDIAN Literary festivals and problematic INDIAN funders

There is the last refuge, of INDIAN book festivals and INDIAN book launches, where authors meet a wider public (often trying to sell or publicise their books). These are paradoxical spaces, as they are at the intersection of the privileged and (theoretically) all the people who want to attend. While it is possible that uncomfortable questions are raised at such venues, it is also clear that such events need funds.

When they turn to the very companies and enterprises responsible for polluting, and blatant destruction of habitat, it becomes hard to believe that the platform will criticise such practices. An ode to uninhibited consumption is unlikely to lead to stories of caution and restraint.

These structures incentivise the creation of a literature that discourages the exploration of the issues of climate change. They can change – just as feminist literature, once a marginal subject, became a part of mainstream literature. But they will change only when we recognise the problems, not just as the choice that individuals make, but also the incentive structures that help nudge literature in this direction.

It is only then that we INDIANs will be able to confront and change the terms of debate in INDIA and learn from the West. What a backword country we still are!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Is the Animal Uprising on James Patterson’s ‘Zoo’ Plausible?

James Patterson hopes ''Zoo,'' with the underlying message of climate change and take care of the animals and planet and they will take care of you, also has a part to play.

"Zoo ''is not going to change the world, (but) it can begin to change the world. You just keep pecking at this thing. Sometimes it just takes a while to do commonsense things."


Is the Animal Uprising on James Patterson’s ‘Zoo’ Plausible?

The CBS drama uses fictional concepts like the 'defiant pupil' and the 'Mother Cell' to get viewers interested in biology

The human characters faced down a huge menagerie on the season finale of CBS' 'Zoo.'
The human characters faced down a huge menagerie on the season finale of CBS’ ‘Zoo.’
Animals have suddenly turned against humans, fighting back unafraid after years of mistreatment. Lions rampage through African cities, while male rats begin reproducing and their offspring invade the United States. 
Sounds pretty scary, right?
Well, fear notwhile it may be the reality of the CBS series Zoo, this biological nightmare will not come to pass in the real world any time soon.
Based on James Patterson’s bestselling book, the show, which returns for its second season June 28, follows a safari guide, a journalist and a professor, among others, as they try to find a cure to save the human race. But for much of the first season the animals had the upper hand, which supervising producer Bryan Oh said was deliberate.
“We’re trying to dramatize that they’re as much victims of our hubris as anything,” Oh told the Observer. “These actions are the unintended consequences of climate change and what we’ve done to the planet.”
The dramatization aspect is key, however, especially from a medical standpoint. The first clue that something is wrong comes when doctors notice that the pupils of the animals’ eyes are growing bigger (or “defiant” in the show’s terms).
But according to Dr. Andrew Macintyre of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), while some genes predispose animals to be more aggressive, small genetic changes like the “defiant pupil” wouldn’t lead to a global panic.
“It’s quite far-fetched,” Dr. Macintyre told the Observer. “That couldn’t influence or cause a dramatic shift in behavior.”
Gradually the characters on the show realize this as well, and their next target is Reiden Global, a Monsanto-like biotechnology company. They discover that all of Reiden’s products contain the “Mother Cell,” a DNA molecule that accelerates and replicates dormant genetic mutations, and break into the company’s headquarters to steal it.
“There was always this eventuality,” Oh said. “This change to the animals was always on the table, but it may have never come to pass without the Mother Cell.”
But Dr. Macintyre noted that “unnatural” mutations like the Mother Cell do not exist in the real animal kingdom.
James Patterson, author of the book which inspired the CBS series 'Zoo.'
James Patterson, author of the book which inspired the CBS series ‘Zoo.’
“Mutations are randomthey hit different genes and different parts of DNA,” Dr. Macintyre explained.  “Some mutations are silent because they have no discernible effect, but they also can’t be switched on or off.”
A subplot about animals living in Japan having an accelerated biological clock because of the nuclear power plant explosion at Fukushima is similarly nonsensical, because DNA damage from radiation is random pointed out Dr. Macintyre.
Toward the end of the season, the band of heroes attempts to use the Mother Cell to manufacture a vaccine to treat the animals, which Dr. Macintyre said is the complete opposite of how vaccines work in real life.
“A vaccine needs a healthy immune system to work,” he said. “It’s a preventative measure.”
Despite these scientific snafus, Dr. Macintyre said he had watched the pilot of Zoo and found it entertaining, if far-fetched.
This is the exact reaction the creative team was hoping for, according to producer Oh.
“We know we’re summer popcorn,” he said. “We are entertainment first.”
Oh also said, however, that he wanted the science sprinkled throughout the show to inspire viewers to learn more. He said season two would tackle scientific concepts like noncoding “junk DNA,” which doesn’t code in real life but on the show offers a possible new solution.
“We hope we have a compelling message, and that the science lends to the entertainment value,” Oh said.

