novels to think about climate change

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What if men had to pollinate flowers by hand because the bees were gone? What if water became such a scarce resource that it would become the subject of a global conflict between peoples? What if a terrible drought transformed California into a barren desert …? The Norwegian Maja Lunde in A story of bees (1) – novel sold by a million copies – the French Jean-Marc Ligny in Aqua ™ (2) or the American Claire Vaye Watkins in The Sands of Amargosa (3) imagine these worlds where global warming would have done its work.

Novels by climate fiction (“Climate fiction”), according to the term coined by the American journalist Dan Bloom in 2011. Coming from the United States, this sub-genre of science fiction is also developing in France. “Most of the time, these are situations in the near future, where global warming has gained momentum with consequences becoming more and more visible and less and less manageable; either from post-apocalyptic worlds, where global warming has caused societies to collapse, “ explains Loan Treca, director of Arkuiris Publishing.

“Alert the general public”

“The main goal is to alert the general public to the challenges of climate change”, poses Dan Bloom. “Fiction can reach an audience that would not necessarily read IPCC reports or scientific articles”, abounds with Yann Quero, author of two novels by climate fiction. Since becoming aware of the gravity of the phenomenon in the 1990s, he feels invested with a certain ” responsibility “.

→ READ. When science fiction fuels research

In 2005, he published The White Man Trial (Arkuiris), which projects into 2143. Global warming has caused the Gulf Stream to stop and plunged the Northern Hemisphere under ice. The novelist started from a current scientific hypothesis: the water resulting from the melting of Greenland’s ice and excessive precipitation could disturb the ocean current which is at the origin of the temperate European climate.

Inward withdrawal

If the stories of climate fiction most of the time describe dystopian or post-apocalyptic worlds, some approach the problem from a more optimistic angle. In his essay Out of the rubble of the world (Champ Vallon), Yannick Rumpala points to these hopeful scenarios.

Already in 1975, Ernest Callenbach imagined in Ecotopia the secession of three states on the American West Coast to found a radical ecological society: the country is reforested, internal combustion engines are prohibited, manufactured products fully recyclable…

But this green utopia is realized at the cost of withdrawal and increasingly communitarianism. “There are always ambiguities in these models”, notes the lecturer in political science. Ambiguities which have precisely the merit of asking us questions: what concessions are we collectively ready to make to save the planet?

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