Fern

Climate Story Worlds: An Introduction

Chaos is the new normal. Arctic weather in Texas, hell fires in Portland. In Impacts and Global Weirdings, we highlight present-day climate impacts, from hurricanes and wildfires to scorpion attacks and deadly algae blooms. (We are your favorite dinner party guests, right?!)

But climate chaos isn’t the only new kid in town. Climate conscientiousness is also becoming the new norm. Solar and wind energy are now affordable. Climate solutions and collective action are becoming part of everyday life, as shown in our Solutions section.

In Two Worlds, we portray two possible futures through the character of Maria: in one reality, we continue with business as usual and end up in a hellscape; in the other, we begin to take meaningful climate action now, creating positive change into the next century. (For a visual sense of how things are likely to shake out, take a look at the maps—including maps of sea level rise—at Climate Connection.)

Sometimes the changes in our surroundings are quietly uncanny—like a beach full of dead crabs. Sometimes they are eerily beautiful: the cherry blossoms in DC blooming earlier every year. What do you do with beauty that you know isn’t quite right?

And sometimes these changes can turn our world upside down. Like when an immigrant family loses their jobs because the winery where they worked picking grapes burned down, and they must decide whether to go back to Mexico. Or when a family on vacation in the Pacific Northwest has to stay inside their hotel room and fight it out because of the smoke (bottle episode!). Or maybe when a commune springs up on the Sony lot after crazy flooding subsides.

Impacts can show up meaningfully in the background as your protagonist drives past an empty reservoir or a burnt-out forest they used to hike.

Solutions, too, can be shown in the story world as protests, student strikes, or a community working together to protect their neighborhood from fossil fuel infrastructure. Maybe a love story starts in a community garden. Solutions can show up as a big set piece like a whole neighborhood bringing their food to a potluck during a power outage, or they can be set dressing like solar panels or an electric stove instead of gas.

To reflect the world as it really is, we need to see climate change in our story worlds. We hope you integrate it in any way that feels authentic to the stories you’re building.

PROMPT

What are the big and small ways your hometown has changed because of the climate crisis? How have your family members reacted to those changes in differing ways?

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