Thursday, July 18, 2019

French #CliFi writer @Cyril Dion in an interview, translate with Google Translate if you cannot read French.

Great interview with Cyril Dion: "You have to give people a chance to catch their breath!"

French sci fi and cli-fi novelist Jean-Marc Ligny rells this blog today that ...
Cyril Dion is the director of the documentary movie « Demain », which highlights some alternative behaviors facing the upcoming collapse of the present system. He is an important actor of the collapsological movement. He is very interesting 😊
NOTE: For a BETTER  transation of articles, interviews or so on from many languages to English, try DeepL – it’s a machine translator but far smarter than *Google or *Microsoft. 😉 (And it’s free)
Thank you for all you’re doing ! 😃
**** AND and editor YANN QUERO in France tells this blog that ....Cyril Dion directed a famous documentary in FRANCE titled "Demain" ("Tomorrow") in 2015, in which he addressed the risk of climate change and the necessity of changing our way of live, so that it become sustainable.
See the link:
Tomorrow (2015 film)

And the Thau festival invited him was about the "climate emergency".
In the interview Cyril Dion clearly mentions cli-fi :
"A number of people have taken up the subject in the artistic field. There is in the United States this literary stream of "cli-fi" ("climate fiction") that imagines the impact of climate change on our lives ''

Cyril Dion



French #CliFi writer Cyril Dion in an interview, translate with Google Translate if you cannot read French.,8316567.php

Grand entretien avec Cyril Dion : "Il faut donner la pêche aux gens !"

 "You have to give people a chance to catch their breath!"
Filmmaker and environmental activist Cyril Dion is the star guest of the Thau Festival in Mèze, Hérault, on the evening of Thursday, July 18th.

How did this special day of the Thau Festival come about the climate emergency?

It was Thau's team who approached us with the idea of ​​organizing an event in the spirit of the "Hummingbird Song" tour that we did in 2017 during the presidential elections. To try to raise the question of ecology, we mobilized many artists like Alain Souchon, Izïa, Matthieu Chedid, Albin de la Simone ...

 We had put on a rather original show during which they came to perform songs related to the subject and I intervened five or six times to read poems and texts, like a common thread, in a more sensitive than militant approach to the environmental issue. During the day, a conference was also organized to exchange ideas and make people smoke their brains! And this will still be the case for Thau.

We are in continuity with what you had undertaken with your documentary "Tomorrow"....
Yes, it is always this idea, which is at the heart of all my work, to give energy to others. Of course, we must alert people to the urgency, tell them exactly what is at stake at the moment, but we must also give them a chance to catch their breath, awaken their enthusiasm and creativity so that they can make a difference in their lives, set up projects, participate in mobilizations...

Isn't culture the most important fight in the fight for the environment?

We had a very original show in which they came to interpret songs related to the subject and I intervened five or six times to read poems and texts, like a red thread, in a more sensitive approach that militant of the environmental issue. In the day was also organized a conference to brew ideas, make smoking brains! And that will be the case again for Thau.

We are in continuity with what you had undertaken with your documentary "Tomorrow" ...

Yes, it is always this idea, which is at the heart of all my work, to give energy to others. Of course it is necessary to warn about the urgency, to say exactly what is going on at the moment, but we must also give fishing to people, to awaken in them enthusiasm and creativity so that they can change things in their life, mount projects, participate in mobilizations ...

Is culture not the most important fight in the fight for the environment?

What I always say is that we can not imagine that we will transform society if we can not imagine another society. But to imagine it, we need new stories, things that speak to our imaginations and our emotions at the same time. So, yes, the cultural battle is first because we need to change our culture, understood as our way of living together, to feed ourselves, to move, in short to organize society and represent the world.

But this representation is still for the moment consumerist ...

Our representation of the world is always based on a materialist, consumerist narrative, according to which we would have to accumulate more and more wealth and hope for more and more economic growth. As long as we do not change this narrative, the actions we propose will come up against this organization of the world. And it's this impossibility that discourages people ...

Today, our job is of course to oppose what destroys our ecosystems but also to offer stories that can bring enough people out of the consumerist impasse.

Exactly, is not something strong and common happening on this point at the moment?

Yes, it is happening. A number of people have taken up the subject in the artistic field. There is in the United States this literary stream of "cli-fi" ("climate fiction") that imagines the impact of climate change on our lives in the coming years.

We can also think of Alain Damasio with his new novel "Les Furtifs". This is also what we tried to do with Mélanie Laurent with Tomorrow. There is also the collective Les Parasites who directed for Canal + "The Collapse", an anthology of eight episodes we will see in the fall. It is true that we are always a bit in the dystopia but it is useful to become aware of what is happening and what could happen.

But there are stories that are told in other fields: when Greta Thunberg begins to strike in front of the Swedish Parliament and when she rallies hundreds of thousands of young people to her cause, it is also a way to "disrupt "the dominant narrative of growth and consumption. These teenagers tell us that we are crazy to be furious in this vision of the world and to prepare for an impossible future. This call to a moral imperative is another alternative narrative.

And reality gets involved ...

Yes, we are really starting to make the link between scientific publications and our daily observation. Last summer was a breaking point with hot weather and forest fires in unpublished areas like Sweden. This summer is gone to be identical with the absolute record of heat found in the Gard: 45.9 ° C. it inevitably marks people's minds to make the sensitive experience of what, until then, was only an idea: climate change.

What are your next projects, your next stories?

I was thinking of making an augmented version of the "Little manual of contemporary resistance" that I published last year but my publisher Actes Sud has just proposed to me to make a volume 2. So I'm going to get down to it.

I am also finishing preparing a movie that we will start shooting in September. It's called "Animal". It is a documentary for the cinema that questions the place of the human being on this planet compared to other species. We will talk about the 6th mass extinction and the solutions that exist to avoid this.

