Saturday, September 21, 2013

SUNSHINE STATE - a cli fi novel by James Miller in the UK

How About a Cli-Fi Novel About Fracking?

By JIM & CLAIRE CASTAGNERA father daughter blog chat about CLI FI here: 9/21/2033 AD Jim: Our most faithful fan does not live in Lehighton or Jim Thorpe or Tamaqua, or anywhere in the hard coal region. No, he lives on the other side of the world. Dan Bloom is a freelance writer and ex-patriot, who resides in Taiwan where, he says, he is "buffeted around by Pacific typhoons every summer." Maybe that's why he worries a lot about climate change. Of late Dan has become enamored by Climate Fiction, or Cli Fi as a growing fan base has dubbed it. According to Wikipedia, "Cli-fi (or 'cli fi') is short for climate fiction. Cli-fi novels and films are often set in either the present or the near or distant future, but they can also be set in the past. While cli-fi does not necessarily infer a belief in the science of climate change, many cli-fi works raise awareness about the major threats that climate change and global warming present to life on Earth. Some cli-fi novels support the views of climate change skepticism." The Wiki Wizards go on to attest, "The term 'cli-fi' was popularized by climate activist Danny Bloom beginning in 2007 and by Wired reporter Scott Thill in 2010." Dan remains a tireless advocate of the genre. Following last week's column, in which I compared myself to a Portobello, Dan wrote to me, "God does love mushrooms. BTW, any chance of a JIM/ CLAIRE story one day soon on CLI FI as new climate fiction literary term pro and con, does it work maybe for SANDY ANNIVERSITY ONE YEAR LATER?"=========================================== Well, Dan, here's your wish granted… sort of. While the Wiki story credits you with launching the Cli Fi movement in 2007, I feel I must give credit where it is also due. I refer to the late, great Sci Fi writer Michael Crichton. In 2004 - not long before his untimely death - Crichton published "State of Fear." The novel's premise is that eco-terrorists plot mass murder to support their apocalyptic views. These villains are in league with the fictional National Environmental Resources Fund, which is determined to hang onto its funding base of wealthy philanthropists. To keep these donors engaged, they contrive to cause eco-disasters. They also knock off scientists who dare to espouse research results that contradict global-warming theories. Crichton's story wasn't very PC, I'm afraid, Dan. In a postscript to his long yarn, Crichton wrote: "I have been reading environmental texts for three years…. I have had the opportunity to look at a lot of data, and to consider many points of view. I conclude, [wrote Chrichton]:============================ -- We know astonishingly little about every aspect of the environment…. -- Atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing, and human activity is the probable cause…. Ÿ We are also in the midst of a natural warming trend that began about 1850…. Ÿ Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be a natural phenomenon. Ÿ Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be man-made…. Ÿ We cannot hope to manage a complex system such as the environment through litigation…. Ÿ We desperately need a nonpartisan blinded funding mechanism to conduct research to determine appropriate policy."======================================== Nine years have passed since Crichton wrote those words and his highly irreverent Cli Fi thriller. A lot more research funding has flowed over the federal dam and a lot more research has been conducted. Though the weight of the data seems to push hard for the conclusion that global warming is real and man-made, the doubters persist. Others - and I admit to being in their ranks - argue that, while global warming is a man-made fact, America's chance at energy independence outweighs the risks of weather change. North America is the carbon kingdom of the planet and many of us believe that we should be exploiting the heck out of Canadian oil sands, Ohio/Pennsylvania fracking fields, hard and soft coal mines, and the resurrection of old oil fields via new technologies. Guess that makes me a candidate for the villain in a future Cli Fi novel, Danny. Feel free to do your worst. ==================================================================================================================================Claire: The simple fact that we live in a world where there are still people who don't "believe" in climate change - like, say, one might not believe in unicorns - leads me to firmly believe that we are all in major trouble. But I'm not going to give a lecture on the intricacies of global warming, because I have a feeling that would futile. Instead, I'm going to skip right ahead to some worst-case scenarios, as presented by what I now deem "SyFy CliFi," a new genre of film involving the SyFy channel and a spate of films they've recently screened. First off, we have "Sharknado." Perhaps you can infer the plot of this movie from the title: it's about a tornado… filled with sharks. Yes, you read that correctly. Sharks glide around California, powered by severe tornadoes, eating up surfers in single, flying bites. The cause of these intense tornadoes? Global warming. Then there's "Arachnoquake." In this flick, huge earthquakes in New Orleans release gigantic spiders onto the general populace. The twist? The earthquakes were caused by fracking. It all sounds completely ridiculous, but the science behind these films is real. (Well, the part about global warming causing more powerful hurricanes and fracking wastewater injection causing earthquakes… not the part about tornadoes being strong enough to pick up sharks and fly them around the world.) And for some reason, the public eats this stuff up. "Sharknado" quickly picked up steam and became a veritable hit; you can find it at any Target or Walmart, which is a big deal for a channel whose movies usually go straight to oblivion, not DVD. But why? Why do we love to see our world torn apart, again and again, whether it be in apocalypse movies, or Cli Fi films, or in print fiction? Is it because, deep down, we don't believe this stuff could ever happen? Or because, deep down, we do, and seeing it on film trivializes it, sets us apart from it, to a certain extent? I'm new to this whole "Cli Fi" idea, so I don't have any answers. My only hope is that Climate Fiction does more, on the whole, to educate than to trivialize. Shark tornadoes may never be a real threat, but it's possible that there are even scarier things on the horizon.

Monday, September 9, 2013

An Interview with cli fi novelist James Tam in Hong Kong

James Tam is the author of a new novel titled "Man's Last Song"
Meet James Tam, a serious thinker and writer based in Hong Kong, where he was born and raised before moving to Canada in the 1970s (and then back again to Hong Kong in the 1980s). He is the author of a new novel titled "Man's Last Song" and it's well worth reading. Married with two daughters, Tam was gracious enough to sit for an email interview the other day between our home office in southern Taiwan and his home office in Hong Kong.
When asked to describe his novel and its themes, Tam said: "The theme of my novel is that after decades of infertility, the human race is winding down.It sounds dystopian but ironically, the characters in the story, remnants of the human race,are also benefiting from the disappearance of humanity in some respects.Why this theme? I think over-population is one of the biggest issues affecting human well-being, if not survival, yet the denial is mind-boggling. So looking back from a sparsely populated future gives us an interesting perspective that I hope might enjoy the clarity of “hindsight”. Most people who write are driven by the same inexplicable but irrepressible urge to do so. Iʼm no exception.''
Tam said that while he does not like to be pigeonholed by literary genre, noting that in his opinion ''most books are multi-genre in my view.''
"But if I have to choose one genre for 'Man's Last Song,' I think Cli Fi is actually an interesting new label, and probably the most fitting one for my book.''
Born in Hong Kong. Tam lived and studied in Canada in the 1970s and returned to Hong Kong in the mid-1980s to work as an environmental engineer. He started his own environmental engineering practice and a software company as well.
Tam hopes his novel will serve as a wake up call for readers.
"As I indicated in an earlier answer above, the fact that weʼre stupidly creating a lot of unnecessary challenges for ourselves does not mean itʼd be the end of humanity," he said. "The end-time scenario in 'Manʼs Last Song' is just fictional, a possible scenario. Meanwhile,life under any circumstances can still be quite good sometimes, if we live it one day at atime. Having a longer term view of “what might happen if we donʼt smarten up” does not_mean we have to live in despair today. Taking realistic precaution is often mistaken as being 'gloomy'. That escapist attitude is in fact what gets us into deeper trouble right now. In short, if we continue the way we are, I think the chance of humans having to suffer an_extremely tough phase in the near future is quite high. But then in most of our speciesʼ history, life is tough for the absolute majority.'
Asked about his ideas or beliefs in things supernatural, Tam, ever the realist, replied: "I donʼt believe in a human-like God or Creator who pokes his nose into our silly affairs. But I like to put humans in cosmic perspective. We are but one of numerous organisms on a mediocre planet no more impressive than a grain of sand amongst all the beaches on Earth. I know some people find this sense of insignificance disturbing; but I find it calming instead. In any case, like it or not, itʼs the reality."
"Nearly all our mundane worries are grossly out of proportion if we put them against the big picture of this cosmic dance," Tam continued. "The characters in 'Manʼs Last Song', having nothing better to do in their circumstances, have actually spent some time discussing this existential issue.''
When asked if he had heard of the cli fi term, for climate fiction, before, Tam said: "Yes, Iʼve heard the term Cli Fi before. A reader told me about it, and said my novel definitely belongs to that new genre. I think itʼs a very good genre, much more than a PR term. It helps to put the critical issue of climate change in peopleʼs mind."
Asked how his novel might be received in Hong Kong and China in its Chinese language edition, Tam said:
"Living in severe resource and environmental pressures everyday, the Chinese are actually more sensitive and realistic about environmental issues than, say, someone living in Australia who only sees the danger conceptually. Thatʼs why China as a developing country tackles environmental issues relatively more seriously than many others. But then, the Chinese sense of pragmatic acceptance also comes into play. Everyone in the world is talking about protecting the environment while damaging it thoughtlessly, creating little if any benefit to himself and society. How can that dumb situation be stopped or reversed before it gets really unpleasant? Who should make the first move and be at a relative 'disadvantage' in the short-term? Thatʼs the big question mark."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

