The tops of houses poke above the waves. The desert has crept into fields, turning corn dry and brittle. Firestorms ravage entire towns, turning homes into charred, ashy remains.
You don’t have to read a novel to picture what climate change looks like anymore — you only have to read the news. But there’s new evidence that reading fiction about our overheating planet might make it feel more real, sort of like how watching a horror movie makes you scared of the basement for a while.
Authors have been imagining what a warmer world would look like ever since climate scientists first made their concerns about greenhouse gases known. But in recent years, climate fiction, or “cli-fi,” has really exploded. With contributions from celebrated authors like Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, Amitav Ghosh, Cormac McCarthy, and Kim Stanley Robinson, it has left the realm of sci-fi, a reflection of how climate change has moved from speculation to touch every facet of our lives.
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“I think we’re close to the point where literature that doesn’t include climate change, in some way, shape, or form, just isn’t reflecting the reality that we inhabit,” said Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, an assistant professor of social sciences at Yale-NUS College in Singapore.
A first-of-its-kind experiment published last month found that reading a short story about climate change makes people more worried about the crisis — even if the effect doesn’t last long. The study, led by Schneider-Mayerson, surveyed Americans who were interested in reading fiction and moderately concerned about the climate crisis. In the experiment, participants read short stories online and were then subjected to questions about climate change.
Link to the rest at Grist
During the ongoing months of The Year of Covid, PG wonders what the market is like for books that make readers more worried.
Of course, if you’re vaguely worried about the invasion of earth by space aliens (presidential candidates not included), books about that topic might sell well, but climate change may be something else.
However, as usual, PG could be completely wrong about this category of books.