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Part of the problem of climate change is that the apocalyptic consequences of our carbon use are emerging slowly and globally, rather than in a single newsworthy disaster, making it difficult to muster the vision and motivation to fight it. Fiction and poetry exploring the possibilities of a changed and changing climate can be a powerful way to make these abstract futures more immediate.
This guide, accessible online and as a PDF, includes lists of poems, short stories, novels, and films to consider reading and discussing with students, including, in some cases, questions for discussion.
The poems, short stories, and novels in our listing take a positive, visionary approach to the subject of climate change, focusing on fighting and adapting to climate change. Through envisioning cultural tools and social strategies for transitioning to a post-carbon world, these stories offer inspiration and guidance for how we might address our very real problems—not just through magical new technology, but through cultural shifts that make use of the technology we already have.
These texts could be used for whole-class reading, and could enrich a larger unit on climate change or even lead to students researching and creating their own artistic explorations of futures altered by climate change. Questions for discussion follow each listing.
In addition, we've gathered some dystopias, allegories, and films that evoke other climate futures, for high school students and adults interested in reading further. This listing includes YA and adult fiction that is focused on the social and practical effects of climate change. Many of these latter texts vividly convey the emotional weight of various disasters that come with climate change. Some are straightforward climate dystopias, while others work as direct allegories. Finally, we've assembled a short list of films and tv shows exploring climate. You can view them all as a PDF, or explore with the links below.
Climate Change Fiction for Students and Teachers:
- Sarah Outterson-Murphy's blog about her experiences using climate fiction in her high school English classes