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Monday September 16 2013

Does this photo tell us the direction the Great Climate Debate is going?  I took it in Foyles, underneath the Royal Festival Hall, London, on September 2nd:


I put this up to entertain you, and also so that I can send a short email to Bishop Hill about it, rather than a long and annoying one. Because I’m guessing it might interest him.

The Bishop’s (as of now) latest posting concerns an article written by some academic CAGWers (CAGW = Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming), about how they can defeat their ever more annoying and persuasive “denier” enemies?

Bishop Hill:

The answer to this conundrum is - you will never believe it - to be found in the realms of communication. Although Garud and his colleagues note that some observers think that communication is not enough, and point to such initiatives as the Climate Science Rapid Response Team (seriously!) that are already in place, they suggest that something called a ‘narrative approach’ might also be a part of the solution.

But that, as the Bishop well knows but Garud et al do not, is no solution to the problem the CAGWers have.  The “narrative approach” is their problem.  What the CAGWers have been doing is spinning a narrative and calling it science for the last quarter of a century and more, and now this narrative is unravelling, thanks to the efforts of people like Bishop Hill.  This latest plan is for them to stop pretending that they aren’t doing this.  That can’t work.

If the anti-CAGWers had relied on books like Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, which is one of the books in the above photo, to carry the main weight of their arguments, they’d have been utterly crushed.

LATER: Bishop Hill has linked to this, and there are comments there too.

Brian, you are righting a losing battle, mate. CLI FI is here to stay and soon a book like Nevil Shute’s ON THE BEACH but about climate issues will change the world. Watch. for now see this

London Bookstore Fronts ‘Cli Fi’ Table For Climate Books

You can view article here:

Posted by dan bloom on 16 September 2013

Canadian editor designs webzine to archive climate ebooks, novels


If you start browsing the Web for ebooks and novels about climate
change issues, within minutes you will come upon the webzine, which has “Cli Fi lists” for dozens of climate-themed
ebooks and novels, with a
submit button promising the addition of more cli fi novels listed
there in the future.

The website is the brainchild of Canadian writer and editor Mary
Woodbury, a cli fi novelist herself who runs Moon Willow Press in
Coquitlam, British Columbia.

Woodbury says that her list of cli fi novels (with cover art) is a
work in progress, and that anyone can contribute a title. She is
carrying books in both traditional print editions and as ebooks and
Kindle Singles, she said.

“Moon Willow Press is a micropress committed to helping sustain forests
while celebrating the written word,” Woodbury told TeleRead. “We supplement
book publishing with our nature blog at and with our
exploring climate change themes found in literature at”

Woodbury hopes to document the rise of climate novels and archive a
long list of cli
fi books, both earlier releases and current new ones.

From Ian McEwan’s “Solar” to Kingsolver’s “Flight Behavior,” there are
dozens, if not hundreds of cli fi novels to discuss and archive on the
Cli Fi Books website, according to Woodbury.

“Cli-Fi Books explores climate change themes found in novels, prose,
short stories, and other fiction,” Woodbury says. “Cli-fi is a genre
of literature that encompasses climate change fiction, which may be
merely speculative or full-out futuristic science fiction. Genres are
bendable, however, unlike prescriptive labels.”

She adds: “Cli-fi is not necessarily always set in the future nor
always apocalyptic. Look at Kingsolver’s ‘’Flight Behavior’’, for
instance, which tells a present-day story of monarch butterflies that
have migrated to the Appalachian mountains rather than to their normal
Mexican winter habitat. Cli-fi should be seen as wildly creative and
inventive. It is both reactive and proactive. It is open-ended.”

Woodbury notes that Cli Fi Books is
an Amazon Associate and, for many books not introduced by their
authors – or reviewed – her website will be using an Amazon interface

Posted by dan bloom on 16 September 2013


Thanks for all that.  Most interesting.

I don’t object to the category of Cli-fi as such, although I suspect much of it is based on delusions of various kinds about forthcoming catastrophes that we have no reason at all to think will actually materialise.

I do think that relying on it - and in general on “narratives” - to win arguments is foolish.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 16 September 2013

I would like to “clarify” the above comment, as they say.

No, as I think will be obvious, I do object to Cli-fi, in the sense that my prejudice (which I freely concede is all that it is - I have no intention of reading much of it) is that much of it is based on delusions of various kinds about forthcoming catastrophes that we have no reason at all to think will actually materialise.

But I am under no illusions about whether this enormous wave of Cli fi will ever be halted, merely because people like me don’t like what we suspect it of being.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 16 September 2013

I think the creation of a Cli-Fi genre is great - it creates a suitable place to put a whole lot of books full of pseudo-science guff that booksellers would otherwise be tempted to put in the ‘Science’, ‘Non-Fiction’, ‘Economics’, ‘Religion’ or ‘Ecology’ shelves!

