Claim: You need science fiction to make sense of climate change

"Weird Tales May 1934" by Margaret Brundage (public domain, copyright expired)

“Weird Tales May 1934” by Margaret Brundage

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The Guardian thinks climate change is so “dire”, people can only make sense of it with the help of science fiction.

According to The Guardian;

Climate change is so dire we need a new kind of science fiction to make sense of it

Star Trek was one way of dealing with the social anxieties of the 1960s. Since sci-fi mirrors the present, ecological collapse requires a new dystopian fiction.

Build an imaginary world in your mind, hanging in space. Spin it around a bit; kick the tires. Now change one thing about that world. Throw a bug of your choice into the machine. What if the oceans reclaim your coastal cities? What if you can’t support life? What if the life you bear can’t support you?

It can be difficult to conceive of something so enormous through facts alone. But the right fiction can be a mirror, a map and a crystal ball, helping us to see ourselves in the world, negotiate our way out of disaster and imagine how we might live differently.

The point is that Anthropocene fiction isn’t just science fiction; nor is it just climate fiction. It’s both those things and more. It is all the stories we should tell our children: near-future tales of ecological systems, collapse, responsibility and possibility along with visions of long-term cohabitation with our own environment. The point is to show them not just how the story ends but how we might get through the middle – while we still have a shot at changing it.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/20/climate-change-science-fiction

I must say, I find the green obsession with frightening the kids with apocalyptic fairy tales, dressed up as predictions, a little disturbing. My parents didn’t let me watch Star Trek, until I was old enough to understand that what I was seeing was just entertaining fiction.

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187 thoughts on “Claim: You need science fiction to make sense of climate change

    • But SF has better success at predicting the future.
      It’s always been an interesting way to explore the possibilities. Deliberately using it to steer the next generation toward the writers’ desired results is only going to actually work if the writers’ near term predictions are correct. Mad Max scenarios of a scorching desert will be obviously fictional and entertaining, as the readers shiver in front of the fireplace through yet another frigid winter.

      • That’s confirmation bias- you only remember when it gets it right. Star Trek has technology that is backward from what is available now like autopilot.

      • One of my favorite authors when growing up was John Wyndham who didn’t like the title Science Fiction but wrote what he called Scientific Fiction taking something from the world as it is and changing one or two aspects and moving on from there. In one of his most famous stories he took plant breading (genetics) and satellite weapons and put them together to get the “Day of the Triffids”, which some ecoloons take to be the truth as far as genetic engineering goes.
        They might not like the idea behind the story “The Secret People” based on flooding the Sahara desert to make a new sea. Oh and our hero traveled in a private rocket plane.
        James Bull

      • One of my favorite anthologies was edited by Isaac Asimov, Where Do We Go from Here?”. Each short story looked at a world where one physical law was changed or discarded.
        For example, a material made a bouncing ball with a coefficient of restitution greater than 1. I.e. on each bounce it bounced higher than before. The energy for that came from the ball cooling. Finally on one bounce it go so cold it shattered and the story ended with people scampering around collecting the fragments before they warmed up and turned into less predictable bouncing objects.

      • “That’s why they shouldn’t marry.”
        I don’t think they plan to marry, but it’s still incestual.

    • Star Trek, produced a couple of generations of people, who no longer are capable of separating fact from fancy.
      The transporter is awaiting nothing more than support from a friendly government grant.
      Have you pre-ordered yours yet ??
      G

    • interesting isn’t it that creative fiction is actually the one really worthwhile department in the University of East Anglia.

      • Isn’t that the formula for any good Science Fiction novel/story? Read any of Michael Crichton’ books. He spent three years researching “State of Fear.” A thriller with footnotes, graphs and scientific references. In it he argues that the threat of global warming has been exaggerated by environmentalists. Is it Fact or Fiction?

    • To fit with a vision of preschool through high school education globally where “Education…must nourish a core of generic and conceptual and practical capacities to make the new out of the old, It must also equip the mind with the means with which to resist the present. For this very reason, the school should not remain under the control of the community of local families, who tell the child, become like us.”
      http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/evolution-to-a-holos-consciousness-is-certainly-not-my-idea-of-education-reform-is-it-yours/ is where that quote came from. That Holos Consciousness push comes out of the Club of Rome affiliate Club of Budapest but its authors beyond the Dalai Llama are Ervin Laszlo, with all his ties to UN entities and Nicholas Negroponte, who heads the MIT Media Lab. The Media Lab is under grants from NSF to create virtual reality gaming for the classroom that turn science fiction into the images of the games it creates. Instead of the student imagining via print, the desired visual images and engineered consequences get directly registered by the student’s brain as dramatized. Much different and designed to rewire the brain neurologically to act on these created false beliefs.
      Orwell and Huxley together could scarcely imagine what the behavioral scientists admit they are planning to do now in classrooms.

      • designed to rewire the brain neurologically to act on these created false beliefs.
        ==================
        a clockwork orange. what could possibly go wrong.

      • “Instead of the student imagining via print, the desired visual images and engineered consequences get directly registered by the student’s brain as dramatized. Much different and designed to rewire the brain neurologically to act on these created false beliefs.”
        I think you make a very important point. Images are processed very differently from words. We humans have been speaking with each other for a very long time; I suspect that lying was developed very soon after speech was, and so we have had a very long time of being wired to understand that words alone may or may not be true. The old sayings are “take what you hear with a grain of salt.” What you hear and what you read are automatically accompanied by a certain level of scepticism. On the other hand, consider the saying, “seeing is believing.” Up until just a few decades ago, what we saw happening around us, was certainly real. Now, anyone with access to movies or TV can see — actually see with their own eyes! — things which never happened and most likely never will happen. Those images are accepted (even if weakly) by our brains as being true. We know rationally that the things we see are not real, but the deeper parts of our mind are not convinced. Why else do we have nightmares after seeing obviously fictional horror movies?

