Author: Joseph

Final Audit

To be completely honest, I’ve never really enjoyed having to write blogs unless it was something I was really interested in.  I think it always becomes more of a “busy work” assignment as opposed to an actual learning experience.  In terms of the books we covered, there were some I found interesting and some I didn’t like at all.  I’m sure this was how it was with everyone.  At times, due to the fact I wasn’t really interested in some of the books, I found myself simply doing the assignment because I had to and not to try and learn anything.  I feel that this affected how I wrote my blog responses.  What I mean by that, is that I simply reviewed the books and readings instead of taking a firm stance on the subjects because I wasn’t as interested in them.

Again, I think I only really paid attention to other blog posts when it was something that appealed to me or awakened my imagination.  However, when I did review blog posts I felt I paid the most attention to the writers from class who were the most thorough in their posts.  This also included individuals who engaged a lot in class and had strong arguments.

All in all, looking back at it, although I don’t personally like blogging, I did learn a decent amount about myself and my own writing style that will help me in the future not only for class but in the real world.  In a way, I was able to open up personally in terms of supporting my beliefs and arguments surrounding the topics I was interested in.  So that was one of the better aspects to blogging for class.

Man v. Everything

After reading Hurricane Fever and looking at some of the posts from my fellow classmates, I found I could relate the most to James’s post. Hurricane Fever was by far my favorite book simply because it focused on other themes separate from climate change while also coinciding with climate change. By developing a story that revolved around Roo, an ex spy, Tobias Buckell, was able to focus on not only man v. nature as is such with the constant hurricanes in the Caribbean but also man v man. Man v. Man in a sense that the story follows Roo as he tries to unravel the mystery of why his friend was killed. This also allowed the reader to get an insight into a number of issues coinciding with the human condition. What I mean by this, is how certain events have a strong influence on us as people and affect the way we act and live our lives. For Roo, he is influenced by the death of his friend and how he must discover what actually happened. Out of all the books we’ve covered, I think this one would do the best as a film because climate change is not the primary issue but rather a minor issue that affects how the story unfolds. Basically, climate change and more specifically the hurricanes stand as an obstacle for Roo and others throughout the novel. I’m actually surprised something like this hasn’t already been produced as a cinematic feature but I hope to see the likes of it in the future.

Too much Religion, Not enough Science

I have a love-hate relationship with Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood and the themes it revolves around.  Mostly because there’s too much religion and not enough science.  At its’ foundation, the novel revolves around a religious group known as the Gardeners who anticipate the coming of a waterless-flood that will wipe out mankind therefore healing any damage done to Earth. Atwood also incorporates the notion that large corporations control everything especially in terms of the Earth’s economy and because of this, those corporations have depleted most of the resources and animals on the planet’s surface.

The idea of large corporations controlling everything is something I am able to relate to and is one of the reasons I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because I find a lot of truth about our own society throughout Atwood’s work and writing. In today’s society, across the globe, thousands of large corporations rule over every aspect of not only the economy but society and therefore consume almost every resource or animal known to man. These corporations also have the power to dictate what sells and how much it sells for. Take the oil industry for example. Oil companies have been selling one of society’s most precious resources at astronomical prices. This in turn hurts society as a whole the majority of the time.

The one aspect that turned me off from the novel in some ways is how Atwood decided to revolve most of the story around the Gardeners. In this sense I felt as if she brought religious aspects into it too much and in a sense I felt that that took away the story and how she hoped it related to everyday life. All in all, I think the novel was good for the most part because it was easily relatable to today’s society and I always love making comparisons like that.