UK Bookstores Set Tables for ‘Cli-Fi’ Books

******During the sweltering British summer of 2013, several bookstores in the UK did something that was a long time coming: They set up a dedicated ”cli-fi” tables with a simple yet eye-catching signs promoting fiction and non-fiction books with climate themes.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ We spoke with the marketing director at the one of the London bookshops about why she set up the cli fi tables and signs. When asked what the motivation was, she explained that after she read the Rodge Glass piece in the Guardian in May, she became very concerned about finding ways to promote climate fiction (and non fiction books) in her store. So she asked her design team to come up with some posters and signs, and tables were set up. Customer reaction was positive, she said.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Yes, our customers warmed to the idea, you might say, and there were no complaints," she said. "While climate novels and non fiction books about climate cover a lot of ground, from pro-AGW rants to skeptics books and even denialists rants, it is important that we shine the spotlight on climate books now and in the future. So our summer 2013 events were positive and we plan to repeat them over the course of the coming year, too. And sure, we do hope our example where in the UK will be reflected in the USA and Australia too, for bookstores there."-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Among the books displayed were Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and James Lovelock’s “The Revenge of Gaia” as well as Stephen Emmott’s bestseller “10 Billion” sitting alongside such dystopic scenarios as J.G. Ballard’s “The Drowned World,” John Christopher’s “The Death of Grass,” Joe Dunthorne’s “Wild Abandon” and Liz Jensen’s “The Rapture.”----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Most of the books on the table are also available as e-books as well.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- These ‘cli-fi’ signs in-store may be the first of their kind anywhere in the now-warming world, and they follow extensive media coverage of the emerging cli-fi genre in TeleRead, The Guardian, the Financial Times, and The New Yorker.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Other cli-fi novels on the tables included Barbara Kingsolver’s”Flight Behavior” and and Ian McEwan’s “Solar.” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Will other bookstores and book-selling websites around the world follow these sterling British bookstore examples and set up similar cli-fi sites at bookstores in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, Melbourne, Wellington and Paris? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Is this a trend or just one-off events and photo opps in the UK?------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Monday, August 26, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: London Bookstore Sets 'Cli-Fi' Table For Climate Books

BREAKING NEWS: London Bookstore Sets 'Cli-Fi' Table For Climate Books ...from TeleRead ...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

London's Foyles Bookstore Fronts 'Cli Fi' Table For Climate Books

During the sweltering summer of 2013, Foyles (St Pancras International store) in London set up a cli-fi table with a eye-catching sign that promotes non-fiction and fiction classics such as Rachel Carson's ''Silent Spring'' and James Lovelock's ''The Revenge of Gaia'', as well as Stephen Emmott's current bestseller ''10 Billion'' sitting alongside such dystopic scenarios as J.G. Ballard's ''The Drowned World'', John Christopher's ''The Death of Grass'', Joe Dunthorne's ''Wild Abandon'' and Liz Jensen's ''The Rapture''. The ''cli fi'' sign in-store may be the first of its kind anywhere in the now-warming world. Other cli fi books on the table included Barbara Kingsolver's FLIGHT BEHAVIOR and Ian McEwan's SOLAR. As the photo makes clear, this is first time that any bookstore anywhere in the known world has created a special "corner" or table spefically fearuring CLIMATE-THEMED novels and non-fiction reports. It is hoped that other bookstores around the world will follow Foyles' example and set up similar cli fi tables at bookstores in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, Melbournme, Wellington and Paris. -----------------------

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cli fi novelists Margaret Atwood and Nathaniel Rich at Kingston WritersFest in Canada on September 25

Cli fi novelists Margaret Atwood and Nathaniel Rich, being hailed by media critics as two leaders of the new cli fi genre, will appear together at the Grand Theatre in Kingston in Canada on Sept. 25, 2013 -- opening the Kingston WritersFest. It's just about a month before the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy along the East Coast of the USA that served as a major wake up call about future storms and emergency preparedness (or the lack thereof)._____________________________________________ Ms. Atwood is poised to launch the third and final installment of her trilogy that began with ''Oryx and Crake'' and continued with ''The Year of the Flood'', which opened the first Kingston WritersFest in 2009. No one was talking cli-fi then. The press at that time just called her books sci-fi, a term that she herself famously rejected, even though her novels were winning SF awards [''The Handmaid’s Tale'' won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and was a finalist for both the Nebula and the Promethus Awards.]___________________________________________________________________________ Other cli fi writers, too, are warning us of the dangers ahead, already turning out stories of climatic catastrophe. Such fiction now has a real and legitimate name: cli-fi, a sub-genre of sci-fi or even a completely new genre of its own (take your pick) — a speculative story in which the narrative punch is supplied by a dramatic change in the physical world around us, brought on wholly or in part by the machinations of humans.______________________________________________ The term was coined by U.S. climate activist and public relations blogger and consultant Danny Bloom in 2008 and used by Scott Thill at Wired magazine in two movie reviews in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, Margaret Atwood re-tweeted it. [Rich told reporters that he never heard of the cli fi term before he started his book tour this spring.]_____________________________________________ This spring, The Guardian legitimized it, hailing Atwood and Rich as two leaders of the new genre. Both these Planet Earth-shattering authors be at the Kingston WritersFest. Should be a good festival.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Authors and global warming: why care and why CLI FI can help raise awareness

The Guardian – 31 May 2013:

Global warning: the rise of ‘cli-fi’
Unlike most science fiction, novels about climate change focus on an immediate and intense threat rather than discovery. By Rodge Glass

Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder is out with a new book, ‘Anna – A fable about the Earth’s climate and environment’. Fiction, in other words, about climate change. Something we haven’t seen much of among international bestsellers til this date. But, when you think about it: Why is that so? Wouldn’t you expect authors, of all people – with their writing skills and visionary minds – to be the first ones to understand that the planet badly needs their contritution to a global Carbon Awareness Campaign?

Obviously not, judging from the answers that two Danish authors gave to the Danish newspaper Information which on 25 February published an article about Gaarder’s new book under the headline ‘The crisis of the Earth also concerns authors and intellectuals’. (Klodens krise angår også forfattere og intellektuelle)

The acclaimed Danish author Ib Michael cannot see why it should be specifically the authors’ responsibility to deal with the climate and environment: “The sole responsibility of the author is to write good books, no matter what it’s about,” he told Information.

I would like to challenge that attitude.

And so would Jostein Gaarder. His new book is so far only available in Norwegian, but Gaarder is not just any author: he has another book out which is translated into 60 languages. 22 years ago, he wrote the bestseller ‘Sophie’s World’ which sold in 40 million copies. In 1995, it was the most sold book in the world.

With some of all the royalties which trickled in on his bank account, Jostein Gaarder and his wife established the environment award, the Sophie Prize, which each year since 1997 has rewarded a person who has made special efforts to create awareness about climate change and the environment, with 100,000 US dollars.

With the new book, Jostein Gaarder simply wants to increase awareness — both among young people and adults — about what climate change and environmental matter is about, he told the Danish newspaper:

“Namely that for the first time in the history of mankind we see, at worst, the contours of a collapse of our civilization. Today, we have an economic system which is on a collision course with what nature can endure.”

“We cannot just keep writing about relationships, about our relationship to one another — which is, of course, what literature is all about these days. We must also write about our relationship with the planet we live on, and we must be consistent in our ethical reflection,” Jostein Gaarder was quoted as saying.

The Danish author Susanne Staun, who was asked for a response to Gaarder’s statement, disagreed. She only wants to deal with issues that she’s passionate about, and she can certainly not see why it should be the authors’ responsibility to inform citizens about climate change and the environment. “If Jostein Gaarder is passionate about climate, he must of course write about that. But he must also allow the rest of us to write about what we are passionate about,” said Susanne Staun, while admitting that among Danish authors there is “a massive black hole” as far as their knowledge about climate change and the environment is concerned.

According to Gaarder, an ignorance of huge dimensions exists among even prominent Norwegian intellectuals. If you ask them a very basic, scientific question such as: “How much have humans increased the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere since industrialisation took off?”, they don’t know it. “They know nothing!”, Gaarder exclaimed to the Danish journalist of Information, Jørgen Steen Nielsen.

Well, how about the rest of us? Do we know the answer? I didn’t. Do you?

The answer is that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by around 40 percent since humanity began burning off oil, coal and gas.

The two Danish authors’ statements provoked me. Couldn’t help it, half an hour after I had read Jørgen Steen Nielsen’s article, I had to post a long comment below it.

Artists, filmmakers and — sorry to say — not least our dear novelists, authors and writers at all levels and in almost all countries around the world have failed completely in relation to this question of how — or if — we can handle the climate catastrophe that common people only much too slowly are waking up to realise that all of humanity will be facing in just a few years’ time.

The news of four degrees global warming by 2060 — and the consequences of this — are too incomprehensible. And too uncomfortable. Too hard to deal with.

Apparently also for the artists.

Literature plays — or could have played — a very special role here. Authors and artists carry a special responsibility, in my opinion. Much would have looked differently today if an army of artistic and creative talents already a long time ago had begun to play on all keys of their keyboards and use all their specific artistic skills to move us, alert us and give us the inclination to engage in these questions of climate change — if, with both seriousness and humour, with nightmare scenarios as well as ingenious solutions, they had shown the way — if, with commitment and passion, they had thrown themselves into the huge project of visualizing and articulating to the world’s population what kind of future the grown-up generations of today are in the process of creating — or rather: destroying — for our children, grandchildren and future generations — only because of convenience, indolence, laziness, materialism and short-sighted protection of yesterday’s investments in oil-based industry and infrastructure, the jobs related to it, and the share which a good number of those people with political power have in the profits from the extraction of oil, coal and gas.

Jostein Gaarder speaks about the ignorance of Norwegian intellectuals. At the risk of generalising, and solely based on the few authors I know personally, it is my impression that Jostein Gaarder’s statement is absolutely fitting and true in regard to Danish authors just as well.