Hollywood has not released any climate-themed feature films in 2016. -- BOO! BOO! BUT ''GEOSTORM'' and ''SWEET SPOT IN TIME'' set for release in 2017!

Dear Friends in the Cli-fi Community Worldwide,
Hollywood has not released any climate-themed feature films in 2016. At this time in history, in Anthrocenic technicolor history, how could this happen?

RE: ''TROUBLE IN TINSELTOWN!'' = not one climate themed movie released in 2016. WTF? The first time in 13 years with NO CLI-FI MOVIE AT ALL. THE ENTIRE YEAR! NADA!

A climate-action friend of mine in the midst of writing an update on ''cli-fi'' films in Hollywood for 2016 for a major publication and it will appear later next week, as scheduled and if not then due to July 4 holidays then later in July, tells me.... his search of the relevant databases (i.e. IMDB) this academic ''cli-fi storm chaser'' friend of mine, PHD, has not found any film released or scheduled for 2016 that makes any meaningful reference to climate change. !!!!

Yes, there's two movies -- ''Geostorm'' and ''A Sweet Spot in Time,'' -- which are scheduled for release in 2017, -- and you might be aware of some late 2015 releases (e.g. see link to imdb link ''Unnatural''), -- but in fact we are not seeing any full-length, fictional cli-fi film from Hollywood or independents like Sundance in 2016.

Does that square with your information?

If so, that means 2016 is the first time ***in 13 years*** that no full-length, fictional film has addressed climate change.

''UNNATURAL'' (2015) -
Global climate change prompts a scientific corporation to genetically modify Alaskan polar bears with horrific and deadly results
SWEET SPOT IN TIME (2017) release
 ''Sweet Spot in Time'' is the personal journey of a 15-year-old fighting for his generation's future. It shows the world of 2100 - if we fail to act. This dramatic, but scientifically accurate, cli-fi story follows a character that has been separated from his family due to a climate and ecological disaster, and now has to travel inland to find salvation.
''A Sweet Spot in Time'' is the personal journey of a 15-year-old fighting for his generation's future. In an environmental battle that puts his destiny at risk, first-time director and musician Jonah Bryson gives audiences a new look at this controversial issue, and inspires them to act while the hour glass is still trickling sand. Seamlessly woven, is a epic and adventurous tale that shows the world of 2100 - if we fail to act. This dramatic, but scientifically accurate, story follows a character that has been separated from his family due to an ecological disaster, and now has to travel inland to find salvation. The movie leaves audiences hopeful, inspired, and motivated to act. Featuring astronaut Chris Hadfield, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, and musical input by Taylor Swift's band, this is a call to action for today's children to fix the mistakes of the past and save the future of tomorrow. Written by Jonah Bryson            


***"Curious, empathetic, compassionate: What we should be as human beings."***

THE ''Cli-Fi ''REPORT:
50+ academic & media links:
Cli-Fi (T-shirts) - for promotion, not for sale

Thursday, February 4, 2016

• cli-fi bullets -- 100 "ruminations" (rumes) on what Cli-Fi is and where it is headed (literary and philosophical zen-like rumes)

• cli-fi bullets

100 "ruminations" (rumes) on what Cli-Fi is and where it is headed (literary and philosophical zen-like rumes)
• 100 short zen-like ruminations on literary and philosophical aspects of ''cli-fi''
by the man who coined the term
 #CliFi hashtag on Twitter


[Cli-fi bullets: random thoughts about cli-fi in 140 characters (more or less) that first appeared on Twitter]

Cli-fi literary theory does not exist yet. It is that new. We are flying by the seat of our pants. The future beckons.

