Soylent Follow-Up

I just thought I’d follow up on the question I asked the other day: The film Soylent Green (1973) makes a clear reference to the greenhouse effect and global warming. When was the first clear reference to anthropogenic climate change (related to industry, gasoline powered vehicles, etc.) in science fiction?

At first, I thought the first mention might be in the book Make Room! Make Room! (1966), the novel upon which Soylent Green was based. The book does mention a long spell of very hot weather, but I did not see a clear connection to the greenhouse effect being made. In consulting the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, it seems likely that the first mention was in the James Blish novella, We All Die Naked.

The were some earlier films that involved climate change, such as the 1961 British film, The Day the Earth Caught Fire. However, in this film, the dramatic warming was caused by intense nuclear testing that dramatically altered the angle of Earth’s spin axis. Such a change in spin would indeed affect climate, though its unlikely any kind of nuclear testing (that wouldn’t be so big that it would also immediately kill off everyone anyway!) would provide enough energy to dramatically shift the Earth’s axial tilt.

Another example from a novel is Fred Hoyle’s  Black Cloud , although this is really climate change caused by an outside alien force. You can find more examples in the ESF.

Steve Bloom


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