Danny Bloom
I seek the truth wherever it lies.

Just what are the effects of reading ‘climate fiction’ novels?

Adam Vaughan in Britain publishes a free weekly newsletter called “Planet Fix” and subscriptions are open free of charge to anyone worldwide. Just contact Adam to get on the list and you will start receiving your weekly report by email. I recently subscribed and loved the issue Adam sent out by email. The recent issue of “Fix the Planet” was about a reminder, as Adam put it,” that it’s not just political will, engineering, finance and science we need [in our efforts to fix the planet] but [literary] culture too.”

“Countless authors, including Margaret Atwood, Jeanette Winterson, Omar El Akkad and Ian McEwan, have been weaving climate change into their stories for years,” Adam noted before asking: “But does it make a difference? New research by Matthew Schneider-Mayerson at Yale-NUS College in Singapore provides the first empirical evidence that this sort of climate fiction, or cli-fi, changes minds, too.”

Read on to find out Adam explained how ”cli-fi refreshes the parts that other media cannot reach.”

Accordiing to Adam’s newsletter, stories about climate change, as both the foreground (solar power in McEwan’s case) and the background (the driver of a new American civil war for El Akkad). Some are set today, others in the future, usually in a nightmarish world (Kim Stanley Robinson’s ”New York 2140”) that suggests humanity didn’t take the low emissions pathway that scientists urge. Often, climate change isn’t named explicitly, but implicitly, such as with the sea level rise and mass migration that necessitated ”The Wall” in John Lanchester’s eponymous novel.”

So does reading climate-themed novels make a difference and how do we know?

“We don’t,” Adam insists, adding: “that’s what Schneider-Mayerson and his colleagues tried to find out.”

“We need an avalanche of climate communications, and climate fiction can and should be a part of that,” accordng to Schneider-Mayerson.

(The full research was published in the journal ”Environmental Communication.– It was titled ”Environmental Literature as Persuasion: An Experimental Test of the Effects of Reading Climate Fiction”.)

About the Author
Dan Bloom curates The Cli-Fi Report at www.cli-fi.net. He graduated from Tufts University in Boston in 1971 with a major in Modern Literature. A newspaper editor and reporter since his days in Washington, D.C., Juneau, Alaska, Tokyo, Japan and Taipei, Taiwan, he has lived and worked 5 countries and speaks rudimentary French, Japanese and Chinese. He hopes to live for a few more years.
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