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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Cli-fi: Climate change, global warming and the birth of a new genre

Global warming and climate change are topics being widely spoken about today and with its effects clearly evident on the planet. But did you know that authors in the past have written fictionalised accounts of the effects of climate change on humans which has become a whole new genre since the turn of the millenium? Read on to know more about Cli-Fi.

books Updated: Nov 26, 2018 17:46 IST
Saumya Sharma
Saumya Sharma
Hindustan Times, Delhi
The term and the genre, Climate Fiction or Cli-Fi was officially coined in the late 2000s.
The term and the genre, Climate Fiction or Cli-Fi was officially coined in the late 2000s. (Unsplash)

Contrary to popular belief, climate change isn’t a new-ish topic of discussion. It’s being spoken about for centuries now, yet it’s something the world at large knows very little about. Scientists have been studying the greenhouse effect since the early 19th century. The term and the genre, Climate Fiction or Cli-Fi was officially coined in the late 2000s. The literary movement called Cli-Fi (like Sci-Fi) is any fictional work written about the effects of climate change and global warming. The unfortunate part, the reality in the fiction in today’s day and age.

Svante Arrheniussome, a Swedish chemist deduced in 1896 that man-made innovations and technology were contributing to the warming of the planet. Global warming was coined by oceanographer Wallace Smith Broecker in 1975. Writers have had their own takes on what might ultimately happen to our planet due to global warming alongside the real conversations that have been happening about how to curtail the effects on the planet and how one can leave a better tomorrow for posterity.


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This picture represents both the beauty of Antarctica and the fragility of a changing polar ecosystem. Seconds after taking this image, the towering iceberg disintegrated and was gone forever. We have a deep fascination with icebergs in all of their different shapes and sizes. Yet, we often fail to look at the back story of these giants. The ice shelves around Antarctica are disappearing at a rapid rate, releasing billions of tons of ancient ice into the same ocean that laps at our feet along our favorite shorelines around the world. If the entire ice mass on Antarctica were to melt, ocean levels would rise over 150 feet wiping out much of our inhabitable coasts on this planet. New York City would be gone, for example. Not to mention the storms, hurricanes, droughts, and loss of life and ecosystems. I agree, it is much easier to denounce and ignore climate change than it is to look in the mirror and realize that this is our only home. What we do or fail to do in the next few years will determine how this planet looks for the next thousand years. How do you want your planet to look? Think about this stuff as you head to the US election polls. It is not just the fate of the US that hangs in the balance but the fate of the whole world. Thanks for the motivation to write this @conrad_anker. Thank you for sharing this content on your feed @leonardodicaprio! This image is from my new book "Born to Ice". Please check out our latest story in National Geographic Magazine. Link is in my bio. With @craigwelch @cristinamittermeier @ladzinski @andy_mann @rodolfowerner @shane_moore_jh @pattersonimages

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Some books that explore the concept of Cli-Fi:

Jules Verne’s 1889 novel The Purchase of the North Pole imagines climate change due to tilting of Earth’s axis. British author J. G. Ballard’s dystopian works too deal with climate-related natural disasters like hurricane-force winds, melted ice caps and rising sea levels, droughts due to disruption of the precipitation cycle. State of Fear written by Michael Crichton in 2004 is a techno-thriller with a scientific opinion on climate change. That’s not all, Margaret Atwood too has explored the subject in her dystopian trilogy that comprises titles namely, 2003’s Oryx and Crake, 2009’s The Year of the Flood and 2013’s MaddAddam.

First Published: Nov 26, 2018 17:46 IST