Last summer, Bill McKibben argued in Orion magazine that global warming is
essentially a literary problem. A technological and scientific challenge, yes; an economic quandary, yes; a political dilemma, surely. But centrally? A crisis in metaphor, in analogy, in understanding. We haven't come up with words big enough to communicate the magnitude of what we're doing.
That's about to change, but perhaps not exactly as McKibben envisioned. Via Garry Peterson at Resilience, I learn that climate change is now the subject of compelling theater in London. However, as Robin McKie at The Observer recently noted, it is not climate change itself in the new play that is "riveting stuff," but rather "the human and cultural reaction to it." That kind of drama, as opposed to typical Hollywood fare, or a clever verbal metaphor, allows people to process global warming on a human level. In a slow-moving crisis such as climate change, where the worst consequences are thought to be decades away, perhaps such artistic drama will prove the best impetus for collective action.