But I'm also working on the second version of a fictional scenario. Anticipation The first version was read by the producers and so we work at number two, incorporating the requested improvements. It going !
  • Autour de Cyril Dion ce jeudi 18 juillet à Mèze, des artistes comme Emily Loizeau, Nach, Féloche, Hugh Coltman, Piers Faccini...
    Autour de Cyril Dion ce jeudi 18 juillet à Mèze, des artistes comme Emily Loizeau, Nach, Féloche, Hugh Coltman, Piers Faccini... FANNY DION -
Publié le / Modifié le S'abonner
Le cinéaste et militant écologiste Cyril Dion est l’invité vedette du Festival de Thau, à Mèze, dans l'Hérault, le soir du jeudi 18 juillet.
Comment est née cette journée spéciale du Festival de Thau autour de l’urgence climatique ?
C’est l’équipe de Thau qui nous a approchés dans l’idée d’organiser un événement dans l’esprit de la tournée “Le Chant des colibris” que nous avions faite en 2017 au moment des élections présidentielles. Pour essayer de porter haut la question de l’écologie, nous avions mobilisé plein d’artistes comme Alain Souchon, Izïa, Matthieu Chedid, Albin de la Simone…

On avait monté un spectacle un peu original au cours duquel ils venaient interpréter des chansons en relation avec le sujet et j’intervenais cinq ou six fois pour lire des poèmes et des textes, comme un fil rouge, dans une approche plus sensible que militante de la question environnementale. Dans la journée était aussi organisée une conférence pour brasser les idées, faire fumer les cerveaux ! Et ce sera encore le cas pour Thau.
On est dans la continuité de ce que vous aviez entrepris avec votre documentaire “Demain”…
Oui, c’est toujours cette idée, qui est au cœur de tout mon travail, de donner de l’énergie aux autres. Bien sûr qu’il faut alerter sur l’urgence, dire précisément ce qui se joue en ce moment, mais il faut aussi donner la pêche aux gens, éveiller chez eux de l’enthousiasme et de la créativité de manière à ce qu’ils puissent changer des choses dans leur vie, monter des projets, participer à des mobilisations…
La culture n’est-elle pas le combat le plus important dans la lutte pour l’environnement ?
Ce que je dis toujours, c’est qu’on ne peut pas imaginer qu’on va transformer la société si on n’est pas capable d’imaginer une autre société. Or, pour l’imaginer, on a besoin de nouveaux récits, de choses qui parlent tout à la fois à nos imaginaires et à nos émotions. Alors, oui, la bataille culturelle est première car on a besoin de changer notre culture, entendue comme notre façon de vivre ensemble, de nous nourrir, de nous déplacer, bref d’organiser la société et de représenter le monde.
Or cette représentation est encore pour l’heure consumériste…
Notre représentation du monde s’appuie effectivement toujours sur un récit matérialiste, consumériste, selon lequel il nous faudrait accumuler toujours plus de richesses et espérer toujours plus de croissance économique. Tant qu’on ne changera pas ce récit-là, les actions qu’on proposera se heurteront à cette organisation du monde. Et c’est cette impossibilité qui décourage les gens…
Aujourd’hui, notre travail est bien sûr de nous opposer à ce qui détruit nos écosystèmes mais aussi de proposer des récits capables d’entraîner suffisamment de personnes ailleurs que dans l’impasse consumériste.
Justement, ne se passe-t-il pas quelque chose de fort et commun sur ce point en ce moment ?
Oui, c’est en train d’advenir. Un certain nombre de personnes se sont saisies du sujet dans le champ artistique. Il y a aux États-Unis ce courant littéraire de la “cli-fi” (“climate fiction”) qui imagine l’impact du changement climatique sur nos vies dans les années qui viennent.
On peut aussi penser chez nous à Alain Damasio, avec son nouveau roman "Les Furtifs". C’est également ce que nous avions essayé de faire avec Mélanie Laurent avec Demain. Il y a aussi le collectif Les Parasites qui a réalisé pour Canal + "L’Effondrement", une anthologie de huit épisodes qu’on verra à l’automne. C’est vrai qu’on est toujours un peu dans la dystopie mais celle-ci est utile pour prendre conscience de ce qui se passe et ce qui pourrait arriver.
Mais il y a des histoires qui se racontent dans d’autres champs : quand Greta Thunberg commence à faire la grève devant le Parlement suédois et quand elle rallie à sa cause des centaines de milliers de jeunes, c’est aussi une manière de "disrupter" le récit dominant de la croissance et de la consommation. Ces adolescents nous disent qu’on est des fous furieux à nous acharner dans cette vision du monde et à préparer un avenir impossible. Cet appel à un impératif moral est un autre récit alternatif.
Et la réalité s’en mêle…
Oui, on commence réellement à faire le lien entre les parutions scientifiques et notre observation au quotidien. L’été dernier a été un point de rupture avec de fortes chaleurs et des incendies de forêt dans des territoires inédits comme en Suède. Cet été est parti pour être identique avec le record absolu de chaleur constaté dans le Gard : 45,9 °C. ça marque forcément les esprits que de faire l’expérience sensible de ce qui, jusque-là, n’était qu’une idée : le changement climatique.
Quels sont vos prochains projets, vos prochains récits ?
Je pensais faire une version augmentée du "Petit manuel de résistance contemporaine" que j’ai publié l’an passé mais mon éditeur Actes Sud vient de me proposer d’en faire un tome 2. Alors je vais m’y atteler.
Je suis aussi en train de finir de préparer un film qu’a priori nous allons commencer à tourner en septembre. Il s’intitule "Animal". C’est un documentaire pour le cinéma qui interroge la place de l’être humain sur cette planète par rapport aux autres espèces. On va y parler évidemment de la 6e extinction de masse et des solutions qui existent pour éviter cela.
Mais je suis aussi en train de travailler sur la deuxième version d’un scénario de fiction. De l’anticipation. La première version a été lue par les producteurs et l’on travaille donc à la numéro deux, en intégrant les améliorations demandées. Ça avance !

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Could Summer 2019 Hollywood hit ''Crawl'' Usher in a New Wave of ''Cli-Fi Horror'' Films in the 2020s? Yup.


Could Summer 2019 Hollywood hit ''Crawl'' Usher in a New Wave of ''Cli-Fi Horror'' Films in the 2020s? Yup.

The villain in 'Crawl' is a giant alligator, of course, but the real threat is that of impending ecological collapse.

JULY 17th, 2019


Climate change can hit extremely close to home. Worse yet, it can literally bring the stuff of nightmares into our homes. In Houston, survivors of Hurricane Harvey had to contend with raw sewage and ''fire ant'' flotillas. When the levees broke in New Orleans after Katrina, the floodwaters hurled a 200 foot-long barge into a residential neighborhood, where it pulverized houses.