(I don’t know about other countries… but please fill us in if you, dear reader, are from another country: how is it with the intellectuals and authors in your country?)

It is only when you begin to dig deeper down into the matter that it dawns on you how ignorant you have actually been for so many years.

I speak for myself here. It is just a few months ago I got a wet ‘wake-up’-cloth thrown in my face by the Danish climate minister, when he, in December 2012, returned from a Global Climate Summit in Doha, and in a television interview had difficulty concealing his anxiety and frustration with the situation. The situation which, according to a newly published report from the World Bank with its estimated four degrees global warming by 2060, means that we should begin to prepare ourselves for a collapse of civilization as we know it — a collapse of the day to day with all its relatively safety and cosiness as we have become so used to, not least in the Nordic countries.

Wow! Now they talk about a possible collapse of our civilization? That opened my ears and eyes. The world stood still for a second: Did someone say, “collapse of our civilization”? Was I the only one hearing the minister say that?

Until then I had lived in a kind of certainty our good world leaders would deal with this climate change problem, and eventually, after some negotiations back and forth, fix it.

But “No!” sounded the word from Doha: “We will not fix it. We cannot handle it, simply. This problem is a political dead duck because it is border-crossing and has such long-term impacts that it is impossible to solve by political means,” was how the message from Doha could be understood between the lines.

Well, so what?!

Can the Danes not hear it, inside there, in their closed cheese bell? Can’t they be reached?

Apparently not. We know nothing, because we would rather not know anything. We are very sorry, dear Mik, but we do not want to be disturbed in our comfortable, busy daily lives which are so rich and full with our facebook updates, children, Oscar awards on tv and horsemeat-scandal headlines all over the newspaper — or in our affluent writer-hideaways in tropical safe havens where we can really immerse ourselves and be passionately writing about our personal relationship experiences and concerns…

Why is it this picture reminds me of children playing in the sandbox, not looking up, while the dark clouds pull together over them?

Dear friends, authors, artists. The level of consciousness must be raised now.

And it honestly ought to be the authors who took the lead in a wave of new sustainable consciousness.

The urgency is hair-raising, although too much CO2 already floats around in the atmosphere, the ice is melting and climate change scientists have already long considered it a battle lost… There is still much we can change and achieve if we manage to saddle, change priorities, and start to be much more CO2-conscious in our behavior and the things we spend our time, money and energy on. The transition to a sustainable lifestyle with renewable energy and green consciousness is not a long-haired, leftist dream. It’s fierce survival. Not for that businessman who currently feels untouchable in high-tech surroundings of glass and steel. But for his children.

I actually had always thought that such sensitive, intelligent and humane personalities as artists often are, would be those who would go up front in such a process. But I have noticed by the reactions I get on my Facebook page and blog notes that it is not — which is of course is also very well reflected by the two Danish authors’ comments on the article in Information.

Therefore, all thumbs up from here to this Norwegian writer who, as a one-off in Oil Country with his fiction novel ‘Anna’ dares to make the attempt to bring the Drama about the Climate in under the skin of all of us. I will buy his book because he should know that the signals he is sending out are so highly commendable.

It is the thought that counts here.

And even if the book turns out to be… maybe not so good, and even when it doesn’t turn into a new bestseller for Jostein Gaarder, wouldn’t that be exactly what’s needed in order to inspire others to try and do better?

For we have yet to see a novelist create the ultimate eye-opening drama about what life will be like in Denmark when the global temperature has risen four degrees, the water stands 1.5 meters higher, and entire nations have been plunged into homelessness, drought, crop failure — yes, and everything we just did not even imagine yet … but which a good writer maybe would able to? And done in such a way, that we actually feel like reading it.

Global warming — and our reluctance to address the problem, although we could easily do it, if only we would get out of our comfortable sofas — is absolutely the biggest and most important question of our time. So we don’t want to hear about it. It’s obviously easier to keep blinders on and stay in the sandbox under the cheese bell with a vague hope that the sinister storm will pass over by itself — or that some clever engineers will solve the climate problem for us at the last minute. In any case, it won’t be affecting us — us, the decision-makers of society today, who according to the calendar will be long gone by the time the shit hits the fan.

As Jostein Gaarder points out: In the relationship between the present and future generations, lawlessness prevails. Our children will be facing a problem if they should want to go to court to ask for compensation from the fossil-fuel riches for the terrible destruction the CO2-emissions have caused: by the time the catastrophe begins to roll out, the culprits will probably more or less all be dead and gone.

So we can stay in our cozy cuddly cheese bell some years more where we can keep discussing and chitchatting about what is close around us — and leave it up to our children and grandchildren to deal with the mess and the guarding of themselves against the man-made climate chaos we — their parents — hand over to them.

Or …? should we, in the 12th hour, throw away the blinders, “take the spoon in the other hand,” as we say in Danish, and — like Jostein Gaarder — individually and separately begin to take personal responsibility for the mess, spend time and energy to study and enlighten ourselves on the matter, and then use all the combined forces we have participating in a joint effort to reverse the CO2 catastrophe before it is really too late?

If you are a parent, you should be doing it because it is your duty. You can make use of just those skills and that training, that starting point, that you have right now. You can start contributing simply with what you are able to:

If you are an architect, you begin to familiarise yourself with how to build the most sustainable houses.

If you are a home owner, you begin to recycle, buy green products and teach your kids about sustainability.

If you are an author, wow! you have readers already… You throw yourself into considerations of how you can write a fantastic new book, a masterpiece that will change the world because it makes such a deep impression that it motivates its readers to go straight into action, into a sustainable lifestyle, or both. You could actually also do something different this time around: who says that writers always have to write books? You could use your talent to write an open letter to the Prime Minister or the United Nations, an essay, a play, a screenplay, an action plan…

“It is with our thoughts we create the world,” said Gautama Buddha 2,500 years ago. That concept, which I believe is true in many ways, places authors in a special position. With their intellect, insight and imagination they also are carriers of a unique potential: The ability to articulate visions as well as horror scenarios for the future. Stuff we can take inspiration from. Learn from.

We need to take responsibility at a personal level now. Simply because this is a matter of urgency. Not for you and me. But for those children we have brought into the world, because we thought we could give them and share with them a good life. And because we naively thought that planet Earth would just continue to be a great place to live.


‘Anna – A fable about the Earth’s climate and environment’ by Jostein Gaarder is currently being translated into Czech, German, Greek, Indonesian, and Spanish. It is for sale in Norwegian on

Dagbladet Information – 25 February 2013:

Klodens krise angår også forfattere og intellektuelle

“Throughout history literature has been dealing with the great human issues such as war, love, illness, etc. Now the climate is also one of those big questions, but an ignorance of huge dimensions prevails among the intellectuals, says the Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder, who is out with a new youth novel.”

Wikipedia, the open encyclopedia:


‘Anna. A fable about the earth’s climate and environment’

Here is the publisher’s description of Jostein Gaarder’s book:

‘Anna. A fable about the earth’s climate and environment’ is a typical Jostein Gaarder novel with a crafty build-up of events that makes the reader curious and excited. How is all of this connected?

When Anna turns 16 on 12 December 2012 she receives Aunt Sunniva’s red ruby ring, an old heirloom. Anna thinks about the people who have lived on the earth before her. Perhaps that is why she is so concerned about the fact that the earth is in danger, that with our eyes open and at a rapid pace, we are actually in the process of destroying the biological diversity − and thereby the foundation of existence for future generations. This upsets Anna. She also has a rich imagination. She has an imaginative capacity that is so intense that she has lately begun receiving images and thoughts from another reality, perhaps from another era. It is therefore not so strange that her parents send her to Dr. Benjamin, who is a psychiatrist. But he does not believe that there is anything wrong with Anna; on the contrary, he thinks she is a strong girl who is concerned about important things.

In another reality Nova awakens on 12 December 2082. She is in bed in her room with the terminal that provides her with all of the information her heart could possibly desire. It can retrieve photos from the whole world whenever she wants. She receives all of the information about the earth’s condition subsequent to the global warming that ran amok a few decades before. Nova receives messages constantly about animal species that have become extinct, the Earth is no longer as fertile, green and beautiful, and Nova is furious about the human beings of previous generations who did not succeed in saving the earth in time. But this morning she just wants to enjoy herself and sets the terminal so that it only gives her pictures of the earth as it was before 12 December 2012 – which is the date of great-grandmother Anna’s 16th birthday. Her great-grandmother is still alive and at this moment she enters Nova’s room dressed in a blue kimono and wearing a red ruby ring on her finger. The red ring has magical powers …

‘Anna’ is a fabulous story that glides back and forth between time frames and the two main characters Anna and Nova. The plot of this exciting novel goes beyond the limits of possibility. At the same time, this is a serious story about how things may turn out for the Earth if we do not come to our senses and recognise our responsibility as residents of this planet. It’s still not too late. Is it? We can certainly be given another chance?

First published: 2013



Climate-related fiction literature

• ‘Vapor Trails’ is an eco-thriller by RP Siegel and Roger Saillant — the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water in an exciting and entertaining format.

With stories derived from real world events, the book exposes intrigue at the highest corporate level which unravels when one senior executive defects from the dark conspiracy in order to escape from the burden of his past, regain self respect and perhaps open himself to the potential of a new love. Written by two authorities on sustainable business and the environment. » Available as e-book on


• ‘Wool’ is a science-fiction’s underground hit, currently a New York Times bestseller. The story takes us to a ruined and toxic landscape, where a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.

His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.

» Available on


• ‘Flight Behavior’ is Barbara Kingsolver’s fourteenth book, (Harper; November 2012; $28.99). The novel is a heady exploration of climate change, along with media exploitation and political opportunism that lie at the root of what may be our most urgent modern dilemma.

Set in Appalachia, a region to which Kingsolver has returned often in both her acclaimed fiction and nonfiction, its suspenseful narrative traces the unforeseen impact of global concerns on the ordinary citizens of a rural community. As environmental, economic, and political issues converge, the residents of Feathertown, Tennessee, are forced to come to terms with their changing place in the larger world.

The book was in the New York Times bestseller list in June 2013.

» Read more on Review.



You can search for ‘climate fiction’ on Amazon, which will instantly bringing up over 730 different books.

Whereas 10 or 20 years ago it would have been difficult to identify even a handful of books that fell under this banner, there is now a growing corpus of novels setting out to warn readers of possible environmental nightmares to come.

Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Flight Behaviour’, the story of a forest valley filled with an apparent lake of fire, is shortlisted for the 2013 Women’s prize for fiction.

There is Nathaniel Rich’s ‘Odds Against Tomorrow’, set in a future New York, about a mathematician who deals in worst-case scenarios.

In Liz Jensen’s 2009 eco-thriller ‘The Rapture’, summer temperatures are asphyxiating and Armageddon is near; her most recent book, ‘The Uninvited’, features uncanny warnings from a desperate future.

Perhaps the most high-profile cli-fi author is Margaret Atwood, whose 2009 ‘The Year of the Flood’ features survivors of a biological catastrophe also central to her 2003 novel ‘Oryx and Crake’.

The Guardian – 31 May 2013:

Global warning: the rise of ‘cli-fi’

Unlike most science fiction, novels about climate change focus on an immediate and intense threat rather than discovery. By Rodge Glass

Eco-dystopias: Special Issue of Critical Survey- Completed articles by 1st September 2013,,

Eco-dystopias: Special Issue of Critical Survey- Completed articles by 1st September 2013

full name / name of organization:

Critical Survey

contact email:

CFP: Special issue of Critical Survey on Eco-dystopias for publication in 2013.

Submissions are invited of completed articles for a special issue of the journal Critical Survey, devoted to representations of environmental dystopias in literature and the visual arts.

Recent discussions in the media have focused attention on the emergence of ‘cli-fi’ (climate fiction) as a sub-genre of science fiction. Works of cli-fi explore imaginary futures -- and presents and pasts -- and places in which global environmental catastrophe, brought on by climate change, has come to pass. Writing in The Guardian in May 2013, the novelist Rodge Glass noted that Dan Bloom coined the term and that “[w]hereas 10 or 20 years ago it would have been difficult to identify even a handful of books that fell under this banner, there is now a growing corpus of novels setting out to warn readers of possible environmental nightmares to come.” This crop of recent responses to climate change can, however, be mapped against a much more extensive body of dystopian imaginings that might broadly be termed ‘ecological’ rather than – or as well as -- ‘social’ or ‘political’. A great deal of dystopian writing and film-making since the 1950s has responded to the prevailing discourses of environmentalism.

This special issue invites critical essays that consider dystopian imaginative responses (in fiction, poetry, film, or the visual arts) to environmental anxiety, not necessarily limited to our current focus on climate change. Potential submissions might explore, for instance, how writers, film-makers or artists have addressed the ecological implications of:

• Overpopulation

• Viruses, outbreaks, epidemics

• Genetic engineering

• Virtual reality, cybernetics, robotics

• Deforestation

• Species extinction

• Climate change

Completed essays should be submitted to Dr Rowland Hughes ( and/or Dr Pat Wheeler ( by 1st September 2013, with the intention of going to press before the end of 2013.,,

cfp categories:







By web submission at 06/13/2013 - 15:56

Yeni Bir Tür Doğdu! ''CLI FI'' -- A report from Turkey in TURKISH

Yeni Bir Tür Doğdu! Climate Fiction aka CLI FI (Danielus Bloomalus)

By Haberi Paylaşın

Yoksa küresel ısınma ve iklim değişimi yeni bir edebiyat dalı mı yarattı? Edebiyat araştırmacıları tartışadursun, iklim değişikliğini konu edinen romanların sayısı giderek artıyor. 1980 doğumlu genç Amerikan yazarlarından Nathaniel Rich’in, Sandy kasırgasından az önce yayına yolladığı, kapağında sular altındaki Manhattan illüstrasyonu bulunan Odds Against Tomorrow ise, CLI FI türünün son örneği olarak kayıtlara geçti bile.

Heyzen ATEŞ

Sandy fırtınası geçtiğimiz son­bahar New York’u vurduğun­da Farrar, Straus&Giroux yayınevi de başka pek çok işyeri gibi, tabir yerindeyse, muhtemelen kepenkleri indirmişti. O fırtına iki şeyi bütün netliğiyle ispatladı: 1- Tabiat felaketleri dünya metropo­lü, üçüncü dünya ülkesi dinlemez. 2 – İklim değişimi ve küresel ısınma artık yüzleşilmesi gereken gerçek­lerdir. Bunları ben söylemiyorum, FSG’nin editörlerinden Brian Gittis söylüyor ve ekliyor, “Dünyanın en muhteşem şehrinde yaşıyorduk ama elektriklerin yeniden bağlanması bir hafta sürdü.” Elektrikleri geldi, Git­tis ofisine döndü ve karşısında kü­çük dilini yutmasına neden olacak bir kitap buldu.

Son okuma için yollanan kitabın kapağında sular altında kalmış bir Manhattan vardı. Fırtınanın hemen sonrasında kitabın karşısına çıkı­şını “Tam bir alacakaranlık kuşağı anıydı” diye özetliyor Gittis. Bahsi geçen kitapsa Nathaniel Rich’in Odds Against Tomorrow adlı ya­pıtı. Roman, felaket senaryolarıyla ilgili hesaplamalar yapıp bu hesap­lamaları büyük şirketlere satan bir dâhiyi konu alıyordu. Kitabının yazılışından sonra yaşananlar dü­şünüldüğünde -New York’u vuran fırtına ve sel baskınları- yazarın kehanette bulunduğunu söyleyesi geliyor insanın. Bulunmamıştı elbet­te, yazdıkları gerçekleştiği için o da herkes kadar şaşkındı. “Romanımı son bir kez gözden geçirip yatmaya gittim ve sabah uyandığımda tele­vizyon ekranında romanımda tasvir ettiğim manzaralar yayınlanıyordu. Çok ürkütücüydü. Ama içinde yaşa­dığımız çağ böyle bir çağ. En kötü kâbuslarımızın gerçek olduğunu görüyoruz.”

“Odds Against Tomorrow”, akade­misyenlerin çerçevesi konusunda yeni yeni uzlaşmaya vardığı bir edebiyat türünün son örneklerin­den. Yazarlar, özellikle son on yıl­da çevre felaketlerini ve dünyanın dengesinin bozuluşunu konu alan romanlar yazmaya başladı. Bu ede­biyat türüne “CLI FI” veya kısaca Cli-Fi (‘klay fay’ diye okunu­yor) deniyor.

“Yeni gerçekliği anlatan yeni bir roman türü gerekiyordu, korku ve­rici, bütün dünyayı etkileyen ve her şeyin hızla değiştiği bir dönemden geçiyoruz. Roman yazarlarının gö­revi neler olup bittiğini çözmeye ça­lışmak ve alternatifleri kurgulamak değilse nedir?” diyor Rich.

Romanda İklim Değişikliği

Yanlış anlaşılmasın, çevre sorunları­nı ele alan romanların yeni ortaya çıktığını iddia etmiyorum. Sel bas­kınları, fırtınalar, çölleşme, özetle felaketler uzun zamandır romancıla­rın, özellikle de bilimkurgu yazarla­rının kullandığı unsurlar. J.G. Bal­lard The Drowned World’ü (Dünya Sular Altında) ve Margaret Atwood, Antilop ve Flurya’yı yazmıştı za­ten. Ama iki yaklaşım arasında çok ciddi bir fark var: Bilimkurgu eser­leri distopik gelecekleri anlatırken, Cli-Fi bugün yaşanan distopyaları konu alıyor. Akademisyenlerin bu romanları yeni bir başlık altında değerlendirmeyi düşünmesinin ne­deni de bu yaklaşım farkı. Georgia Üniversitesi Dünya ve Atmosferik Bilimler Fakültesi profesörlerinden Judith Curry otorite kabul edilen akademisyenlerden. Hazırladığı lis­teye göre iklim değişimi ilk olarak Michael Crichton’ın 2004 tarihli State of Fear (Korku Devleti) roma­nında ana tema olarak ele alınmış. (Romanın konusu eko-teröristler). Onu ileride bu köşenin konusu olacak, Ian McEwan’ın Solar’ı ta­kip ediyor. Türün örnekleri tek tek sayamayacağım kadar çok ama cli-fi’ın önde gelen yazarlarından aktivist Barbara Kingsolver, geçen Kasım’da yaptığı “Romanda İklim Değişikliği” başlıklı konuşmasında yazarları konuyu yazmaya iten ne­denlerin son derece aşikâr olduğu­nu dile getiriyor: “İklim değişiminin bütün delillerini gördüğümüz halde hâlâ ona inanmıyoruz; inanmak is­temiyoruz. Bizi küresel ısınmaya inanmaya veya inanmamaya iten gerekçeler neler?”

