The wheels of scientific progress can move ever so slowly.
With the summer movie season officially kicked off, I thought I could share a few movies that I know of with themes of climate change and its effects.
Godzilla vs the Smog Monster (Godzilla vs. Hedorah) (1971)
Watching Godzilla fight a monster created due to human carelessness and pollution? Do you need any more reason than that?
Mad Max (1971), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Once again, humanity in its unfaltering stupidity has ruined the environment with war and pollution creating a world that’s a deserted wasteland. As everyone struggles to survive with oil being the main commodity, Max wanders the landscape fighting for himself and others.
Also, Mad Max: Fury Road comes out in the next few days… Just saying.
Like in the Mad Max films, the word in these films is a desert wasteland that humanity created with only a few Mega-Cities keeping everyone in. This creates more crime than can be handled, but humanity is left to deal with the consequences.
These are just a few off the top of my head. I’ll post more if I can think of any.
Captain Planet, a blast from the past pertinent to the present to preserve the future. In the 1990s environmental ecologists and activists sought to educate and reach out to a new audience to voice their concerns on the wasteful destruction of Earth’s resources by creating an eco-conscience cartoon geared toward college bound youngsters who would soon be entering and graduating from high schools. With the financial help of billionaire Ted Turner all of this came into fruition, Captain Planet was created. The plot behind the storyline is simple: a quintet of teenagers work together to encourage environmentally responsible behavior by protecting the Earth with their individual elemental powers of Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, and Heart; when their powers are combined they summon a superhero, Captain Planet, to deal with extreme ecological disasters. This blast from the past may be what is needed presently to reach out to younger audiences once again, as planetary climate-change is occurring more rapidly with tangible physical evidence of the changes that will affect future generations. Though this cartoon is no longer producing new episodes, the program does run in syndication on some networks and many episodes can be found on YouTube. This show also inspired the Captain Planet Foundation, supporting environmental education. The greatest accomplishment of this program is that it reached a younger audience and entertainingly exposed the seriousness of planetary destruction, the dangers of over consumption, and economic greed; while fostering respect for the Earth as it will abide to man because it will exist long after homosapiens are gone.
Hey everybody! Look at what I found! That’s RIGHT, an interview with cli-fi’s sweetheart, Dan Bloom! It’s actually pretty interesting. The interview was posted on January 19th, 2015 and it’s about his thoughts on cli-fi in general and how cities are portrayed in these worlds affected by climate. I figured this was a good post to leave you all with. I’ll see you all again someday, maybe, to finish that debate about whether or not clones are considered alive.
This morning Brittany Patterson of ClimateWire published a great article in which our class (and our moments of despair) is featured: Can ‘Game of Thrones’ get people to talk about climate change?
I’d honestly be eager to hear your thoughts in response to this question. We’ve taken on similar questions in class, but this is more immediate: how can making connections between trending pop culture (like Game of Thrones — 8 million people watched the Season 5 premiere three weeks ago) aid discussion about climate change issues and themes?
If I teach this class again, I’ll find a way to include Game of Thrones and the larger discussion it’s provoking:
The parallels between the television drama and both the political and scientific discussions related to climate change are striking, said Manjana Milkoreit, a research fellow at Arizona State University. Milkoreit conducted an analysis of how the television show is being used by a handful of “scientists, science communicators and geeks” to break through the hard-to-explain science to engage Americans about the dangers of rising global temperatures.
At one point in my Year of the Flood review, which Ted shared in class, I mentioned the bizarre results which came up as climate change “humor.” I thought I would share some of the strangest results I saved here.
Okay, so these are all pretty awful, though some may be a little sarcastic (gotta love the Jesus tears shirt). I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry overall. On the other hand, here’s my favorite result to prove that not all of the results were bad, just most:
Has anyone heard about this? This guy is pretty hardcore. Definitely an event that I would like to keep tabs on.
I was just prancing about Google and I figured I’d do a little more research on how cli-fi is portrayed in the movies and if it’s really having any impact on people. I found this great article written by the New York Times that explains why they think global warming dramas can sometimes be misleading.
Also on this page are links to other related articles also written by the New York Times that are there for you to click on. The one that interested me the most is titled, “Will Fiction Influence How We React to Climate Change?”, written in July of last year. But again, there are a million different articles you can read that have links on either of those pages if you don’t dig the one I suggested so much.
