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Articles by John Atcheson

John Atcheson has worked more than 30 years in energy and the environment with government, private industry, and the nation’s leading think tanks. He is working on his own novel about climate change.

Featured Article

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

Sometimes, fiction is the best way to win friends and influence people – H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine and George Orwell’s classic 1984 come to mind. Each provoked a visceral reaction that galvanized the culture around it, changing forever the way issues such as class and totalitarianism were perceived. Neville Shute’s On the Beach made the consequences of nuclear war real, and, therefore, unthinkable.

In a scientifically illiterate culture such as ours, these kinds of myth-based meta-narratives may be the best way to communicate complex scientific issues like climate change. Myths, as Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell revealed, are not necessarily false, nor are they automatically at odds with science. At their best, they provide another way of viscerally experiencing a truth.

A spate of novels and movies that feature climate change as either an overt part of the story line or an implicit backdrop against which mythical heroes strive may be creating the critical mass for a cultural awakening that allows climate change to be perceived at that pre-rational level — the kind of limbic awareness tha... Read more