"The Bird Saviors" as an Example of "Cli-Fi": The Hot, New Literary Subgenre—Climate Fiction

So I’m amused to see this piece on NPR books, which defines a new literary subgenre called Cli-Fi, for Climate Fiction, via a good friend (Thanks, Elizabeth!), here. I’ve noticed a number of novels that have elements of Climate Change in them lately. Last fall a friend pointed out similarities between The Bird Saviors and Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior. It’s not like this is just now happening: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) is a literary masterpiece about Climate Change, which leaves the “why” of it mysterious, and uses the cataclysm of a dying planet to wax philosophical about the nature of humanity, the love between a father and son, why a bomb shelter might be a good idea . . . plus the hazards of road-tripping across a post-apocalyptic landscape populated by ravenous cannibals. And while the fun-but-hokey film The Day After Tomorrow (2004) is more exaggerated and preachy, you have to love the absurdity of Dennis Quaid jumping that ice-sheet crevasse (clutching a jumble of ice-core samples) in the first scene, or snowshoeing from D.C. to New York in, oh, less than a day. But maybe we’ve reached a “Tipping Point”—a term often used by Climate Change scientists—in the number of references to climate chaos in fiction.
I know I’m among the many in our fracking United States of America who are embarrassed at our politicians cowardice and greed at continuing to deny or give lip service to Climate Change. These stooges are no doubt bought off by Big Oil/Coal (not to mention plain, old-fashioned Stupidity), even though the scare tactics about the cost of mitigating Climate Change are completely exaggerated. What’s the better choice—short-term profits for companies like Exxon (regularly posting “record profits” as storms swamp our cities, fires burn our forests?), or a sane, innovative approach to promoting green technologies and sustainable energy sources? It’s not one or the other. The oil people are going to make their billions (oh, but don’t forget the tax breaks!) for the foreseeable future. Still we could do the Right Thing. Burn less. Moderate. Drive more fuel-efficient cars, walk or ride a bike when you can. Build smaller homes with solar-panels installed from the get-go. Try to decelerate the alarming numbers of Climate Change. Am I optimistic, at the moment, this will happen? No. But you have to hope. And if we write about the problem, imagine its next results, maybe that will get more people thinking about it.

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