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Issue 16

Issue XVI: Editor’s Note

Today’s environmental movements face an unusual advisory – the crisis of communication. As the world around us rapidly moves on from one story to another, take a pause to read our latest issue dedicated to exploring the culture of reading. In the 16th issue of OpenAxis, our writers will give you a glimpse into the unique ways of expressing environmental ideas – covering all bases, from graphic novels to eco-poetry.

Mongabay India, sits down with the author of the Naturalist: A Graphic Adaptation, Jim Ottaviani to talk about the journey of this book and how the idea of capturing scientist Edward O. Wilson’s life in frames came to fruition. Jim Ottaviani shares Wilson’s lessons of environmental study and conservation and how they can appeal to a fresh audience. 

Peter Speetjens from Mongabay India writes about the work of Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. His latest book, Amazônia, is a visual tale dedicated to capturing the beauty of the world’s largest rainforest and the lives, culture and rituals of the Indigenous tribes. The book not only seeks to immortalize the essence of the Amazon Rainforest, but also serves as a call for the preservation of this endangered ecosystem.

2021 marked the launch of Comixense, a graphic novel magazine created by India’s first eco-graphic novelist, Orijit Sen. Stepping into the world of comics, Devanshi Daga takes a closer look at how this visual medium of storytelling can reform the way we talk about and understand climate change. 

Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited adaptation of Dune has finally hit the theatres. And owing to the eco-centric nature of the film, discussions about climate change and the scarcity of resources have resurfaced yet again. But will these discussions translate into real climate action? Linking psychology to climate fiction, Meera Anand analyses whether or not pop culture has the power to influence attitudes towards the climate crisis.

In recent years, the number of children’s books on climate change, global warming, the world of nature and their readership has increased manifold. In the wake of this reading boom, and with a rise in the number of youth environmentalists leading environmental movements, Aritro Sarkar discusses the impact of children’s books on the climate crisis genre, on the climate movement and what it means for children. 

The Laurel Prize is one of the most prestigious International Awards for eco-poetry. Although they invite submissions from around the world, do their strict language barriers, related expenses and numerous other terms and conditions end up curbing the submissions from poets belonging to marginalised and non-English speaking communities? Ishita Ahuja probes into the selection criteria for the Laurel Prize in order to highlight the limited representation of diverse perspectives through the art of eco-poetry.

Booktube is a thriving microcosm within the Youtube universe. Run by a community of literary vloggers, it is a platform for readers to discuss and recommend their favourite books. But a trend of sharing ‘book hauls’ (i.e. the act of a vlogger displaying their huge collection of books after a shopping spree) has taken over this community. Rishita Chaudhary uncovers the environmental and social impact of this growing trend and if it can be transformed into a more sustainable practice.

The advent of Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs, a piece of blockchain technology, has made the process of publication extremely easy and decentralised, especially for those authors who earlier used to have a tough time getting their work published. This technology however uses massive amounts of energy to operate, having a detrimental impact on the environment. Despite these concerns, authors opt to publish their work through NFTs. In his article, Cefil Joseph Soans looks into why authors are shifting to NFTs and how NFTs can be used to not only reduce but Reverse (RVRS) climate change.

– Ashana Mathur

Categories
Issue 16

Today’s environmental movements face an unusual advisory – the crisis of communication. As the world around us rapidly moves on from one story to another, take a pause to read our latest issue dedicated to exploring the culture of reading. In the 16th issue of OpenAxis, our writers will give you a glimpse into the unique ways of expressing environmental ideas – covering all bases, from graphic novels to eco-poetry. 

Mongabay India, sits down with the author of the Naturalist: A Graphic Adaptation, Jim Ottaviani to talk about the journey of this book and how the idea of capturing scientist Edward O. Wilson’s life in frames came to fruition. Jim Ottaviani shares Wilson’s lessons of environmental study and conservation and how they can appeal to a fresh audience. 

Peter Speetjens from Mongabay India writes about the work of Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. His latest book, Amazônia, is a visual tale dedicated to capturing the beauty of the world’s largest rainforest and the lives, culture and rituals of the Indigenous tribes. The book not only seeks to immortalize the essence of the Amazon Rainforest, but also serves as a call for the preservation of this endangered ecosystem.

2021 marked the launch of Comixense, a graphic novel magazine created by India’s first eco-graphic novelist, Orijit Sen. Stepping into the world of comics, Devanshi Daga takes a closer look at how this visual medium of storytelling can reform the way we talk about and understand climate change. 

Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited adaptation of Dune has finally hit the theatres. And owing to the eco-centric nature of the film, discussions about climate change and the scarcity of resources have resurfaced yet again. But will these discussions translate into real climate action? Linking psychology to climate fiction, Meera Anand analyses whether or not pop culture has the power to influence attitudes towards the climate crisis.

In recent years, the number of children’s books on climate change, global warming, the world of nature and their readership has increased manifold. In the wake of this reading boom, and with a rise in the number of youth environmentalists leading environmental movements, Aritro Sarkar discusses the impact of children’s books on the climate crisis genre, on the climate movement and what it means for children. 


The Laurel Prize is one of the most prestigious International Awards for eco-poetry. Although they invite submissions from around the world, do their strict language barriers, related expenses and numerous other terms and conditions end up curbing the submissions from poets belonging to marginalised and non-English speaking communities? Ishita Ahuja probes into the selection criteria for the Laurel Prize in order to highlight the limited representation of diverse perspectives through the art of eco-poetry.

Booktube is a thriving microcosm within the YouTube universe. Run by a community of literary vloggers, it is a platform for readers to discuss and recommend their favourite books. But a trend of sharing ‘book hauls’ (i.e. the act of a vlogger displaying their huge collection of books after a shopping spree) has taken over this community. Rishita Chaudhary uncovers the environmental and social impact of this growing trend and if it can be transformed into a more sustainable practice.

The advent of Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs, a piece of blockchain technology, has made the process of publication extremely easy and decentralised, especially for those authors who earlier used to have a tough time getting their work published. This technology however uses massive amounts of energy to operate, having a detrimental impact on the environment. Despite these concerns, authors opt to publish their work through NFTs. In his article, Cefil Joseph Soans looks into why authors are shifting to NFTs and how NFTs can be used to not only reduce but Reverse (RVRS) climate change. 

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Issue 16

Hey BookTuber, your book hauls? Not a good look for COP26

Reading is usually a pretty solitary, quiet event so getting to find a place where people are passionate and excited and wanting to talk about what they’ve read is what’s really magical about BookTube,” says Ariel Bissett, a prominent Canadian writer and BookTuber with 274K subscribers, in November 2021.

Booktube is, broadly speaking, a community of 16 to 25 yr olds, who come together on Youtube, as literary vloggers, sharing their passion for books through reading-related recreation. This not only includes book reviews but popular video formats such as read-along, bookshelf tours and hauls.

A book haul usually features a creator showcasing their book buying spree, done in one go. Popular in nature on beauty and fashion channels, these book haul videos also have quite a following. With clickbait titles like “Giant Book Haul!70+ books” or “I have a book buying problem that I don’t plan on fixing | a big book haul”. A video is often set against a backdrop of gigantic bookshelves spilling with hardcovers and one is made to believe that owning more books is the only means of occupying a legitimate seat in the community.

In 2015, Oscar Leal, a Mexican BookTuber called this out and proposed the hashtag #Prostitubers (“prostitutes + BookTubers”) to discuss how BookTubers were faking love and passion in exchange for free books. See an Indian rant here.

This exhibitionist side of BookTube is often a feature of how marketing is insidiously a norm on the platform. The term collaboration is thrown around to mask the commercial nature of the relationship between the creator and the brand sponsoring online content. In their video description, BookTubers usually add a link of books discussed in the video to online retail sites. Reading becomes a commodity, where creators not only suggest what books to read next but what book to buy next. It makes passive consumption a likely aspiration. This consumerism rests on the fallacy that economic growth is endless. A finite planet with finite resources cannot sustain endless growth, and pretending it does has led us to the climate crisis we see today

BookTube, also known for its discussions on the young adult canon, seems to be falling short at CoP26, being held in early November, 2021. Rather than leading the way in compiling environmentally themed book reccos, it has been flooded with Halloween-themed haul videos. From cozy spooky books to read if you dare to Scary books to read. The boomers are making all the climate read reccos for kids and the young in November. This is when climate activism has gotten younger, creating online communities like never before and young reading has seen a Greta Thunberg effect since 2018.

