“Burning Worlds” is a new monthly column dedicated to examining important trends in climate change fiction, or “cli-fi.”
It astonishes to think just how long humans have known that the Earth is getting warmer. The term “global warming” didn’t enter public consciousness until the 1970s, but scientists have studied our planet’s natural greenhouse effect since at least the 1820s. In 1896, a Swedish chemist named Svante Arrheniussome concluded that human activity (like coal burning) contributed to the effect, warming the planet further.
And yet, here we find ourselves in 2017, still wrestling with manmade climate change like it’s a new phenomenon. Why have we not acted sooner? The answer may lie in what Indian author Amitav Ghosh calls humanity’s “great derangement”: our inability to perceive the enormity of the catastrophe that awaits us.
That’s where fiction writers come in.*
For years, authors have been writing climate change fiction, or “cli-fi,” a genre of…
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