Margaret Atwood’s Climate Fiction Is Now Our Reality

Nature, climate change, humanity & hope with Margaret Atwood

Humanity and nature, intertwined

Photo by Mika Matin on Unsplash

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

Climate change is people change too

Fighting forest wildfires. Credit: US Department of Agriculture / Climate Visuals

“There will be a bill: the cost will be high, not only in money but in human lives. The laws of chemistry and physics are unrelenting, and they don’t give second chances. In fact, that bill is already coming due.”

Writing potential futures

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

“Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”

— Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

“The Year of the Flood is fiction, but the general tendencies and many of the details in it are alarmingly close to fact.”

“Other authorities would take over. These would at first be known as thugs and street gangs, then as warlords. They’d attack the barricaded houses, raping, pillaging and murdering. But soon even they would run out of stolen food. It wouldn’t take long — given starvation, festering garbage, multiplying rats, and putrefying corpses — for pandemic disease to break out.”

Writing hopeful futures

Photo by Karsten Würth (@karsten.wuerth) on Unsplash

“Let us say that it is the yellow brick road we see before us, unless we change our wicked ways.”

“ If you say, “You’re doomed and you’re gonna cook,” all those who might otherwise try to help are going to instead run away very fast, or rape, pillage, loot and party. Hope is what causes you to get up in the morning and make an effort. So I’m all for hope.”

What can we learn from Margaret Atwood’s writing on climate change?

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