While boomers place screens and books on opposing ends of the spectrum, the internet and social media have repeatedly offered possibilities for readers to forge virtual connections with each other. With deep structural transformation in the industry, the global publishing industry is constantly trying to find innovative means of connecting with younger readers. This is where BookTube works. Prominent figures in the community with high engagement and a large number of followers, or as the French sociologist Pierre Bordieu proposed, social capital, are often sought out to connect with active readers. These creators’ authority and opinions often influence their audiences’ purchasing habits, in contrast to conventional print media which is less likely to sway them. This social capital often translates into economic capital for both publishing houses who see a rise in spending on books and creators, who often receive a commission for books sold via them. Even just the high-frequency nature of purchase lauded in the community, can often burn a hole in viewers’ pockets, often discriminatory on grounds of disposable income and location (availability, shipping costs). Separating people into two camps; those who have and those who don’t.

Another important dimension of BookTube is the emphasis it places on the physicality of the books. While reading ranges from ebook to audiobook, Booktubers often incorporate only physical copies because they cater to the visual aspect of the platform. Catchier to hold up a book, flip through its pages, instead of a bland Kindle. However, the manufacture and distribution of a physical book comes at the expense of environmental degradation. Copies not sold by bookstores are often shredded down to pulp and mixed with industrial solvents and bleach for recycling purposes. This process is very energy-intensive and is fueled by coal and natural gas. Paper manufacturing accounts for the third-largest use of fossil fuels contributing to global warming.

Going digital and adopting e-books can stop this. The threshold at which books emit more GHG emissions than an e-reader is somewhere between 13 and 30 (average 20) university textbooks. For heavy readers, like BookTubers, physical copies can shoot up greenhouse gas emissions in contrast to investing in an e-reader. E-books and library subscriptions are often more inclusive and sustainable means of being a reader in today’s age. 

So BookTubers, what’s December going to look like? The horror of more consumptive hauls? Or a cli-fi listicle by your own, for your own? What can possibly be a good look in the second year of a never-ending pandemic though? Any ideas?

Rishita Chaudhary is a second-year student studying political science, international relations, and media studies at Ashoka University.

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

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Issue 16

Is the 2021 Laurel Prize for environmental poetry exclusionary with too many T & C ?

We passed the woman without comment,

though she stood there in her cloak of wood,

the globe held in the lathed green of her hands.” 

This is an excerpt from the 2021 Laurel Prize winner, Sean Hewitt’s poem, Dryad from his book Tongues of Fire. The winner gets a cash prize of 5000 Euros, a commission from the National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a UK charity, to create a poem on their favourite landscape and the work gets wide media exposure. Twelve of the twenty long-listed poets of the 2021 Laurel Prize are from the UK, three are from the United States, two Australian, and one each is a New Zealander, Swiss and Canadian. English is the most commonly spoken language in three of these four countries, barring Switzerland. Of the three judges, Maura Dooley and James Thornton were born in the UK. The third, Imtiaz Dharker, though born in Pakistan, has lived in the UK for most of her life. The winner of the 2020 Laurel Prize, Pascale Petit too, is a British writer. Submissions, though, are accepted from poets all over the world. 

The work must have been originally written in English. Translated poetry from the world’s languages into English does not qualify. In 2021, that means about 1.34 million English-speakers of the 7.9 billion people in the world can apply (if they are poets). But if a poet is self-published, no chance either.

Since it is the poet’s publisher who is required to send five hard copies of the book to an address in Gloucestershire, by a certain date. The publishing process itself involves an author paying first for the composing unit’s work. That is type-set, digital printing, and proofreading. Secondly, the author pays for printing via a tracing sheet, for paper needed for printing, and for the cover image and/or illustrations in the book. Finally, the author pays for binding and must pay extra for a hard-back cover. Printing is then completed and the author earns only if the book makes money. Doesn’t this narrow down the number of poets who can afford to first get their books published, then pay for at least five hard copies to be sent to a UK address, at a relatively prohibitive cost for international entries? Not to mention the amount of paper being used.

That’s not all. All winning poets are expected to attend events to talk about their work and be at the award ceremony, without overseas travel being covered by the Laurel Prize organizers. 


2019 National Poet Laureate of the UK, Simon Armitage, started this award from his own honorarium received from the Queen, as part of the award (A British tradition visible back in the 17th century). This is “an annual award for the best collection of nature or environmental poetry to highlight the climate crisis and raise awareness of the challenges and potential solutions at this critical point in our planet’s life.” While the award sponsor’s message is urgent, how exactly is it reaching out to a diverse world, if it is accepting global entries, but not deepening equitable access?