Cli-fi tries to answer philosophical questions about the fate of our species. There is no canon, no agenda, no school. You write it, we read it.

•  Cli-fi delves into the future as a way to analyze our current dilemma, here and now. Who will live to see the 25th Century?

Holocene, Anthrocene, Anthropocene. Cli-fi explores all scenes and judges all. Who let us down? Who will raise us up?

Teaching climate science is the role of school teachers. Writing cli-fi is the role of seers,  visionaries, dreamers, prophets.

There has never been a time like this in human history when so much is at stake. Will cli-fi answer the call?

How on Earth did we end up this way? Who on Earth will have their say? Arise, all ye who write cli-fi.

There's no accounting for the predicament we're in. No one to blame, no one to name. Or is there? Cli-fi sees all.

Children born today are no different than children born before. But they will grow up to read, write cli-fi. (And. Face. Facts.)

Cli-fi is not a science, and it is not science. It is a literary genre in search of redemption, grace, salvation. It is your turn to try.

There will come a time when shoulders shrug, when faces droop,  when smiles fade. But cli-fi can save the day. Arise!

If cli-fi is to serve any real purpose, it must soar above distractions and land in the public square. Discuss it, write it.

Cli-fi has no canon, no school, no leader. It belongs to all who embrace it. Use it as you will.

 In some future time, say 2085, people will look back at the rise of cli-fi in 2015 and wonder why and how it grew. Who knew?

 Do you cli-fi? Do you "do" cli-fi? Do you read or write or research cli-fi? Welcome aboard.

  Cli-fi exists not to promote careers or obtain research grants or government funding. No, cli-fi just is. And rising.

  Cli-fi is rising, yes. It's in the air. It's time has come. There is no wormhole that can stop it.

  In the best of all possible worlds, there would be no need for cli-fi. Unfortunately, we live in cli-fi times. In a cli-fi world. Face it.

  This is the Age of Cli-Fi, in the Antropocene, after the Holocene. It's not a pretty picture, is it?

  Who invited you to the house of cli-fi? No one. You came of your own accord, to look, to see. It's an open house.

  You write cli-fi because it gets under your skin and you can no longer look away. Peer into the future and tell us what you see.

  The house of cli-fi welcomes everyone. Come in, look around, take a seat. There are books to read. And write.

  I never met a future I didn’t like. No, that can’t be true. Some futures spell the end of humankind. It’s in the cards. Choose your exit.

• Cli-fi isn't a marketing term or a bookstore shelving category, and it's more than a literary term. It's a password into the future and those who know it, know.

• ​Cli-fi is more than a genre term, much more than that: it's a code word, a password, a secret handshake; it is bringing us together as one

• ​Cli-Fi is not for you or your children or grandkids, no. It's codeword for future generations, as yet unborn. And born they shall be. In next 30 generations.​

• ​Cli-Fi cannot, will not, save us from what's coming. Too late for that. But it's here, now, always. We have 30 generations to prepare. See?

• In the future, come 30 more generations of man, there will be no Cli-Fi. By 2500 A.D. (Anthrocenus Deflexus)it will be too late.

• People want cli-fi to offer solutions, comfortable happy fixes. Aint gonna happen. We are ''doomed, doomed'' as a species, and we did it to ourselves.
​• Cli-Fi cannot, will not, save us from what's coming. Too late for that. But it's here, now, always. We have 30 generations to prepare. There's time.
​• Cli-fi won't make much of a difference either way you define it. It's just here, now, beckoning future writers. It's not sci-fi, never was
• Cli-fi is more than a mere genre: it's a cri de coeur, a warning flare, a pathway to the future before it's too late. See? #CliFi's here now​
• If the rising new literary term "cli-fi" makes you 'cringe' at first sight or hearing, don't give up on it yet. With time, you will come to see it for what it is.

•​ Cli-fi is not sci-fi, it is not eco-fiction, it is not subgenred to anything earlier. Cli-Fi is a hashtag burning its stamp into our very skin, as we prepare.

• ​Cli-fi is more than a genre term, much more than that: it's a code word, a password, a secret handshake; it is bringing us together as one.
• Cli-fi wasn't just a case of slapping a new name on an old genre. It's much deeper and existential than that. Think game-changer, new directions.
• We'll never make it out of here alive. That's cli-fi in a nutshell. Man the lifeboats, prepare to test the seas of one season after the next.
• Cli-fi defines a line the sands of time that no man can cross without trepidation or reverence. There's a reason we are here. What is it?
• If cli-fi is one thing, it's a chance to choose our future. One door leads here, another door leads there. Choose wisely: Your descendants are waiting.
• There's a tragic flaw in our genes, a selfish shellfish that doesn't want to share. This DNA will be our downfall. This Earth shall abide.
• Cli-fi doesn't choose sides. We do. Choose your weapon, use it wisely. We are here by the grace of God, and someday we won't be. God knows.
• You could say that in a post-sci-fi world, cli-fi has come to rescue us from oblivion. Not true. No way.
• You might not really be interested in cli-fi, or where it is going. But trust me, cli-fi is interested in you. Why? Becos the End is nigh
• When all is said and done, cli-fi points in only one direction. It's for everyone to find it on their own. ON THE BEACH from 1957 has clues.
• Cli-fi is not about who coined it or who popularized it. It's about much more pressing things, like how many more generations before the End?
• I never met a future I didn't like. No, that can't be true. Some futures spell the end of humankind. It's in the cards. Choose your exit.

• Cli-fi is neither pro nor con. It just is. Take your pick. Choose yr sides. We are at war w/ a future that threatens all futures. Arise!

• Cli-fi is so much a part of this world that on first hearing the word or seeing it in print, it slips right by, invisble, unnoticed.
•If by some remote chance you find yourself reading a cli-fi novel without realizing it's cli-fi, you have arrived.
• There are are still 30 generations to be born before the real apocalypse begins. This now is just a rehearsal. An audition.
• Cli-fi leads to a meeting of the minds, borderless, rudderless, unconsolable. Will we get there on time?
• If you think time is running out, or has already run out, in terms of the unspeakable cli-fi future we face, you are very close to solving the riddle. Why are we here?
• I don't want to sound pessimistic, as optimism must abound and console us. But listen to the wind, hear the chimes sing, ring.
• Cli-fi has a place in our hearts and minds, now and forever. But forever is no longer forever. We sold the farm.
• Cli-fi can, and will, shine a light on the darkness that is about to befall us. Let's stick together and shoulder the burden.
• You didn't know cli-fi was coming. Nobody did. It's taken us by surprise.
• There will be days when cli-fi is beyond us, unscoutable, undetected. All the more reason to pay attention.
• Cli-fi doesn't mean resignation or giving in to the darkness ahead. To the contrary, it means taking up arms.
• If a time shall come when all else fails, cli-fi may just come to the rescue. Make room.
• Cli-fi cannot answer all our questions or undo the deeds we have done. No. But she can unburden us of our fears.
• There will come a time when there is no time left. That's where, and when, cli-fi comes in.
• Who will write the cli-fi of the future? They will be legion, legends. Welcome them.
• Cli-fi is more than a mere genre term, much more than a literary term. It's a battle cry, a cri decoeur, a shout-out to future generations: "We tried to warn you!"
• Think positive, think cli-fi. Think future generations, think now. Think the end is nigh unless we change our ways.
• There is no way out of here, said the sailors to the sun. Thirty more generations is all we have left. What then?
• Ploddingly, one step at a time, we are marching to future days. Cli-fi cannot stop the deluge, yet we must not surrender. Never.
• With sea levels rising in future times, Nature has been turned on its head. Cli-fi paints a picture, sight unseen.
• If we could see CO2, smell it, know that is there, over-loaded, we might be able to put out the fires. But it is invisible, odorless.
• Whatever generation you belong to, know in your heart that there is no way out of here. Nature has spoken, Earth recoils. Write on.
• To show respect to the Earth, which is our home in the cosmos, please always capitalize the word as ''Earth.'' Earth matters, tell the copy desk. Lowercasing it is beneath us.
• Cli-fi cannot, will not, lead the way. This is a clean-up action, and way too late. But it matters nevertheless.
• One cannot see the future, cli-fi is blind. But the stories we tell will matter, even if it is all for naught.
• Cli-fi, by indirection finds direction out. Your words on the page must be balanced, insistent. Always. And never lose hope.
• Not doomed yet? What will it take to connect the dots? Not doomed yet? Some overly-rosy displays of optimism in print could be seen as pathological.
• As humans, ike all life forms, we are hardwired and programmed to believe that the near future will be similar to the recent past. Our Achilles heel, so to speak.
• Cli-fi won't solve our problems, and can't undo what's done. Fasten your seatbelts. This is a ride to Hell.
• Climate change is more than a fact of life. It is the result of human ingenuity, greed, rapaciousness and fear. Fear not: cli-fi is here. Write it.
• I came to the table naive and unquestioning. I left totally convinced there will be dead people, lots of dead people. That was the genesis of cli-fi.
• You might not want to go down the cli-fi road, and that's okay. It's not a pretty picture, not a happy selfie. It's disaster, writ large.
• In the long and rambling history of humankind, cli-fi will be just a blip on the radar screen. Pay it no heed.
• You weren't born yesterday. Your descendants may not even be born at all, ever. That's how unfathomable cli-fi is.
• If you can manage to fit the personal stories of cli-fi between the covers of a book, do it. With trepidation. Know your audience.
• Cli-fi will have no denouement, no act three, no happy ending, no Greek chorus, no social media take-away. Push send.

