Friday, February 22, 2019

Listen in as David Wallace-Wells and Robinson Meyer discuss the role of the ''cli-fi'' genre in a somewhat imaginary conversation about David's new 350 page ''panic attack'' climate tome.

Sunday, February 24, 2119

Listen in as David Wallace-Wells and Robinson Meyer discuss the role of the ''cli-fi'' genre in a somewhat imaginary conversation about David's new 350 page ''panic attack'' climate tome.

The  two guys recently talked about  the difficulty and allure of writing ''cli-fi'' stories about climate change, and how the genre has been rising steadlily ever since NPR did a 5 minute segment on cli-fi in an April 20, 2013 radio piece produced by Angela Evancie.

Robinson Meyer: ''So David, tell me, what led you to embrace the ''cli-fi'' genre of novels and movies as an important way of using storytelling to communicate with readers and movie viewers about the huge ''hyperobject'' of a subject.''


David Wallace-Wells:  ''Well, the person whose work most flicked this cli-fi light on for me was the Indian-American novelist and literary critic in Brooklyn named Amitav Ghosh and his nonfiction essay book The Great Derangement, which is about cli-fi narratives. I actually found a lot to disagree with in his interpretation, mostly because I come from kind of a literary background. I used to work at The Paris Review, and I studied all this stuff at Dartmouth in college, and I had a slightly different idea of what the basic function of novel writing is. Therefore I had a different interpretation of why we have been seeing more and more novels and movies about climate change.''
Meyer: ''Dr Ghosh argues that climate change is hard to write stories about, right? Where did you disagree with him?''

Wallace-Wells: ''Ghosh’s basic argument is that the novel is a form about the inner life of an individual. And the problem of climate change is a very different category of problem for him. You can place the stories of individuals within it, but you end up with something like The Day After Tomorrow, where it’s like, Oh, here’s a person who’s dealing with a struggle, but the story is also about climate change. And the disconnect feels almost corny and staged. And yet at the same time, Ghosh has recently confessed that he enjoys watching cli-fi movies. In an interview with a reporter in Canada last summer, he said confessed that he is a self-admitted fan of some of Hollywood’s cli-fi disaster epics, such as ”The Day After Tomorrow” and ”Geostorm,” and Ghosh said that that he enjoys those films. Here's the money quote:

“I love them! I watch them obsessively,” he told an interviewer last summer in Canada, adding: “My climate scientist friends joke and laugh at me for this because the practical science in a movie like ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ is bad. But I find these movies very compelling. And I do think both film and television are very forward-leaning in dealing with climate change.”

So that's Ghosh for you.
''Me, I tend to think about climate fiction novels, that is to say cli-fi novels, more in terms of ''responsibility'' and ''villainy.'' I think that we have a very hard time processing our own complicity as white Westerners reading novels or seeing movie and wondering about climate change. We really prefer to see ourselves as truly innocent, and therefore want our climate storytelling to reassure us about our own culpability, and tell us in fact that it’s someone else’s problem in our culture, outside of narrative.''

Meyer: ''Do you think there’s a way to write that kind of cli-fi narrative that doesn’t wind up feeling like The Jungle? Which ends with a giant Socialist rally, and the narrator being absorbed into the fervor of the crowd.''

Wallace-Wells: ''I guess it depends on whether what you’re looking for in a narrative is ''polemic'' or ''humanity.'' I actually think that one of the features of my mgazine writing on this subject is that it demonstrates that if you handle them right, the simple accumulation of facts can take on an enormous narrative force. And I don’t really think that that’s something that many other writers about climate have done before, although Nat Rich does something similar in his 66,000 word New York Times feature which is now a nonfiction book coming out in April titled LOSING EARTH.  His book will be competing with mine for readers' minds and emotions. I know Nat, I like him. Good guy. Probably a lot smarter than me. He even wrote a cli-fi  novel "Odds Against Tomorrow" and I hope someday to write  a cli-fi novel as well. We'll see. I'm a storyteller of the journalist kind but I think I have a novel or two in me, too.''

''Of course, Rob, as you know, we are still in the infant stage of figuring out how to tell stories about this issue. Going forward, I suspect that the more interesting cli-fi narrative forms are likely to background climate change and make it appear like the theater in which human dramas are unfolding. Think about, for instance, a climate refugee camp, where the story is effectively some rivalry between two quasi-criminal-like figures in the camp. Or a honeymoon where people are going snorkeling through Miami Beach. The rise of the cli-fi genre is one of the untold stories of the age we now live in. I hope to change that silence about cli-fi by talking about it more. And Rob, cli-fi has gotten  a bad rap by many media peiople, who alwys say cli-fi novels are always dystopian and pessmistic and dark and unrelenting, but it's not true. Cli-fi novels can also be uplifting, optimistic and positive emotional reads that produce empathy and action in the reader. I am fully behind the ruise of climate fiction, and I'm glad you asked.''