What the message does confirm though is that ecopoetry as a subgenre within environmental themes is now increasingly being seen as distinct from just good old nature poetry. ‘The present is burning’ says The Guardian in Sean Hewitt’s Tongues of Fire. John Shoptaw, an American professor, teaching ecopoetry and looking at the poetry of climate change wrote in 2016, “Ecopoetry is nature poetry that has designs on us, that imagines changing the ways we think, feel about, and live and act in the world. Ecopoetry doesn’t supplant nature poetry but enlarges it.” 

In Greek mythology, a dryad is itself “a nymph or nature spirit who lives in trees and takes the form of a beautiful young woman.” Nature’s grace, coping with his father’s death, ideas of mortality intermingle in Hewitt’s poetry. In Black American poet Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s 2020 work Dub: Finding Ceremony, ‘Gumbs channels the voices of her ancestors, including whales, coral, and oceanic bacteria, to tell stories of diaspora, indigeneity, migration, blackness, genius, mothering, grief, and harm. Tracing the origins of colonialism, genocide, and slavery as they converge in Black feminist practice.’

Shoptaw also suggests “an ecopoem must be tethered to the natural world.” and that “human interests cannot be the be-all and end-all.”  Homero Aridjis, with over forty collections of poetry and prose has been called the “poetic soul” of Mexico’s environmental movement, is one answer to Shoptaw’s urgency possibly. ‘The monarch butterfly, with its tigerish orange wings and its ability to fly up to 100 miles a day during its 3,000-mile migration to central Mexico, has become Aridjis’s emblem, featured in numerous poems, in his 2000 novel La montaña de las mariposas [Butterfly Mountain], and in his 2015 children’s book María la monarca [Maria the Monarch], as well as in dozens of articles denouncing the destruction of forests by loggers protected by government officials.’ A 2016 poem by him goes,

A temple not in the temple

A temple apart from its form

A temple older than the stones

A temple speaking to us but not naming us

A temple without motion that moves on its way

A temple swifter than thought

I refer to air

the temple of air.

But if his new poem collection were to send in an entry for the Laurel Prize, it would remain ineligible. For its first tongue is Mexican. Even though, in speaking of air here, the poet connects us all.

Ishita Ahuja is a second-year undergraduate student at Ashoka University. She is an aspiring Literature major and Environmental Science minor, with an affinity for the outdoors. She hopes to become an environmental journalist soon.

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

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Issue 16

Children are reading on climate change more than ever before: Good or bad?

Lending colour to a grey January day, a green Christmas tree stood on the side of the road, ignored, by all, but one. Young Brian noticed the tree, “why nobody was smiling at her anymore” he wondered.

Bethany Welby’s beautifully illustrated The After Christmas Tree, a 2020 picture book, follows young Brian as he takes care of the tree, nurtures it and then sees it attract all the birdlife a tree can. The allegory is strikingly clear: children notice, and are acting to protect the earth. Welby, an award-winning UK-based picture book illustrator, is then one of a growing corpus of children’s book writers-illustrators, combining eco-action with a story. Some Western publishers say Greta lit the spark.

When Greta Thunberg boycotted school one Friday in 2018, her protest marked the resolve of children and youngsters to act. It also highlighted their frustration at the lack of climate action being taken to preserve a planet that is theirs to inherit. Riding on this ‘Greta Thunberg Effect’, young people in many parts of the world were joining a conversation they were often not invited to. People sat up and took notice. Publishers were among them, and soon, children’s literature on climate flooded the shelves.

2019 data from Nielsen Book Research,  shared with The Guardian, revealed that the number of new children’s books looking at the climate crisis, global warming and the world of nature has more than doubled in the span of a year, since 2018, as have their sales. Is it also boosting the reading habit among the young?

It also poses an interesting paradox. On the one hand, today’s children and youth are seen as the generations gradually giving up on reading. According to a 2014 study conducted by Common Sense Media, a US-based children’s media non-profit, 22% of thirteen-year-olds and 27% of seventeen-year-olds said they never or hardly read for pleasure, a figure that has tripled from 8% and 9% respectively, since 1984. On the other hand, the rise of children’s climate literature is suggesting that the young are interested in the issue in the book. With figures like Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate, a 22-year-old activist from Kampala, Uganda’s capital, coming increasingly into the fore of the climate movement, there is a natural rise in the number of youth leaders that youngsters can look up to all over the world. This is part of a wider shift towards giving young people a voice in the climate movement. 

