No More Fairy Tales: Stories to Save Our Planet

I run the Green Stories project and our aim is to move beyond preaching to the converted to share climate solutions using fiction. A key goal is to encourage writers to create positive visions of what a sustainable society might look like and how we might get there.

This year we have been working with Herculean Climate Solutions and the Climate Fiction Writer’s League to compile an anthology of climate solutions wrapped in short stories, targeted at COP 27 delegates. Each story links to webpages where more details on the solutions embedded in the narrative are provided. The key goal is to inspire readers to take action and make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

The interesting thing about such a herculean task to put the world to rights via climate fiction is the divisions it reveals among all those who are striving for the same goal but come from different disciplines. The engineers love the big, bold, audacious solutions, the more impossible the better. ‘Glaciers melting? Well let’s just refreeze them! Need to build up seawalls and capture carbon? Just plant mangrove terraces.’ This has outraged the nature lovers and ecologists who say ‘how about we just stop destroying mangroves in the first place? Why spend fortunes replanting in areas where mangroves don’t naturally grow when it would be way more effective just to refuse planning permission to develop on land that has existing mangroves’ (substitute forests, peat, kelp forests, seagrass needed). The nature lovers abhor the geo-engineering approach while the engineers claim that we’re geo-engineering all the time anyway in the name of development, so why not do it on purpose and more thoughtfully? Nature lovers claim greenwash and the engineers and techies claim green hush. Yes, I just heard of that too!

And then the social scientists pitch in with ‘what’s the point of all these carbon drawdown projects if we’re still consuming as fast as we can in the name of economic growth?’ A fair question – it is indeed like pulling out the plug (carbon drawdown) with the hot tap full on (consumption). 

As editor it’s been a challenge reconciling all these viewpoints. Each story was written by a professional writer and then honed by climate experts. The stories I co-wrote myself as a social scientist, with Steve, a chemical engineer and Martin a comedy writer were an amusing but educational wrangle to determine which aspects got priority.

Judge for yourselves if we got it right. No More Fairy Tales: Stories to Save our Planet is available to buy direct from the Habitat Press website or on order from bookshops or Amazon. Also we’d love you to complete the survey at the end. We’re interested to see what impact the stories had on readers. Social scientists might like The Assassinwhich imagines eight people in a citizens jury debating climate solutions all based on reducing consumption (repair, sharing economy, personal carbon allowances), one of which is an assassin. Similarly, The Award Ceremony addresses the issue of how scriptwriters implicitly promote excessive consumption as an aspiration via characters who fly in private jets, drive fast cars and wear a different outfit each day. Both these stories also promote the idea of switching from the GDP to a well-being index as a way to change the conversation from what’s good for the economy to what’s good for us. Engineers will love Refreeze the Arctic, the Desert Spiral Initiative about flooding the Sahara and Suck it Up about artificial trees. Lawyers will gravitate to Blue Nation which imagines the ocean being given nation status. Nature lovers will appreciate The Pitch which talks about costing for nature, wildlife gardening and composting toilets as the ultimate metaphor for the circular economy as well as stories focused on seagrass, coral planting and kelp forests.