Climate Change Fiction (Utopia, Pt2)

May 21, 2018, 05:00 AM
This week's episode continues on from the last episode. So, if you haven't listened to that, head on over to Episode 18 first. From the history of utopia in the last episode, we move to the future of the planet and the climate change fiction that addresses it. 

“For me, utopianism is the creative attempt by a group of people to respond to the great challenges of any age and to do so in a way that’s visionary, it’s not limited, it’s not following a set recipe that has an end point, it’s an open ended future” 

This episode is about creating utopias, real and imaginary, and the need for utopian thinking as we are faced with the greatest threat to the future of our planet: climate change. 

I talk to Prof Peadar Kirby, a member of the Cloughjordan Ecovillage, in Tipperary, Ireland. What is life actually like in a community like this. Is daily life very different from your average life in a small Irish town? How do you join, and does someone decide if you get in or not? And what exactly is ecological about the ecovillage? 

We then move from an ecovillage to climate change fiction, or "clifi", a whole subgenre of literature that explores the possibilities of a future affected by climate change. Writers are imagining dystopian futures with water scarcity or rising sea levels, with desertification, agricultural catastrophes or the spread of new diseases. Others are highlighting the utopian thinking needed to mitigate against many of these issues. 

With guest Prof Tom Moylan the show travels from Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, and his many utopian works, to Frank Schätzing's best-selling novel The Swarm, to films like The Day After Tomorrow, there are many ways of representing and exploring climate change. What is clear, though, is that this is most certainly an issue that needs to be explored, and climate change fiction is a particularly good way of representing the timescales involved. 

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