“Imagining Climate: How science fiction holds up a mirror to our future”

“Imagination is what speculative and science fiction have to offer in the conversation about climate change. It’s not that climate change is a figment of a possible future, but that its deep infiltration of the present is so vast and slow that we need to see it through fiction. Bruce Sterling called it “a melancholy and tiresome reality,” and when Atwood inaugurated the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative in November of 2014 she called it “the Everything Change.” Perhaps the single best tool we have to combat wicked problems and complex systems is narrative — the ambiguity, complexity, and specificity of stories that can capture an entire era through the eye, and the heart, of a single character.
And, yes, I’ll say it: we also need more optimism. Climate fiction should not only be about the things that can’t and shouldn’t happen. We have to imagine better tomorrows in order to change our reality today. We need stories that make sense of climate change and chart a path to action, helping us to see the challenges clearly but also begin envisioning our answers to those challenges. We need infectious, thrilling, scientifically grounded stories about what might be — stories that invite all of us to see the world as it is and make it a better place than we found it.”

I'm getting into (or trying to get into) more speculative fiction. It feels like it’s a way to process the various disasters happening around us.And I’m reading this and realizing that I have this weird thing with climate change activism, where I feel sort of tired and unimpressed by it; environmental justice movements are notoriously white and middle/upper class, and I also have this weird personal relationship to it that I now recognize where a young-me definitely channeled a lot of her uncomfortableness about social issues into being really intense and guilty about environmental issues. So, it sometimes looks and feels like a way to process guilt and anger about other things and to block out other issues. But I’m also definitely projecting; and it’s also definitely important and urgent.

Which is all to say, I have a knee-jerk reaction to glare at people who just let the water run while they are washing dishes, and that’s probably a little about climate-change-induced water scarcity and a little about income inequality.

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