The Culture Wars of Climate Change

60 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2020

See all articles by Matthew Rimmer

Matthew Rimmer

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Date Written: June 1, 2015


Of late, there has been a growth in cultural expression about climate change – with the rise of climate fiction (‘cli-fi’); art and photography responding to changes in nature; musical anthems about climate change; plays and dramas about climate change; and environmental documentaries, and climate cinema. Drawing comparisons to past controversies over cultural funding, this paper considers the cultural wars over climate change. This article considers a number of cultural fields. Margaret Atwood made an important creative and critical contribution to the debate over climate change. The work examines Ian McEwan's novel, Solar, a tragi-comedy about authorship, invention, intellectual property, and climate science. After writing a history of Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have experimented with fiction – as well as history. This article focuses upon artistic works about climate change. It analyses James Balog’s work with the Extreme Ice Survey, which involved photography of glaciers under retreat in a warming world. The work was turned into a documentary called Chasing Ice. It also considers the artistic project of 'to transform the human rights and environmental issues connected to climate change into powerful art that gets people to stop, think and act.' The paper examines musical storytelling in respect of climate change. The paper explores dramatic works about climate change including Steve Waters' The Contingency Plan, Stephen Emmott's Ten Billion, and Andrew Bovell's When the Rain Stops Falling and Hannie Rayson’s Extinction. The paper also examines the role of documentary film-making. It also considers the cinematographic film, Beasts of the Southern Wild. Such a survey will enable a consideration of the larger question of whether creative art about climate change matters; and whether it is deserving of public funding.

Keywords: Climate Change, Culture, Literature, Art, Music, Drama, Theatre, Television, Documentary, Film.

Suggested Citation

Rimmer, Matthew, The Culture Wars of Climate Change (June 1, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Matthew Rimmer (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, Queensland QLD 4000

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