Cli-Fi/Climate Change Documentaries

Since we will be watching Snowpiecer tomorrow, I thought it’d be nice to include a list of the best climate change documentaries for those of you who may be interested.  I haven’t seen any of them myself but I figured including a list may interest some of you.  However, I know that after reading about some of these, that I will without a doubt be watching them in the near future.

http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/the_top_10_documentaries_about_climate_change/

 

Mirror Image

The Windup Girl at its’ foundation is another science fiction novel that revolves around a futuristic society stricken with social issues, corporate dominance and an altered climate that affects everything. Basically, the society set in 23rd century Thailand is a mirror image of our capitalistic society in present day America. What I mean by this is that Paolo Bacigalupi has created a fictional society that revolves around climate change and how it has altered society in detrimental ways. For example, in terms of The Windup Girl, global warming has raised water levels around the world and carbon fuel sources are no longer available. The only form of creating energy is by using wound springs to store energy. This is where, Emiko, an A.I. and the windup girl comes into play. To make matters even worse, corporations have complete control over certain aspects of society. In terms of this novel, many of these corporations have complete control over food and are dominant enough to hold that over the heads of society. Another aspect that is apparent in the novel is the notion of embezzlement that takes place with Hock Seng. To compare everything with our society, it is a fact that rising ocean levels and depletion of fossil fuels is something that coincides directly with climate change. It is also an obvious fact that mega corporations exist and reign over society as a whole. The biggest and best example I can use is Apple. Apple is a mega corporation that almost has complete control over an entire market and therefore can dominate society.

Forty Signs of Greed

Forty Signs of Rain is an incredible novel not because of its’ focus on science and more specifically climate change, but because it revolves around an even more controversial subject: the government and how the system itself hinders progress concerning climate change initiative(s). All of the characters within the novel are relate to science, climate change or government in one way or another. However, it is not the characters or story that make it a fascinating book but rather how Kim Stanley Robinson places those characters into real like scenarios involving climate change and the problems many people face with the government in terms of creating initiatives to fight climate change. Take for example Charlie, who is working with Senator Chase to take steps towards fighting global warming. Robinson writes about how Charlie and Senator Chase work together to convince other members of the Senate that global warming is a dangerous thing. The novel illustrates how government workers specifically senators and every day citizens work together to try and push for new initiatives but end up failing because of how messed up the system within government is today. The most horrific notion Robinson elaborates on is how much greed influences the decisions in government. Many people push for new proposals and initiatives concerning climate change but many of these proposals fail to pass or even reach the floor because senators and congressman alike are too greedy to fund projects that they feel won’t aid their constituents. The sad truth is that their minds are clouded with greed and they don’t realize that they’re not helping their constituents, only hurting them. To tie everything together, Robinson illustrates how tarnished the system of government is and that greed is a very dangerous thing.

The Importance of Butterflies

The title, Flight Behavior, says it all. On the most basic level, Barbara Kingsolver does an excellent job of illustrating how much nature as a whole ties into climate change. Kingsolver illustrates how the flight patterns of Monarch butterflies point to extreme climate changes. This in itself shows how important something as minute and gentle as a butterfly can be to nature. In Flight Behavior, Kingsolver examines a community in Tennessee that has been ruined by a crippled economy and devastating weather patterns. This is another signature illustration that we have all seen in almost every single one of our climate change novels and articles. However, the notion of a crippled economy is something that probably would happen in worst case apocalyptic scenarios. Kingsolver also examines the notion of faith and how it affects individuals in society. When Dellarobia sees the magnificent mixture of orange across the landscape, she immediately thinks it’s a sign from above because of her religious roots. In apocalyptic scenarios and society, religious hysteria about events is something that would without a doubt occur. Individuals from all walks of life all have different faiths and connections with those faiths. Having a faith, no matter what it is, would affect how individuals perceive events. I believe Kingsolver attempts to illustrate this notion by including religious aspects and hysteria in the novel. All in all, Flight Behavior is a great read because it revolves around many scientific facts and aspects especially those relating to Monarch butterflies and their flight patterns that most individuals are unaware or ignorant of.

Escape from L.A.

