Fictional Depictions of Climate Change: An Analysis of Themes from Contemporary Climate Change Literature

By Danielle Clode and Monika Stasiak.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 31, 2014 $US5.00

Critical commentary of climate change fiction is often framed around its aesthetic function (is it good literature?) and/or its didactic function (does it change behaviour or attitudes?). We argue that an alternative approach instead might ask what fiction can tell us about the psychology of public knowledge, fear and imagination about a climate-changed future. In a review of the fictional literature we found that as climate change has moved from a primarily scientific concern to being a broader political and cultural issue, fictional representations have also moved from science fiction out into a broader array of fictional sub-genres. In addition to loosely reflecting contemporary science, fictional accounts are increasingly characterised by a sense of hopelessness and a lack of faith in authorities. These fictional trends suggest that while readers and writers are willing to explore and appraise the risk and severity of climate change, there is little evidence of the coping appraisal which is, psychologically, a necessary step in taking action to reduce risk.

Keywords: Climate Change Fiction, Novels, Ecocatastrophe, Dystopia, Protection Motivation Theory, Cli-Fi

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.19-29. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 31, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 873.429KB)).

Dr. Danielle Clode

Lecturer, School of Humanities, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Danielle is a zoologist and science writer who lectures in professional and creative writing. Her research focuses on the role of fiction and popular non-fiction in the life sciences. She is the author of several non-fiction books, including, A Future in Flames, which grew out of her research into community engagement for disaster preparedness and Prehistoric Giants, a guide to the megafauna of Australia. She is currently researching French scientific maritime expeditions to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Monika Stasiak

School of Humanities, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Monika is completing a Ph.D. in creative writing with a focus on contemporary Australian climate change literature. As senior policy advisor for the South Australian Government, she managed significant legislative development and amendment projects including waste management strategies, regulations, research, and environment protection policies.


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