And in Crawl, the new 2019 cli-fi horror movie from Alexandre Aja and producer Sam Raimi, a Florida woman  and her injured dad  are trapped in a submerged, hurricane-battered house that’s promptly invaded by giant alligators.
Aside from being the average Floridian’s nightmare,  Crawl is a ''pulpy'' blast. It’s part slasher flick, part home invasion thriller, and its alligator theme offers a much-needed reprieve from the #sharknado movies that Hollywood seems to crank out like soft-serve ice cream every summer. But the ironic thing about Crawl is that the alligators are almost upstaged by the far bigger and nastier threat: that of impending ecological collapse.

"There is something about the world we live in, the disasters coming more and more often, not only in the U.S. but everywhere in the world," Aja told The Thrillist website during an interview about the film. "Sometimes the floodwater brings the 60 million-year-old neighbors back into our place."

The setup of ''Crawl'' is built on climate change — the whole nasty affair begins with a Category 5 decimating the Florida coast. Even the film’s marketing campaign seems designed to provoke climate anxiety in viewers who remember disasters like Hurricane Katrina. The governor, who we see urging families to “get out” during a press conference in the movie trailer, looks kind of like former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who made a similar plea to NOLA residents before that storm. And the posters for Crawl are adorned with the ominous tagline, “They were here first,” a nod to humankind’s anxiety that the natural world—which we’ve long-abused—will exact bloody revenge.
Throughout the film, characters make dread-inducing mentions of the local levees, which they fear will break as the flooding worsens. Before the gators show up in force, a swamp boat full of adolescent looters prowls the flooded suburb (we see them dragging an ATM out of an abandoned gas station), bringing to mind the time Chris Kyle, of American Sniper fame, told a since-disputed story about shooting looters from the top of the New Orleans superdome. Their presence in the film’s first act—and their ultimate fate as gator bait—speaks to the classist and often racist climate disaster anxieties (and fantasies) that Crawl is tapping into.

So here’s the question:

could Crawl catalyze a new wave of cli-fi horror films about climate change?

Despite the amount of collective headspace that climate change occupies, today’s studios are only just beginning to touch the issue. SEE THIS LINK:

While Paul Schrader’s recent cli-fi movie ''First Reformed'' gave us a haunting look at the intersection of faith and climate grief, it wasn’t a horror film in the traditional sense.

The scariest climate change-driven horror flick in recent memory is probably Larry Fessenden’s The Last Winter (2006), an underseen blood chiller about malevolent ghosts that are released from an Arctic oil reserve by a team of drillers. Barry Levinson’s The Bay (2012) is another respectable (and utterly disgusting) cli-fi nightmare in which industrial chicken shit dumpage in the Chesapeake Bay causes waterborne isopod parasites to grow and devour people from the inside out.
As Fessenden sees it, the topic has enormous potential for shaping the horror genre.

“It was very important to me to take these old beloved horror tropes like Frankenstein, Dracula, or the shape-shifting creature and look at them in the modern era,” Fessenden, who also tackled climate ruination in Wendigo and No Telling, told VICE. “What I’ve found most sad and frustrating about humanity is its complete lack of attention to the awesome power of the natural world and this narcissism that drives human activity with no regard for the bigger picture.”

Not long ago, environmentalism did play a role in moving the genre forward. It was the early 1970s, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had become a New York Times bestseller, and Americans were reckoning with the way that pesticides were decimating plants and animals.

“There was this idea that we’ve wrought all this damage upon the natural world and that one day, the natural world is going to turn on us,” Dr. Andrew Scahill, an assistant professor of film studies at the University of Colorado Denver, told VICE by phone. “And this anxiety had a strong influence on an emerging subgenre of cli-fi horror that I like to call a “Nature’s Revenge” kind of cli-fi film.”

The Nature’s Revenge film, as Scahill describes it, was essentially the grandparent of Crawl, typically featuring A-listers getting clawed and pawed to death by juiced-up animals. There was 1977’s Empire Of The Ants, in which Golden Globe winner and London theatre veteran Joan Collins went hand-to-antennae with supersized toxic waste-fed ants. That same year, audiences gobbled up Day Of Animals, an admirably batshit genre entry where manmade aerosols burn a hole in the ozone layer, inducing psychosis in mountain lions, grizzly bears, hawks, mice, and even dogs. Naturally, the berserker critters attack a group of hikers, led by a pre- Naked Gun Leslie Nielsen.
But the most famous Nature’s Revenge movie, by far, is Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975). Unleashing a man-eating shark upon the bourgeois beachgoers of Martha’s Vineyard was a subtler nod to the conflict between man and nature. But it ruined the beach for millions of would-be swimmers, and it paved the road for climate change-driven horror movies like Crawl, where the alligators don’t stay in the swamp.

Climate change is a merging of worlds—ours and the natural one—and Crawl presents a new nightmare that this “merger” poses: that one day, nature will break into our homes and kill us.

“The idea of [Crawl] has a lot in common with the classic slasher movie,” Scahill said. “Not just because it’s a home invasion narrative, but because of the generational theme at play. Look at a film like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was made during the Vietnam era, and it was about young idealistic adults on a road trip who just become meat for the grinder. This theme of young people paying for the mistakes of their parents is something you’ll see in Friday The 13th or Nightmare On Elm Street as well. And in Crawl, the ‘mistake’ happens to be climate change.”

For Millennial and Gen Z audiences, Crawl might resonate as a subtle yet biting indictment of their parents’ failure to stop climate change from metastasizing. And yet, there’s also something a bit off-kilter about the film’s premise. The gators, while shiver-inducing, aren’t the problem that Crawl makes them out to be. The actual climate antagonists—fossil fuel companies, the Republican Party, and rich people—might not be swimming into our houses and munching on our ribcages. But they’re profiting from the harvest of fossil fuels and fighting legislation that would provide a just transition to a carbon-neutral economy (such as AOC and Ed Markey’s Green New Deal.) Crawl doesn’t even try to allude to these forces, which is strange and disappointing given the film’s consciousness of how climate change shapes our nightmares.
Still, there’s something to be said for any cli-fi movie that dares to inject climate change into multiplex horror—which usually offers apolitical blood-soaked escapism that’s as easy to brush off as the popcorn that accumulates on your pants. Even if we don’t directly see them, we’re reminded that the true climate change villains are out there, waiting beyond the air-conditioned cineplex. If Crawl’s gators are capable of sending us home in a puddle of anxiety, imagine how we’ll react when a film about the real climate monsters lumbers into theaters.

