Captain Planet, a blast from the past pertinent to the present to preserve the future. In the 1990s environmental ecologists and activists sought to educate and reach out to a new audience to voice their concerns on the wasteful destruction of Earth’s resources by creating an eco-conscience cartoon geared toward college bound youngsters who would soon be entering and graduating from high schools. With the financial help of billionaire Ted Turner all of this came into fruition, Captain Planet was created. The plot behind the storyline is simple: a quintet of teenagers work together to encourage environmentally responsible behavior by protecting the Earth with their individual elemental powers of Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, and Heart; when their powers are combined they summon a superhero, Captain Planet, to deal with extreme ecological disasters. This blast from the past may be what is needed presently to reach out to younger audiences once again, as planetary climate-change is occurring more rapidly with tangible physical evidence of the changes that will affect future generations. Though this cartoon is no longer producing new episodes, the program does run in syndication on some networks and many episodes can be found on YouTube. This show also inspired the Captain Planet Foundation, supporting environmental education. The greatest accomplishment of this program is that it reached a younger audience and entertainingly exposed the seriousness of planetary destruction, the dangers of over consumption, and economic greed; while fostering respect for the Earth as it will abide to man because it will exist long after homosapiens are gone.
I have often asked the question: How do you get someone to be more conscientious of environmental conservationism, global-warming, and climate-change? The best answer is to entice interest and bring awareness to these social concerns during a person’s early social and mental development. It has been proven through clinical research and social experiments that early onsite exposure during an adolescent’s pre-pubescent developmental stage is the best time to peek a child’s interest and form a cognitive bond to information. This is why it is easier for a young child to learn a foreign language than an adult; the mind is open to new experiences and information retention. With this in mind, children’s author Sarah Holding has taken this concept and written books targeting her audience of adolescents and their adult guardians. In an interview Sarah states, “I can’t speak for everyone, but I write cli-fi because it reconnects young readers with their environment, helping them to value it more, especially when today, a large amount of their time is spent in the virtual world. Cli-fi advocates restoring equilibrium to our physical environment, making it not just a setting or backdrop to a story, but a story’s primary purpose and emotional appeal. The characters in my writing are genuinely concerned about the environment and want to make a difference, which I hope is contagious and spreads to my readers too.” This is the purpose of literature: to reach out to a vast array of populaces to entertain and inform.
I am not into science and math. I am an English Literature Major: with a concentration in African-American Poetry, which denotes I have an extensive, functional vocabulary and my ability to comprehend or decode information through context clues is superb. However, when it comes to understanding jargon specific terminology and scientific-based language I get lost and often feel stupid, even though I shouldn’t. With this in mind, it is often difficult to become motivated by topics and information that are difficult to cognitively retain, even when it is a topic of interest. When someone cannot comprehend what they are reading or what is being presented they tend to lose interest. For this very reason the website, Shrink That Footprint, has attempted to simplify Climate Science for Beginners.
Hey everybody! Look at what I found! That’s RIGHT, an interview with cli-fi’s sweetheart, Dan Bloom! It’s actually pretty interesting. The interview was posted on January 19th, 2015 and it’s about his thoughts on cli-fi in general and how cities are portrayed in these worlds affected by climate. I figured this was a good post to leave you all with. I’ll see you all again someday, maybe, to finish that debate about whether or not clones are considered alive.
In the Los Angeles Review of Books, a great review of a new special issue of the journal Paradoxa about the state of science fiction. The review starts by name-dropping “cli-fi” and the writing of Kim Stanley Robinson and Margaret Atwood before moving into its description of the collection:
The more sophisticated offerings among these postapocalyptic fictions often highlight how end-of-the-world fantasies can often perpetuate triumphalist narratives of global capitalism, and this is one of the key launching points for Mark Bould and Rhys Williams’s recent special issue of the scholarly journal Paradoxa. This special issue — called Sf Now — examines cutting-edge trends in science fiction literature and theory, and it offers several articles that expand on Mark Fisher’s notion of “capitalist realism,” or the idea that challenges to capitalist norms are often preemptively rejected as fruitless and unrealistic.
If you ask me, the possibilities and power of “cli-fi” should be evaluated by how well it provides alternatives to this line of thinking — “capitalist realism” — and directly challenges its limitations. As we discussed in class, I think Kingsolver is actually doing this rather well in Flight Behavior if we account for her audience, mainly in the two scenes where Dellarobia goes shopping (first in the dollar store, later in the thrift store) — so it doesn’t always have to come in the form of science fiction.
You can read the Introduction to the special issue online.
I feel like many times in class we had a cyclical conversation about how there is absolutely nothing we can do to reverse the process of climate change. Here is one such example that could actually stand to do some real good. That is, granted our politicians can get their heads out of their asses. Fat chance right?
In the Guardian, author Sarah Holding gives her Top 10 Cli-fi books. The list is focused on Young Adult and children’s lit, which is where cli-fi is really taking off. Early in February, Holding wrote a piece for the Guardian about why she considers her own work cli-fi. The next time I teach this class, we’ll definitely read something geared towards the YA market.
Coined by climate activist Dan Bloom to capture an emergent literary genre dealing with life on Earth after it’s been ravaged by climate change, this is fast becoming the most exciting and challenging subject area driving YA literature. Although catastrophic by nature, it is far from mere disaster-movie fodder; these books are posing new questions about what it means not just to survive but to be human. Don’t be put off by the preponderance of floodwater or the scarcity of basic resources – what you’ve got here are fast-paced, intrepid adventures into the unknown, most of which, interestingly enough, have a strong female character leading the way.
Pictured above: an ice-hopping polar bear, something our blog has been missing to this point. Photo credit: “Polar Bear AdF” by Arturo de Frias Marques – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Has anyone heard about this? This guy is pretty hardcore. Definitely an event that I would like to keep tabs on.
This article (for me) was a new take on how we view climate change. Especially relevant from our numerous conversations in class regarding, “What can we do?” and “Who is to blame?”. This piece is very comprehensive, and makes compelling arguments for its case. Here are some samples of the article.
“Negligence on the part of those governments and corporations towards peoples who have been displaced or further impoverished by climate change is a form of violence. That negligence has included severe underfunding for climate adaptation and mitigation efforts, and relative inaction or slow action on curbing overconsumption.”
“Citizens of the world have to press charges for human rights violations or even war crimes, not just environmental degradation —for both current and past harms. We have to look at figures of how many inches the ocean will rise and how many more storm events will wipe out coastal economies, and directly relate human lives to those numbers. We need prioritize the people whose homes and livings are going literally underwater, and make the heavy emitters (corporations and rich nations) pay.”