      • ‘neurological social engineering with a collectivist political purpose’. This is Robin’s gorgeous phrase written elsewhere.
        ====================

      • That’s not the only place. Someone on Madison Avenue figured out that if they can just keep everyone’s cortisol level high by means of apocalyptic fiction, the useful idiots will say “Live for Today!” and max all their credit cards. Enslavement? Serfs? I’ve never seen a method that works any better than enslaving people to their own limitless, advertiser-generated, “desires.” Almost Biblical, when you stop to think about it! Also, if “we’re all going down, soon” there’s no need to take responsibility for one’s actions. Perhaps we get the “reality” we DESERVE!

  1. Has anyone ever tallied up all the science fiction stories that use man’s careless/malevolent “destruction of the planet” as a plot device, premise or setting? There must be hundreds.

    • I read “Stranger in a Strange Land” (1961) back about 1965. A science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein. Not sure if it was the first but those kind of books were even popular then.

      • Heinlein’s “humans destroy the planet” story was Farnham’s Freehold and humans didn’t destroy anything, just put a big, temporary dent in it. Stranger in a Strange Land has no planetary destruction except for the Martian’s historical destruction of the former fifth planet – now the asteroid belt, which happened in the far past.

    • Quite a few but the vast majority are Cold War era and latch onto atomic warfare as the cause. Some are considered classics, others were crap. There distopian novels like Burgess’s Clockwork Orange, Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar, or William Gibson’s stories that lead you to ask, “would you want to live in a world like this?” But “destruction” is mostly atomic or extraterrestrial.
      Recently the preference is to prevent those capitalists from cynically destroying the environment (episodes of CSI that pillory fracking for instance) or the horrible lefties from destroying most of the human race to initiate a “better” world (like Clancy’s Rainbow SIx or Crichton’s State of Fear [my vote for best story]). These however don’t actually ruin the planet, which is bravely rescued from the baddies instead.

  2. It sounds as though he’s just thought the possibility of writing fictional stories to warn, enthral and entertain.
    Most of Arthur C Clark’s work was exactly this, warning of future possibilities. Though he didn’t demand everyone turn off their TV’s and turn off the lights in case they wake the local residence of Rama.
    He’s only about 2,000 years behind some of the great masters.

  3. requires a new dystopian fiction

    We have plenty of dystopian future fiction already. We have 1984, Brave New Word, and Fahrenheit 451.
    All brought about by government “helping” us.
    We also have Atlas Shrugged.

    • The main reason why Star Trek became a perennial favorite is precisely because it was NOT “dystopian”–it showed a human race of the future that had matured beyond primitive stupidities like nuclear war and survived to colonize the stars. The Atlantean tradition, transferred to deep space!

      • An excellent point. Nearly all ‘space opera’ SF is really very positive about human development – even James Blish’ Cities in Flight series is about mankind escaping a decaying earth to populate the galaxy. Dystopian SF is nearly all based on a decaying earth with no hope of escape – Hunger games etc.

    • Indeed they do – I suspect they need the help of handy little 1 hour packets of Star Trek “science” or what passes as science in the climate world, where inconvenient past plot lines can simply be ignored as tho that happened in a different reality.
      At college we used to watch Star Trek avidly – one of the fun things we did was watch for episodes where a premise that had appeared in a previous episode was dismissed by the scriptwriters of one of the later episodes. So you got too good stories but each based upon contradictory and conflicting premise.
      This is fine for a fiction writer – Terry Pratchett used to say of his wonderful Discworld series that the entire concept was like a toy railway set and that at anytime he could and did – alter its shape and construct.
      It really is not that surprising that Climate “science” hankers after a Scriptwriters “reality” – as someone has already said – the UoEA is well respected for its literary prowess.
      As for Terry Pratchett’s Discworld “railway analogy” – well, did we not have a railway engineer in charge of the IPCC?
      Perhaps he had a train numbered IPCC 1701

  4. I just went through an enlightenment discussion tonight with a 17 yr old who only heard talking points. I pointed him to data sources, and he viewed facts.
    Things changed.

    • Ossqss – really satisfying isn’t it!
      My own “Road to Damascus” was via someone simply putting facts not spin in front of me. And the great thing about kids is that they question “authority”.
      We sceptics are benefiting from lots of young agile and questioning minds rebelling against the tosh rammed down their throats in schools.
      Let’s all of us keep being honest and acting with integrity – kids are not fools!
      We could do with a slogan……………!!!!
      What about?
      “The Truth is Out There!”
      Has that been done before?

      • kids are not fools!
        =============
        they eventually figure out that santa, the tooth fairy, the easter bunny and the boogeyman aren’t real.
        so about the time you tell them the climate is changing, that it will be summer all year long, they are pretty sure they can’t be that lucky. like santa, it will turn out to be a lie, and they won’t be able to party on the beach during winter, no matter how often they ride the bus.

  5. “I must say, I find the green obsession with frightening the kids with apocalyptic fairy tales, dressed up as predictions, a little disturbing. ” Other – more established – religions have been getting away with something not dissimilar for a long time now…

    • organized religion: give us your money or burn in hell.
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
      Extortion (also called shakedown, outwrestling, and exaction) is a criminal offense of obtaining money, property, or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion

      • Any “Christian” organization, at least, that tells you this, is selfishly lying and glorifying itself. Hell represents God’s respect for man even when he is so stubbornly wayward that he would never ever under any circumstance accept and act on help from God. God would rather permit them to be miserable slaves to the devil forever, than wipe them out. And heaven represents God’s mercy.
        So much as for climate science scams: they can’t even ape faith right. They are only aping a caricature of it.