The Parable of the Sower is another source of Cli-Fi that revolves around some of the similar themes that are relevant in many of the other books we have already read this semester.  The primary issues of 2024 Southern California revolve around numerous climate changes and disasters that led to corruption within the government.  These disasters also contributed to a break down of society as a whole which in turn leads to social conflicts throughout all classes as well as an increase in crime rates.  In a post apocalyptic society such as this, anything goes, crime runs rampant and people will kill for almost anything.  In a sense, it reminds me of something out of a Mad Max film or even something like Escape from L.A.. For those of you that have seen it and know what I’m talking about, the world of Escape from L.A. is just like the Los Angeles of this book.

The scariest part of this book and many of the other books we have read, is the fact that the basic break down of society and social structures is something that without a doubt would occur under these circumstances.  On the other hand, climate change and the environmental disasters that occur is something that is debatable.  For this reason, I really enjoy the basic premise of Parable of the Sower.  Mostly because I can agree with the argument that society would turn into an terrifying place full of crime, disease, poverty and anything else one could imagine.  One finally idea that I enjoyed about the book is that it focuses on the notion that in a world such as this, it forces individuals to rely more on one another instead of on a God or a heaven.  This is something that is most prominent in Lauren’s notebook.

The Collapse of Civilization… at the Hands of the Government

If one wanted to understand what Cli-Fi truly is, they would be doing themselves a favor by reading The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future by Noami Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. The futuristic novel, however short, provides the reader with a fascinating story that revolves around both climate change and science fiction, making it the perfect example of a Cli-Fi novel. In a sense, it reminded me of Plant of the Apes film or even The Great Gatsby, where the characters or narrator (Nick Carraway in Gatsby) reflect on past events and explain how those past events led to a doomed future. This is exactly how the narrators in The Collapse of Western Civilization work to create an intriguing history and story.

 

The novel itself follows a future historian in the year 2349 who reflects and studies past events from what is our present time and conceives theories about why today’s society failed on many fronts to tackle the growing problems that coincide with climate change. The authors, Oreskes and Conway do an incredible job of illustrating many problems that are taking place currently from a futuristic point of view. In a sense, I believe they did this to try and create an image/argument that supports the idea that today’s society needs to spend more time on battling climate change issues on a larger front. One of the most moving quotes of the entire piece sheds light on the notion that today’s society has the capabilities and technologies to alter or change the course of climate change but has failed to do so. The quote is as follows: “To the historian studying this tragic period of human history, the most astounding fact is that the victims knew what was happening and why. Indeed, they chronicled it in detail precisely because they knew that fossil fuel combustion was to blame. Historical analysis also shows that Western civilization had the technological know-how and capability to effect an orderly transition to renewable energy, yet the available technologies were not implemented in time.” (35)

 

By examining this previous quote, it is obvious that it makes a very valid as well as a scary point. Today’s superpowers such as the United States and China specifically have the technological and financial capacity to elicit change in society but so far have failed to do so. There are many campaigns to move to different renewable energy sources such a solar or waterpower and society has even seen the development of vehicles that run on renewable energy. However, although these campaigns can create change, they are all too minor in nature to create a significant difference in altering climate change on a worldwide scale. Coinciding with this idea is what I personally believe is the best part of the proceeding quote is that the “available technologies were not implemented in time.” As we have all seen, there are numerous renewable energy initiatives on many different levels that are attempting to create change but I think that unless the government addresses the issue more seriously then there will never be any significant advances in the fight against climate change.

 

This idea of government and the power it has over many facets of society leads to another point that the historian sheds light on. The historian illustrates how the governments never focused time on making any significant campaigns aimed to battle climate change because there was too much financial involvement. What this means is that too many fossil fuel supporters are tied in financially with representatives in government who would never burn a bridges to support a change. Basically, representatives and therefore the government as a whole would never fully support any kind of significant climate change agendas based on the sole fact that representatives would never ruin person relationships with friends involved with ownership and distribution of fossil fuels.

