(Sarah Knapton) Climate activists are targeting children through a new range of ‘cli-fi’ – climate fiction – novels which seek to highlight the dangers of global warming.
David Thorpe, author of the book Stormteller, said that children were more open minded and claimed that writers could ‘infect’ their minds with ‘seriously subversive viral ideas’.
He was speaking at the Hay Festival alongside ‘cli-fi’ authors George Marshall and Saci Lloyd.
“I like writing for children because their minds are still forming,” said Mr Thorpe whose novel is set in a coastal Wales ravaged by climate change and rising sea levels.
“They are asking all sorts of questions about how the world is working. Their minds haven’t been tainted by ideological bias, they are still open minded about it.
“You can try to be seriously subversive and try to infect their minds with these viral ideas that they can explore on their own to make it exciting. When I was that age I loved having my mind boggled.”
Saci Lloyd, author of the children’s book, The Carbon Diaries, said it was important to write engaging stories for children while keeping climate change as an underlying theme, so it was not obvious that it was a central topic.
The book chronicles a year of the life of Laura, a sixteen-year-old student in London, as the UK imposes carbon rationing in the wake of weather-related disasters.
George Marshall, founder of the Climate Ourtreach Information Network and author of Don’t Even Think About It: Why our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, also argued that it was important to appeal to people on an emotional level because they were bored by the science.
“We need to get climate change out of the rational side of our brain and into the emotional part because that is where attitudes are formed on the basis of our values,” he said.
However Mr Thorpe said that too many recent novels had shown dystopian future and warned it was important to offer children a message of hope.
“Over the last 10 years (children) have been reading nothing but dystopian of … Fiction. If we make them think the future is terrible what are we doing to them.
“Climate fiction has only just begun. Any book from now on will have to have something about climate change in it.”
Jane Davidson, the former minister for environment and sustainability in Wales who chaired the talk, said that ‘cli-fi’ was ‘taking off in a big way.’