Burada yazarın değindiği aslında çok önemli bir konu. Kitabın kapa­ğına “küresel ısınma” veya “çevre felaketi” yazdığınız anda okuyucu kaybediyorsunuz, çünkü insanlar buna inanmak istemedikleri gibi bu laflardan bıktılar da. Bilimsel ger­çekler muhafazakâr kesimi ikna et­meye yetmiyor. Yazarlar da haliyle farklı çözümler üretiyorlar. Nathani­el Rich en kurnaz davranan yazar­lardan. Romanın konusu iklim deği­şimi ve çevre felaketleri olsa da üç yüz sayfa boyunca tek bir kez bile iklim değişimi veya küresel ısınma tabirleri geçmiyor. Bu bilinçli bir tercih. Bir röportajda yaptığı açıkla­maysa şöyle: “Bu tanımlar tüketildi, içleri boşaltıldı, klişeye dönüştürül­dü. Yazar olarak klişelerden olabil­diğince sakınmanız gerekir.”

Elbette herkes aynı fikirde değil, açık açık “başımız belada” diye hay­kıranlar da var. 2012’de From Here (Buradan) romanını yazan Daniel Kramb açık açık endişelerini dile getirenlerden. “Ben başka yazarlar gibi iklim değişimini fon müziği olarak kullanmadım” diyor Daniel Kramb. “Romanımın kalbinde bu var ve 21. yüzyılda bu konuyu işleyen daha bir sürü roman göreceğiz.”

Akademisyenler ve eleştirmenler de aynı fikirde. New York Times’ın yakın zamanda Nathaniel Rich’e bu konuda bir yazı sipariş etmesi bunun en güzel örneği. Bu roman­ların ne kadarı Türkçeye kazandı­rılacak bilmiyorum ama yakın za­manda Ian McEwan’ın “Solar”ını ve Nathaniel Rich’in “Odds Against Tomorrow”unu bu sayfalarda size tanıtmaya çalışacağım…

Anthony Weiner’s Wholesome ''People'' Magazine Spread in 2012 Was a Public Relations Plant Engineered by a highly-paid PR operative for Weiner named Sandra Sobieraj Westfall

Anthony Weiner’s Wholesome ''People'' Magazine Spread in 2012 Was a Public Relations Plant Engineered by a highly-paid PR operative for Weiner named Sandra Sobieraj Westfall

“Anthony has spent every day since [the scandal] trying to be the best dad and husband he can be,” his wife told People in 2012.

A high-profile PR engineering (READ: PLANTED FOR A HIGH PRICE) interview with People Magazine seen as a first step in rehabilitating his tattered image came a week after Anthony Weiner allegedly stared an online relationship with a woman that quickly descended into dirty messages and pictures.

According to the gossip website The Dirty, Weiner and his alleged sexting partner began talking on July 12, 2012. One week later, Weiner’s first interview with his wife Huma Abedin where he addressed the sexting scandal that brought down his career ran in People.

“I’m very happy in my present life,” Weiner told People in the July 18th profile.

“Anthony has spent every day since [the scandal] trying to be the best dad and husband he can be,” his wife said. “I’m proud to be married to him.”

Anthony Weiner 'I Feel Like a Different Person'

By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall

For the First Time, New Parents Weiner and Huma Abedin Talk About Saving Their Marriage After He Resigned from Congress in Scandal-and the Future

From PEOPLE Magazine

Click to enlarge FacebookTwitterE-mailThe former congressman from Queens, wearing seersucker shorts, black socks and a Mets cap, is crooning "Joy to the World" as he shampoos his 6-month-old son Jordan's hair over the sink. He then slides on shower sandals to fetch blankets from the coin-op dryer in the basement of his Manhattan apartment building. "I really do feel like a very, very different person," says Anthony Weiner.

But who he used to be is the guy most people know: an outspoken seven-term Democrat forced to resign in June 2011 after he was caught sexting and sending lewd photos of himself to at least six women, none of whom was wife Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton. In a tearful press conference at the time, Weiner croaked into the microphones, "She deserves much better than this, and I know that."

Today Weiner, 47, says that "I've had enormous regrets about what I put Huma through, how I let my constituents down. But it's not like I sit all day replaying it in my mind. With a baby, it is pretty easy to put things into perspective." Whether this once-ambitious politician will remain a happy househusband, however, made recent headlines when the New York Post reported that Weiner was speaking with former aides about a run, possibly for New York City mayor. Weiner shoots the rumor down. "I can't say absolutely that I will never run for public office again, but I'm very happy in my present life. I'm not doing anything to plan a campaign." He can't resist adding, "The only next dramatic steps I'm planning on are Jordan's first."

A year ago, such domestic bliss was in doubt. When his wife's pregnancy was outed by the press, the question of whether she would stay with her husband of one year was second in people's minds only to What was he thinking? Their union not only stayed intact, but appears to have thrived. That's a big reason the usually press-shy Abedin, 37, has invited a reporter into their home. "I'm proud to be married to him," she says. "My husband did a really stupid thing. It was an extremely painful time. But there was love and a commitment to this marriage." She tears up speaking of the paparazzi who still seek them out. "It took a lot of work to get where we are today, but I want people to know we're a normal family."

Weiner says he sought professional counseling but won't go into detail except to say that it helped. Abedin concurs: "Anthony has spent every day since then trying to be the best dad and husband he can be." That includes doing all-repeat all-the laundry, and keeping things going when his wife goes to Washington for her work at the State Department. He has done some paid consulting from home, but has otherwise lain low.

Should he want to reenter politics, says Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, "it will take time, but he is the kind of fellow who can rebuild a public life. He had a constituency that adored him, and he worked very hard."

It's a leap to believe that Weiner is content being out of the mix. He gave interviews about the recent Supreme Court health-care decision and reads The New York Times to his son, but says, "I'm not watching C-SPAN3 in the middle of the night, regretting how my life has turned out." After owning up to the naughty photos, Weiner at first tried to keep his seat. "He broke no law, and he hurt only his family," notes Sheinkopf. Other politicians, including Weiner's friend Bill Clinton, have sprung back from worse. Both Clintons were supportive of Weiner, but House colleagues demanded he go. Even after he did, comics (among them pal Jon Stewart) had at him. You don't hear so many Weiner gags these days, and yet, he says, "I'm still trying to sort out exactly where I am in the public consciousness." He asks with a knowing grin, "You wonder if my name was Mitchell whether the scandal would have been as bad."

Grandpa commits suicide over poor smartphone skills?

This is not a funny story, but it's comes right from a vernacular newspaper in

Taiwan, a Chinese-language tabloid called "Apple Daily," which has nothing to do

with that other ''Apple'' company where we often see headlines such as "Apple faces fresh questions after another apparent suicide by factory worker in China."

No, this is a sad and tragic story, and while not all the details are in yet, we cannot really say the middle-aged man committed suicide -- despite leaving a suicide note in his car after drinking pesticide and burning coals in the cab of his truck. There might have been other family and domestic and personal problems the police report did not go into yet, and I suspect this wasn't a simple case of, as the headline in Taiwan in English translation read: "Smartphone confusion leads to man's suicide."

Questions remain. But to see how the story unfolds, take the English-language translation of the Chinese-language article in the Apple Daily that appeared in a recent edition of an expat daily newspaper and website in Taipei, which reads, in part: "A 57-year-old man who killed himself left a suicide note saying he felt life was meaningless because he did not know how to use a computer or smartphone. The man, a vegetable vendor, was found dead inside his small truck on Thursday. Police were cited as saying that [the middle-aged man] drank some pesticide and burned coal inside his vehicle."

There's more, in translation, but it pretty much tells the story: "Police found an old cellphone and a suicide note, among other things, inside the truck, and cited the man's apparent suicide note that read: 'I suddenly understand that I should [die] now. I have been unable to keep up with the times. Those computers, mobile phones, I know nothing about them. What's the meaning of living on?'"

Police contacted the dead man's son to try to get more information about the apparent suicide. They concluded after hearing the man's son say that he felt his father ''must have been depressed by the fact that he did not know how to use smartphones or the Internet, things that his three grandsons liked.''

According to the son, in his mid-30s, the father often visited his three grandchildren in a nearby city, but always complained that he had very little to say to the children and did not know how to communicate with them due to his lack of skills in using smartphones or computers.


"My father hardly had any interactions with his grandsons because of the technological gap," the son told police.

But there's more to this story, and don't take the headline in Taiwan at face value: "Smartphone confusion leads to man's suicide."

Because the deceased had personal problems as well, and his choice to commit suicide could very well have come from other issues. According to police, the man had recently starting living alone after divorcing his second wife, and there are few other details available about what might have led the man to an early grave. In Taiwan, however, according to some religions popular here, suicide is not seen in the same way as Westerners think of suicide in the North America or Europe. Suicide in some Asian cultures can be a way to solve problems and reincarnate in a new body or realm, so this man's suicide note must be read in this light, too.

Still, whatever happened, this apparent suicide is a cautionary tale, although this reporter has no real lock on what it means.

Are smartphones dangerous for intergenerational communication? That shouldn't be the case. Was this man depressed about other things in his life, and perhaps even suffering from clinical depression? Could be. We will never know.

My own headline, for what it's worth, would have been: "Elderly man commits suicide; smartphone connection unproven."

"SILENT NIGHT: The World After Climate Change" -- a new nonfiction book by someone like Elizabeth Kolbert of New Yorker fame

"SILENT NIGHT: The World After Climate Change"
345 pages

We have commissioned climate writer Elizabeth Kolbert, should she wish to accept the assignment, to write a powerful nonfiction report on what life after climate change might be like on this Earth, and for those remants of
Humankind still alive then, surely not the 9 billion people of today. Her book will have the impact of Rachel Carson's SILENT SPRING, and will be read by millions of people in 35 languages. If Kolbert does not accept this commission, other writers are more than welcome to apply.