  6. The 1984 Newspeak for “Catastrophic Anthropomorphic Global Warming” is “Climate Change”.
    The global warmers find instances of “Climate Change” and immediately start talking about CAGW even though they are saying “Climate Change”. “Climate Change” and CAGW have nothing to do with each other.
    “Climate Change” as used by global warmers is something you should find on the SyFy channel and not the Science channel.

    • When I meet people using that phrase, I always correct them – you mean Global Warming, right?

      • “Sigh”.
        Yeah, but now that it isn’t warming and isn’t likely to warm they have update their advertising and literature.
        The threats they are trying to push are:
        1. 2°C warming from 1900 – with no proof it will be harmful or that CO2 contributed more than 1.05 W/m2 to past warming, and completely ignoring the benefits of more CO2.
        2. Sea level rise – with no proof it is worse than the twentieth century.
        3. Ice sheet melt – with no proof it is more than a cyclical change.
        4. Water shortage – ignoring the fact that CO2 is part of the cure.
        5. Methane release/warming – with no evidence it is a real threat instead of just a virtual one.
        Given that CGAGW (raw data adjustment).has been over 0.23°C in the 7 years since 2008 for the period 1915 to 2000, or 3.28°C per century per century 2100 will be at least 5.5°C warmer if nothing changes, so there is no point in worrying about future warming.
        We really need to permit class active civil lawsuits against global warmers for fraud. It is the only way to stop the hoaxers from endlessly bombarding us with fictitious threats. They are stealing US tax dollars and fraudulently increasing our energy bills and lowering our standard of living. We should have legal recourse.

    • PA
      August 20, 2015 at 8:16 pm
      “Catastrophic Anthropomorphic Global Warming” ….

      Well, that truly IS some scary Sci-Fi right there. Hominid Glowball Warming! “Shoot it, it’s assuming human form!” Arrgh!

      ANTHROPOMORPHIC
      1: described or thought of as having a human form or human attributes
      2: ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things

      What you ~really~mean is:

      ANTHROPOGENIC
      1: of, relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on nature

      Things like this drive me bat poop crazy. Pet peeve of people referring to their steering damper as a “dampener”. What, ya trying to get it wet?
      Or describing fractions as multiples. “500,000 times lighter than the electron”… It is inaccurate and intellectually lazy to describe fractions as multiples. It’s not “500,000 times lighter”. It’s 0.000002 the mass of an electron, or 0.0002% the mass of an electron. You could perhaps say 2 ten thousandths of a percent the mass of an electron. It’s a fraction, not a multiple…. Argggh
      ….slinks away off of soap box…

  7. The Guardian article mentions the “cli-fi” film “Snowpiercer”. As I recall, the ice age in the film comes about through unspecified meddling with the climate. That suggests that humanity badly overcompensated for real or imagined global warming. Perhaps it’s the alarmists who could learn something from cli-fi. 🙂

    • In fact The Day After Tomorrow use the same device. The melting of ice in the arctic suppresses the NAC and triggers an Ice Age. Cold is always so much scarier than heat. Water World was simply pathetic.

  8. Nah, we told the kids that most things on TV were fiction. That if they had any thoughts about something possibly being correct, ask us or better yet look it up.
    Fiction is fine for daydreams, bad for science.

  9. When they say “you need science fiction to make sense of climate change” they are really saying “you must indulge yourself in the storyline and not the science”.
    How much more obvious can they get?

  10. Dystopian future fiction (some of it based on ecological problems) is an ever-popular genre: Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, Blade Runner, Mad Max, etc. There was also that recent one where global warming produced a new ice age. Not sure why the Grauniad thinks this is a novel idea. But I would love to see the Guardianistas lose millions by producing preachy rubbish that no-one will bother to see.

  11. Can’t wait to see what the Thermians make of these historical documents. Galaxy Quest II could have a lot of fun with this.

  12. Climate science ends up in the same group of SciFi movies as ‘The Blob‘ (1958, remake 1988), ‘I Married a Monster from Outer Space‘ (1958, remake 1998) and simular. Might be amusing and even funny, but far from realistic …

    • In ‘Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman’ an abused wife grows large and then pursues her abuser.
      Perhaps it could be re-shot with Gaia in the title role…

    • “Who goes there?”, the John W. Campbell novella that keeps getting remade as “The Thing” is on the list.
      Which is appropriate since global warming is a “disaster” that really isn’t.

  13. Wasn’t Day After Tomorrow about Climate Change writ large? Not only did the seas freeze, they simultaneously rose 50 meters to bury NYC in ice in a few days. That Hollywood movie is probably more realistic than most CAGW horrors being tossed around today.

    • Ironically it was Waterworld that depicted the warmist nightmare.
      Science fiction used to mix hope and possibility in with the risks, but now it is all doomsday stuff, and it is our fault always.

      • It’s only your fault if you’re NOT an Earnestly Concerned hand-wringing underwriter of NPR, driving a Prius you charge off your solar array, which also powers the treadmill you run on wearing a FitBit that beams your internal telemetry to Obama. While eating organic kale and obsessing over your “numbers.”

      • Peter Hamilton’s ‘Greg Mandel’ SF novels are set in a post warming, sea level rising world. And the WORST damage to England was done by the extreme socialist/Stalinist government that was elected to save the country!

  14. The Guardian obviously doesn’t know the difference between science fiction and fantasy because their the purveyors of fantasy.

  15. You try to get a novel with a non climate change belief standpoint published mainstream. You will not have a hope. It is interesting that the people at the top of the green promotion chain are often those whose one skill is in presenting fantasy as reality i.e. media stars. Others heavily promoting it are the aristocracy who clearly in the case of Prince Charles is keen to recreate a feudal primitive culture as demonstrated by his own vision of an ideal village.

    • Just documenting how the present scandal has unfolded, in a storytelling voice, would be quite damning to it. Call it a docu-novel, maybe. WHATEVER THIS STUFF IS, FOLKS. IT AIN’T SCIENCE.

    • Read Crichton’s State of Fear. You can’t find an author that was more mainline than Crichton, and he certainly was dubious of AGW.

  16. “ecological collapse requires a new dystopian fiction”?
    Have they never read any of J.G.Ballard’s novels?

  17. “What if the life you bear can’t support you?”
    Thats about the only true suggestion there.
    Trying to mitigate AGW will most surely make our lives unsupportable – everyone except the Gores, Clintons the Sorros and Princes Phillip and Charles and co etc.
    Cheers
    Roger
    http://www.thedemiseofchristchurch.com

    • That’s part of the problem; the notion that your children are supposed to support you.
      Did they get to vote on that before they were born ??
      g

  18. You know what I was just thinking we needed more of? Self-appointed, self-righteous arbiters of what other people should do with their talents.
    Don’t have enough of those, nope.

  19. Because many people in the west lost faith they are looking for another reason to feel sinful. The responsibility for men made climate change is a perfect substitute for that. So no chart, no scientific proof, no statistics will change that, because climate change is a narrative deeply inprinted in a faithless materialistic society that has a bad conscience because of their unique prosperity.

    • Agree! No coincidence that affluent countries are most susceptible to this nonsense. They are the only ones who can afford it, and they are the only ones who suffer from the guilt of prosperity. I have often thought declining religious belief was being replaced by CAGW. Religious guilt was at least channelled into something occasionally useful like charity. CAGW guilt gets channelled into something more intrusive to others.

      • Dunno ’bout YOU, but I have no guilt about MY prosperity whatsoever!
        Which probably makes me Very, Very Bad. 😉

    • I’ve long called the alarmism a ‘precious conceit of a Western elite’, but since both ‘precious’ and ‘conceit’ are used in a somewhat archaic fashion, it is rarely understood.
      I don’t care; art demands it.
      ==================

  20. So the Parisites meeting in France later this year are no more than a glorified book club?
    The problem is that people who routinely deal in fantasy eventually come to believe it is the only reality.

  21. Surely Al Gore pretty much owns the climate sci-fi market with An Inconvenient Truth. Nice literary twist putting a novel in the form of a non-fiction book. And talk about your unreliable narrator. Gore is a master.

  22. Truth is stranger than fiction, unless you’re dealing with the fiction of climate change. I look to actual news stories for my entertainment, like the following headline:

    Animal rights activist beaten with duck in Spain.

    What could be more entertaining than stuff like that? Certainly not climate change fiction.

      • Fallen Angels was published in 2004. There’s nothing prescient about it. You could already see a pervasive presence of uncritical environmentalism in government. The key to the current state of things is really the ’80s and ’90s. In the US, regulations had become effective enough that rivers were no longer in danger of catching fire and the air over California looked far less forbidding. The problem then became “how do we keep our jobs” since environmental protection has succeeded and should have gone into a station keeping mode. So, those who want to “protect” the environment have to go looking for new worlds to regulate. Guess who applies for jobs with environmental agencies? Also, the private sector pays better, so guess who turns up in control of critical agencies lie the EPA?

      • Ah, my Baen copy says 2002 on the copyright page, but it is hard cover. You can look “inside” on Amazon “First hardcover printing, October 2002.” You, and Wikipedia, are correct though, the original copyright is 1991. I made the classic mistake and “assumed” the hard back was first and never read the rest of the copyright page. Thanks for the correction.

        • You, and Wikipedia, are correct though, the original copyright is 1991.

          Matching Wiki-bloody-pedia against the Baen Books Web site, I’d cede the latter (“First printing, December 1992“) greater credibility than the former.

    • When I read “Fallen Angels” years ago it was free, now that’s not the case, perhaps now that the tide of public opinion is shifting Apocalyptic Global Warming to a non-concern, making an honest dollar is once again more important than getting a message out.

      • Fallen Angels had been an entrant in the Baen Free Library for a number of years (Baen had been the original publisher, and decidedly unlike most publishing houses, Baen tries to keep good midlist writers’ stuff in print and available to readers new and old, despite the damage done to the industry by Thor Power Tool (1979).
        Baen Free Library only offers the titles listed when they’ve got the authors’ (or the authors’ heirs’) permission to do so, and that permission can be withdrawn at any time. Authors tend to like having the earliest titles of their published series in the Free Library (apparently, in some cases, after they’ve largely “earned out” their bricks-and-mortar retail potential), chiefly as an enticement to get new readers interested in purchasing sequels or other novels written by the authors.
        In other words, the Baen Free Library had been undertaken (and continues being run) for the express purpose of “making an honest dollar” by way of the good old capitalist ploy of offering free samples to whet the customers’ appetite.
        It’s also a way for Baen Books to put new titles in publication at minimal cost – like, for example, their Reading Guides – whose commercial appeal probably couldn’t have justified print runs or hard-to-get shelf space in stores.

        Take a look around you. Everywhere you look you see technology refined by unsung heroes. Very few people who advance the state of an art or technology ever get much credit for it.
        — Bob Kruger, Baen Free Nonfiction 2012

    • Yes indeed Mr. Timesayear.
      Also how to detect hogwash, drivel, pablum, hooey, poppycock, jive, balderdash, and bunk.