I’ll see you guys tonight!!
OH, and HAPPY EARTH DAY!
Interesting article I came across that discusses the messages the public are exposed to via the media and popular culture. There is a small mention of Snowpiercer.
Just a cool video I think everyone should check out!
When The Year of the Flood was released in 2009, it was accompanied by an album composed by the musician Orville Stoeber, who set the “Hymns” of God’s Gardeners to music. Here’s a video in which Stoeber sings and plays “The Garden” (the first hymn in the novel) while Atwood looks on:
There’s a lot more here.
I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at this 1960’s advertisement, honestly…”Humble” (another joke apparently) Oil & Refinery Co. is bragging about how they supply enough energy to melt 7 million tons of glacier each day! While I understand we did not know much about climate change 50 years ago, I find it funny that Humble recognized the (albeit very exaggerated) impact that their products could have on nature. Yet, instead of lamenting this issue, Humble saw it as a reason to brag! The 60’s were a strange era, indeed.
Today Reuters released what is supposed to be the first part of a string of articles by Kyle Plantz, who interviewed me a few weeks ago about our class. Suffice to say that if I knew the article was going to be about Game of Thrones I would have been super-pumped, as it is literally the only TV show I like other than Antiques Roadshow.
But here we are at the end of the piece:
But Ted Howell, who teaches a climate fiction class at Temple University in Philadelphia, said film-goers may be getting the wrong idea about what climate change looks like.
“Some people think (climate change) is going to be this massive tidal wave or giant snowstorm, but it’s actually slower than that,” he said.
Thank you, Captain Obvious.
I jest, but Kyle’s piece is really excellent and I can’t wait to read the next one.
Emily has done a great job of reviewing Snowpiercer and providing some links to get us ready. I thought I’d do the same by sharing links to two “think pieces” on the movie — some heavy reading, actually. I’m not avoiding spoilers, so look away if that sort of thing bothers you.
Snowpiercer is a truly chilling dystopia, then, because its world is fully self-contained, and sufficient. But the most insane thing about it is that it makes sense. And it crystallizes something firghtening about the psychic geography of late capitalism, a technologically-enhanced state of affairs in which the function of the oppressed masses is less and less to work and be exploited than to be excluded and to suffer. The first world, the movie might seem to argue, works less to provide its citizens with pleasure than to shape their desire by constructing others through their pain, lack, and death. Instead of giving Texans a health care system, for example, late capitalism gives them the illegal immigrant, to hate, to fear, and to dis-identify with. Prisons do more and more of the system-maintaining work that was once done by schools and hospitals: instead of giving us something to want, they give us something to fear, hate, and kill. And so, we eat ourselves.
Capitalism’s genius is its ability to co-opt every attempt at resistance; every revolution is engineered within the system, with the permission of the system, according to terms defined by the system. Which is why the exploitative conditions of capitalism–its visceral and mundane horrors–have persisted for so very long: they seem to be driven by a “sacred engine” which will run perfectly forever.
While I was writing my expert review on Snowpiercer, I found a lot of cool interviews that will help you “pre-game”, if you will, for watching the movie in class tomorrow. It just gives some background on the movie and what some of the actors and producers think about it and it’ll really help get you into the world that we’ll be watching tomorrow. And who doesn’t love Chris Evans? Come on.
I really recommend looking at at least one of these interviews before coming in to watch the movie tomorrow. They’re all super interesting and not too long and the first one is a video.
See you guys tomorrow for pizza and Snowpiercer!!!
Yesterday March 28th, Earth Hour was celebrated all across the globe. Unfortunately many people I know have never heard of Earth hour. Earth Hour occurs every year for an hour in March and encourages people to turn off all of their unnecessary lights to signify that we all must play our part in combating climate change and protecting the Earth. Earth Hour occurred across seven thousand cities in 162 countries. The movement is spreading so much that even the Eiffel Tower participated and turned out its lights. To find out more about Earth Hour visit their website here and make sure you participate next year on March 19th!
A British newspaper, the Guardian, recently announced its new campaign to directly fight against climate change, pledging to ramp up its already ubiquitous coverage of the issue with hard hitting criticisms of the fossil fuel industry and the systems that keep that industry in power.
