Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fiction prepares us for a world changed by global warming

Date:
April 23, 2014
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
Climate fiction, or simply cli-fi, is a newly coined term for novels and films which focus on the consequences of global warming. New research shows how these fictions serve as a mental laboratory that allows us to simulate the potential consequences of climate change and imagine other living conditions.

Climate fiction, or simply cli-fi, is a newly coined term for novels and films which focus on the consequences of global warming. New research from University of Copenhagen shows how these fictions serve as a mental laboratory that allows us to simulate the potential consequences of climate change and imagine other living conditions.

"Global warming is much more than scientific data on changes in the atmosphere; it is also a cultural phenomenon in which meaning is being shaped by the books we read and the films we see. And there are so many of them now that we can speak of a completely new genre, cli-fi, says PhD Gregers Andersen who has just defended his thesis Climate-Changed Existence and its Worlds; Global Warming in Fiction and Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen.

"We use these films and novels to imagine what life and society might be like in a future when global warming has dramatically changed our world because, as opposed to numbers and statistics, fiction can make us feel and understand the changes."

In his thesis, Gregers Andersen analyses 40 different novels, short stories, and films produced between 1977 and 2014 which all, in one way or the other, employ global warming as a theme. And in the 40 works, he has identified five themes that each represents global warming in a different way: The Social Breakdown, The Judgment, The Conspiracy, The Loss of Wilderness and The Sphere.

Nature passes judgment

The 2004 Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow is a prime example of the theme Gregers Andersen has termed the Judgment; during the film, global warming has catastrophic consequences and causes a new ice age that lays most of Earth waste.

"In The Day After Tomorrow and a number of similar fictions, nature passes moral judgment on humankind's exploitation of Earth's resources and becomes an avenger who, quite literally, clears the air and thus restores the proper balance between man and nature," Gregers Andersen says.

Climate change speeded up for effect

Apart from the Judgment theme Gregers Andersen, as mentioned, points to four other recurrent themes in the climate fictions he has analysed: The Social Breakdown, The Conspiracy, The Loss of Wilderness and The Sphere (see explanation in the factbox to the right). Despite the thematic differences displayed in these fictional takes on global warming and climate change, they all seem to have one central trait in common:

"If we do not take care of our environment, of or our home, it will change, and it will feel and seem very different -- "unhomely" if you will. This is exactly the feeling the fictions want to leave us with. And even though UN's panel on climate change (IPPC) has previously issued a report stating that global warming may lead to abrupt and irreversible changes , most of these fictions do tend to exaggerate the consequences of global warming, and the climate changes often happen extremely quickly," Gregers Andersen points out and continues:

"They do this to depict characters who can remember how the world was before the climate changes set in -- the characters are, in other words, able to spot that "our home" has changed. However, it is still a recognizable world the characters inhabit in these fictions. And it needs to be recognizable because we are supposed to feel uncomfortable with the fact that our home planet has become a strange and alien place."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Fiction prepares us for a world changed by global warming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423102758.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2014, April 23). Fiction prepares us for a world changed by global warming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423102758.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Fiction prepares us for a world changed by global warming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423102758.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Over 53 tons of rotting fish have been removed from Lake Cajititlan in western Jalisco state. Authorities say that the thousands of fish did not die of natural causes. (Sep. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano was kept at orange on Tuesday, indicating increased unrest with greater potential for an eruption. Smoke is spewing from the volcano, and lava is spouting nearby. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins