I’m a climate change literary activist and gadfly, and I’d like to talk to you today about something I call ”cli-fi”.

I’m close to 70, graduated from Tufts University in 1971 with a major in Yiddish literature, and promoting the literary fortunes of cli-fi is now my life work. And I’m Jewish, and my Jewish education and family life in western Massachusetts in the 1950s and 1960s plays a central role, even today, in my climate activism.

So what’s ” cli-fi ”? It’s a subgenre of sci-fi, according to some observers, and a separate standalone genre of its own, according to others. I feel that cli-fi novels and movies can cut through the bitter divide among rightwing denialists and leftwing liberals worldwide over the global warming debate. I’m not into politics; I’m into literature and movies.

A small Massachusetts philanthropy has been funding my cli-fi work and I’m grateful for the sponsorship. Right now, I’m retired, an expat in Taiwan since and more or less penniless. I’m as poor as a church mouse, er, a synagogue mouse.

We are a world now divided bitterly over climate change issues. In my view of things, novels and movies can serve to wake people up in ways that politics and ideology cannot. That’s where cli-fi comes in.In my late 60s, with a heart attack related stent keeping my ticker ticking, and my days numbered now, I’m combining my Jewish heritage with its emphasis on social justice with my personal concerns about the future impacts of man-made global warming came easy.

As a Jewish person, I learned from an early age the need to look out for others and have empathy for the world at large. Climate change is the most important issue the humankind has ever faced. As a Jew, I cannot look away.

Ten years ago, I coined a new literary term I dubbed “cli-fi” for climate fiction novels and movies. My coinage with its assonance of the sci-fi term, was picked up by reporters for the New York Times, the Guardian, the BBC and the San Diego Jewish World where I write a freelance column about Jewish life and culture.

In 2015, I set up a website called “The Cli-Fi Report” to broadcast my views about cli-fi and to gather feedback from literary critics and novelists around the world.

I’m not a trust fund kid, and I fund my work myself on a very small shoestring budget, but I did have a father who left me an inheritance more important than money: a Yiddish term called ”menschlekeit.” And to be a PR guy for cli-fi in my late 60s is in direct gratitude for a wonderful life I’ve had on this planet, and it’s also my way of saying thanks to my dad, the late Bernie Bloom, z’l, of Avenue J. in Brooklyn, born in 1915 and departed in 2005.

What I want to say today, here in Tikkun, is ”thank you Bernie Bloom.” You taught me that it was important not only to be a mensch in one’s daily life but also to try to help ”repair the world” –tikkun olam in Hebrew.

And for me, with my contribution of a new literary term to the world, that is what my work on the climate fight is all about: tikkun olam. I am not writing a book about cli-fi, I am not appearing on TV talk shows, and I am not making a documentary about my work. I am not interested in fame or money. I dropped my ego a long time ago, in 1983, after surviving a near-fatal plane accident in Alaska. Not only are my days numbered after my heart attack in 2009, but I have been living on borrowed time since that Alaska brush with fate inside a bush plane that caught fire in mid-air.

And despite not having stepped foot in a synagogue for over 40 years,  I’m as Jewish as they come, and I recognize the importance of my Jewish heritage, first described in the second creation story in the Torah, to steward the Earth’s resources. That’s why I coined the cli-fi term: to save future generations of humankind as global warming impact events make themselves felt worldwide more and more over the next 30 generations of man. I’m a visionary, but I don’t hear voices. I only hear my father saying to me: “Danny, don’t give up!”

And so help me God, I’m never giving up.

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Danny Bloom studied under Rabbi Samuel Dresner of Temple Beth El in Springfield, Massachusetts in the 1960s.

 


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