That will happen, and it can’t come soon enough. SEE LINK HERE:

Hollywood will never be the same and neither will social media conversations after major new cli-fi TV series reach the masses worldwide.

TV dominates the culture at large now and plays a vital role when portraying our warming planet.

This is the entertainment era of cli-fi and sci-fi where the climate crisis takes a central role.

Item: A June 2019 episode of ''Big Little Lies'' dove into the subject in an unexpected way when the young daughter of the main character has an anxiety attack about the future of the planet. The storyline constituted just a single subplot, but it spawned a minor eruption of hot takes, analysis pieces and recaps.

Grist magazine discussed the question of how to talk to children about climate change. 

Esquire magazine deemed the second grader's panic-stricken retreat into a closet as a metaphor for living in 2019.

The Vulture website called up a child psychologist to get her point of view.

Climate-change anxiety is now a part of growing up, opined  the Washington Post.

Pop culture has caught on to the cli-fi predicament we are in now.

The 2020s will be an important decade in the entertainment industry, as producers and directors get the Greta Thunberg message.

Item: When an editor and writer with set out to find major cli-fi TV shows addressing the damage that humans are inflicting on our atmosphere he said he found three good ones:  ''Game of Thrones,'' a National Geographic docu-series called  ''Life Below Zero'' and the Norwegian cli-fi thriller  ''Occupied."

More are on the way, according to industry sources. Hollywood is waking up.

The climate crisis that's reshaping every aspect of human experience is being mirrored now on TV and in Hollywood.

Advocates think that this shows the chances for real, aggressive action on climate. A writer and producer for a climate-themed web series  told a reporter earlier this summer that if we want to change the politics in this country, we have to change the stories that are being told around [climate change] issues. We need something [like cli-fi] that can contain the whole range of people's lived and real experiences.

The deep level of emotional engagement that comes from a dramatic storyline can influence people's real-world behavior, according to an American literary journalist who has been studying the issue for years and founded The Cli-Fi Report online.

Hollywood gatekeepers are no longer standing in the way of great climate television shows. Science Fictional and cli-fi shows and series are beginning now to agressively tackle climate change. The jig is up.

Although ecological catastrophe is often seen as supremely difficult to dramatize, more screenwriters, producers and directors are beginning to say "Lights! Camera! Action!''

Disasters linked to climate change are now more in the headlines than ever before and people are feeling the consequences much more acutely. The science has also become more terrifying.

An American blogger says we have 30 more generations, 500 years, to create novels, movies and TV shows about global warming and try to stop it before it becomes ''unstoppable.'

While telling a direct story about climate change is hard because there aren't instantly identifiable heroes and villains, according to industry sources, help -- and hope -- is on the way.

Hollywood will never be the same and neither will social media conversations after major new cli-fi TV series reach the masses worldwide.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The invention of “cli-fi” as a narrative category can be credited to Dan Bloom

Irish Journalist Stephen Phelan on "The Rise of Cli-Fi in a Global Context"
(c) COPYRIGHT 2019 / Stephen Phelan
More than a decade ago, in the year of Hurricane Katrina, climate change had not yet flooded into fiction. Scientists were wondering if and when the worlds of art and literature would ever collide with the overheating planet that they saw in their projections. “Where are the books? The poems? The plays? The goddamn operas?” asked the leading US environmentalist Bill McKibben in an article of 2005. His theory was: we still weren’t quite scared enough.

The problem was too big, too diffuse, too complex to provoke a visceral response. “It hasn’t registered in our gut,” he wrote. “It isn’t part of our culture.” In the years since, the weather has worsened and the culture has shifted. The US alone has seen its eastern seaboard half-submerged by Hurricane Sandy and half-buried under arctic snowstorms, while the west coast suffers chronic drought and near-constant bushfires.

As this article is being written, the monsoons are again inundating the streets and buildings of Mumbai, and the heat index in Marshahr just popped the top off the thermometer at a fantastical 165 degrees F.
Rising temperatures, sea levels and rain gauges seem to have finally released what McKibben calls “a torrent of art” around global warming.

Poems like Ruth Padel’s Slices of Toast. Plays like Richard Bean’s The Heretic. Movies like Snowpiercer and Interstellar. This past May, we even got the climate change opera that McKibben called for, when CO2 – directed by Giorgio Battistelli and inspired by Al Gore’s landmark eco-documentary, An Inconvenient Truth – made its debut at La Scala in Milan.

We have also seen the flourishing of literature on the subject. Relatively recent non-fiction titles like Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything and Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes From A Catastrophe draw on McKibben’s own work by way of precedent. His pioneering 1989 treatise The End Of Nature is now read as something of a classic, having raised the alarm with an early, mournful note of eulogy. “I love winter best now,” he wrote way back then, “but I try not to love it too much, for fear of the January perhaps not so distant when the snow will fall as warm rain.”

McKibben says he’s too busy organising to get much writing done. He’s an instrumental figure in the campaign, which takes its name from the maximum number in parts per million CO2 at which the Earth’s atmosphere can sustain our current civilisation. Artists are a vital part of the project, he says, “the antibodies of the cultural bloodstream”. He cites the time-lapse photography of James Balog, which shows city-sized regions of ice collapsing into the ocean, and the aerial tableaux of John Quigley, who arranges crowds into formation against dramatic natural backdrops to militate for urgent action. But writers make images in their own way.

“They help people picture meaning in their minds,” says McKibben. “Nuclear explosions were relatively easy to imagine, because we always had the mushroom cloud. But here we have the explosions of a billion pistons in a billion cylinders every second.” He doesn’t think another treatise from himself or some like-minded polemicist would “move the needle all that much”. “That said, a really good metaphor is probably as useful in the fight as a new kind of car engine.”

And this is where the novelists come in. When Cormac McCarthy published ''The Road'' in 2007, a  lyrical parable of human endurance set in a near-future of dead trees and starving survivors, the activist George Monbiot called it “the most important environmental book ever written”. Marcel Theroux’s ''Far North,'' which traced the grim adventures of US refugees across post-eco-apocalyptic Siberia, was heralded two years later by the Washington Post as “the first great cautionary fable of climate change”. Other acclaimed authors like Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, and Barbara Kingsolver have conducted their own extensive research on glacier retreat, fresh water depletion, and species extinction to produce novels as diverse as Solar, The Year Of The Flood, and Flight Behavior, all best-sellers that were peer-reviewed by scientists as well as the usual literary critics. In terms of style, tone, or approach, these books have almost nothing in common.

Though heavily based on his disheartening artist’s expedition to Arctic Norway with the Cape Farewell project, McEwan’s Solar, for example, took the form of absurd and bitter comedy. But if visions of a weather-beaten future have been the stuff of pulp and science fiction for at least a century, we have lately reached the point where they are taken much more seriously. And there is now enough climate change fiction on the shelves for “cli-fi” to become a growing genre unto itself.

The invention of “cli-fi” as a narrative category should be credited to Dan Bloom, an American freelance journalist based in Taiwan, circa 2008. Today he says he came up with it “on the spur of the moment”, while trying to sell a script he’d written for a movie titled Polar City Red, to be set in a dystopian Alaska. His pitch was inspired, in a roundabout way, by renowned environmentalist James Lovelock, who has long since decided that it’s too late to prevent the worst effects of climate change, and that we are effectively “doomed doomed doomed”, as Bloom puts it. Lovelock is his hero, but he doesn’t share that view.

“I’m an optimist,” says Bloom. “I’m not coming from a dark place, I’m working from a reservoir of compassion for the next 30 generations.” He was also thinking of Nevil Shute’s 1957 novel On The Beach, a work of popular fiction that probably awakened more people to the threat of nuclear war and the horror that would follow than any contemporary scientist or campaigner had managed. It was later made into a hit movie with Gregory Peck that buried even deeper into the public consciousness. Bloom’s own film has not been produced as yet, but he has parlayed his coinage of that resounding new term into an ongoing project called The Cli-Fi Report, a web-based archive and research tool.

He keeps particular track of the literature now making its way into school curricula and college reading lists – “cli-fi” is being rapidly adopted as a subject of academic study, giving rise to new university courses in Cambridge, Norway, India. More important, says Bloom, is the way that subject seems to be engaging and inspiring young readers.

“My hope is that one of those readers might become the next Nevil Shute and write the On The Beach of climate novels. Personally, I’m not so worried about the next 10 or 20 years. No apocalypse will come that soon. But we need to start preparing now, mentally, emotionally, and I think art can help. Visionary storytelling that sounds the alarm.”

As Bloom well knows though, no true storyteller wants to be a preacher, and no serious artist would consent to serve as a mouthpiece for scientists and policymakers. The politics of climate change put art at risk of being read as propaganda, and the whole concept of “fiction” becomes pretty slippery when both sides of the debate use that word to dismiss each other’s “facts”. To sceptics, man-made global warming is a myth. To those convinced of its reality, denial is a kind of counter-myth.

It might be worth noting that certain core arguments about the power of humanity over nature, and vice versa, can be traced back to one of the oldest stories in existence. The Epic of Gilgamesh, written some time around 2100 BCE, begins with the destruction of forests to make way for mighty cities, and builds toward an account of a deluge that drowns the world. That ancient Sumerian poem survives at least in part as the original flood myth, and we tend to resurrect such myths when circumstance demands – witness last year’s odd but timely Hollywood blockbuster Noah, which cast Russell Crowe as the eponymous ark-builder, and recast a biblical apocalypse in a ecological light.

British nature writer Robert Macfarlane has noted that the Norse legends of Ragnarok and Balder became popular again in Victorian England, when eminent scientists like Lord Kelvin were predicting a new age of global cooling, as a prelude to the so-called “heat death” of the universe. The Earth would turn too cold to live, the sun would freeze into a ball of black ice and fall out of the sky, just as the Vikings had foretold. Except, of course, it didn’t happen.

Which is to say that we’ve been burned before. If we need a fitting flood myth for the Anthropocene epoch – what some environmentalists are calling our current geological period of prevailing human impact and influence – then we also need it to ring absolutely true. To be most useful to us, Macfarlane has suggested, the ideal literary response to climate change “would need to be measured and prudent, and would need to find ways of imagining which remained honest to the scientific evidence”. And to that end, Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow might be the very model of a cli-fi novel: the story of a New York risk analyst who is fully exposed to one of his own worst-case scenarios when a superstorm devastates Manhattan.

Drawing on the author’s years of research and reporting on the subject, it was written just before Hurricane Sandy hit the city in 2011, and released only after the offices of his publishing house had been cleared of broken glass and floodwater. Sandy created “complications”, as Rich puts it today. He had set his novel in the near-future, then the present came crashing in. For the sake of maximum veracity, he made a few last-minute adjustments to the manuscript, adding in little details to reflect what had actually happened. His fictional Hurricane Tammy was still a worse event by one or two orders of magnitude, but beyond that, he says, “all the scientific facts are accurate”. “It’s scarier that way, and more honest too.”

Rich did not intend Odds Against Tomorrow to be read as prophesy, or prescription. He wasn’t trying to convince climate change sceptics or play to the worst fears of those already persuaded. “I had no axe to grind,” he says. His protagonist, Mitchell Zukor, obsesses over imminent disaster, while other characters face it down or look away, adopting attitudes that range from nihilism to pragmatism to panic. Rich says he doesn’t feel that any one of these positions is more valid than another, but he does think they raise questions “that all of us must resolve for ourselves”.

“When it comes to environmental issues, should we all quit our jobs and become activists? Or recycle and turn the lights off at night and feel bad all the time? Or should we just do whatever it takes to support our families?” The overriding question is an existential one, and Rich believes that novelists are no less qualified to ask it than scientists or politicians – how are we to live like this? “It’s not just the fear of environmental collapse, but pandemics, terrorism, financial ruin, natural disaster, you name it. What’s it doing to us, this constant sense of threat, the inundation of bad news? And what are we supposed to do about it?” Writing cli-fi might be one answer, and reading it might be one way to prepare.

“Imagination can ready the mind for eventualities that might once have seemed far-fetched,” says Rich. “It can also be a form of inoculation. I don’t think anyone who watches Independence Day is necessarily going to be more afraid of an alien invasion. They’re more likely to be less afraid.”

