Global warming in popular culture

The issue of global warming, its possible effects, and related human-environment interaction have entered popular culture since the late 20th century.

Science historian Naomi Oreskes has noted, "There's a huge disconnect between what professional scientists have studied and learned in the last 30 years, and what is out there in the popular culture."[1] An academic study contrasts the relatively rapid acceptance of ozone depletion as reflected in popular culture with the much slower acceptance of the scientific consensus on global warming.[2]




This refers to the classification non-fiction, without regard to whether the books are accurate or intended to be accurate.

  • The End of Nature 1989 book by Bill McKibben
  • Our Angry Earth: A Ticking Ecological Bomb 1991 Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl book
  • The Carbon War: Global Warming and the End of the Oil Era 1999 book by former oil geologist Jeremy Leggett
  • The Discovery of Global Warming 2003 Spencer R. Weart book
  • Field notes from a catastrophe: man, nature, and climate change 2006.
  • An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It is a 2006 book by Al Gore released in conjunction with the film An Inconvenient Truth. Based on Gore's lecture tour on the topic of global warming this book elaborates upon points offered in the film. It "brings together leading-edge research from top scientists around the world; photographs, charts, and other illustrations; and personal anecdotes and observations to document the fast pace and wide scope of global warming."[6]
  • Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet 2007 book and National Geographic Channel film
  • Why We Disagree About Climate Change 2009
  • Requiem for a Species 2010
  • Merchants of Doubt 2010
  • This Changes Everything 2014


  • British author J. G. Ballard used the setting of apocalyptic climate changes in his first science fiction novels. In The Wind from Nowhere (1961) civilisation is reduced by persistent hurricane-force winds. The Drowned World (1962) describes a future of melted ice-caps and rising sea-levels, caused by solar radiation, creating a landscape mirroring the collective unconscious desires of the main characters. In The Burning World (1964) a surrealistic psychological landscape is formed by drought due to industrial pollution disrupting the precipitation cycle.
  • Mother of Storms (1994) by John Barnes describes a catastrophic, rapid climate and weather change brought on by a nuclear explosion releasing clathrate compounds from the ocean floor, based on the clathrate gun hypothesis.
  • The Carbon Diaries: 2015 by Saci Lloyd is set in a future where power is scarce and the UK has just begun carbon rationing. The story is told in diary form by Laura Brown, a teenager living in London in the aftermath of The Great Storm.
  • Far North (2009) by Marcel Theroux, in which the world is largely uninhabitable due to climate change. However, the novel implies that scientists got it wrong and that it were our actions combating global warming that irrevocably altered the climate.
  • Arctic Drift (2008) by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler. A thriller involving attempts to reverse global warming, a possible war between the United States and Canada, and “a mysterious silvery mineral traced to a long-ago expedition in search of the fabled Northwest Passage.”[7]
  • Fallen Angels (1991) by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn. Set in North America in the "near future", a radical technophobic green movement dramatically cuts greenhouse gas emissions, only to find that manmade global warming was staving off a new ice age.
  • Forty Signs of Rain (2004), Fifty Degrees Below (2005), and Sixty Days and Counting (2007) comprise the Science in the Capital series, a hard science fiction trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. Set primarily in Washington, D.C., abrupt climate change causes weather disasters in the US capitol and flooding of the fictional island nation of Khembalung. Main characters are American scientists, politicians, and Buddhist monks.[8][9]
  • Solar (2010) by Ian McEwan follows the story of a physicist who discovers a way to fight climate change after managing to derive power from artificial photosynthesis.[10]
  • State of Fear (2004) a techno-thriller by Michael Crichton concerning a group of eco-terrorists attempting to create "natural" disasters to convince the public of the dangers of global warming. The book is critical of the Scientific opinion on climate change and accusing its proponents of using fear tactics.
  • The Stone Gods (2007) by Jeanette Winterson. This novel opens on the planet Orbus, a world very like Earth, running out of resources and suffering from the severe effects of climate change. Inhabitants of Orbus hope to take advantage of possibilities offered by a newly discovered planet, Planet Blue, which appears perfect for human life.[11]
  • Tipping Point (2010) by Simon Rosser. A climate fiction action-thriller.
  • The Current (2014) by Yannick Thoraval is a novel about how greed and vanity contribute to global climate change.