MEYER: ''I didn't ask. I have never mentioned cli-fi term in any of my reporting or podcasts.''.
Wallace-Wells: ''Oh, I thought you were already a fan ot cli-fi novels and movies.''

Meyer: ''I am getting there.''

Wallace-Wells: ''There are whole imaginative theaters for storytelling about climate that we haven’t yet begun to explore. But if all that is considered “responsible” is optimistic hopeful storytelling about how we can solve the problem, then that’s just—from a narrative perspective, it’s kind of corny. The best climate storytelling has been written by people like J. G. Ballard, William Gibson, and Margaret Atwood, who have really thought about all the weird ways that these forces might transform our lives. So new writers coming up in the literary world will start tackling the cli-fi genre in similar ways. My friends in the publishing world in New York tell me it's just a matter of time. Cli-fi is catching on. ''

Meyer: ''Gibson’s cli-fi novel, The Peripheral, seems like one of the better presentations of how you’re talking about history now—about how day-to-day, lived existence would feel like in a world where progress has gone wrong, where there are cataclysms in the past from which people really haven’t recovered. Some guy in Taiwan is very busy promoting the cli-fi genre, I can't remember his name.''

Wallace-Wells: ''Yeh, I've heard about him and he writes to me now and then. He even wrote a blog post about my hyphenated last name and how it came to me. My brother Ben tweeted about it, too.''

Meyer: ''He writes to me. too.''

Wallace-Wells: ''I know Willism Gibson personally a little bit because I conducted the Paris Review interview with him. We were emailing a few weeks ago and I was like, Oh, I’m just adding a couple sentences to the book, last minute, about how science-fiction writers are likely to be understood even more as prophets because of climate change, and he wrote back and he was like, You know what, every time people say that to me, I always say “We haven’t successfully predicted anything! We got all of our predictions wrong. The only thing we’ve gotten right is the mood.” And I wrote back and I was like, No, the mood is a prediction! It’s a really important prediction, and actually you guys got it extremely right.''
Meyer: ''What’s the meaning of cli-fi novels and movies to you? What’s their larger import? Are they the stuff of literary history or is it something else?''

Wallace-Wells: ''My short-form answer is that I think that the 21st century will be dominated by cli-fi novels and movies in the same way that, say, the end of the 20th century was dominated by financial capitalism, or the 19th century in the West was dominated by modernity or industry—that cli-fi will be the meta-narrative of the coming 8 decades, and there won’t be an area of literaatre or cinema that is untouched by it. Often people talk about climate change as a global problem, which it obviously is, but I don’t think we’ve really started to think about how novels and movies can raise awareness of certain issues. Not just THE JUNGLE but also Uncle Tom's Cabin and ON THE BEACH in 1957 and the movie version in 1959.

''My basic perspective is that everything about human life on this planet will be transformed by cli-fi novels and movies. Even if we end up at a kind of best-case outcome, I think the world will be dominated by cli-fi in the coming decades in ways that it’s hard to imagine and we really haven’t started to think hard enough about.
''I am a child of the 1990s. I’m Jewish, I'm American. I grew up in New York.  I went to expensive private schools in Manhattan, I went to Dartmouth for 4 years.''
END OF CONVERSATION, slightly edited for amplification and clarification purposes. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

MIchelle Stirling wonders out loud if Greta Thunberg is being instrumentalized by the media and adults around her in Sweden and overseas

Greta Thunberg of the school #ClimateStrike fame made a compelling, if somewhat dystopian, presentation at COP24. Michelle Stirling, Communications Manager of Friends of Science Society challenges Greta's perspective in this video response.