In an editorial in the New York Times this August, with a young activist each from Sweden, Mexico, Bangladesh, and Kenya, Thunberg introduced UNICEF’s first-ever Climate Risk Index, framing the climate crisis as a child rights issue. Worried about their futures, young climate campaigners present their activism as not just an issue that concerns the environment but tackling climate change as a matter of global justice

In 2014, children – four to fourteen-year-olds – of the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement stormed the Ministry of Education’s offices in Brasilia, demanding that the government keep rural schools in the countryside open. Their curriculum included rural sustainable development and the pedagogy revolved around the environment. “Closing schools is a crime”, they insisted. The Landless Workers Movement, immensely successful as a public movement figures in global case studies on social justice and environmental education. It is powerful that this zeal has been inherited by the children of the workers as well.

However, Jedediah Britton-Purdy in, ‘The Concession to Climate Change I Will Not Make’,  asks as to where one draws the line between having a child wonder at the world and having a fear for their future. Introducing the concept of climate change, an unpleasant future, at a young age, can come with its own pitfalls. Despair can creep into reading, which is, in essence, an act of leisure and learning. According to a survey, the largest of its kind asked 10,000 young people in 10 countries how they felt about climate change and government responses to it.  Results published in September 2021, in Nature magazine, found that 60% of 16 to 25-year-olds feel ‘extremely worried’ about climate change. Patrick Barkham, however, argues in The Guardian that it is indeed possible to capture the imagination of children, and underscore the themes of climate change and environmentalism, without it necessarily coming across as terrifying or patronizing: he speaks of how climate literature fascinates his own daughters, who immerse themselves into the story and emerge knowing Jane Goodall, Wangari Maathai, and the Chipko Movement.  

Respecting nature in children’s literature in world languages, though, is not a 21st Century phenomenon. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (1971) is seen as one of the early English language children’s books adopting ideals of environmentalism. K. Norel’s 1977 Dutch book ‘Ik Worstel en Kom Boven’ (I Struggle and I Resurface), shows how moral education centered around the environment was imparted to children: it was written by Norel to bring to light the struggles of the 1953 floods in the Netherlands. 

Clare Echterling, a researcher of environmental literary studies at the University of Kansas, suggests that much of this literature is explicit about its intention, educating children on the environment.  She also cites Clare Bradford and Geraldine Massey, who argue that such texts socialize children into becoming ‘ecocitizens’ driven by the ideals of sustainability locally, and environmental responsibility, globally. As the case study from Brazil proves, not only does environmental writing in school curricula and storytelling have an older, non-Western, and multi-social class vintage, in India too, environmental education in various forms became mandatory by the mid-90s. The 1990s showed early signs of a boom in children’s eco- storytelling, one that seems to have exploded post-2018, in some parts of the world.

It is a growing nook in Indian writing in many languages including English. From Orijit Sen’s first Indian graphic novel in 1994 on a people’s struggle over a river to be dammed to children’s libraries including eco-warriors and action. Be it Pratham’s eco-stories as stand-alone books or their Story Weaver programme, an open-source treasure house of animal, science and nature stories in several Indian and foreign languages. Kid-lit sites now host reviews for books such as the Indian 2020 award-winning book on climate change for the young adult, Bijal Vachharajani’s A Cloud Called Bhura. Sandeep Virmani’s A New Home for Ajiri, and M. Yuvan’s Saahi’s Quest, published within the last year by Kalpavriksh, an environmental action group that has also put out Secrets of the Jungle in Hindi. 

From CoP1 in 1995 to CoP26 in 2021, children’s climate literature is now one long, growing list.

Aritro Sarkar is a fourth-year student of history, international relations, and media studies.

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

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Issue 16

Will the new DUNE get the older SF fan and the younger cli-fi film buff to act on climate change? Studies so far, say no

As the closing credits rolled at the world premiere of Dune, the 600 ticket-holders at the Venice Film Festival clapped for almost eight minutes. Until the cast politely gestured it was time to leave. French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve looked beyond pleased at the reaction. 

