OFOS aims to inspire a new generation of environmental writers. This includes fiction writers, essayists, poets, and journalists.
Why is this important?
In 2019, some journalists and media outlets began to recognise that the climate crisis was not being covered in the mainstream news. The crisis was not being written about as a crisis and stories that were published often left out key information.
The chart above shows how articles in the New York Times have portrayed climate change since 1980. Very few articles mention key facts that help readers understand the urgency and the need for action.
The climate crisis needs journalists to report key facts and convey the need for action.
What about literary writing? How can stories, poems, essays, and memoir help?
Facts are important, but readers tend to remember information and ideas when they connect to a story on an emotional level. Research has shown that our brains are wired for stories. In some cases, our brains don’t distinguish between reading about an experience and actually having that experience.
Well-told stories can also help readers better empathize with characters and situations, especially with people who are different from themselves.
Moreover, stories can help us imagine the future. Not only a possible climate apocalypse but a positive, better future too. See this article in The Walrus to read more.
Stories with vivid description and characters can help readers to understand the climate crisis not just intellectually but emotionally. This can motivate people to act.
Listen to this spoken-word poem by George the Poet for a great example of a memorable poem that inspires people to ACT!