What’s the point of reading novels about the dangers of climate change when the real world feels increasingly apocalyptic?
The temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere is rising faster than climate change models forecast.
Massive flooding has occurred; storms are raging outside, and the heat is oppressive.
Climate change displays itself in many ways and has varying degrees of impact on all living things.
Those who have donated the least to the core causes of climate change, the economically disadvantaged, and people of color are the most likely to be affected by its worst effects worldwide.
Climate change affects the Earth and its residents, but there are certain things we can do to build a better future.
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What is climate fiction?
Climate fiction deals with issues such as global warming and climate change. Climate fiction, sometimes known as cli-fi, is a kind of science fiction that uses a changing or altered climate as a significant story device.
People have been creating climate-fi stories and novels unintentionally for decades, while the word has just become desired in the last ten years or so.
The phrase cli-fi was claimed to have been coined by journalist Dan Bloom in 2007, and authors have since adopted it like Margaret Atwood and outlets including NPR, The Atlantic, New Yorker, and Christian Science Monitor.
Climate fiction has gained much traction in recent years due to greater public awareness of the climate catastrophe.
How does climate fiction aid emotional resilience?
Climate change is a frightening prospect. And, whether or not you previously knew how high the stakes are, focusing solely on the harmful consequences would not help anyone.
It’s essential to be aware of the severity and urgency of the climate problem, yet viewing it just as danger can make us feel fearful and helpless.
Instead, we must reframe the climate problem as an opportunity to build a better future, recognize that conversion is an unavoidable part of life, and work through our mixed emotions about climate change.
According to the American Psychological Association, these are all strategies to build emotional resilience, and climate fiction can assist us.
1. Rethinking the problem
Not every science fiction narrative has to be dystopian, and those that are don’t have to end in disaster. Take, for example, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.
This is a traditional dystopian novel. Still, the protagonists eventually establish a better future for themselves, learning to care for others and live sustainably.
Lauren Olamina, the protagonist of the book, is the archetype of emotional resilience: she surrounds herself with a strong support network, focuses on action steps, and imagines what she wants for the future rather than dwelling on her agony.
When authors speak to our worst fears, they take us by the collar and urge us to keep reading.
Dread, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily an effective motivator, and in the case of using psychological appeals to fear in climate change communication, it can be a demotivator.
We feel disempowered and frozen when we focus too much on a threat’s potential for harm.
2. Aid in our acceptance of the change
Yes, climate change is unnatural, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t adapt to it while trying to prevent it.
A representative from Earth visits an alien world called Gethen in Ursula K. LeGuin’s landmark novel The Left Hand of Darkness.
The people of Gethen have adapted to a changing climate—albeit an ice age—that has rendered significant portions of the world uninhabitable and others unsafe.
Rather than getting sad due to the environment and the harsh living conditions it imposes, the Gethenians accept their reality as it is and respond appropriately.
3. Healing process
Writing about terrible events can be therapeutic, and the same can be said for writing about the climate issue.
Of course, we may learn from the climate fiction that has been published, but developing our own is another matter—as per the American Psychological Association, writing about our difficulties is another approach to increase emotional resilience.
Writing a tale is empowering, in the same way that storytelling can help war soldiers; it can also aid those of us suffering from climate misery and post-traumatic stress disorder feels more in control.
Stories don’t need to be painstakingly written literary novels, films, or television shows. They can be as essential as picturing your ideal future.
4. Compel us for sustainable adaptation
Climate change emphasizes it must be for the globe to take collaborative action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
However, we will need to adapt quickly. Even if we could stop all greenhouse gasses emissions today, the Arctic will see a significant temperature rise.
As a result, many negative consequences are inescapable, and we must prepare for them.
Here, some efforts have already been made. To protect themselves from increasing sea levels, coastal cities such as Miami Beach, Florida, and Delfzijl, Netherlands, used vertical sea rise pumps and raised sea dikes, respectively.
There is no such thing as a silver bullet answer for a subject as vast and intricate as climate change.
But we’ll need all the aid we can get to fight for a better future and adapt to our changing world. Climate fiction can be a valuable resource.
Remember that good cli-fi should assist you in putting the problem into context, accepting that the world is changing, and feeling empowered to make a difference.
If you can’t discover anything that fits your needs, try writing your climate fiction. Make the book you’d like to read.
Tell yourself the story you’d like to hear, considering the future you’d like to live. We have reason to be optimistic as long as we can still accomplish this.
(Last Updated on May 16, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)