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Climate Crisis and Narrative Forecasting

Ursula K. Heise

Seiten 495 - 507

Abstract: Forecast narratives are a staple of current engagements with the crisis of climate change in science, politics, and culture. From the regularly issued reports of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to Hollywood thrillers about coming natural disasters, forecasts of future statistical trends, weather events, and disasters seek to predict, warn about, and in the end often prevent the crises that accompany global increases in average temperatures. Fictional portrayals of climate change often prominently include scientists and scientific findings in their plots, though they do not necessarily reflect scientific predictions completely or faithfully: climate scenarios in short stories, novels, and films tend to focus on ice over heat, flood over drought, depopulated landscapes over demographic growth, and scarce resources over excessive consumption. These scenarios draw on narrative templates of disaster and apocalypse that have been associated with dread – as defined by analysts of risk perceptions – in particular cultures. They serve to drive home the dangers predicted by climate science regardless of strict adherence to scientific facts, but also risk turning into textual or visual cliches that no longer evoke fear. In some recent climate fictions, the figure of the scientist who forecasts the climate future has been replaced with an ordinary character or even mental patient who predicts disaster on the basis of intuitions, visions, or dreams, a narrative strategy that seeks to re-establish the dread that has been lost from many more conventional forms of climate storytelling, but also to open up alternative registers of knowledge about climate change.


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