3 minutes video

giovanni paquin
Beware of those who use children to push their agenda. Good video’
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Jack Dale
Solar activity is in decline, Milankovitch cycles would have us cooling. The Holocene Optimum occurred 6000 years ago and was followed by a long term cooling trend that ended abruptly when we dumped 1.5 trillions of CO2, a known greenhouse gas, in to the atmosphere, resulting in levels not observed in millions of years. Meanwhile we are warming; 9 of 10 warmest years in the instrumental record occurred in the 21 century. The exception, 1998, was the strongest El Nino event in the previous 50 years. Using carbon isotope analysis the 43% increase in atmospheric CO2 over the past 2.5 centuries can be directly attributed to the burning of fossil fuels. Michelle, Greta is much wiser than you.
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You are not correct. You cannot use old science to despute modern science. The proof is overwhelming. Study the facts! Greta is right. And you are also guilty.
Dave Richards
The real deniers are those who denies the real science. The term “climate change” is so vague and the definition is so changeable that it is NOT a falsifiable hypothesis. It is therefore unscientific nonsense. The term “catastrophic human-made global warming” is a falsifiable hypothesis, and it was falsified long ago – when CO2 rose sharply after ~1940 while temperature declined from ~1945 to ~1977 “the alleged global warming crisis DOES NOT EXIST”. Current forms of clean/green energy are not green and produce little useful (dispatchable) energy. All they do is destabilize the grid and drive up energy costs, which increases Excess Winter Deaths among the elderly and the poor. Sure there may be better forms of energy out there – but current “solutions” are costly fiascos, due primarily to intermittency. Tens of trillions of dollars of scarce global resources have been squandered on green energy nonsense.
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Change will come, it does not matter if you like or not. You can not stop the justice. You are just trying to stop this, maybe because someone paid you as always happen with negacionism. Actually, adults did stole the future with their horrible society, and try to hide it with the sucess of a few. PD: Greta never said we have to stop the climate change, she knows it is not possible now, she is asking for a society that get prepared for the climate change, it is very different. By this way i can see your wishes to stop de climate justice, and we all knew it was going to happen. But... Negacionism does not work anymore. Change has started and nobody will stop this.
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The Global Warming Cult and the data fudgers.
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Jack Dale
The High Priestess of the Cult of Ra spreads her disinformation. Not one single academy of science in any country on the planet disputes the conclusions of the IPCC. Not one single academy of science in any country on the planet endorses the assertions of the oxymoronically named "Friends of Science.
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Burgess Park
Thank you for this. I watched and was horrified at how the "environmentalists" used this poor child for publicity. Is there no depth that they wont sink to.? Life today is a million times better than before the industrial revolution - the trouble is that all these environmentalists lead such protected lives and are blind to the benefits that they have. Complaining about oil as they drive around (or fly around) the world etc etc. Try swapping with a poor subsistance farmer in india and see how long they last. Its so hypocritical !
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Linnéa Magnér
She didn't say you haven't done anything at all. She said you haven't done anything to slow down this horrible trend of exploiting this planet past its capabilities. Of course human kind has made extraordinary advances in technology, but we should have been able to do the same in environmental-friendly progress these past few decades. All the more environmental-friendly ideas have been bought by the companies who have economic interests in our current destructive ways, and thrown in the garbage can. OF COURSE there has been climate change in the past, and sometimes almost all life on Earth has died and sometimes we have adapted and survived, but it has never been sped up by an animal species before. We all know the planet is not "going under", it's not going to die. But life on earth might. Scientists estimate we're now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century. Humans are probably not going to become extinct any time soon, but what will happen when the climate becomes more and more extreme? When people will have no other choice but to leave their homes because it is impossible to stay. Many people's homes will be under water and others' will be destroyed by extreme weather. Where will these people go? I sincerely hope you haven't chosen an equally idiotic president by then, and that no other country has either, because millions of people are going to have to find new homes. The population on Earth has dramatically increased and now we will all have to share less and less habitable land. We will rue this day for not taking this crisis seriously. The Earth will endure but become more and more inhospitable in the process. I hope that humans endure and become more and more humane in the process, because otherwise a future awaits that I don't want to live in.
Ty Curtin
The AGW alarmists never pick up on the fact that there is a diminishing return on the amount of warming that CO2 effect. It only absorbs a certain and small spectrum of light. Once this is all absorbed, there is no more warming. We are probably already at the point where it has almost zero effect. The first 200 or 300 ppm do 95% of the warming. Also, if CO2 were below 150 ppm, all plant life would die. Cheap energy from oil, gas has been the greatest help to humankind in the history of humankind!!!! These quacks know that, but they LIE to everyone for their own benefit, which is the perpetuation of the Climate Change industry.
N Brown
The concern for the children is the encroaching socialist foolishness being taught in our schools!
Children are indoctrinated early these days and they call it education.
Thank you! Thank you. I have a 14 year old grandson who is terrified that he is causing the end of the world. I use satire and facts. But he is convinced CO2 is evil...etc......etc........and that the sun is some meaningless light bulb in the sky with nothing to do with climate. He really believes that humans make climate, not the sun.
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That is what the world media should be saying but the modern journalist and politician is no longer capable of independent thought .
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you are deranged and fit well with almost half of americans     you should rename   to friends of oil industry
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Juri M
Even without the evidence of global warming it is obvious that a fossil-fuel based lifestyle is unsustainable. So why not embrace change right now?
Lars Rosing
Great video! But what I think Greta really should fear is pollution of our world, its by far the biggest danger of our time! Not CO2!
Donald McCarthy
Michelle, on behalf of Greta and all the other Gretas, I must thank you for your patronising childsplaining. You and people like you are exactly the reason Greta has no future. Be very glad she is a decent and good person. Others may not be so forgiving to those idiots who believed infinite growth and consumption on a finite planet were achievable. You Michelle are a disgusting shill and have nothing to offer this world but your toxic banalities. Leave the stage before you are booed off it and pelted with rotten vegetables.
Thomas Musso
For or against .. It's all about $$$.
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Gabriel Salmerón
In spite of your maternalist tone, you wouldn't dare to have a debate with Greta.