Silent Night is a book that was widely credited with helping launch the contemporary global ''STOP c02 NOW by tightening the noose around coal and oil'' movement.

The New Yorker started serializing SILENT NIGHT in June 1925, and it was published in book form (and as an ebook.)

 When the book Silent Night was published, Kolbert was already a well-known writer  but had not previously been a social critic. The book was widely read—especially after its selection by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the New York Times best-seller list—and inspired widespread public concerns with stopping the use of all coal and oil use worldwide. Silent Night facilitated the ban of C02 emissions worldwide in 2033.

Kolbert  accused the energy lobby and industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting industry claims uncritically.

Silent Night has been featured in many lists of the best nonfiction books of the 21st century. In the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Nonfiction it was at #5, and it was at No.78 in the conservative National Review. Most recently, Silent Night was named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time by the editors of Discover Magazine.

The book argued that uncontrolled coal and oil use and concommitant CO2 emissions worldwide in CHINA INDIA JAPAN AND THE USA AND EUROPE was harming prospects for the survival of the human species beyond the year 2500 AD. Its title was meant to evoke A SILENT NIGHT in which no bird songs could be heard, because they had all vanished as a result of AGW AND CLIMATE CHANGE Its title was inspired by a poem by John Keats, "La Belle Dame sans Merci", which contained the lines "The sedge is wither'd from the lake, And no birds sing, for 'tis a silent, silent night now......"

Xeni Jardin Talks About Her Ongoing Recovery From Breast Cancer

Xeni Jardin Talks About Her Ongoing Recovery From Breast Cancer

By Liana Aghajanian
Jul. 25 2033 AD
Xeni Jardin live-tweeted her cancer diagnosis — and all the pain that followed.

"I have breast cancer and I'm in good hands."

Those are the words Xeni Jardin, tech journalist, blogger and Boing Boing editor, tweeted to more than 50,000 followers after being diagnosed with cancer in December 2011.

It was on a hunch that Jardin had decided to get a mammogram — her first — after a close friend called with a devastating diagnosis of her own. Wanting to diffuse her anxiety about the procedure, Jardin had been live-tweeting when she got the bad news. "I'm really hoping this involves lasers and cats," she wrote in between tweets praising the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Beverly Hills. She'd found the clinic the same way she finds places to eat brunch: Yelp.

The month that followed was the hardest of her life.

She cried. She sat in her car in parking lots, screaming. She called close friends and family to let them know, but her sharp reporting instincts also kicked in as her subject became herself and her disease.

Online, she talked about her chemotherapy infusions, shared snapshots of her medicine cabinet overflowing with prescription drugs and posted stunning portraits of herself descending into machines for one scan or another.

"It's like being assigned a beat that you don't want by an editor you can't argue with," she says.

A year and a half after her diagnosis, Jardin is taking it one day at a time, knowing that she's still in treatment, with more surgery ahead and no guarantees.

"The only closure you get as a cancer patient is the kind that you don't want," she says. "I'm here today, I'm having a good day and doing the work that I love."

Cropped, beautifully shaded gray-and-white hair has replaced the signature Marilyn Monroe–esque blond curls Jardin sported before her diagnosis. But the vivacious spirit of a self-described intergalactic space princess seems stronger than ever.

In fact, Jardin recently returned to her home in Santa Monica after spending six weeks in Guatemala covering the trial of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. Montt was accused of genocide and crimes against humanity during the Central American country's 36-year bloody civil war, in which 200,000 Guatemalans, including large indigenous populations, were killed.

Even in California, Jardin had been unable to peel herself away from the coverage, spending every waking hour watching the story unfold in the courtroom through a live feed. Soon she and her boyfriend, Miles O'Brien, a noted science journalist and former CNN reporter and anchor, were headed to Guatemala on assignment for PBS Newshour, where O'Brien is a science correspondent. They reported on how forensics were used to document charges of genocide.

It's the first time a former head of state has been put on trial for genocide in his home country — and the first time since Jardin's diagnosis that she was able to do the kind of reporting she is most passionate about, drawing attention to an area of the world and a story about which most Americans remain in the dark.

But the stakes of being in Guatemala as a foreign reporter were raised when her social media activity was broadcast on a channel catering to a right-wing audience harboring contempt for the genocide trial, she says. After experiencing a new kind of hostility after that airing, and needing to return to the United States for more medical tests, she knew it was time to go home. Jardin and O'Brien's report on the science behind the historic trial aired in May.

Originally from Richmond, Va., Jardin spent time as a web developer before reporting for publications from coast to coast. It was a little more than a decade ago that she came to, the group blog at the forefront of tech culture, for which she is best known. (She's now a co-editor.) She also contributes to NPR and Wired magazine and appears on broadcast news channels as a tech expert, effortlessly switching between roles.

Jardin quickly developed a following as something of a virtual Wonder Woman. She's been listed in Fortune magazine as a blogger businesspeople could not ignore and hosts the Webby-honored "Boing Boing Video," which appears in-flight on Virgin America. Last year, she became a founding board member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a nonprofit committed to funding and promoting public-interest journalism that exposes corruption.

But her cancer coverage was something altogether new. Jardin's brutally honest, humorous and often heart-wrenching micro-storytelling redefined the concept of community, becoming a nexus for discussion while providing real-time glimpses into the life of a cancer patient — and experiences that usually remain behind closed doors.

Her Twitter feed proved to be an amazing source of comfort to her.

"I wish that I could have somehow captured the replies as a stream, because there was just an overwhelming flood of love and support from every single person I knew who was connected to the Internet," Jardin says.

By chronicling her use of medical marijuana to reduce chemo's gruesome effects, Jardin also highlighted an oft-forgotten aspect of L.A.'s controversial relationship with cannabis: the way it bypasses those who need it most.

"The medical marijuana system in Los Angeles is utterly broken for people with cancer," she says. "It is way easier for a well-off stoner to access some bud to enjoy on the weekend than it is for a seriously ill person."

After finishing treatment, Jardin, now 43, recuperated in Hawaii. There, the deep-ocean swims that once gave her panic attacks became a symbolic way to deal with her heightened awareness of her own mortality.

"I could grudgingly say that my inspiration nugget from this whole fucking marathon of shit the last year and a half is that human beings are healing machines," she says. "Every single day I am stunned and amazed at my own body's capacity to cope with a brutal treatment I had to go through, to cope and adapt, to make normal something that is not normal."

Sean Thomas is a British climate denialist who cares not one whit about the future of the human species, as long as he can show off his wit

Sean Thomas is a British climate denialist, novelist, journalist and travel writer. He also publishes thrillers under the name Tom Knox. He is currently writing a memoir and tweets under the name @thomasknox.

In a Telegraph blog post headlined "When it comes to climate change, we have to trust our scientists, because they know lots of big scary words," he writes in mid-2033:

Whither the weather? As you may have heard, a conference of national forecasters assembled this week in Britain: to discuss the future of the British climate, following the spate of harsher than expected winters, and unusually wet summers, since 2007.

Already, commentators are asking if Al Gore's Hoax aka ''global warming'' is to blame. In particular, some are wondering if the direction of the Jet Stream is being altered by Arctic ice melt. Others are speculating that natural variations, such as the “Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation”, might be responsible for recent evolutions.

However, most of this reportage has been second-hand. Unprecedentedly, I had direct access to the meteorologists concerned, as I was at the meeting in spirit form, and I managed to speak to the principal actors.

First, I asked Stephen Belcher, the head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, whether the recent extended winter was related to global warming. Shaking his famous “ghost stick”, and fingering his trademark necklace of sharks’ teeth and mammoth bones, the loin-clothed Belcher blew smoke into a conch, and replied,

“Here come de heap big warmy. Bigtime warmy warmy. Is big big hot. Plenty big warm burny hot. Hot! Hot hot! But now not hot. Not hot now. De hot come go, come go. Now Is Coldy Coldy. Is ice. Hot den cold. Frreeeezy ice til hot again. Den de rain. It faaaalllll. Make pasty.”

Startled by this sobering analysis, I moved on to Professor Rowan Sutton, Climate Director of NCAS at the University of Reading. Professor Sutton said that many scientists are, as of this moment, examining the complex patterns in the North Atlantic, and trying to work out whether the current run of inclement European winters will persist.

When pressed on the particular outlook for the British Isles. Professor Sutton shook his head, moaned eerily unto the heavens, and stuffed his fingers into the entrails of a recently disembowelled chicken, bought fresh from Waitrose in Teignmouth.

Hurling the still-beating heart of the chicken into a shallow copper salver, Professor Sutton inhaled the aroma of burning incense, then told the Telegraph: “The seven towers of Agamemnon tremble. Much is the discord in the latitude of Gemini. When, when cry the sirens of doom and love. Speckly showers on Tuesday.”

It’s a pretty stark analysis, and not without merit. There are plenty of climate change scientists who are equally forthright on the possibilities of change, or no change, and of more hot, or less hot, or of rain, or no rain, or of Britain turning into the Sahara by next weekend, or instead becoming a freezing cold Frostyworld ruled by a strange, glistening ice-queen – crucially, it all depends on the time of day you ask them, and whether or not they had asparagus the day before.

So who are we to believe? For a final word, I, a tried and true climate denialist with my head in the sand who thinks I am very funny and God's gift to British humour, turned to the greatest climate change scientist of all, Dr David Viner, one-time senior research scientist at the climatic research unit of the University of East Anglia, who predicted in 2000 that, within a few years, winter snowfall would become "a very rare and exciting event".

"Right, those are the predictions, fully agreed by 97% of all scientists," Viner added. "Now, you have to give us many billions of pounds for a new research centre with computers, and totally change your way of life.