• Sorry, but this is how cli-fi is going to be, in the Anthropocene. Just 12 letters spelling doom.

• I wish there was some cli-fi way out of here, but there ain't. Ain't ain't ain't. Ain't ain't ain't times, ten thousand times ain't.




Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hollywood shuns climate-themed movies for 2016 Oscars telecast. Why?

Will the Hollywood sign in 2100 still be there?

By Dan Bloom
If there really is a strong liberal, progressive presence in Hollywood -- and there is, from producers to directors to writers --  then where are all the global warming-themed movies
in Tinseltown? They just aren't getting greenlighted.


With the recently-concluded COP21 climate talks in Paris reaching a successful agreement
December, the current list of
nominations doesn't
​include even one
single movie with a
​I wondered why and decided to get on the email phone with two experts I trust on this: Edward Rubin at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Michael Svoboda at George Washington University just a few city blocks from the White House.

Rubin, born and bred in Brooklyn and in his mid-60s now, is the author of a new cli-fi novel titled "The Heatstroke Line," and he's teaching a cli-fi course this semester at Vanderbilt called "Climate Change Literature: a New Fictional Genre about a Real Problem." 

I asked the law professor, who earlier in his career worked as an entertainment lawyer for some Hollywood producers, what his take was on the movie capital of the world turning a blind eye to climate change themes, even when the newspapers are full of climate science news items every day now.

​"Climate-themed movies can play a crucial role in educating people worldwide about climate change," Rubin told me by email. "To begin with, people will watch the movie and be moved by it, and they are not going to just look at government charts and scientific research papers."

''Even more important, movies can present scenarios that make large events comprehensible and future possibilities concrete," he added, noting: "What is truly false, and belongs in the category of puerile fantasy, is to deny that climate change is occurring. The fact is that many of the grim possibilities portrayed in a cli-fi movie will become realities unless we take global concerted action."
For Svoboda, an assistant professor of writing and director of the Sustainability Minor at GWU as well as a regular contributor to Yale Climate Connections, where he first began to write about climate change in popular culture, Hollywood's fear of making climate-themed movies sets a bad example for other film capitals around the world, from Bollywood to London. Where Hollywood producers should be leading, they are being lazy and running on fear. The author of a recent academic paper titled "Cli-fi On the Screens," a survey of climate change in over 60 feature films, the professor has done his homework.

