An imagined conversation with British climate visionary James Lovelock on his view of the rise of ''cli-fi'' genre novels worldwide
by staff writer and agencies
When I was planning my trip to Corwall to visit the British climate visionary James Lovelock, I was told by the hotel clerk according to Dr Lovel's wife Sandy that “if there was the slightest chance of a cold, we will have to cancel. He had bronchitis not long ago; we can’t afford to take any risks.”
But, despite the Arctic cold that had descended on England in February, I wasn’t coughing or anything, so I decided to embark. Nevertheless, I took the precaution of washing my hands carefully with antiseptic soap a few times. And then I was off for the coast of Dorset, in the south of England, in the direction of Cornwall.
At 98, James Lovelock is an old man. Then again, you'd never know it. His thinking is all the more important in that it avoids the academic, and he was the first to theorize the “Gaia” hypothesis.
I had never imagined that one day I would get a chance to meet ''the father of Gaia.'' But here I was, on my way.
As I was driving down the little Dorset roads before getting to the house perched on the seaside, buffeted by the wind, at the end of a track covered in pebbles washed up by the waves, I couldn’t hide my uneasiness at the idea of a 70-year-old climate activist disturbing a 98-year-old world visionary. What could I say that would interest him? What could he tell me that he hadn’t told dozens of journalists before?
As I was soon to learn, Dr Lovelock was not the first to get tired. After five hours of scientific discussion, I had to tear myself away from the delightful hospitality of “Jim” and his wife, Sandy. I was the one who was tired!
Looking through the window of the dining room where we had a light lunch, and seeing a snow storm approaching over the sea, covering the setting sun with dark clouds, I listened to this feisty old man, still with a fresh ring to his voice.
So we talked. Or rather I asked some questions, and Dr Lovelock politely answered. I had a notebook and I also wrote things down. You might not believe this really happened but take a gander.
"Dr Lovelock, have you heard of the new literary genre of cli-fi?"
"Yes, I have, I have seen news about it in the Guardian on the BBC website."
"What do you think? Is it useful? Cculd such novels help wake readers up to the reaality of climate change?"
"Of course. Very useful and fitting in this day and age. By the way, did you write me an email years ago about your work with the idea of building polar cities in the Arctic?"
''Yes, that was me, and thanks for your kind reply at that time. It encouraged me to keep going with my climate ideas and eventually come up with the cli-fi term."
"Well, I think you have a splendid little concept of a new literary genre and I wish you luck with it."
I thank Dr Lovelock for his time, and the wonderful little light lunch we enjoyed at his home in Cornwall, and after saying goodbye to Jim and Sandy at the door, I was back in my car and heading back to the hotel. And then the long flight back to Taiwan. It's a big big world, but it's also a very small world now.
Thank you, Dr Lovelock for your encouragement!
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