      • If you raised kids and you didn’t look at their curriculum, you never noticed that, although the school administration and the state educational standards usually “emphasize” critical thinking, they don’t teach it any more. Lots of tears shed over that. Since the schools won’t teach critical thinking, the parents have to, if they know how.

  23. Too many words-
    The Guardian thinks climate change is so “dire”, most people think it is science fiction.

  24. What we are seeing hear is yet another ‘its not the message but the way its delivered ‘ approach to why the public are just not buying into ‘climate doom’

  25. We have had 30 years of climate science fiction by the IPCC and now we see climate fiction with the NOAA’s adjustment of temperature data and the claim that July has the warmest month every measured.
    A request for more climate fiction is pathetic.
    Climate science fiction has no effect on reality. The planet is about to abruptly cool.

  26. Actually, one of the classic SF themes is highly relevant. The government, or whoever runs the society, creates a distorted and terrifying picture of the world beyond the confines of the society (e.g. a city), in order to control and contain the society. An excellent and fairly recent film, “The Island”, is a perfect example of this.
    In today’s world, unscrupulous people are trying to convince us that our future is “dire” unless, of course, we do what they want. They do this by corrupting the science with alarmism and by “adjusting” the data, in order to create a false picture of what has already happened and of what lies ahead. This is a very close equivalent of the classic SF theme.
    Chris

    • Exactly.
      They aren’t interested in getting us to “imagine how we might live differently.” They are interested in making us live differently.
      “imagine how we might live differently.”

    • “Weird Tales” could make a strong claim to being the birthplace of modern science fiction. Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert E Howard, many of the science fiction and horror fiction greats wrote for weird tales, or grew up reading it.

      • I think sci-fi became an alternative vehicle for men’s transcendent ideas and desires when what we knew as classic religious faith “went out of style.” The beautiful irony of that is that sometimes the medium has served to illustrate tenets of faith, not just dystopias that toy around with our fears.
        Anyhow, in a similar sense, the medium could be artfully and artistically used to show what asses most of these modern climate “scientists” be. Just like sci-fi walked away from God, it has now also walked away from even secularly verifiable scientific tenets.

    • The illustration was cover art for a popular “pulp” (think cheap, for the masses) magazine, and should be understood in the context of its time, as containing images familiar to movie-going audiences, particularly boys, of the early 1930’s. The hero and heroine on the left bring to mind Tarzan and Jane (the man, in particular, dressed like a savage but with the high forehead and intense expression of then-current film idol John Barrymore; the hugely successful first Johnny Weissmuller “Tarzan” flick was in 1932, just two years prior to this). The demon-like figure on the right is a knock-off of, for example, “Nosferatu”, the flick that started the vampire craze, in 1922 (and remade in the UK in 1929, just 5 years earlier than this); the hands of the demon, thrust out and menacing, were just those of many a “night creature” and “Creeper” character (think of those hands, projected as a menacing shadow on a convenient wall; the image has been popular in political cartoons, probably since the advent of political cartoons in big-city newspapers (cities with all those dark alleys and shabby, dimly-lit dives, where the dangerous characters were to be found, all too often, in real life).

  27. Just like the Guardian, science fiction predictions are also ‘written’ by our UK’s MET Office every day.
    Yesterday evening, they predicted that today (Friday), would have thunderstorms around lunchtime followed by rain all afternoon and into the night until around 11:00pm.
    Today’s MET Office update says it’s going to be cloudy with sunshine all day! No mention of thunderstorms or rain.
    To repeat what most have questioned before, if ‘authority’ cannot accurately predict what the weather is going to do within 24 hours, how the heck can they know that our planet will be in the grip of ‘dangerous climate change’ in twenty years from now?

    • not just today Geejam here in the south they predicted 3 days of thunderstorms – all been disappeared now. How credible are their predictions into the future on any timescale?

    • Precipitation forecasts should always have a probability attached to them.
      Here in Florida, it rains nearly every day in Summer.
      But it does not rain in every location every day.
      And thunderstorms that have not formed yet are difficult to predict with any particular precision.
      If conditions are all lining up for a very high probability, it is still only a forecast of a probability.

      • And it is only a forecast of the probability that x % of the next gazillion days will have thunderstorms.
        It will tell you exactly nothing about whether tomorrow or July the 4th will have a thunderstorm.
        g

  28. “You might get rich writing peer reviewed science fiction. If you really want to get rich, you start a green religion” to misquote and misspell EnRon-Hubbard

  29. The Guardian opinionist is obviously out of touch with science fiction. Climate collapse has been covered numerous times by numerous authors. Some times they spin a great story, most times though the stories are pure dreck and you never hear of the author again. I could give a list but I am too lazy. Trouble is though most modern “Cli-Fi” is clearly message fiction and eventually once it gets lauded by all the right thinking people it disappears from view as being poorly written.

  30. The problem is that most professional science fiction writers are educated and experienced in the “hard” sciences, and have therefore been skeptical of this preposterous bogosity. The only one (to the best of my knowledge) who’s committed himself to the AGW error – now more properly classified as a criminal fraud – is Ben Bova.
    By all means, unleash the membership of SFFWA on this topic. The climate catastrophe clowns are gonna get a dose of the proper medicine for what ails them.