By 2030, he reckons, every university in the world will be teaching courses in environmental fiction. “But younger novelists will be producing the work. We’re the ones with most at stake. We’re the ones who have to live through this mess.”

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Cli-Fi genre filmmaking can tackle serious issues in unexpected ways. Here are some feature films --- outside of documentaries -- that explore climate change. LISTEN TO RADIO PODCAST HERE:

Cli-Fi genre filmmaking can tackle serious issues in unexpected ways. Here are some feature films --- outside of documentaries -- that explore climate change. LISTEN TO PODCAST HERE:

Bruce Dern stars an an astronaut in charge of preserving ...
Photo credit: Universal
Bruce Dern starred as an astronaut in charge of preserving Earth's last forests on a spaceship in "Silent Running"


2 San Diego Film Critics Pick 6 of Their Favorite Cli-Fi Feature Movies

That's right: Cli-fi movies are in the game now too, and it’s not just documentaries that tackle issues of climate change

Saturday, March 23, 2019

La Tierra Segmentada: El fin o la transformación del Capitalismo y el ocaso del Antropoceno

La Tierra Segmentada: El fin o la transformación del
Capitalismo y el ocaso del Antropoceno

by Fernando Gularte, a friend of this blog

En este trabajo trataré de relacionar conceptos centrales que forman parte de
la vida del Hombre. Esto, con la intención de provocar algunas instancias de
reflexión que permitan discutir algunas posibles respuestas a cuestiones que
irán surgiendo en el desarrollo de las siguientes líneas.