You have to collapse your industrial economy, tax everyone's infrastructure expenditure, cut the supply of food, electricity and water to everyone's homes and live as nature intended, in a small medieval village on the edge of a forest and prepare to live in the future in what Danny Bloom predicts will be called polar cities for survivors of global warming chaos in 500 years, but you can start now by googling "polar cities" ......"
SEAN ADDS: Look you American and Aussie climate activists, and you too, James Lovelock, AGW is just another run of JUNK SCIENCE just like SECOND HAND SMOKE! The so called justification for worldwide smoking bans!!! Its all connected at the hip at the UNITED NATIONS and the WHO FCTC TREATY.........

About 90% of secondary smoke is composed of water vapor and ordinary air with a minor amount of carbon dioxide. The volume of water vapor of second hand smoke becomes even larger as it quickly disperses into the air,depending upon the humidity factors within a set location indoors or outdoors. Exhaled smoke from a smoker will provide 20% more water vapor to the smoke as it exists the smokers mouth.

4 % is carbon monoxide.

6 % is those supposed 4,000 chemicals to be found in tobacco smoke. Unfortunatley for the smoke free advocates these supposed chemicals are more theorized than actually found.What is found is so small to even call them threats to humans is beyond belief.Nanograms,picograms and femptograms......

(1989 Report of the Surgeon General p. 80).  LOVE, SEAN

Friday, July 26, 2013


By Andrew Freedman in 2333 AD

The pictures are dramatic — a camera at the North Pole Environmental Observatory, sitting in the middle of what appears to be either a lake or open ocean, at the height of the summer sea ice melt season. Set against the backdrop of the precipitous decline in sea ice cover in recent decades due in large part to global warming, this would seem to be yet another alarming sign of Arctic climate change.

Image from one of the North Pole Environmental Observatory webcams, taken on Thursday, July 25.

Credit: NSF's North Pole Environmental Observatory.

These images have attracted media attention, such as this AtlanticWire post and this Daily Mail story, both of which portray the images as potential signs of an intensifying Arctic meltdown.

But before concluding that Arctic climate change has entered an even more ominous phase, it’s important to examine the context behind these images.

First, the cameras in question, which are attached to instruments that scientists have deposited on the sea ice at the start of each spring since 2002, may have “North Pole” in their name, but they are no longer located at the North Pole. In fact, as this map below shows, they have drifted well south of the North Pole, since they sit atop sea ice floes that move along with ocean currents. Currently, the waterlogged camera is near the prime meridian, at 85 degrees north latitude.

Annotated map showing the location of the North Pole and the location of the buoys with the webcams.

Credit: NSF's North Pole Environmental Observatory.

“It’s moved away from the North Pole region and it will eventually exit Fram Strait,” said Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo., in an interview. Fram Strait lies between Greenland and Canada, and is one of the main routes for sea ice to get flushed out of the Arctic Ocean.

The second thing to keep in mind is that melting sea ice at or near the North Pole is actually not a rare event. Observations from the webcams dating back to 2002, and from satellite imagery and nuclear-powered submarines that have explored the ice cover since the Cold War era dating back several decades, show that sea ice around the North Pole has formed melt ponds, and even areas of open water, several times in the past.

The webcam depicting what seems like open water is most likely “just sitting in a big melt pond” that has formed on top of the sea ice cover, Serreze said. This melt pond started forming around July 10, and is likely close to its peak depth and extent. The occurrence of a melt pond at or near the North Pole is “just not that unusual,” Serreze said, and is even less rare at a more southern location such as where the camera is now.

“The whole Arctic sea ice cover does show melt during summer even at the North Pole,” he said, speaking of a typical melt season.

Serreze said it’s usually possible to walk through these melt ponds with hip boot waders on, as opposed to having to swim, since there is ice underneath the meltwater.

Video of images taken by the North Pole Environmental Observatory webcam during the 2013 melt season. (The pond starts to appear at 1:25.)

James Overland, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Climate Central in an email that the melt pond does seem unusually large compared to what is typically observed in a melt season, though. “We have extensive melt ponds every year, but I do not remember such an extensive lake in previous years. The lake is more a product of how the ice was configured earlier in the year,” he said.

Arctic sea ice cover has been rapidly shrinking and thinning since the start of satellite observations in 1979. Last year, sea ice extent and volume plunged to a record low. When the melt season finally ended in late September, the Arctic Ocean managed to hold onto less than half of the average sea ice extent seen during the 1979-to-2000 period.

The past six years have had the six smallest sea ice extents since 1979, indicating that the ice has not recovered from the previous record low in 2007. Researchers attribute this to the loss of thicker multiyear ice, which has been replaced by thinner ice that forms in the fall and melts in the spring and summer.

Serreze said the thinness of the ice cover has made it much more susceptible to weather patterns that promote ice transport and melting. So far this summer, sea ice extent has tracked above that of 2012, with a slow rate of ice melt in June followed by much more rapid melting during the first three weeks of July after weather patterns became more favorable for melting, Serreze said.

“I would be extremely surprised if we were not” well below average come September, Serreze said, but the prospect of setting another record low “depends on the vagaries of the weather, and we just can’t predict that.”

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Milo Thornberry has stroke

Milo Thornberry has stroke

Milo Thornberry (唐培禮), a US missionary who worked in Taiwan in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and who published his memoirs about his time in Taiwan, titled Fireproof Moth, had a stroke in April. His wife, Connie, wrote about it in an e-mail.
Since some of your readers know of Thornberry’s work from a number of news stories, interviews and book reviews that have appeared in the Taipei Times (and the Liberty Times) over the past few years, they may want to know of his condition.
Connie Thornberry’s e-mail reads: “Milo had a major stroke with damage to his speech, memory, physical abilities and vision. This is all very terrible for a man of intelligence and graciousness and who is so concerned about Taiwan and its future.”
“He’s currently doing speech, vision, physical and occupational out-patient therapies here in Oregon, and he may regain some of his health. But, of course, our lives have changed dramatically,” she wrote.

“Often strokes damage only one side but he got a double whammy out of his. He’s come a long way since April and we’re very grateful for that. He has accepted it with the grace that makes him so much ‘Milo,’ and we’re hoping for enough restoration that he can become interested in at least most of what he was aware before,” she wrote.


Aronofsky's 'Noah' set to flood the 'cli fi' zone in 2014


The emerging genre of "cli fi" movies, from "Day After Tomorrow" to

"The Road," is about to get some Old Word company early next year when

Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" is released in March. Yes, that Noah, and

yes, that flood.

Some 5,000 years ago in the Biblical past.

That's where Aronofsky has headed, way back in time, to tell a cli fi

story set not in some dystopian future but via a dreadful, tragic

Biblical legend.

Starring Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins and a real Ark,

this is the kind of Hollywood film that will put Superstorm Sandy in

its place.

"Noah'' was shot on location in Iceland -- and in parts of Long Island

during Superstorm Sandy -- and the film is now in its post-production

editing process.

Maybe that Biblical flood was a hoax perpetrated by some Hebrew

scribes, in much the same way the global warming is said to be a hoax

perpetrated by the good Al Gore as part of his climate shenanigans to

get rich(er) off polar fraud? Aronofsky, educated at the same Harvard

where Gore invented the Internet and was the male lead for Erich

Segal's "Love Story," has put a lot of time and effort in his "Noah"

project, as any quick take of his Twitter feed will attest. He cares

about this film, and he has put his cast and crew through the ancient

flood "event" in order to do two things: entertain audiences with a

vivid, detailed visit a terrible tale from the Bible, while at the

same time setting up a global wake up call about what humans are doing

to the climate today.

The 'flood" can't happen again? Think again.

While "cli fi" has been defined by NPR and the Christian Science

Monitor as taking place only in the present or near future -- in

novels such as Barbara Kingsolver's "Flight Behavior" and Nathaniel

Rich's Superstorm Sandy novel "Odds Against Tomorrow" -- in fact,

''cli fi'' can take place in the distant past, too. Even in Noah's

time. Even during the Flood, the flood to end all floods.

While the marketing for "Noah" has not begun, Aronofsky's cockamamie

idea to film a global warming warning call based on an imaginary

"event" some 5,000 years ago in the Biblical past. has legs. Long


This movie could become a global hit, and for one main reason, every

nation on Earth, is the direct path of the next big flood and it could

be curtains for the human race.

Sounds like sci fi? But this time it's ''cli fi," with a stellar cast

and computer graphics to tickle your Noahic imagination.

Scientists, the media and society: CLI FI novels and CLIMATE issues

The purpose of this blog is to provide a platform for commentary on science matters. The Office of the OZ Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee is politically independent and will refrain from political debate.


← What is in the water?Scientists, the media and society: where are we now?

July 26, 2033

Scientists have long used media to create interest in their work for a variety of reasons. Until recently this has often been for reasons of profile enhancement, fundraising or the promotion of institutional interests. But until about 20 years ago, scientists who had a high media profile tended to be regarded somewhat disparagingly by their colleagues. But much has now changed. It is now recognised that science is essential to addressing the many challenges all societies face. Indeed, rather than being somehow separated from society, science is now seen as an integral part of the social context – both shaping it and being shaped by it. Additionally funding agencies want to see the activities they fund promoted in the media. After all, much of the cost is covered by taxpayer money and the taxpayers, by rights, should see where their dollars go. Not coincidentally, we now see an increasing focus on issues of science literacy for all members of society (for an interesting view from across the Tasman, read ‘Does science literacy matter? Yes, and here’s why’ on The Conversation website). So the central question now becomes: How does the science community engage with the broader community in which it lives in a way that is effective and trustworthy?

