Scott Thill, one of the most important visionaries in the film and animation industry, lives in Los Angeles, where he writes, blogs, codes, tweets and fights for climate sanity in cinema and against the forces that try to mock climate change as a hoax.
Beginning in 2009 and 2010, Thill was the first film critic worldwide to use the ”cli-fi” term in published movie reviews.
One film review he published in Wired magazine in September of 2009 was headlined “‘The Age of Stupid’ gets smart on the enviro-pocalypse.” Although Thill didn’t use the term itself in the actual review, he included it as one of several keywords at the end of the article: ”Killer CGI, dystopian cli-fi, heart-wrenching footage.”
A year later, in another article for Wired titled ”Methane Apocalypse Threatens World in SyFy Schlocker ‘Ice Quake,”’ Thill this time dug right in and for the first time in a public magazine used the cli-fi term in his review of a movie, writing: “Are you prepared for a holiday-friendly methane apocalypse? Syfy’s new ‘Ice Quake’ trains its B-movie bombast on a real-world problem that’s got some climate scientists increasingly worried. The cli-fi flick finds Brendan Fehr and Victor Garber struggling to survive after the Alaskan permafrost thaws, unleashing subterranean rivers of volatile liquid methane and planet-killing earthquakes on Christmas Eve.”
Since then, Thill has gone in to become the world’s most prolific promoter and booster of the #CliFi hashtag for movie and animation reviews — and for environmental and fossil fuel news items and and man-made global warming issues as well.
Almost every day, Thill, a graduate of Berkeley (he was a graduate student there in the 1990s) and a veteran writer for Wired magazine and the Huffington Post, among other sites, tweets via @morphizm — and many of his tweets use the #CliFi hashtag, created and designed originally in 2013 by Lisa Devaney in London as a PR tool for the cli-fi community worldwide.
Thill is also the author of an as-yet unpublished nonfiction essay book about Cli-Fi, as he sees it through his own own distinctive and visionary lens.
For academics studying the rise of the cli-fi meme worldwide, Scott Thill’s tweets are worth watching and studying and paying attention to. He’s been using the cli-ci term in his own distinctive way since 2009, and is among the pioneers of visionaries using the term in the public prints.
He also wrote two new think pieces for the Huffington Post in 2014 and 2016, one of which was headlined “Cli-Fi is Real.”
While others in the global literary community have been using the #CliFi hashtag for tweets about cli-fi novels and cli-fi movies (and the rise of cli-fi in academia as well), Thill has used the #CliFi hashtag almost exclusively to promote his own unique vision of Cli-Fi in the Anthropocene. His tweets bear following.
As a sidenote: Even before Thill began using the term in 2009, several right-wing climate denialists earlier in that same year had started using the cli-fi term in a derogatory, mocking way to criticize climate activists such as Al Gore and Michael Mann.
David Carter, who blogged under the pen-name of Paco in 2009 and still blogs even in 2019 at the same site called Paco Enterprises, wrote such things as this sentence below in a blog titled ”Another Book From the Sweaty Palms of Al Gore:” ”Smitty, at another blog, brings us the profoundly depressing news that Al Gore’s puffy paws have typed out yet another volume in his ongoing series of Cli-fi pot-boilers.”
On August 1, 2009, Carter, again writing as Paco in a blog post titled “Variations on the Tea Party Theme” wrote:
”The spirit of revolt is in the air, even among the folks in white lab coats. 84 Rules draws attention to the Rising of the Chemists, who are protesting the acceptance by Rudy Baum, editor-in-chief of ‘Chemical and Engineering News,’ of the Cli-Fi hokum being peddled by the Obama administration.”
So there you have it. As you can see, the use of the cli-fi term has a long history in early 21st century Western pop culture, dating back to Scott Thill and David Carter in 2009 before most people had ever heard of the term.
It wouldn’t be until April 20, 2013 that the NPR radio network broadcast an explosive 5-minute segment produced by freelance radio reporter Angela Evancie titled ”So Hot Right Now: Has Climate Change Created A New Literary Genre?”
Evancie told her national radio audience in 2013, four years after Carter and Thill first started using the new buzzword: ”Over the past decade, more and more writers have begun to set their novels and short stories in worlds, not unlike our own, where the Earth’s systems are noticeably off-kilter. The genre has come to be called climate fiction — “cli-fi,” for short.”