    My initial doubts about manmade global warming weren’t scientific, but … I guess you might say social. I am a novelist, and — when I’m not conversant on a particular subject — I’m inclined to depend on my judgement of the character of the actors involved. To some, I know, that may seem like a terrible confession, but others who write for a living will understand. The real question, after all, is “Am I being conned?”
    That’s a social question, not a scientific one.
    So,lacking other data, I looked at the character of those pushing the idea of Global Warming. They included leftist politicos I knew to be opportunistic liars in other contexts — particularly gun ownership — along with movie stars and other brain-dead celebrities that flock to any cause that attacks private industrial capitalism and individual liberty. Some may criticize me for ad hominem thinking, but when you don’t have reliable scientific information (which I didn’t back then), what else can you rely on but your understanding of the personalities involved?
    There was also my experience with previous predictions of disaster…, and of conspiracy theories that seemed to me to have a similar structure. The whole “Paul is dead” thing comes to mind. I know a lot about this because I spent a lot of time in the JFK Assassination Conspiracy “movement”.
    At least two shooters, maybe more, Kevin Costner to the contrary, notwithstanding.
    I suppose my perception of precisely who stood to benefit from the spreading fear about Global Warming comes into it. Anyone who hates technology, of course, or the present economic system. Also, hordes who will get rich from all of the asinine proposals to reduce Global Warming — anyone who makes solar panels or water heating systems or nasty little cars that go short distances very slowly, carrying almost nothing.
    Most persuasive, I suppose, was an anthropological understanding I have (that being my principle field of interest and study in college) of what constitutes a religion. The planet gets transmogrified into a goddess in the minds of the faithful, and all of the entities upon it, the birds and bees and flowers and trees (to quote an old song) — all of the entities, that is, except humans — become sacred objects. Exhaling carbon dioxide becomes Original Sin. Better that a thousand human babies should die than one single snail darter or a furbish lousewort.
    In fact, what the Earth needs, they often say, is a good plague.
    This religious interpretation helped explain the fact that Global Warming skeptics were increasingly being persecuted. They couldn’t be refuted, so university professors were being denied tenure or actually having it taken away. Government employees concerned with the weather were being reprimanded or threatened with firing. The new media were full of that kind of thing. (If academia — or science itself — ever recover from this debacle, it will be thanks to people who had retired or were just about to and didn’t have anything to lose by telling the truth.)
    Of course the “mainstream” media somehow failed to report lunacy like this. And when hundreds of scientists who had literally signed on with the Global Warming hoax managed to learn more, had second or third thoughts, and withdrew their sanction, that didn’t get reported, either, except by those on the net like Matt Drudge who care about the truth.
    I guess the final social fact that made me suspicious was the way people — especially legislators — were being pushed, rushed along, encouraged only to believe and act, not to think, “Because it’s too late for that, and even if it weren’t, we can’t risk not doing something.”
    There were, by now, lots of physical data to support skepticism. It turns out, for example, that some of the first readings that seemed to indicate increasing world temperatures came from a weather bouy in the Pacific Ocean that was defective and had to be repaired or replaced. My suggestion was that they preserve it as a monument to Al Gore.
    Similarly, official weather stations — those little white-painted structures with the louvred box on top—were increasingly being photographed where they had been placed near heat sources like factory smokestacks, the backs of restaurants, and industrial heat exchangers.
    I thought for a while that the whole house of cards was going to collapse when it was realized that most of the temperature readings used to support the fraud were taken in “municipal heat islands”, tiny pinpricks on the map where human activity had indeed managed to raise temperatures, usually by pouring concrete and asphalt over everything that didn’t move fast enough to avoid it. My hometown, for example, is at least ten degrees warmer in the summer now than I remember as a boy.
    Then came the ice core evidence showing that a relationship did, indeed, exist between changes in the mixture of atmospheric gases and global heat fluctuations, but exactly in reverse of what was expected: there was an average 800-year lag between a rise in temperatures and increases — which followed the increasing temperatures — in carbon dioxide.
    I wouldn’t want to leave out the thorough discreditation of the fraudulent “hockey stick” model, a dramatic graphic presentation by academic warmistas which, largely by means of ignoring the established climate history of the past thousand years — including the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age, both of which are exceptionally well-documented by the actual people living in those times — produced the desired results on paper, but bore no resemblance whatever to reality.
    Sort of like Keynesian economics.

    — L. Neil Smith (science fiction writer), 3 May 2009

  31. The late great Isaac Asimov wrote some of the best science fiction but he also wrote science “fact”. In 1971, concerned about world population increases he predicted that by the year 2000, man’s social structure would have utterly collapsed and that in the resulting chaos as many as three billion people would die……

    • Many SF writers bought into the Malthusian premise in the 60’s and 70’s.
      I’ll grant that Asimov was a brilliant man. I like many of his short stories and non-fiction books, but I’m not a fan of his SF novels. I tried to read the “Foundation” series several times but found it turgid, boring, and exasperating.
      Also, Asimov in his SF consistently advocated a “ruling class” of elites with dictatorial powers (as do many SF writers, unfortunately).
      I’ll take Heinlein, Niven, and Pournelle over Asimov any day.

      • I’ll grant that Asimov was a brilliant man. I like many of his short stories and non-fiction books, but I’m not a fan of his SF novels. I tried to read the “Foundation” series several times but found it turgid, boring, and exasperating.
        Also, Asimov in his SF consistently advocated a “ruling class” of elites with dictatorial powers (as do many SF writers, unfortunately).

        Bear in mind that the first book of the original Foundation</i trilogy was a “fix-up” cobbled together from Asimov’s shorter fiction produced primarily for John W. Campbell’s Astounding between 1942 and 1944. Similarly, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation were “fix-ups,” each consisting of two novellas that had been published separately in Astounding.
        Asimov’s style of fiction writing had been justly castigated as “for the most part talking heads against a barely effected backdrop,” with exposition declaimed in largely Gernsbackian mode. After exposure to writers like Poul Anderson, Keith Laumer, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Murray Leinster, Fritz Leiber, and especially Robert A. Heinlein in my youth, Asimov’s stuff came across as stultifying. “Gosh-wow” ideas lots of the time, but “oh, brother!” dialogue.
        As for his politics, Asimov was one of the Futurians, a bunch of Golden Age fans who, in the ’30s, were uniformly leftard. Some were members of the Communist Party, others avowed Troskyites, some dabbling in Technocracy, others fascinated by fascism (i.e., right-wing socialism).
        Libertarian Asimov was not, as might be inferred from his “psychohistory” premises.
        All that being acknowledged, I find him a helluva writer of expostulatory prose. I have to wonder what it might’ve been like to hear his take on Climategate 1.0 (17 November 2009).