Posted by BoyfromTottenham on 17 September 2013

Brian, thanks for both clarifications above. I just want to say this, as the PR point man behind the CLI FI term, I was the one who planted the CLI Fi stories in NPR, Guardian and FT earlier this year, and later Dissent magazine and the New Yorker magazine later this year too. I coined the term in 2008 yes as a deep climate activisit. But Brian, despite my own deep CAGW beliefs (google “polar cities” + “dan bloom"), I am primarily a man of letters, and as such, for me, CLI FI is a literary genre that is open to ALL, includuing novels by Chrichton and Andy West in the UK and anyone else who wants to take any side they wish. CLI FI means novels and movies about climate, past, present or future oriented, even the new movie by Darren Aronosky NOAH set for 2014 release with Emma Watson, that is a cli fi movie set 5000 years ago, see? So Chrichton’s book on the CLI FI table at Foyles is perfectly okay and I love it. I have no agenda with CLI Fi other than to promote the writing of novels about climate, from any POV, pro or con, denialist or activist. See now? You will get used to it. james Lovelock is my teacher here. he knows of CLI FI and told me in an email he likes the term. see?

Posted by Dan Bloom on 17 September 2013

So Brian, 50 years ago, when SCI FI term first surfaced, would you have objected to it too? Answer:

Cli fi is just a shortened form for “climate fiction” novels” be they pro AGW or anti AGW, or Atwood or Nathaniel Rich or Ian McEwan or Cormac McCarthy. Fiction, novels, about climate issues, that’s all the sign at Foyles says. At the St Pancras store they had another sign that reads: ‘’CLI FI: climate fact and climate ficiton” - Foyles is the first bookstore in the world to put these signs at such cli fi tables. and putting Chrichton there was cool. I am open to all POV. now we are friends?

Posted by Dan Bloom on 17 September 2013

One more

During the sweltering British summer of 2013, Foyles bookstore in London did something that was a long time coming: It set up a dedicated ”cli-fi” table with a simple yet eye-catching sign promoting fiction and non-fiction books with climate themes.

Among the books seen on the table in the photograph to the right above are Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and James Lovelock’s “The Revenge of Gaia” as well as Stephen Emmott’s current bestseller “10 Billion” sitting alongside such dystopic scenarios as J.G. Ballard’s “The Drowned World,” John Christopher’s “The Death of Grass,” Joe Dunthorne’s “Wild Abandon” and Liz Jensen’s “The Rapture.”

Most of the books on the table are also available as e-books as well, according to Steve Matthews, a Foyles bookshop employee who was working the early morning shift last Sunday and graciously snapped the photo—exclusively for TeleRead—with his iPhone.

The ‘cli-fi’ sign in-store may be the first of its kind anywhere in the now-warming world, and follows extensive media coverage of the emerging cli-fi genre in TeleRead, The Guardian, the Financial Times, and The New Yorker.

Other cli-fi novels on the table included Barbara Kingsolver’s”Flight Behavior” and and Ian McEwan’s “Solar.” Will other bookstores and book-selling websites around the world follow Foyles’ example and set up similar cli-fi sites at bookstores in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, Melbourne, Wellington and Paris? Is this a trend or just a one-off photo opp in the UK?

Posted by Dan Bloom on 17 September 2013

"On the Beach” is noted above.
Towards the end of the movie, the last survivors of nuclear war are in Melbourne.
There is an officious nurse handing out suicide tablets and ticking names off the list, in what I often regard as the finest depiction of bureaucracy gone wild. She might as well have been saying, “Only one per person, now. Don’t be greedy” except that there were no more people.
The movie did not have much global impact against nuclear war. The high point was the comment of Ava Gardner is wrongly reported to have said afterwards, “‘On the Beach’ is a story about the end of the world, and Melbourne sure is the right place to film it”.

Posted by Geoff Sherrington on 17 September 2013

There is no shortage of Cli-Fi.  So-called peer reviewed journals are full of articles based on “storylines” or scenarios.  In fact, the IPCC’s report on “Emission Scenarios” has a chapter, “Narrative Scenarios and Storylines.” [See ]] These storylines are no less fictitious than Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear.”

Methinks the Canadian editor developing a clifi list has a very long task ahead of her.

Posted by igoklany on 17 September 2013

but Geoff, the BOOK did! re The movie did not have much global impact against nuclear war.

Posted by Dan Bloom on 17 September 2013

Igoklany, again, don’t go confusing academic papers and reserach with CLI FI, wrong term. altho i see what you mean. you can call the IPCC reports CLIMATE FICTION, but CLI FI is a term reserved now for novels and movies about climate, pro and on, all POV welcome.

Posted by Dan Bloom on 17 September 2013

"Clifi” is a great term but climate themed doom books are hardly new:
An early Twilight Zone episode was themed, ironically, on a story about the a woman dealing with the world burning up.....only to find that the heat was a nightmare to comfort her in dealing with the Earth actually freezing.

Posted by hunter on 17 September 2013

Hunter, yes, climate themed doom books or tv shows or movies, nothing new. 1962 novel by JG Ballard titled THE DROWNED WORLD. so nothing new under the sun, for sure. just a new buzzword. Scott Thill at @morphism at twitter says that for him Cli Fi is more useful as a “cultural prism” (or critical prism) and he is writing a book on this now in USA.