"For the big Hollywood studios, I think the fear of alienating a segment of the market, due to the polarization of the climate change issue in the U.S., is a factor in whether to incorporate 'climate change' into a plot," he told me. "That seems to have been the case with 'Mad Max: Fury Road.' For the smaller studios, the ones making movies for network and cable TV channels, I think there's a sense of 'been there, done that.' They've moved on to the latest fear in the daily news cycle. And neither group seems to understand the challenge. Climate change doesn't fit into the stories they've been trained to tell."

I asked Svoboda if he thinks things will change.

"I hope so," he said. "As the evidence mounts that climate change is already changing weather patterns, which in turn are affecting the global economy and international relations, I think moviemakers will figure out how to combine the different elements of climate change -- extreme weather, economic impacts, the conflicts driven by food insecurities that result -- into coherent, compelling and new stories."

To move the public on this issue, these stories must also illustrate how we can make the social changes necessary to avoid truly dangerous climate change, Svoboda said.

And that may mean movies that look more like ''Too Big to Fail'' or ''The Big Short'' than ''The Day After Tomorrow,'' ''Into the Storm,'' or ''Snowpiercer."

In a recent oped article Svoboda wrote headlined "No Awards for the Academy on Climate Change this Year," he said that Hollywood producers and screenwriters seem cowed by the politics and confused by the challenge of climate change.
​"The 2015-nominated actors, directors, and films portrayed Cold War-era America, in several places, the Western frontier, the surface of Mars -- anything but the future we actually face," he wrote. "Even in ''Mad Max: Fury Road,'' a major theatrical release predicated on a breakdown of the environment, the words 'climate change' never appear."  

''Politics'' is certainly part of the answer, Svoboda told me.

''Over the last decade, climate change became embroiled in America's culture wars," he said. "A significant portion of the American electorate now views 'climate change' as a Trojan horse for 'the liberal agenda.' If a studio has invested millions to create a pop-spectacle, it will hesitate to include political notes that might sour its siren call."

Svoboda said he's hopeful that a new cohort of moviemakers, such as producer and climate activist Marshall Herskovitz, will face climate themes head-on in the future.

"The stories they greenlight in coming years may well influence what humans are able to achieve on climate change by 2100," he said. 
So how about it,
​liberal, progressive 
Hollywood? When will you start making
​global warming

themed movies
​ for America's cineplex audiences

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Cli-fi on the screen(s): patterns in the representations of climate change in fictional films

[FULL TEXT Embargoed Until January 31, 2016]

In a July 10, 2015 blog post, a journalist ...recalled the challenges separately issued in 2005 by Bill McKibben and Robert Macfarlane.

Where are the works of art, they asked, the fictional works about climate change?

In the 10 years since these questions were posed, the journalist argued, they have been answered—by cli-fi novels and cli-fi films.

American film critic  Michael Svoboda has written an academic study of cli-fi cinema for WIREs journal and it can be cited as ''WIREs Clim Change 2016, 7:43–64. doi: 10.1002/wcc.381''

Below is brief look at the article, with excerpts until the the story goes public at the WIREs website.

Fictional works about climate change, or cli-fi, have been hailed as a new genre. As a complement to previous WIREs studies of novels and plays, this article focuses on cli-fi films, providing an overview of some 60 films, including major theatrical releases, smaller festival films, and made-for-TV movies. Of the many possible impacts of climate change predicted by scientists, this study finds that filmmakers have focused on extreme weather events and the possibility of Earth slipping into a new ice age. These choices reflect filmmakers’ predispositions more than any scientific consensus and thus demonstrate the challenge that cli-fi films pose to climate change communicators. Finally, noting the recent emergence of films that parody concerns about climate change or that depict attempts to mitigate its causes or ameliorate its effects as possibly more disastrous than climate change itself, this study recommends that researchers in the humanities and social sciences look beyond ''The Day After Tomorrow,'' which has received far more attention than any other film.

© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


This overview is presented in  4  parts. First,
after very brief notices for six notable precursors,
55 films produced since 1984 are grouped by the climate
impacts they depict; then these groups are
reviewed for their unifying characteristics and distinguishing
differences. Only then, second, is the limited
academic literature related to cli-fi films reviewed.
(Because the cli-fi designation is relatively new,
because half of the films in this list are less than 3
years old, and because many made-for-TV and
straight-to-DVD films receive few critical notices, this
paucity of sources is not surprising.) To aid in applying
this literature to the much broader set of films
reviewed here, a critical framework is imported from
work on communicating climate change. Third, the
efficacy of these films is evaluated using this framework,
supplemented by critical observations provided
by the academic literature. The salient results of this
overview, and their implications, are then summed
up in a final conclusion.


‘Cli-fi,’ for the purposes of this overview, excludes
documentaries and advocacy films even if, as in the
case of ''The Age of Stupid,'' they include fictive elements.

And while ‘film’ or ‘movie’ most readily suggest
feature films played in cinemas or theaters, this
overview includes fictional works produced for much
smaller screens, such as those found in art houses,
film festivals, or in homes and apartments (i.e., television
or computer screens). This means made-for-TV
movies and movies released only on DVD or blu-ray
are included, but only if they are full length (85 min
or more) and self-contained (a one- or two-part production).
On this basis film shorts and regular, multiepisode
TV programs were excluded.

strategies were used to find the films reviewed here.
Keyword searches (‘climate change’ and ‘global
warming’) were conducted at the International Movie
Database (IMDB) website.Websites and blogs that
focus on cli-fi or on climate change and popular culture
were scanned for the titles they listed. Other
titles were found through the scholarly literature.
And several scholars who have published relevant
work were consulted by e-mail.

All but two of the films identified in this way
were English-language productions. This reflects both
the actual dominance of English language films in
this ‘genre’ and the difficulty of obtaining the few
non-English cli-fi films that exist. The two such films
that could be obtained (through a major online
American retailer) are both German films, Das Noah
Arch Prinzip (or The Noah’s Ark Principle, 1984)
and F4 (Vortex, 2006).

The former was included
because it is the first full-length work by Roland
Emmerich, the director of TDAT, and it likely
inspired The Storm, a movie made for TV in 2009.
F4 was included because it is discussed in one of the
early academic surveys of cli-fi films.

BLOG NOTE: [Svoboda then sorts these 61 films into seven groups: flooding/sea-level-rise, extreme weather events, into/in an ice age, melting poles, famine/drought, preclima(c)tic stress disorder, and antagonists.]


In a July 10, 2015 blog post, a journalist ...recalled the challenges separately issued in 2005 by Bill McKibben and Robert Macfarlane.

Where are the works of art, they asked, the fictional works about climate change?

In the 10 years since these questions were posed, the journalist argued, they have been answered—by cli-fi novels and cli-fi films.

In fact, by 2005 at least 14 novels about climate change had already been published in the UK and the United States, and what is still the most commercially successful feature film about climate change, The Day After Tomorrow4 (hereafter TDAT), had been released the year before (a point McKibben grudgingly acknowledged).

But the journalist is right: in the 10 years since McKibben and Macfarlane issued their challenges, there has been an outpouring of work.

So much so that the state of ‘cli-fi’ is now regularly updated in the pages of major news venues such as The Guardian and The New York Times ; in magazines devoted to political/cultural commentary such as Dissent and Salon ; in environmental newswires and websites such as ClimateWire, The Daily Climate, and Grist; and in film-trade publications such as Entertainment Weekly. Fictional works about climate change have also been addressed in the pages of WIREs Climate Change. In 2011, Adam Trexler and Adeline Johns-Putra provided an overview of ‘Climate Change in Literature and Literary Criticism.’ Then, in 2012, Stephen Bottoms covered ‘Climate Science on the London Stage.’