The Hunger Games' Dystopian Future, Brought to You by Global Warming
The Hunger Games is everywhere. It's an extraordinarily popular young adult series, and now it is destined to be an extraordinarily popular movie franchise. I haven't yet read the books or seen the film, but Joe Romm has an interesting post that explains the climate change-related backdrop the film is set to.
He points to this passage:
[The mayor] tells of the history of Panem. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained. The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts…”
If you're familiar with the premise of the books, then you know that this chaotic environment begot a society subject to rampant food shortages and an uber-powerful centralized government/aristocracy that organizes perverse 'games' wherein children fight to the death for the entertainment of the starving, disaster-plagued masses. This uniquely savage opiate of the people construct seems more a criticism of our media-saturated culture, and of the gross power of the haves versus the have-nots—and less of whatever was responsible for giving rise to such a world.
But it does seem to be climate change, or at least a phenomenon that mirrors the impacts scientists forecast to accompany it, that the author hints has defined the craven new world. And that makes sense. Climate change—and the projected fallout; rising seas, drought, and food shortages—should increasingly be shading in the horizons of modern dystopian cultural thought.
Sure, there's plenty of overlap with decades-old visions of the end times: resource scarcity has defined the dystopia since Malthus picked up a pen and rising seas are Old Testament apocalyptic. But such features are now understood to be grounded in scientific fact, and the anxiety that trickles out of that understanding may be coloring our cultural exports. Our writers, TV producers, filmmakers, and pop culture vanguard are thinking about climate change—even if our politicians aren't.
I'd like to think on this a bit, and come up with further examples before I go too deeply into sweeping generalization-making mode. So help me out: Which other recent fantasy/sci-fi/drama/etc vehicles use climate change to define their woeful worlds, even if only implicitly and not explicitly so?