BTW, big discussion going on now at Bishop Hills cli fi post, with many comments. Nice, pro and con

Posted by dan bloom on 17 September 2013

Cli-fi also rears it’s head as a sub-genre of straight-to-TV films on the SyFy channel in particular. In ‘Sharknado’ for example, scientists manage to create a massive vortex by somehow tearing a hole in the ozone layer…

Arguably, the environmental pages of the Graun, Independent and BBC website are actually massive, ongoing collaborative exercises in ‘cli-fi’.

Posted by Paul C on 17 September 2013

@Paul C above yes SHARKNADO is pure cli fi.

But again, Paul, to repeat CLI FI is literary and movie GENRE for fiction novels and movies. News stories about climate are not CLI FI. if you don’t agree with those stories, whichever side of the aisle you are on, sure disagree and call them biased BS if you want but news stories about climate issue and OPED commentaries abouyt cli issue are not in the cli fi genre. This term only applies to literature, highbrow and lowbrow, and movies. Make sense?

Posted by Dan Bloom on 17 September 2013

btw, here is the St Pancras store CLI FI sign at Foyles: the man walking toward the table looks like James Lovelock! PHOTO here

Posted by Dan Bloom on 17 September 2013


Hi Dan - yes, I understand and agree. I should probably have prefaced or ended my comment with a smiley face to indicate that I meant that in a tongue-in-cheek fashion :)

Posted by Paul C on 17 September 2013

I’m finding climate change to be fruitful ground for fiction narrative. In my own work, I’m imagining a response to drastic climate change akin to America in the early to mid-1930s, when talk of revolution was in the air and those in power felt the need for drastic action. Fear drives people to make choices they later regret; what if a climate crisis allowed revolutionaries with good “green” intentions but authoritarian methods to take power? Would society find itself in a police state whose aim was a carbon-free world? “Climate fiction” provides a nice, shorthand way to categorize my own ideas.

Posted by Joe Follansbee on 17 September 2013

GOOD READS says feel free to add a shelf at goodreads named or “cli-fi”. ‘’Thanks for the message. The genres for books on Goodreads aren’t actually set by the meta-data (yet). At the moment, a book’s genre is determined solely by the way Goodreads users shelve the book. If many users shelve the book as “historical fiction”, it appears on the “historical fiction” genre page, and so on. We do plan to use meta-data for more precise book information in the future, but we still haven’t finished that particular project. As of now, no member has shelved a book as “climate fiction”, so it doesn’t exist yet on the site. If you have books that fall under that new category, feel free to add a shelf named or “cli-fi”. ‘’

Posted by dan bloom on 18 September 2013

Why don’t you want to send a long, annoying, e-mail to Bishop Hill?  He does his best work when he’s annoyed.

Posted by RoHa on 18 September 2013

@RoHa, i did and he does not respond to emails. I have no idea why. I don’t want to annoy him anyways, that’s not my MO.

Posted by dan bloom on 18 September 2013

What exactly has been the impact of On The Beach (book and film)?  Sixty years later, what significant changes have been brought about by its publication?  In what way is the world different from what it would have been if On The Beach had never been written, or indeed countless other Nuclear Holocaust Scenario works of fiction, on page or screen?

These are not rhetorical questions.  Can anyone give a convincing answer to them? 

Didn’t think so.  And the next question is, obviously, why would CliFi be any different?  It’s just a genre like, say, Potter’s World or Walking With Zombies.

Posted by peterharwoodjackson on 18 September 2013

Peter, above, you are right. ON THE BEACH was just a novel, then a movie, and while it did make people more aware of nuclear bomb scenarios, did either the page or screen version make the world any different today? Probably not, but awareness of such issues is important, but again, does not change the equation. So a powerful global CLI FI novel by a major literary writer, new or veteran, will also most likely NOT make any difference in the climate issues debates. Just another genre, a bookstore shelving label, a buzzword. Most likely, nothing, not even denialists’ rants against CAGW and AGW nor climate activists rants against do-nothing national leaders and the urgent need to stop c02 now and forever.....neither group will change the equation. In the end, we are doomed, doomed, as Sgt Frazier says on the BBC’s DAD’S ARMY tv show, and we won’t feel the real pinch of CAGW until it is too late, around 30 generations from now. But maybe, CLI Fi novels can help prepare humankind for the physical and spiritual anguish that is surely coming down THE ROAD for our descendants, around 500 years from now. But yes, just a genre. Changes nada. Sigh.

Posted by dan bloom on 18 September 2013

Father/daughter duo blog posts pro/con POV re CLI FI #clifi climate fiction novels, Your POV? -

Posted by dan bloom on 22 September 2013

There are many Crichton novels you might have chosed as examples for your post, but he was a much more complex individual than the author of those works. As evidence I offer his talk at Caltech in 2003 which was titled “Aliens Cause Global Warming”.

He was not of course arguing that Aliens cause Global Warming but that sloppy anti-scientific thinking was proliferating throughout our culture and he was clearly and unequivocally opposed to much climate orthodoxy.

It’s easy to dismiss him as just a novelist but he was a Harvard trained medic and was a visiting lecturer in anthropology at the University of Cambridge in the UK.

Posted by John Diffenthal on 24 September 2013
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