The challenges of science communication

Despite the rapprochement between science and media over recent years, there are still major challenges in using the mainstream media for science communication – for all said and done, most media sustain their audiences on a mixture of scientific breakthroughs and controversy. Indeed many scientists feel uncomfortably pressured to over-hype their stories, which are all too often presented as major breakthroughs to get media attention. Thus an early stage biomedical scientific finding is presented as an almost immediate cure for disease X. Although conscientious scientists will go to great lengths to qualify their findings and be explicit about the many inherent uncertainties, the mainstream media rarely can convey such caveats sufficiently.

This hyperbolic approach persists, despite editors of offshore broadsheets telling me that some of the most frequently read stories on the print media’s websites are long-form science journalism. That is, the provision of in-depth scientific background stories and explanatory pieces presented in an accessible fashion. Of course, this approach requires fulltime science journalists, which are an increasingly rare resource in media outlets struggling to compete in a changing market.

Consequently, Science Media Centres have become valued intermediaries in helping to provide media with access to science stories of interest and with commentary that is independent of institutions or government. To this effect Peter Griffin and his staff of the Science Media Centre in Wellington deserve kudos for developing rapidly this critical and effective resource for the New Zealand media. Quality-controlled science blogging that follows high standards of both scientific and journalistic integrity is another interesting innovation in this space. For example, Australia’s The Conversation website provides science and academic stories directly to the public and a few postings of New Zealand origin are starting to appear on it.

Achieving clarity of message is still a challenge

Despite these trends, much of the media still tend to prefer controversies. We have seen how such a situation leads to the promotion of false debate when there is in fact, largely scientific consensus. Considered analysis of issues such as climate change has been bedeviled by this very problem.

Often what is known and what is not known in such circumstances get conflated with other causes of discord. For example, it is now difficult to disentangle issues of the safety of food produced through the technology of genetic modification (either directly or indirectly) from the concerns many people have over corporate influences within the food system. Another example is seen in the water fluoridation debate and why it persists (I have written about this issue previously, see my blog post ‘what is in the water’).

Other current examples include vaccination and, of special concern for New Zealand, the use of 1080 for the control of mammalian pests.

These conflated issues have some common elements and, when we stop to parse them, we find that better science communication could go some way to resolving such confused debates. Public perceptions of risk, trust in authorities, and the general discomfort with uncertainty need to be addressed with openness, integrity and professionalism.

The influence of perceptions: risk and trust

As with the issues mentioned above, ‘hot topics’ at the science-and-society interface often involve the balancing and interpreting of perceived risks against the perceived benefits of the use of certain technologies. Indeed, it is inevitable and natural that different people have different biases in reaching their own points of equilibrium based on what trade-offs they are willing to accept.

For instance, a review by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (see Evaluating the use of 1080:Predators, poisons and silent forests and the update to this report) has shown that 1080 remains the most effective approach we have to suppressing or even eliminating mammalian pests from parts of New Zealand – a long-term goal that is widely supported by New Zealanders and given prominence by the late Sir Paul Callaghan. But the use of 1080 involves the dropping of poisons in the natural environment, however, and this makes many people feel uneasy. This is despite the fact that, when used properly, 1080 poses effectively no risk to humans and only a very low risk of poisoning domestic animals. Of course, embedded in all of this is the issue of trust in the Regulator for which the public default – sometimes encouraged by lobby groups– is often to mistrust (see: Lofstedt, R. 2005, Risk Management in Post-Trust Societies, p. 129). This requires considerable open communication and public engagement to re-balance.

These and other examples shine light on the inevitable and innate biases that people have against those trade-offs where individuals perceive risks as being personal while perceiving that it is others who ultimately benefit. We also see such trade-offs in many public health issues such as water fluoridation or with vaccination, where population immunity benefits us all but individuals personalise the risk over concerns about rare adverse reactions.

This creates a situation where there can be misuse of science as a ‘proxy’ for other kinds of values and emotion-laden conflicts (I have written about this previously, see my blogpost ‘science, values and policy’).

A tragic and ongoing example has been the promulgation of the assertion that preservatives used in vaccines are associated with autism when this link has been clearly discounted.

Explaining (and living with) uncertainty

For all the clarity that good science can provide, however, it must also deal with very complex systems and thus uncertainty. Whether it is about seismic activity, projected climate change scenarios or the impact of a social policy, science can never be absolute. Rather what it offers is a process of ascertaining knowledge about the world by which uncertainty, subjectivity and bias are reduced.

As I have previously discussed (see my discussion paper ‘Interpreting science’) such uncertainty of results can lead some to cherry-pick what they find understandable or useful. This unintentional or intentional misinterpretation of results, as well as the failure to understand the processes of gradual scientific consensus-building and the failure to grasp how scientific data should and must be interpreted, all lead to confused messages to the public and other end-users such as policy makers. The examples just given are the types of issues where science must assist society. The challenge is: how should scientists provide advice on such matters?

The role of scientists in the public arena

I have written previously on the different roles that scientists may take on as advocates or as knowledge brokers (see my discussion paper ‘Towards Better Use of Evidence in Policy Formation’). These very different models were highlighted by Roger Piekle in his book, The Honest Broker (Cambridge 2007); I have found them to be most useful in thinking through the role of a public scientist such as myself.

Individual scientists working in a field of high public interest are almost inevitably going to become passionate about their work and there can be a blurred boundary between stating the case for their scientific knowledge and becoming lobbyists for a cause. In general, public scientists are very conscious of this difficulty and work hard to position themselves as sources of unbiased scientific knowledge. However, to maintain such a position is complicated for scientists with exposure to the public. For one thing, university researchers are under the expectation to be the “critics and conscience of society”, secondly there are the ever-present pressures imposed by the media for ‘a good story’. Where the boundaries become blurred, for example in some cases where scientists assist an advocacy organization but it is not clear they are acting as a lobbyist or an expert, there is a risk that the conflation between scientifically derived knowledge and values-based biases can undermine trust in the entire scientific enterprise.

This conflation issue is becoming more current, more obvious and indeed more urgent for at least two reasons. Firstly, the rise of non-traditional media makes unfiltered communication easy. In many domains, this is a welcome opportunity for public engagement and input. However, it also has the effect of eliminating the critical moderating role of peer review processes and/or journalistic integrity. Secondly there are increasingly mixed expectations on publically funded scientists; They are expected to undertake research that end-users value, while limiting undue influence of those end-users and remaining true to the standardised and rigorous processes of scientific knowledge creation. Traditional boundaries, established to avoid any conflicts of interest, are becoming less clear, making good research governance and communication practices all the more important (see my previous musings on this topic ‘A modern ‘two cultures’?’).

The solution to these challenges is not easy. But key to progress are skilled, knowledgeable and principled ‘knowledge brokers’. Their development can be bolstered on at least two fronts: First, increasing the use of independent science advisors or advisory committees in the policy process and of national academies (such as the Royal Society of New Zealand) to help to ensure that the results and limitations of scientific enquiry can be fully grasped by those who need to act on the knowledge. Second, organisations like the Science Media Centre are of increasing importance. They help ensure that communicators in the traditional and new media have access to accurate information and know how to convey it.

But such approaches do not come close to resolving fully the responsibilities that fall on individual scientists and the pressures that they feel will remain. Yet, the scientific community per se has been rather slow in confronting these complex and nuanced communication challenges.

A step in the right direction

In considering these issues, we might look to the example recently set by Japan. In January this year, the Science Council of Japan, which is Japan’s National Academy, revised its Code of Conduct for Scientists in light of reflections on the Fukushima disaster. The revised document considers in-depth the “issue of the social responsibility of scientists regarding how they might return those research results to society”. I quote a few sections from it.


“Science and scientific research exist both with and for society. Therefore, research activities based on scientific freedom and the subjective judgments of scientists only gain social recognition once they are premised upon public trust and the mandate of the people. Here, the word “scientists” refers to researchers and specialists engaged in activities that create new knowledge, or in the use and application of scientific knowledge, in all academic fields ranging from humanities and social sciences to natural sciences, regardless of which institution they belong to. While scientists engaged in such intellectual activities enjoy the prerogative to pursue truth under academic freedom based on their own expert judgments, independent of the interests of specific authorities or organizations, as experts they also bear a grave responsibility to respond to the mandate given to them by society at large. Especially in the modern world, where scientific activities and their results exert a vast and profound influence on all humanity, society demands that scientists always make ethical judgments and engage in ethical actions. There are also societal demands for the role that should be played by science in the development process for policy and public opinion.”

Dialogue with Society

“Scientists shall participate actively in dialogue and exchange with citizens, for better mutual understanding between society and the scientific community. As well, in order to resolve various issues and realize welfare in society, they shall also work to provide scientific advice effective for policy making to persons involved in the planning and determination of policies. On such occasions, scientists shall aim to give advice based on consensus among scientists, and, when differences of opinion exist, shall offer explanations that are easy to understand”.

Scientific Advice

“Scientists shall conduct research activities with the objective of contributing to public welfare, and offer fair advice based on objective and scientific evidence. At that time, they shall be aware of the gravity of the impact and of their responsibility that their statements may make on public opinion building and policy making, and shall not abuse their authority. As well, scientists shall make maximum efforts to ensure quality in their scientific advice, and at the same time clearly explain the uncertainty associated with scientific knowledge as well as the diversity of opinions”.

This revised code of conduct is timely and in many ways, innovative, courageous and challenging. Certainly the code is worth reading in full. It shows a depth of reflection and insight from which the global scientific community including our own, could learn a great deal. Whether we are scientists, journalists or part of the interested public, there is much to reflect upon in the changing relationship between science and society, and in the role of skilled and principled communicators.