Climate change in popular culture

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The issue of climate change and global warming, their 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 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[edit]

Video games[edit]

  • 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[edit]