For most people, climate change is just a myth or something they believe will not happen in their lifetime. News programs and informative television shows tend to stay away from this topic because to them it is not important. When it is discussed people are presented with a lot of facts, but are not shown the effects from it that affect their everyday life. In the article “Personal Stories About Global Warming Changes Minds,” the author Heidi Cullen argues that to engage and teach people about climate change one must give the readers/viewers personal stories that they can connect with emotionally.
The hort story “Diary of an Interesting Year” by Helen Simpson, applies similar thoughts that Cullen had when writing her story. Simpson writes about a young couple in a future where the world is falling to ruins due to the impacts of climate change. It allows readers to connect with the narrator on an emotional level because the story is written as a diary and the narrator leaves nothing to the imagination with what happens to her throughout the story.
Though the story is fictional, it depicts events that would not be too far out of reach to happen. Diary of an Interesting Year” illustrates Cullen’s assertions about ersonal stories being an effective cli-fi because it lets readers develop an emotional connection and establish an understanding about climate change. Personal stories help readers connect with and ponder the events that these people/ characters’ experience in the stories being told.
Cullen continuously makes references that, “It [is] the personal stories that [make] the issue of climate change hit close to home for many viewers. Readers react more strongly to events occurring in the world when they see it actively affecting others. This triggers them to want to bring some sort of change to fix these njustices. This serves as an engaging and informative method to get her point across to the readers. Simpson similarly demonstrates this idea in her story not only in the telling, but also by putting it in the format of a diary. Readers are more apt to connect with this format because diaries are where the writer is the most honest with their thoughts, emotions, and experiences.
Throughout the story, the narrator does not hold anything back when talking about her dark thoughts and the horrific events she experiences. She frequently talks about not wanting a child, but as the story progresses she is raped and ecomes pregnant. Instead of carrying the baby to term, she alludes to the possibility of attempting to abort the child. “They used to throw themselves downstairs to get rid of it. The trouble is, the gravel wasn’t deep enough, plus the bramble bushes kept breaking my fall,” (Simpson 113).
Instead of hiding the fact that she tried to abort her child, she remains open and honest about it mentioning one of the methods she tries to use to rid herself of the baby. The emotional intensity of this event engages the readers to the point that they put themselves in the narrator’s hoes and question their own morals on the actions they would take if they were in that same situation. This establishes a deep emotional connection and sympathy between the reader and narrator. Writers throughout history have used this idea of creating emotional attachments between readers and stories to create a change in their society.
““”Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “The Jungle” moved people to demand action because of their unique ability to weave together the emotional, rational and moral threads around fraught topics like slavery, poverty and dangerous working conditions,” claimed Cullen. These stories show the readers the atrocities occurring in a way they could sympathize with. The main characters in “Diary of an Interesting Year” struggle to live in this new poverty stricken world. They receive rationings from the soldiers running the camp where their home resides and must barter to obtain what items they need.
The soldiers also bring in people from other places and move them into the homes at the camp. “We’ve got a Spanish group of eight. A bit much since we only have two bedrooms,” (Simpson 106). No one has say in where they live, nor who gets to live with them. This is similar to events that occurred in history, such as during the Holocaust when the people of Jewish faith were forced out of their own homes and put into other people’s homes that were too small to fit such a large number of people.
The correlation between the government forcing peo similar actions during the holocaust were made on purpose to help readers understand that this event, though fictional in the story, happened in real-life and can happen again. Even though climate change is occurring people still deny its’ existence even though the effects are clear all over the world. Climate change and its associated effects – rising seas, acidifying oceans, species extinction and increasingly extreme weather – can evoke strong feelings including anxiety, fear, denial and even despair,” stated Cullen.
It can easily be observed in current events that an abhorrent amount of our own population, and even our leaders, are still in denial about climate change and into the homes of others and the the effects of their actions on the environment. Humans harm the planet with toxic emissions from cars and the burning of fossil fuels, and they cut down forests which in turn destroys abitats for animals causing them to become extinct. When reading “Diary of an Interesting Year” the young couple experience the consequences of these actions hands on.
They must deal with “air like filthy soup, plus [they are] supposed to wear [their] face masks in bed too,” (Simpson 102). The air quality has become so poor that they need to wear face masks to filter out the filthy air and the diseases that are floating around. Another issue the couple face is the lack of animals to scavenge and eat. “No creatures left except squirrels, rats and pigeons, unless you count the insects,” (Simpson 109). Humans ave completely wiped out most of the animals in the area. The creatures were either killed for food or died from the diseases that are spreading rapidly in the air and water.
The rivers and streams the people and animals once received clean water from are “all toxic – [from] fertilizers, typhoid, etc. ,” (Simpson 108). Unfortunately, what animals were left before most likely died from drinking out of these contaminated rivers. Many species today, such as elephants, turtles, and numerous others, are going extinct at a rapid pace due to people hunting them illegally and destroying their habitats. This is significant because nimals not only provide humans a means of food for survival, but they also help maintain the balance of life which is vital to the existence of our planet.
They help pollinate the plants that give humans life by taking in carbon and releasing oxygen for us to breathe. The contamination of water and the air followed by the extinction of the animals show readers what is going to happen if we do not start making change because these very things are happening right now. “Diary of an Interesting Year” is the most effective story to illustrate the claims Cullen makes throughout her article. The short story connected on an motional level with readers by being written as a diary and not holding back on the awful thoughts and events that happened to the narrator.
Even though climate change was not in the forefront of the story, the after effects the character’s experience brought the topic to life for the readers because it related back to events that have happened or are happening now making the story that more real. It made readers really connect and question themselves when they imagined being in this situation. Per Cullen’s views in her article, this story would be a very effective Cli-Fi that will hopefully bring positive change to the world.