Originally published in Publishing Perspectives.
The debate on global warming between deniers and believers has been going on for years now, regularly re-ignited by reports coming out of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) or more recently the National Climate Assessment put together by 300 American experts. When global warming suddenly comes home to America and is no longer some vague threat that concerns distant lands like the Maldives or Bangladesh, a paradigm change occurs. Extraordinary events like Hurricane Sandy and insidious and protracted phenomena, like the sea slowly seeping in the foundations of Miami Beach or fires in California, are things-that-happen-now, not in some distant hazy future. A novel like Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow with a book cover that features New York under water (arrow added), no longer looks like science fiction.
That’s because it isn’t.
It’s climate fiction, a new genre that is quickly going viral, mainly because it is organically linked to climate change. It’s no coincidence that the term cli-fi was coined by a climate activist, Dan Bloom, back in 2008. Climate activists view climate fiction, or “cli-fi” for short, as a “hot” new genre designed to wake up the public to the dangers of global warming. Short of actually saving the planet, the hope is that emotional cli-fi narratives will move people to action far more effectively than a string of scientific data projections.
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A former United Nations project director, Claude Nougat is the author of four novels and two collections of short stories. You can read more at her blog or by following her on Twitter @claudenougat. She lives in Rome, Italy.