La Naturaleza y el Hombre

Sabemos que mucho antes de la aparición del Hombre en la faz de la Tierra, ya
existía la vida. Somos, al menos hasta el día de hoy, el producto final de una
sucesión de especies en una escala evolutiva.
Hasta cierto momento de nuestra Historia; junto a distintas especies de
animales, fuimos agentes biológicos que interactuaban con la Naturaleza,
situados en la cúspide de una pirámide formada por estas especies, debido al
alto grado de desarrollo de nuestro cerebro.
Creamos civilizaciones en la Mesopotamia, en China, en Grecia, en Egipto, en
Roma. Creamos cultura y conocimiento. En esta evolución, logramos estadios
de desarrollo e inteligencia cada vez más elevados. Así nos fuimos apartando
cada vez más de otras especies, además de nuestros antepasados homínidos.
Mientras tanto, transcurría la época del Holoceno.
Podríamos pensar, en resumen, que fuimos de alguna forma creados por
interacciones naturales determinadas, como lo fueron las demás especies, y
que por tanto, como agentes biológicos, estaríamos sujetos o condicionados
por la Naturaleza y sus códigos evolutivos.
Los Siglos XIX, XX y XXI: La aparición y dominio del
En nuestro afán por superarnos a nosotros mismos cada día, lograr mejores
niveles de confort, mayor poder y dominio, fuimos tomando un control mayor
sobre el mundo natural, sobre sus recursos, sus fuentes de energía. Logramos
dominar, cielo, mar y tierra, mediante nuestras creaciones materiales. Surgió el
papel moneda a modo de intercambio entre distintos bienes y servicios, junto a
distintos grados de importancia y valor que eran definidos por lo que
conoceríamos después como Mercado. Con este último concepto, la mayoría
de las veces poco visible, de cierta naturaleza abstracta, nació el mundo del
Quizás el Capital sea visto por ciertos sectores de nuestra sociedad como un
arma moderna, un instrumento de poder, que permite refugiarnos en pequeños
clanes ( élites ) y defendernos de los otros ( grandes masas humanas,
animales, naturaleza ), como lo hacían nuestros antepasados cuando
descubrieron que con un garrote o el fémur de un gran animal, podían matar a
otros animales para alimentarse, o incluso defenderse de intrusos ajenos a sus
comunidades que buscasen apropiarse de sus alimentos, mujeres o cuevas.
En este caso:
¿No sería el Capital acaso; más allá de ser una creación intelectual, un
elemento natural más, dispuesto al servicio del Hombre?
El cerebro humano fue evolucionando a lo largo de miles de años; el ADN, las
células y por tanto las neuronas del Homo Sapiens, seguramente poseen una
naturaleza distinta a la que poseía el Hombre de Neardental.
¿Porqué hubo un momento en la Historia en que el Hombre logró utilizar un
garrote a su beneficio, y antes no? Esta misma pregunta nos la podríamos
hacer, con el fuego; hubo un antes y un después.
Lo que trato de fundamentar, es que el Capitalismo puede verse como un
elemento inherente a la naturaleza humana, a su Biología, un elemento más de
supervivencia, y también de lucha contra el miedo.
Capitalismo y Antropoceno
Es difícil pensar en la aparición del Antropoceno, sin pensar en el Capitalismo.
¿Sería posible la existencia del primero sin el segundo? Es decir, ¿La
desaparición del Capitalismo implicaría la extinción del Antropoceno?
Si el Capitalismo es un factor inherente al Hombre, ¿Sería ahora imposible la
existencia del Hombre sin el Antropoceno, como lo era en sus primeras
El punto de quiebre o quizás los puntos de quiebre, en los cuales el Hombre
fue abandonando su estado de agente biológico para convertirse en agente
geológico y por tanto creador de la época del Antropoceno, ocurrió en plena
expansión del Capitalismo, y de aquí las interrogantes anteriores.
Podríamos pensar en la existencia de “ciclos de refinamiento naturales del
Capitalismo” en el futuro, y que en algún momento dado, podamos abandonar
naturalmente ese ciclo, y continuar en las siguientes eras evolutivas sin
desaparecer como especie. Este punto, lo desarrollaré más adelante, con un
poco más de detalle.
Antropoceno y la posibilidad de un desastre nuclear
No es descabellado pensar que como especie podríamos desaparecer, al
pensar en una catástrofe nuclear de gran magnitud. Creo que entre todas las
amenazas existentes, la relacionada con la tecnología nuclear, si acaso no es
la más importante, estaría entre las primeras, entre las más probables.
Pensemos y analicemos el maquiavélico y letal cóctel al que estamos
Disponemos de centrales nucleares distribuidas por distintos países en todo el
planeta, que generan toneladas de residuos radiactivos que son enviados en su
mayoría a países pobres. Diseminamos así, cantidades potencialmente letales
de veneno, que harían desaparecer comunidades enteras, sin dejar ningún
rastro de vida.
No solo la basura generada es preocupante, sino también el hecho de que
estas centrales están a cargo de un grupo reducido de personas, que pueden
cometer errores, sumiendo a grandes áreas pobladas en catástrofes, como la
sucedida en Chernobyl, en 1986. Hasta el día de hoy, y por muchísimo tiempo
más, ciudades como Pripyat, permanecerán completamente deshabitadas.
Ciudades fantasmas por al menos cientos de años debido a la alta radiactivad
Si a esto, unimos casos como lo sucedido en las inmediaciones de Fukushima,
en el año 2011, en donde, fenómenos naturales como sismos y tsunamis se
unieron, desafiando las probabilidades y provocando la destrucción de una
gran central nuclear, a escasos 200 km de uno de los centros económicos más
importantes del mundo, liberando altas cantidades de radionucleidos a la
atmósfera y al océano; el futuro no resulta muy alentador.
Sin olvidar, la amenaza de conflictos bélicos nucleares, o simplemente
conflictos bélicos que pondrían en riesgo la futura existencia de las centrales
nucleares energéticas que menciono más arriba, el panorama resulta aún más
aterrador. Las pruebas nucleares que aún realizan países como Corea del
Norte, creando nuevas regiones estériles, ennegrecen aún más la situación.
El cambio climático, las catástrofes naturales, la tecnología nuclear existente,
junto a la negligencia y ambición de poder humanos, son factores que aunque
no queramos reconocerlo, se encuentran interrelacionados y nos ponen con un
pie en el precipicio. Todas consecuencias de un Capitalismo salvaje,
posiblemente creador único del Antropoceno.
¿Con qué herramientas contamos aquellos ciudadanos que deseamos revertir
este camino de autodestrucción? ¿Cómo minimizar estos aspectos del
En cierto modo, mucho daño ya se ha hecho. Es improbable que se desarrollen
en el mediano plazo, tecnologías tendientes a reducir los niveles de basura
radiactiva que sigue aumentando año tras año. Quizás es uno de los desafíos
más grandes del quehacer científico de las próximas décadas
Chernobyl y Fukushima: Paraísos Radiactivos
Pero aún en uno de los peores escenarios, el desarrollo de la vida es posible.
Una muestra es lo que ha sucedido en las inmediaciones de Chernobyl en
Ucrania, y más recientemente en Fukushima, Japón.
En los bosques cercanos a la extinta central nuclear de Chernobyl, la vida ha
florecido. Distintas especies de animales y vegetales se han desarrollado
desde la catástrofe en 1986. Lobos, osos, ciervos , insectos y plantas han
poblado estos lugares, formando verdaderos paraísos radiactivos. Y en parte,
ha sido posible debido a la ausencia del hombre. Los niveles de radiación son
muy altos, y más a nivel del suelo. Los animales consumen alimentos con altas
concentraciones radiactivas y también diseminan de alguna forma esa
contaminación, ya que es posible que se desplacen a zonas de radiactividad
También está el caso más reciente de Fukushima, con sus jabalíes radiactivos.
No solamente estas especies han sobrevivido, sino que además coexisten en
gran número. Lo que se ha investigado también es que ha disminuido la
diversidad y que algunas de las especies que existían desde antes del
accidente, han sufrido mutaciones.
Tal vez aquí la Naturaleza también nos esté mostrando algo: La vida es
posible, en otro ambiente, con una menor diversidad ( ya que algunas especies
más sensibles han desaparecido por no poder adaptarse al nuevo medio ).
Este ambiente podría pensarse como artificial, consecuencia de errores
humanos. Pero también, podríamos pensarlo como una forma de selección
natural, en donde sobreviven los más aptos. Las acciones del Hombre,
pensado como ente biológico, también podrían entrar dentro de un marco
natural, al formar éste parte de la Naturaleza.
La Tierra en la era postnuclear como Espacio Segmentado
Los dos ejemplos anteriores nos pueden llevar a pensar en un futuro
postnuclear: La Tierra como un espacio dividido en zonas. Podríamos pensar
en tres básicamente:
Zonas convertidas en paraísos radiactivos sin presencia humana.
Zonas sin radiactividad habitadas por el hombre. Islas.
Zonas híbridas, con radiactividad y presencia humana
Podría ocurrir que luego de una o varias catástrofes, que si bien aquí
pensamos en la nuclear, como eje central de nuestro análisis, podrían ser de
otra índole, aquellas personas que logren sobrevivir ya sea en “ Islas no
contaminadas “, o en zonas híbridas, quizás hayan “aprendido la lección”
acerca de las peligrosas consecuencias que puede traer una sociedad
capitalista desmedida en la cual se concentren ciertos tipos de poderes.
Podríamos pensar en nuevas sociedades que si bien tengan ciertos tintes
capitalistas, estos sean limitados o controlados. Lo podríamos ver como un
“refinamiento capitalista”, por parte de una sociedad que de alguna manera, ha
dado un paso siguiente en la evolución. Quizás lo podríamos ver como un
pequeño eslabón en la cadena, con posibles cambios biológicos.
¿Por qué si ciertas especies animales, han mutado y sobrevivido en
condiciones letales y lograron reproducirse y aumentar su población, no lo
podrían hacer los humanos?
¿Sería una segunda oportunidad para el Hombre de convertirse nuevamente
en un agente meramente biológico dejando atrás el antiguo Antropoceno?
¿Se aprovecharía esta oportunidad, o se crearía un nuevo Antropoceno, con un
nuevo capitalismo, generando así un nuevo ciclo de autodestrucción?
Ciclos de Refinamiento naturales del Capitalismo
Sospecho, que si bien como humanos, podemos cometer los mismos errores,
los haríamos de forma distinta, de algún modo nos podríamos volver a
equivocar pero de un modo “más inteligente”. Es decir podríamos repetir el
ciclo :
Hombre como agente biológico -- Capitalismo -- Antropoceno --
Catástrofe Nuclear -- Zonas Segmentadas ---> Nuevo agente biológico
, pero de forma distinta, quizás produciendo efectos sobre nuestro planeta cada
vez menos devastadores. A estos ciclos, los podríamos llamar “ Ciclos de
Refinamiento Capitalistas”, y los podríamos ver como ciclos de selección
natural. Tal vez, tengamos como misión, interrumpir incluso el primer ciclo, que
ya puede estar próximo a cerrarse, y que creo que aún estamos a tiempo de
evitarlo, o aprender del primero, para no volver a repetirlo y entrar en un
segundo ciclo. O en el peor de los casos, repetir tantos ciclos sucesivos como
sea necesario, hasta superar el Capitalismo y evolucionar hacia estadios
mayores de inteligencia. Siempre teniendo en cuenta el hecho de que algunos
de nosotros podamos sobrevivir a estos ciclos y perpetuar nuestra especie, y
teniendo en cuenta las posibles diferencias en el formato biológico.
Definiendo un Futuro distinto
Aún como meras creaciones naturales, podemos diseñar desde el Hoy, un
futuro distinto. Escapar a esos ciclos que se cerrarían de manera muy dolorosa,
más aún si imaginamos un mundo el cual hemos abandonado sin mejorarlo en
ningún aspecto, sino por el contrario.
Nuestras sociedades tienen la capacidad organizativa y ciertas herramientas
como la democracia, la educación, la ciencia, la tecnología, el arte y la ética,
entre tantas otras, que puestas a su servicio, podrían evitar catástrofes como
las desarrolladas más arriba.
Pero también existe un factor que no depende de nosotros como humanos y
que escapa a nuestra razón, y es el hecho de venir codificados “de fábrica”, y
que en última instancia no seremos nosotros quienes crearemos o
diseñaremos un futuro distinto para nosotros mismos, o para las especies que
nos sucederán. ¿0 si?
Del polvo venimos y al polvo volveremos, y la Tierra seguramente continuará
en su evolución, con o sin nosotros, porque como especie humana somos
ínfimos, ante la Naturaleza, y más aún ante el Universo.

"Jeopardy" TV quiz show goes cli-fi in episode 57 with host Alex Trebek on March 20, while Oprah Winfrey plugs the genre in ''O'' magazine

'Jeopardy' goes cli-fi on Alex Trebek show and Oprah Winfrey's branded magazine "O" lists seven important cli-fi novels to read in the magazine's ''EARTH DAY'' issue for April 2019

by staff writer with agencies

Hollywood is catching up with the ''cli-fi'' buzzword these days, if the popular TV show "Jeopardy" is any indication.
Let me explain: On my cable TV set in Taiwan, where I can watch over 100  channels from around the world in over a dozen languages, I cannot get "Jeopardy'' and to be honest I've never watched the program in my entire life. But I know what it is, of course, and how it is set up and who the host is: the one and only Alex Trebek, a Canadian native of Ukrainian heritage who now works in Hollywood and has been a naturalized American citizen since 1998.

So imagine my surprise last week when a friendly college English professor in New Jersey named Juda Bennett notified me by email that episode 57 on March 20 aired nationwide featuring a ''Jeopardy'' ''cli-fi" clue and its correct answer of ''climate fiction.'' Contestant Lindsey Shultz got it right and earned some money in the process.

All this was told to me by Juda in a brief email message that arrived out of the blue. Surprised and delighted, I Googled to a video and the transcript of the show.
Juda wrote: "Hi Dan, you contacted me about my "Walking in the Anthropocene" class a while back and so now I am contacting you to make sure you know that your term, cli-fi, was a 'Jeopardy' question yesterday.  Actually, they gave the question away when they asked what does cli-fi refer to, and I believe they referenced Kim Stanley Robinson's work."

Juda, an author, literary theorist and professor at The College of New Jersey, added: "Yes, it was the March 20 show where Jonathan Lindeen won.  I looked for the episode but I don't know when they post these things.  The clue -- if I remember correctly --- comes on the program about 3/4 of the way in."

My Google searches led to me to an online transcript of episode 57 with this initial clue: ''The planet's in trouble in the novel 'New York 2140' by Kim Stanley Robinson, part of the ''cli-fi'' subgenre, short for this.''

Lindsey clicked her stage buzzer before the other two contestants and got the answer right:  "climate fiction."
Here's a link to the transcript on the second page of the ''Jeopardy'' website:

"Yes, they did give it away, but 'Jeopardy' increasingly gives away the answers," Professor Bennett told me. "It is difficult to assess because the rest of the world is just catching up to you (and the term you coined) my friend. There are even people who do not believe in anthropogenic climate change. This reminds me of a 1980s Jeopardy questions about AIDS, which was also a question that they gave away, but when I saw it during the early 1980s our American president at that time had still never said the AIDS word in public. Words are power.''

This month has been a busy month for the cli-fi genre in literary circles, and the "Jeopardy" mention was just icing on the global warming cake, so to speak.

On March 13, a journalist and book reviewer who has been writing a monthly ''cli-fi trends" column for the Chicago Review of Books for the past two years wrote an article for the Oprah Winfrey magazine "O" headlined "7 Books That Provocatively Tackle Climate Change: They Each Fit Into a New Genre: Cli-Fi."

Oprah! Who knew?

"O" introduced the book reviewer this way: ''Environmental identifies an intriguing epidemic: the proliferation of provocative novels in which the enemy is climate change.''

 "As news of the oceans warming and icebergs melting grows ever more urgent, the light drizzle of fiction about eco-disaster spawned by J.G. Ballard’s ahead-of-its-time sci-fi thriller 'The Drowned World' (1962) has gone full-on flood, with apocalyptic visions from a diverse array of authors hitting the mainstream," she told "O" readers online worldwide.

"In Barbara Kingsolver’s 'Flight Behavior,' pollution and other biospheric disruptions throw a colony of butterflies off their migration course to disastrous effect, while in Claire Vaye Watkins’s 'Gold Fame Citrus,' a California besieged by sandstorms illuminates social inequities and the excesses of Hollywood. So robust is the growing genre that it’s earned its own name: cli-fi (short for climate fiction)," she noted.

And then she introduced the following cli-fi novels: "Clade" by James Bradley; ''The Water Knife'' by Paolo Bacigalupi;  ''The Year of the Flood'' by Margaret Atwood; ''American War'' by Omar El Akkad; "Blackfish City" by Sam J. Miller; ''New York 2140'' by Kim Stanley Robinson; ''Salvage the Bones'' by Jesmyn Ward.

From ''Jeopardy'' to ''O,'' the PR doesn't get much better than this.

And there's more to come in the rest of 2019 and the 2020s.