Following a history of notoriously poor adaptations, had he successfully managed to film the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert? One, considered a classic by science fiction fans and a piece of literature he certainly regarded as important. At the press conference held before the screening, he explained why,“When Frank Herbert wrote Dune in the 60s, he was making a portrait of the 20th century, but through time, it became more of a prediction of the 21st.

Set very far into the future, the novel presents a story ahead of its time as Villeneuve sees it. A nearly uninhabitable planet, almost entirely covered in sand. Where water is scarce but there is one thing it has. A precious spice wanted on many planets. This piece of science fiction, with its striking eco-centric theme, may fall into what is known as cli fi or climate fiction today, a growing literary subgenre of narrative fiction or a type of science fiction about our environmental future. 

While the category lacked a formal name, before its coinage in 2007 by Taiwan-based teacher and journalist Dan Bloom, science fiction and dystopian thrillers have always reflected on ecological change, The phenomenon of seeing what the earth would look like in the future began as early as the 19th century. With works like Gabriel De Tarde’s Underground Man in 1896 and M.P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud in 1901. Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy (1993–1996) tells a story about making Mars livable for human life and asking if that was okay to do.

While none of these works were necessarily scientifically accurate, Environmental Humanities scholar, Julia Leyda in her 2016 paper, The Cultural Affordances of Cli Fi uses such works to reveal how people imagined their future. She applies the concept of structures of feeling devised by cultural theorist Raymond Williams, to “signify as a set of shared sensibilities and values held in a particular time and place, most often articulated in artistic forms and conventions such as the novel or the cinema.” She concludes that it is in fact prevailing structures of feeling that inform pop culture, not the other way around

If this is true, a question around Raymond Williams’ structures of feeling remains unanswered. If science fiction written in a particular period can influence cultural perception in its own era, surely, engaging with such fiction must impact a reader in some way? For instance, will climate fiction in 2021 make the reader more aware of the climate crisis?  

Singapore’s Yale-NUS College conducted a survey of 161 American readers in 2018 to understand the influence of climate fiction. They found a surprisingly wide range of ratings for most works of climate fiction, concluding that readers do not experience literature the same way. Life experiences, age, political beliefs, all count. However, the readers of cli fi themselves were found to be younger. (Almost 40 % between 18-34), liberal and already invested in climate change, compared to non-readers. The empirical study implied that climate fiction does not perhaps have the power to sway the opinion of climate deniers, since they aren’t reading this genre anyway. Cli fi can certainly stir one’s imagination though.

“He was previously cognizant of the science of climate change, but said that it “was more theoretical before. Now, while fiction, the book has made me more aware of what our planet could become”, the Yale-NUS study reports about a participant’s experience of reading Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway’s The Collapse of Western Civilization. Similarly, many participants feel that they were able to picture potential futures better, a typical example of a shift in what the study calls the psychological construal level from “abstract and vague” to “detailed and concrete”. 

The University of East Anglia did a study on the UK filmgoer in 2006, wanting to see if the movie, The Day After Tomorrow, influenced public understanding of climate change. They found that viewers felt a strong urge to act but did not know what to do. The drama did not help separate scientific fact from the story’s fiction, anxiety went up for some, but many thought like this participant, “I don’t know enough about it to know if that is really going to happen.”

The difference in results between the two studies may be a result of the number of sub-genres the topic of climate change figures in, across film and book. Many 20th and 21st-century works fall into both realistic and speculative forms of narrative fiction as Literary Studies scholar Juha Raipola describes in What is Speculative Climate Fiction? Memory of Water (Emmi Itäranta’s 2014 novel) or even Dune, for instance, is set in a fictional world where “speculative visions of flooding cities, melting glaciers, catastrophic storms, or drought-suffering environments demonstrate the potentially disastrous effects of climate change”.

On the other hand, the genre of realistic climate fiction, set in a more believable near-future is certainly more scientifically accurate. So, Juha Raipola believes that owing to the large variety of climate storytelling, it is impossible to truly assess what kind of psychological impact reading the ever-emerging genre will have on a reader’s mind. Unless we develop a deeper understanding of every sub-genre of cli fi. But the rider in his essay also wonders, can it offer a “cognitive and emotional toolbox for adapting to life on a warming planet.”

Perhaps with the new DUNE out, the time is ripe for older sf-speculative fiction readers and younger cli-fi readers and film buffs to be studied together,  in how they see it?

Meera Anand is a third year undergraduate student pursuing a Major in Economics and a Minor in Media Studies. 

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).