  • The Contingency Plan (2009) by Steve Waters is a diptych of plays first performed at the Bush Theatre in London. They are set in the near future, at a time during which severe tidal surges begin to submerge parts of coastal Britain.


  • Years of Living Dangerously, nine-part 2014 Showtime documentary television series
  • The World Set Free (Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey), 2014 TV series episode
  • South Park spoofed global warming in five episodes: "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow", "Spontaneous Combustion", "Goobacks", "Smug Alert!" and "ManBearPig".
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation had two such global-warming themed episodes:
    • Episode "Déjà Q" (1990) - The crew suggests an artificial amplification of global warming using greenhouse gases to counter the cooling effects of dust from the impact of a moon on a planet.
    • Episode "A Matter of Time" (Season 5 EP 9) - A passing cloud of dust from an asteroid causes global cooling on a planet, the crew of the enterprise use a phaser to release frozen deposits of CO2 on the planet.
    • "The Inner Light" (1992) - Jean-Luc Picard lives a lifetime on a planet experiencing Global Warming and aridification. Ultimately, the climate change becomes serious enough to threaten all life on the planet. This Hugo Award winner is among the 5 most popular out of all 178 episodes in the TNG series.
  • The 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon has four episodes dealing with global warming. In Shredder's Mom, Shredder and Krang use a mirror fixed to a satellite to warm up the Earth if the political leaders do not surrender to them. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles get help from General Yogure to stop them. In Northern Lights Out, a man named Eric Red in Norway plans to melt the polar ice cap and flood all the coastal cities on the Earth by blowing up underground volcanoes, which will make it "easy" for Eric Red and his gang to take over the Earth. In A Real Snow Job, set in the Alps in Austria, Krang and Shredder use a Zoetropic wave device to melt the worlds' ice, flooding the coastal cities and making the Earth easy for Krang and Shredder to take over. In Too Hot to Handle, Vernon Fenwick's nephew Foster has an invention that brings the Earth closer to the Sun, a "Solar Magnet".
  • The 1980s Transformers animated series had at least one global-warming themed episode: "The Revenge of Bruticus". There, the Combaticons (a faction of the series' main villains, the Decepticons, created by rebel Decepticon Starscream) use the Space Bridge device to hurl Earth toward the Sun, hoping to destroy the Earth and all enemies. The Autobots are forced to help the humans endure the heat while putting aside their differences with the Decepticons in a race against time to restore Earth to its natural orbit.
  • The TV series Utopia is a violent thriller about a fictional conspiracy that has a number of secret agents embedded in key places in government and industry. The conspiracy, known as "The Network", seeks to frighten the populace into taking a vaccine which will, as a side-effect, cause mass infertility. Their aim in doing so is to reduce the number of humans on the planet, in order to tackle climate change, resource shortages and other environmental issues.

Comic books

Video games

  • Civilization II is a strategy game released in 1996, in which the pollution created by industrial production and transportation, if left unchecked, leads to desertification.
  • Fuel (2009) is a racing video game set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by extreme weather fueled by global warming.
  • In 2008, the TamaTown website featured a game that taught children how to prevent global warming.

See also


  1. Sandi Doughton (October 11, 2005). "The truth about global warming". The Seattle Times.
  2. Sheldon Ungar, "Knowledge, ignorance and the popular culture: Climate change versus the ozone hole," Science 9.3 (2000) 297-312.
  3. Irvine, Travis (June 19, 2015), "Handle with humor: why we want you to laugh about climate change", The Guardian, archived from the original on December 15, 2015, retrieved April 9, 2016
  4. Mellino, Cole (April 16, 2015), "Funny or Die Video: How to Diagnose Climate Change Denial Disorder", EcoWatch, archived from the original on March 17, 2016, retrieved April 9, 2016
  5. Swann, Jennifer (April 16, 2015), "The Made-Up Disease That Affects More People in Power Than You Think", TakePart, Participant Media, archived from the original on August 8, 2015, retrieved April 9, 2016
  6. Oprah's Books
  7. BookBrowse website, Arctic Drift, retrieved on 2009-04-14.
  8. Random House, Inc. website, "Sixty Days and Counting'" Retrieved on 2009-04-14
  9. website, "Books by Kim Stanley Robinson" Retrieved on 2009-04-14
  10. The Guardian website, "McEwan's new novel will feature media hate figure" Retrieved on 2010-02-01
  11. website, "The Stone Gods" Retrieved on 2010-01-02
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