Commenting on this unusually direct approach from a newspaper, Tim McDonnel, of Mother Jones, notes that “The idea of a newspaper undertaking an openly activist campaign straight from the playbook of Greenpeace or the Sierra Club might seem strange to American audiences, who are accustomed to news outlets at least purporting to adhere to some degree of journalistic objectivity.”
Indeed, Alan Rushbridger, editor of the Guardian, states quite bluntly that the newspaper will be taking a clear stance: “For the purposes of our coming coverage, we will assume that the scientific consensus about man-made climate change and its likely effects is overwhelming. We will leave the sceptics and deniers to waste their time challenging the science. The mainstream argument has moved on to the politics and economics.”
In response, McDonnel asks: “Is it time for the Washington Post and the New York Times to launch climate petitions of their own? [James] Randerson [assistant national news editor at the Guardian] wouldn’t say, but he did argue that especially in the United States, ‘the media have not done a service to their readers in explaining what’s really at stake here.’”
Here in the United States, we emphasize journalist integrity and objective reporting in spite of, or perhaps because of, how blatantly biased our mainstream news outlets are. It was recently reported that Fox News is America’s the most trusted news source, a frustrating, but perhaps unsurprising fact given that their brand is built on the slogan “Fair and Balanced,” (no matter how much their actual reporting betrays this mantra.) The problem isn’t that outlets like Fox News have a bias, but that by denying this bias, they establish a reputation of legitimacy among viewers, and are then able to get away with lying to their viewers. Conversely, it’s worth considering that some viewers may be aware of and even identify with the positions of outlets like Fox News, but by also believing that their particular views are rooted in objectivity, they fail to how their personal vision of objective is actually rendered meaningless.
For this reason, The Guardian’s decision to embrace a definite stance and tackle climate change head on challenges American media in good way. When faced with a situation as dire as climate change, sometimes rules need to be bent in order to do, ironically enough, what is right. Just as the future consequences of climate change are “incompatible with any reasonable characterisation of an organised, equitable and civilised global community,” so too, I argue, is the probable threat of these consequences incompatible with the currently established journalistic order. I’m not arguing that media should lie when covering climate change, but that, like how science’s obsession with (an impossible) absolute certainty on all facets of climate change is slowing us down, pretending that covering idiotic, pseudo-scientific viewpoints for sake of being “Fair and Balanced” is also greatly impeding upon our ability to respond to climate change in a pertinent, timely manner. True objectivity is impossible to the extent that biases in the media, now matter how much we try to deny them, are an inevitability; human perception itself is an act of bias. Having a bias rooted in scientific evidence and logical analysis, however, should not be considered the journalist crime that America’s obsession with “Fair and Balanced” leads us to believe it is.
It’s this adherence to hollow, journalistic ideals that plays into our naïveté in reelecting the same capitalist puppets to government over and over again. As long as we continually listen to these inadequate, misinformed voices in our political discourse, listening solely on the basis that we are being fair, we stand no chance of improving our situation. I believe that thoroughly changing, if not outright rebuilding our current news media is going to be crucial in the climate change fight, and while this is no simple task to accomplish, calling out the intrinsic errors in America’s conceptualization of what the media is and should be is at least an important first step. The fundamental problem with America’s media driven understanding of climate change isn’t that we’re having a debate; it’s that we’re having the wrong debate, and this is where changing our understanding of media bias is important for considering which voices at least have a point, and which are only procrastinating imminent disaster.
Hey, everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the fact that we’ve plummeted back into the ice age with this weather (this must mean that global warming doesn’t exist, right?!?). I just wanted to share with you all this interview I stumbled upon when googling Kim Stanley Robinson about his science-fiction writing and science-fiction in general. It’s really long, HOWEVER, in the description of the video it gives what questions are asked at what time in the video, so you can basically pick and choose which answers you want to hear. If I didn’t explain that clearly enough, you’ll figure it out once you click on the link (which in case you didn’t see, is attached via hyperlink to the word “interview” in the second sentence of this post). Also, at the end of this video, he reads a little portion of his book 2312 which we discussed in class yesterday! Please do not be alarmed that Kim Stanley Robinson bares a passing resemblance to Walter White from Breaking Bad, I’m sure he is nothing like Walter White…but how cool would that be?