        Science doesn’t purvey absolute truth. Science is a mechanism. It’s a way of trying to improve your knowledge of nature. It’s a system for testing your thoughts against the universe and seeing whether they match. And this works, not just for the ordinary aspects of science, but for all of life. I should think people would want to know that what they know is truly what the universe is like, or at least as close as they can get to it.

  32. My contention is that good science fiction has some basis in reality.
    If you go to the science fiction section on Netflix, you will see the same themes repeated over and over again:
    Vampires
    Zombies
    Climate Disasters
    Not very much interesting here.

    • One wonders what a climate disaster is. You can have weather disasters; a climate disaster is not possible.

  33. Read some of the quotes at the Guardian. There are a few gems.
    “Cli-Fi”
    “idiocracy” is our future.
    “Data change deniers”

  34. 97% of Climate Science Fiction Scientists agree! It’s a good living spinning these yarns!

  35. They keep desperately trying to repackage Climate Doom in a way that the public will buy it. But the whole idea of a manmade climate, or of an “Anthropocene” is itself a gigantic fiction, or more accurately a lie, since people are expected to believe it. It is such a huge waste of money, time, and human resources that it’d be funny if it weren’t so sad. It reminds me of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone, in which he often portrayed human folly as the real threat. We appear to be living in an episode of the Twilight Zone, in which human folly creates and acts on an imagined threat, but the real threat are his own actions and wild imaginings.

    • The reason for historical ice ages and warming ages hasn’t been proven yet, nor is it likely that the wherewithal for proof is even available. If the sun varied in intensity, perhaps one day archeology on other planets might turn up evidence (such as thermal ages that parallel those of the earth) but that’s a long long time away. Pointing to carbon dioxide added via human activity as a cause of appreciable warming seems perverse since in most scenarios rises in carbon dioxide follow warming, and any theoretical effect in directly causing warming is small enough to be swamped out by the moderating effect of clouds.

  36. The 2010 Hugo best novel winner was Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Windup Girl” (tied w “The City & The City”). Basically imagine every current alarmism panning out and that puts you in Windup Girl’s world in the 23rd century.
    Beyond that backdrop, I enjoyed the story. Well, it is science-fiction.
    😎

  37. What we *really* need is a way to deal with the sensationalists who are using science fiction to create the social anxieties of the 21st century.

  38. “Claim: You need science fiction to make sense of climate change”
    So, what’s the problem?
    Science fiction to explain science fiction.
    I’m seeing the Guardian admitting that “climate change” is science fiction.
    Can’t argue with them when they are right.

    • Using the parallel helps explain how someone can write a book that seems absolutely true is actually “Science Fiction.” When I first read “Andromeda Strain” I thought Michael Crichton was trying to expose a hidden incident. I started verifying facts and all seemed to be verifiable. The story seemed true to me. I think that is why Michael Crichton’s, John Clancy’s and many other authors following that formula sell so many books, AND why Science Fiction CAGW was sold to the politicians.

  39. I agree completely that this idea of scaring children with scary end of the world stories is bad.
    To me it is more than disturbing, it is sickening, and I think the people that do it are mentally ill, and it should be illegal to lie to children in a school setting, or tell them frightening stories and claim they are facts rather than someone’s fantasy scenario.
    Why anyone would think it is OK to let delusional people, with an agenda, indoctrinate other peoples children into their cult is beyond me.
    No matter what the delusion, or agenda, or cult. Or even if it is just an ideology.
    Why would any permit their kids to be manipulated like this? People only grow up once. At the most.

  40. The late Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels, unsurpassed in my view.
    Or Michael Crichton, unsurpassed for near future and the side effects of technology.
    But I do agree with several posters, the Guardian has a self righteous view that if people aren’t listening its not the argument that’s the problem, its just that you haven’t communicated it well. I think the Guardian and climate science idiots just have no idea how good normal people’s BS filters are, especially when they are being bombarded by Chicken Little scenario’s.

  41. If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your errrrr…… climate fiction.

  42. Climate fiction should not be compared to science fiction. Perhaps a comparison to sword-and-sorcery would be more appropriate.

  43. The Guardian ariticle on SciFi stresses in its concluding paragraph,
    “The point is that Anthropocene fiction isn’t just science fiction; nor is it just climate fiction. It’s both those things and more. It is all the stories we should tell our children: near-future tales of ecological systems, collapse, responsibility and possibility along with visions of long-term cohabitation with our own environment. The point is to show them not just how the story ends but how we might get through the middle – while we still have a shot at changing it.”

    If I agree at all with the Guardian’s well stressed point about the importance of Fiction (which includes Science Fiction) then Michael Crichton’s 2004 techno-thriller-scifi novel ‘State of Fear’ is very very very important; much more important than any of the science fiction memes/books cited by the Guardian article.
    There are several more of the caliber of Crichton’s novel which are not like the Guardian cited SciFi books at all; for example Heinlein has stuff comparable to Crichton’s meme.
    John

  44. Actually, in order to make “sense” of the climate change nonsense, you just need to be a moron, drink lots of the special Kool Aid, and wear the special Climate Goggles™.

