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Chambers, AC., 2017.

Nature Strikes Back: Popular Science, Environmental Science/fictions, and Eco-activism

Output Type:Conference paper
Presented at:The 2nd International Conference on Anticipation
Venue:Senate House, London
Dates:8/11/2017 - 10/11/2017

Concerns over nature have been embedded into Hollywood films with increasing frequency over the past few years, and across a range of seemingly disparate genres. For example, religious epics such as Noah (2014) and Exodus (2015) have used science to help explain miraculous events (global flooding, plagues, and parting of the Red Sea), alongside more traditional science-based movies such as Interstellar (2014), and The Young Ones (2014), and earlier examples such as The Day After Tomorrow (2004), The Happening (2008), and WALLoE (2008). The 1970s cycle of eco-cinema was grounded in science futures and post-apocalyptic worlds that imagined the consequences of humanity's ecological failures. With films such as No Blades of Grass (1970), The Omega Man (1971), Silent Running (1972), Frogs (1972), Z.P.G. (1972), Soylent Green (1973), and Earthquake (1974) filmmakers responded to growing concerns over the irreparable damage being inflicted upon a fragile Earth.

Many 1970s eco-films were adapted from and inspired by both non-fiction and fiction literature that articulated fears about an unsettled future best by pollution, overpopulation, and a loss of natural resources. But more contemporary examples use fears of climate change and 'vengeful' natural forces across a broader spectrum of genres. 'Cli-fi' movies openly engage with social concerns about climate and taking the core concepts of dystopian science fiction and underpinning them with an environmentalist message. As climate change becomes an increasingly crucial topic of public discourse it will take an even deeper hold upon cinematic and literary narratives. Can cli-fi help environmentalism to gain a wider audience and political traction, or is this just the beginning of another cycle of a SF subgenre?