In Flight Behavior, a new novel by Barbara Kingsolver, the topic of climate change is explored in a fiction format which deniers of climate change claim is where it belongs.
In Kingsolver’s story, the protagonist is a young mother of two children, Dellarobia, a school drop out. She accidentally discovers in the mountains of Tennessee the winter home of hundreds of thousands of monarch butterflies which have left their traditional roost in Mexico due to problems related to climate change.
The reaction of her fundamentalist church, the influx of scientists and tourists and the influence on her family, present Dellaboria with a new outlook on the world and her life.
The reality of climate change is brought home when a scientist who is visiting the monarch site compares the slight rise in global temperature to a two or three degree change in a child’s temperature. “I’d head for the emergency room” says Dellaboria. Living systems such as the earth are subject to very small changes in temperature as well the scientist explains. She finally gets it.
Kingsolver’s education as a scientist and her years of living in Appalachia gave her a good foundation to bring together the many elements of her story: sheep farming, the value of education, poverty, ecology, gender roles and the relationship of the people to the land. Flight Behavior is a very good read.