Climate change in literature

Anthropogenic climate change is an emerging topic in literature, increasingly taken as a major theme or element of plot.



An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It is a 2006 book by Al Gore released in conjunction with the film An Inconvenient Truth. Based on Gore's lecture tour on the topic of global warming this book elaborates upon points offered in the film. It "brings together leading-edge research from top scientists around the world; photographs, charts, and other illustrations; and personal anecdotes and observations to document the fast pace and wide scope of global warming."[1]

Storms of My Grandchildren is climate scientist James Hansen's first book, published by Bloomsbury Press in 2009.[2] In the book, Hansen argues that burning of fossil fuels is changing our climate and that the Earth is in "imminent peril". He suggests that millions of species, and humanity itself, are threatened.[3] The title of the book, Storms of My Grandchildren, refers to the ferocious and extreme weather events "that will greet the next generation if the unmitigated use of fossil fuels continues".[4]

Merchants of Doubt is a 2010 book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. Oreskes and Conway, both American science historians, identify some clear parallels between the climate change debate and earlier controversies over tobacco smoking, acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer. They argue that spreading doubt and confusion was the basic strategy of those opposing action in each case.[5] In particular, Fred Seitz, Fred Singer, and a few other contrarian scientists joined forces with conservative think tanks and private corporations to challenge the scientific consensus on many contemporary issues.[6]

Requiem for a Species is a 2010 book by Clive Hamilton which explores climate change denial and its implications. Hamilton has written about climate change for 15 years, and contends that the "world is on a path to a very unpleasant future and it is too late to stop it".[7] Hamilton argues that to believe anything else is to deny the climate change truth and engage in wishful thinking, yet people continue to resist the truth about climate change.[8]


Fallen Angels (1991), by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn, set in a world in which attempts to stem global warming have created an ice age, and science and science fiction are discredited.

Mother of Storms (1994), by John Barnes, describes a catastrophic, rapid climate and weather change brought on by a nuclear explosion releasing clathrate compounds from the ocean floor, based on the clathrate gun hypothesis.

Exodus (2002) and Zenith (2007) novels for young adults by Julie Bertanga, are both set in a flooded world in which surviving migrants are making their way to Greenland. "Aurora" (forthcoming) will be the third book in the trilogy.

The Carbon Diaries: 2015 by Saci Lloyd is set in a future where power is scarce and the UK has just begun carbon rationing. The story is told in diary form by Laura Brown, a teenager living in London in the aftermath of The Great Storm.

In Far North (2009) by Marcel Theroux, the world is largely uninhabitable due to climate change. However, the novel implies that scientists got it wrong, and it was humans’ action to combat warming which irrevocably altered the global climate.

State of Fear (2004) by Michael Crichton is a techno-thriller concerning eco-terrorists who attempt mass murder to support their views. Global warming and climate change serve as a central theme to the novel, and in Appendix I of the book, Crichton warns both sides of the global warming debate against the politicization of science

The protagonist in Ian McEwan's latest novel, Solar (2010) is a climate scientist.

The narrator in the black comedy, "Glass House" (1989, 2011) by M F Smith (Michael F Smith), is a geology professor involved in an ineffectual government committee responsible for mitigating the effects of catastrophic climate change.


-273.1 (2005) by British poet Peter Reading is a collection of brutal and celebratory poems structured primarily using the Noah narrative, in which are listed highly endangered animals.

In May 2009, British poet Melanie Challenger and John Kinsella from Australia wrote a dialogue in poems, hosted by the RSA Arts & Ecology website. The exchange came about because both decided that they could not fly for environmental reasons, and such reasons supply the themes of the poetry.[9]

Feeling the Pressure - Poetry and the Science of Climate Change is an anthology of new work published by the British Council Switzerland in February 2008. The book includes new work by many of Britain's leading poets, all writing about or around climate change and its implications for the world.[10]

The threat of rising waters is present throughout Sean O'Brien's 2007 collection, The Drowned Book.

[Earth Shattering] is one of the most comprehensive anthologies to-date of environmental poetry, including several poems engaging with the climate change topos.[11]


One Nineteen by Tim Stimpson is set in disastrous flooding in the UK, due to climate change. The entire script is spoken through media reports, which create a parallel narrative of events.[12]

The Contingency Plan (2009) by Steve Waters is a diptych of plays first performed at the Bush Theatre in London. They are set in the near future, at a time during which severe tidal surges begin to submerge parts of coastal Britain.

See also


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