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The Fight for Climate Justice Requires a New Narrative

We don’t have to sit idly by and watch our future burn. We are not powerless.

By Mary Annaïse Heglar

We don’t know how to talk about climate change.

Sure, we try. We tread through a battlefield of technical, clinical jargon. Boobytrapped with too many syllables and jolted acronyms. But it’s anything but clinical. What we’re living through is deeply, deeply personal. And emotional. It’s heartbreakingly human.

Climate change means watching not just your childhood home, but your ancestral home, surrender to the sea. It’s being sold on an open slave market because drought sucked your homeland dry. It’s a ticking clock until your tap runs dry.

It’s war, famine, gang violence, sex-trafficking. It’s skyrocketing suicide.

It’s watching everything you planned for light up in fantastic flames right in front of you, all the dreams you were supposed to dream: buying a house, raising a family, planning for retirement.

This isn’t some distant, dystopian future. This isn’t “somewhere else” (and even if it were, that’s no excuse not to care). This is here and now.

See also: Mary Annaïse Heglar Needs You to Give a Shit About Fighting Climate Change

This crisis didn’t appear out of thin air. Someone did this to us: the fossil fuel industry and the governments that aided and abetted it. And it didn’t start there. The fossil fuel industry was born of the industrial revolution, which was born of slavery, which was born of colonialism.

It’s no accident that the map of climate change’s worst wrath to date looks like a colonizer’s playground. Because that’s what it is. And it’s also no accident that when it does play out in more “affluent” countries, it finds its way to communities of color with all the precision of a heat-seeking missile — that’s a feature, not a bug.

We don’t have to sit idly by and watch our future burn. We are not powerless. “You write in order to change the world,” James Baldwin said. “The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way a person looks or people look at reality, then you can change it.”

You can’t change what you can’t describe. And you certainly can’t fight it. 

I have been writing since I could hold a crayon. I’ve worked an entire career in communications and storytelling. For the past five years, I’ve edited and produced policy reports at the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the top environmental advocacy organizations. I speak fluent wonkese.

But I don’t want to deal in data anymore. I want to work in millimeters. I want to move beyond the projections and into empathy. I want to coax and cajole the English language — with all its inadequacies, all its flaws, all the blood at its mouth — into the liberating language that we desperately need. I want to tame the tongue that taunted and tortured my ancestors, to bend it over my lap and to my will.

I want revenge.

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I want to change the narrative around our climate crisis, to make it more intersectional, more emotional. More inclusive. I want to break it apart, remove the lies and the half-truths, add in the missing parts, name the unnamed, make the implicit explicit. I want to make it so that people of color see themselves in it — because we’ve always been in it. At its center, even. In other words, I want to make it whole.

I don’t want a fact-finding mission. I want a truth-telling movement.

As a lifelong lover of language, I will never believe that “words fail us.” I believe we fail to find the words. And if we don’t have the words, let’s create them. As an avid daydreamer, I will never lose faith in the power of the human imagination. If we can drill deep into the rocks beneath us for coal and oil, there’s no reason we can’t reach even deeper into ourselves to pull out the language to name our crisis.

Mary Annaïse Heglar is a member of the Inverse Future 50.

I know I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who sees the gaps. I’m not the only one who has felt left out, alienated, silenced. I’m part of a growing community of narrative change agents. We’re getting stronger. We’re getting louder. And we have room for so many more.

Some people may think that writing is just words. That it’s not activism, and maybe it isn’t. But I know that words can heal as much as they can wound. Crafted and banded together, they can form an army. They can rise and retreat like waves on the sea. To have the words to name your crisis, to indict your oppressor, is power. It’s exactly what we need if we are to have any hope of winning.

And we have to win. Everything — literally everything — depends on it.

See also: Mary Annaïse Heglar Needs You to Give a Shit About Fighting Climate Change

Mary Annaïse Heglar is a member of the Inverse Future 50. You really ought to follow her on Twitter: @MaryHeglar.

Every Marvel movie and TV release planned for Phase Four in 2020 and 2021

New movies, new heroes.

At San Diego Comic-Con back in July, head of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige pulled back the curtain on “Phase Four,” the next batch of movies and Disney+ shows releasing in 2020 and 2021. The MCU will never be the same again.

In interviews with several outlets about the new productions, Feige has made clear that Phase Four is all about new beginnings. “When you have 7,000 people screaming, it’s pretty awesome and pretty amazing,” he told SYFY Wire of the wildly enthusiastic response to the big reveals at SDCC.

'House of the Dragon' release date, cast, plot for HBO's 'Game of Thrones' prequel

Winter is coming, yet again.

If you thought you’d escaped Game of Thrones, think again. While the main series may have wrapped up back in May, the story is far from over with multiple prequels and spinoffs still in development at HBO. With the recent press rollout of their new streaming service HBO Max, we’ve now got confirmation as to what the first will be: House of the Dragon, a prequel series detailing the rise and fall of the Targaryen dynasty some 300 years before the events of GoT. While very little information on the show is available, here’s what we know so far, including likely plot details, who’s involved in the new series, and when it might actually release.

'Black Widow' cast, release date, plot and trailer for the MCU spy thriller

Everything you need to know about Natasha Romanoff's return.

At last, Marvel is giving fans what they want with a solo film starring Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, also known as the elite spy and Avenger, “Black Widow.” She’s got red in her ledger, and she’s finally going to wipe it clean.

Back at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige revealed the films and Disney+ shows that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Phase Four,” including the official reveal of Black Widow. Set after the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, the movie will follow Natasha complete unfinished business regarding her past, and the assassins who trained her, before reuniting with the Avengers to fight Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).

'GTA 6': Release Date, Locations, Rumors for the Beloved, Controversial Game

This could be Rockstar's most ambitious undertaking yet.

It’s been six years since “Grand Theft Auto V” took the world by storm. Its colorful characters and hyper-realistic recreation of Los Angeles created a lively online community that still churns out mods and custom-made mini games, more than five years after its release. But a new era for the beloved and controversial action-adventure series is just over the horizon.

'The Eternals' movie cast, characters, release date, plot, and more

Everything we know about what could be Marvel's weirdest movie yet.

On this side of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios and the rest of us are looking forward to the future of the MCU that looks a little bit more diverse, and a huge part of that will be The Eternals, the first film to be released after Black Widow

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige admitted in April 2018 that a film based on Jack Kirby’s The Eternals was in development. By September 2018, The Hollywood Reporter announced Marvel Studios had hired Chinese director Chloé Zhao, butt it wasn’t until San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019 that the film was officially announced.