 

I think as a whole, The Collapse of Western Civilization is a great piece of Cli-Fi literature because it does an incredible job of proving a point about our society and its’ downfalls by focusing on what this society may become in the future. The only problem is, I think this piece and similar pieces need to be broadcast to a larger audience if the authors really want to see any type of significant change. Yet even if they were to broadcast to a larger audience, I feel as though society is doomed because the government controls everything whether people believe it or not and it is the only force that has enough influence or power to change anything in terms of climate change.

The Earth will always Abide

I found the Earth Abides and the themes it revolves around to be very interesting. I also discovered that many of the themes George R. Stewart discusses in the book deal with a number of different aspects that are evident in society today. The first and most prominent theme Stewart writes about is the notion that mankind isn’t something that can or will last forever. In fact, death is something that is prominent throughout society on a number of different levels but Stewart discusses death on a larger scale. Stewart discusses death in terms of mankind as a whole. The most specific example that relates to this idea is Stewart’s quote that states, “Men go and come, but earth abides.” The earth will always be there and will have an impact on us but the same does not go for mankind. In terms of today’s society, the notion of death that Stewart elaborates on is something that has been prominent throughout the past, the present and until we can start playing god, the future as well. Everyone knows that death, unfortunately, is always waiting on our doorstep and no matter what happens to us the earth will still be there. Another prominent theme I found particularly entertaining was how Stewart related the understanding of society between the younger and older generations. The younger generations, knowing how the natural world works, come to the aid of the older generation who lack the proper knowledge or hands on experience on the subject. A comparison to this in today’s terms would be how young children can help their parents or even grandparents work a smart phone or computer. One last detail Stewart included was the hammer and how the younger generation treats it as an antique. No matter where one is in society, the older generation will always place significance in objects and this therefore transcends to the younger generation most of the time.

The Human Condition

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells is an incredible examination of the human condition and nature in general. Besides his time machine, Wells spends less time focusing on futuristic technology and more on the relationship between beings in what he perceives as the future. This relationship between beings, whether they are human or not, is a significant part of the story between Wells, the Eloi and the Morlocks. As we have different races in today’s world, Wells examines and experiences a world with different races/beings as well. This is obviously seen with the Eloi and Morlocks. One of the most important facts about nature especially with animals, is that there will always be a hunter and the hunted. In Wells’ world set in 802, 701 A.D., the hunter is obviously the strange Morlocks and the hunted is the peaceful Eloi. Besides the notion of a hunter and the hunted, Wells also examines the basic notions of building a new relationship with a different race or person at its’ most basic level. This is an obvious fact when one examines how Wells befriends and becomes close with Weena, an Eloi who he isn’t familiar with. One of the last more general notions Wells points to is the curiosity of beings no matter who or what they are. Curiosity is something that is rooted in the human condition at its’ most basic level. Wells examines the notion of curiosity through his own experiences in the futuristic worlds he visits but also with the lives of the Eloi and Morlocks.

The Machine Stops- Joe Ridilla- Post #1

I found the article, “The Machine Stops” by E. M. Forster to be a very interesting piece on technology and climate change.  In this piece, in terms of climate change, the earth’s surface is no longer inhabitable.  This in turn leads to revolutionary changes in society and how life is lived in a futuristic system.  The part that I will focus on is when Vashti is in “The Machine.”  The funny part about the article in terms of today’s society is that we are so involved and lost within technology that it can feel at times that we as people individually are trapped within a “machine.”  I myself even feel this way when it almost always feels like every part of my life anymore involves some piece of technology.  Like the woman inside the machine, I feel like there is a button for everything and if there isn’t one at this moment, there will be soon.  As there is a button for everything in “The Machine”, there is an app for everything in our society.  I find it both comical and terrifying that our society today is slowly becoming something that is almost identical to the machine in The Machine Stops.

 

-Joe Ridilla