  45. Suggest you try “The Drowned World” by J G Ballard, which has apparently just been reprinted after 50 years. I enjoyed the scenes of flooded London, and the icebergs floating up the Channel. At least he used a more reasonable idea for the flood – the Sun got warmer and started melting the ice caps – no nonsense re carbon dioxide.
    The Blob was a fairly good sequel to The Quatermass Experiment, which was about 5 years earlier. I liked the Blob’s trailer, all that gorgeous melting chocolate! One of the later Quarermass films was Q. and the Pit, happily parodied by The Goon Show in “The Scarlet Capsule”.
    Aha! Happy memories.

  46. It looks like science but relies on science fiction for its support rather than real world data.
    That’s familiar.
    Ladies and Gentlemen I present the heirs of L Ron Hubbard –
    The Climate Scientologists!

  47. Exaggerated science claims in the ARs which are artificially slanted (made up) by the IPCC are just badly written science fiction mimicking science.
    John

  48. Science fiction is putting it nicely.
    Corruption, intentional deception, cognitive bias, ends justifies the means, group think and arrogance could also apply if one were not so kind.

  49. Earth’s climate is better than it has been in hundreds of years:
    The slight warming since the Little Ice Age is great news for people.
    I hope it continues.
    The increase of CO2 is great news for green plants, and the people and animals who eat them.
    I hope it continues.
    Climate reality won’t sell any newspapers.
    Climate reality won’t help politicians gain power and halt economic growth.
    There is no evidence the change in the climate since 1850 has been bad news.
    Climate reality is boring.
    But science fiction is exciting, such as the “coming” DDT, acid rain, hole in the ozone layer, global cooling, global warming, climate change catastrophes … all “coming” since the 1960s or 1970s … but the boogeymen never arrive … they must have got on the wrong bus?
    Free climate blog for non-scientists:
    http://www.elOnionBloggle.blogspot.com

  50. I wonder if the writer of this article has paid any attention to current science fiction. I have always liked scifi but the trend in the last 20 years has been wretched dystopianism, usually based on climate disasters. Read anything by Kim S Robinson (if you can stand it), or a dozen other sound-alikes, especially the award-winning books. There’s no need to add to that miserable mess. Try something good by Clarke or Niven, and leave the climate-based fiction to Mann et. al.

  51. Having been a reader of science fiction since the 1950’s of science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction, I can testify that science fiction has covered any Alarmist take on ecology and climate disasters well covered in print. In fact you could create a new category called Alarmist fiction and instantly fill it with tens of thousands of good books. Many authors from the 50’s and 60’s are, or would be if dead, terribly disappointed that we
    don’t even have bases on the moon and Mars.

  52. A deeply popular theme of SF is the secular apocalypse, usually told from a post-apocalypse point of view. The authors know not to focus too much on the actual event because it does not hold up under close scrutiny. Climate apocalypse is one of the most popular subsets of the secular apocalypse. The cheesy predictions the current crop of climate obsessed extremists are making about the climate apocalypse demonstrates why it is better to focus on the post-apocalypse period: Predictions are seldom accurate if they are made before hand.
    A “tell” that the true believers in the climate obsession are peddling bs is that they are turning to myth making to instill the proper piety (fear) of CO2 which is required to set aside one’s critical thinking skills and rational thought processes and accept their claptrap.

  53. The disgraceful Labour government in the UK has already tried frightening the kids.
    This was the TV advert they created way back in 2009, to get kids to pressurise their parents about CO2. However, the general reaction was to incense the parents, and stop them voting Labour. They lost the next election.

  54. How about stories where a bunch of totalitarian creeps make up stories, take over the world by lying to everyone about AGW, destroy human freedom, and pretty much crush civilization.

  55. Claim: You need science fiction to make sense of climate change

    Translation: “We need to lie more entertainingly.”
    Or maybe: “Santa Claus is real. Coal is evil.”
    Or maybe: “Make them forget the facts. Further soften the mushy minds with fiction.”
    Or maybe: “Ignore reality. ‘Imagine’ this.”

  56. This sounds like something Joseph Goebbels might have said if the Third Reich believed anthropogenic climate change was an enemy of the state..

  57. Side bar: The positively WORST Star Trek episode was the one with the galactic hippies. The writers at least made the galactic hippies power hungry and manipulative in the end. But Roddenberry and the writers were all leftist or at least futurist utopians at heart.
    Is the Guardian even paying attention to current events? Social upheaval in N. Africa and the Middle East while the desert slowly begins to green is NOT a function of environmental collapse, but of political and social collapse. This will not get fixed until the moderate Muslims can learn to appreciate the meaning of political plurality and the radical Muslims decide that it’s bad to stop killing each other and us non-Muslims. If we could only get them to set their phasers on stun.

  58. Climate Science needs science fiction to better present its ideas?
    First there would need to be some science in Climatology.
    you can not write science fiction when all you know is fantasy.
    What was last weeks quote of the week?
    Environmentalists care so much about the planet, they will do anything to save the ecosystem,
    Except get a scientific education.
    I became a cynical sceptic because I sought to review the science.

    • I expect that the quotation you’re recalling goes like so:

      “The college idealists who fill the ranks of the environmental movement seem willing to do absolutely anything to save the biosphere, except take science courses and learn something about it.”
      ..– P.J. O’Rourke

      • Thank you that was it.
        Team that up with the Description of the fabric in the Emperors News Clothes and an explanation for the groupthink and wilful dismissal of science that is catastrophic Climatology becomes apparent.

  59. Reading all this, I have an image of the most successful scifi writer of all time, L Ron Hubbard, standing on the foredeck in his neatly tailored admiral suit…a small, knowing grin on his face…

  60. Ah, thank you for the heads up.
    Apparently, the required message for this year in “Correct Science Fiction” is “Kill the deniers.”
    Last year, it was “Kill the Jews.”

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