So, we’ve all heard about “climate change”, and whatever that means to you, it’s a big deal. Today, September 20, 2019, millions of protesters across all seven continents took to the streets for the Global Climate Strike. Led by Greta Thunberg (the coolest 16 year old on the planet), the Global Climate strike speaks to youth all around the world looking for a better future on earth.
Since we cannot all be as revolutionary as Thunberg, we wanted to participate in a way that seems very…MoPOP. We have curated a list of pop culture films, books, and songs that feature the themes of climate change and environmental stewardship (or lack thereof), many of which connect to MoPOP's exhibits and collections. We hope that these things remind us all that this issue is not new, it is not just a “Gen Z” topic; but that it has been pertinent in our culture for centuries. The time for action is now.
Here are some films and authors that may inspire you to think a little deeper about the earth.
Bong Joon-Ho’s 2013 blockbuster depicts survivors of Earth’s second ice age brought on by human attempts to counteract climate change through trying to battle Mother Nature. It does not work. Now climate refugees live on a train that never stops, eating cockroach bars in a not-so-distant future. This film is about class wars, the role of humans in climate change, and Chris Evans.
One of the main themes in this cult classic is environmental degradation. The atmosphere has been heavily polluted by industrialization (sound familiar?). Real animals are rare, and most are extinct. Owls are extinct! Re-watch this Ridley Scott classic and pay attention to the state of the environment and the climate. Then google “Global Dimming.” Yikes.
Day After Tomorrow
Day After Tomorrow is a climate change classic and one of the most popular natural disaster films. While the effects of climate change won’t be that extreme (we hope), at least Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhall will be there to save us (we hope!!). This film may be a tad much, but a lot of the science and politics are spot-on. Like when Dennis Quaid speaks at the UN conference and the US VP all but shrugs it off. Or when the Larsen Ice Shelf collapses. It kind of feels like they took inspiration straight from a 2019 headline.
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe*
It’s winter all the time. C’mon.
Margaret Atwood* – Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), MaddAddam (2013)
Atwood has never been quiet about her environmental activism. She writes social commentary, which almost always includes the environment and the impact humans have on it. “Climate change will also mean social unrest”, yeah you said it Margaret!
Jules Verne* – The Purchase of the North Pole (1889), Paris in the Twentieth Century (1883)
Verne has a knack for imagining a rich and interesting environment. In The Purchase of the North Pole, the change in the Earth’s rotation will cause a slew of natural disasters. In Paris in the Twentieth Century, Europe sees a winter that results in famine and destruction. In both cases, technology has gone too far and messed too much with the natural balance of things. If there’s one thing Jules Verne would want you to know, it’s not to mess with Nature.
Octavia Butler* – Parable of the Sower (1993) and the Parable of the Talents (1998)
Water scarcity, natural degradation and fires, oh my! All of these are a result of Climate change in Butler’s novels. She uses real environmental problems to inform people about current issues and where they can lead if current habits do not change. This is not fiction, it is a powerful message about what could happen if we do not protect our world.
Frank Herbert* – Dune (1965)
Even though it was published in the 60’s, it’s more relevant than ever. Ecology is at the heart of this classic novel. Herbert is a pioneer in the climate fiction genre and should be regarded as such!
We hope that connecting the dots between your favorite film, actor, or author and climate change allows you to remember that none of us are removed from this. We all have a part to play in combating climate change, and if interacting with this blog posts inspires you do to a little more research on the subject, to call your local representative, or to simply follow @GretaThunberg on Twitter, you’ve made progress. If you need to be further inspired, here is a speech from the one and only Greta Thunberg herself. I’ll let her take it from here.
Note: * indicates a MoPOP artifact and/or MoPOP Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame member