These short stories are about climate change. Many of them project the long-term effects of this problem. It’s a major part of the plot in most of the stories, but in a few, it only plays a background role. There are quite a few anthologies available on this subject, but surprisingly, they weren’t as easy to find as I expected. Many of them are linked to below.
Climate Change Stories
“Benkoelen” by Brian W. Aldiss
Benkoelen is a long-deserted island off the coast of Sumatra. It remains while surrounding islands have sunk. The narrator goes to Benkoelen. The weather is rough, and he loses his kit when the boat capsizes. He has news to deliver to his sister, who runs a chimp conservation center.
This story can be read in the preview of Welcome to the Greenhouse.
“The Myth of Rain” by Seanan McGuire
Julie has been tracking a spotted owl for almost two days. She finally finds the nest. She plans on saving them. Many places have dried up. The Pacific Northwest is still doing alright, by comparison. The rich are moving to the best places while everyone else gets left behind. There isn’t much time for the wildlife, either.
This story can be read in the preview of Loosed Upon the World: The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction.
“Elves of Antarctica” by Paul McAuley
Mike is in the Arctic Peninsula, flying supply runs to kelp farmers. There’s a massive industrial infrastructure in place to save the western ice sheet, and thus, the world. Mike was born after the climate crisis. He loves the outdoors; he also loves watching the machines work to refresh everything.
This story can be read in the preview of Drowned Worlds.
“The Tamarisk Hunter” by Paolo Bacigalupi
Lolo finds and destroys tamarisk, a plant that uses a lot of water. Water is in short supply. Most of the people have moved north. He manages to make his living. He also does something in secret that ensures he won’t run out of work. He rides to and from his jobs on his camel, Maggie. On his way back he runs into Travis, a man in the same trade.
Read “The Tamarisk Hunter” (First story in Amazon preview of Wastelands 2: More Stories of the Apocalypse)
“How to Build the Perfect Sandcastle” by Candy Gourlay
Ben builds sandcastles on Sugar Beach, which is on Sugar Island. The tourists love watching, and they fill up his coconut shell with coins. Ben wants to be like Peanut, a local sculptor and carver. One day, Peanut gives him some unwelcome news about the beach.
Some of this story can be read in the preview of Under the Weather: Stories About Climate Change.
The following four stories are also in Under the Weather.
“Sea Canaries” by Susan Sandercock
Jess is on a whale-watching tour on the Churchill River. She loves watching the beluga whales. She knows they’re in danger because the melting of the sub-arctic ice is affecting their food supply. Her parents want her to be a lawyer, but she loves nature.
“As Busy As . . .” by Francis McCrickard
Joseph’s class is observing bees. Miss Sanderson explains how they make honey, which Joseph loves. When he goes home, he enjoys some California honey. Meanwhile, in California and Zambia, other people are interested in bees, as well.
“Tommo and the Bike Train”
Tommo’s family moves to a cottage by the sea. He misses London. He learns about global warming at school, how it contributes to floods in Bangladesh. This surprises Tommo. He confirms this with his London friend, Deep. Floods, and the unexpected problems that come with them, stay on Tommo’s mind.
“Moonlight” by Karen Ball
Chandrika is an orphan. She takes care of her younger brothers. She had to leave school to work in the tea plantation. She gets her brothers off to school and then goes to work. It’s difficult work, and there are mosquitos. One night, Chandrika doesn’t feel well.
“Seven Birthdays” by Ken Liu
Mia and her dad are at the park on her seventh birthday. They’ve been waiting, but her mother hasn’t arrived yet. She’s away a lot. Mia flies her kite. Her mother arrives. She was delayed with important work, bringing an ambassador up to speed on a solar management plan. There’s tension between Mia’s parents. She tries to smooth things over. The narrative continues with Mia’s relationship with her mother—and the future of humanity.
This story can be read in the preview of The Year’s Top Hard Science Fiction Stories.
“The Future by Degrees” by Jay Lake
Grover is in sales development for Quantum Thermal Systems. He’s giving a presentation to a small lay audience about the company’s upcoming product. It’s a small device capable of storing a tremendous amount of heat. The actual details of the invention are closely guarded. Grover mentions that it could even help alleviate global warming.
This story is in Seeds of Change.
“My Virtual Dad” by Nick Gifford
After cheating on his homework, Jim is grounded—not in the usual way but from unsupervised visits to the virtual world. He gets around this by going to his friend Clifton’s place and using his virtual reality deck. One of the things he does in there is visit his dad, who’s away doing important work combating the effects of global warming. One visit results in him making a decision about his parents.
“Amphibian City” by Julie Bertagna
The great flat island is gone. Boats full of refugees have left the island. The journey won’t be easy, and not everyone can go. They’re headed for a technologically advanced city. The refugees aren’t welcomed with open arms.
“Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet” by Margaret Atwood
A time capsule describes the broad strokes history of a dead civilization. It started with gods and progressed to money. These things led to further complications.
Read “Time Capsule . . .”
“The Siskiyou, July 1989” by T. C. Boyle
A family of activists are at a motel in Oregon. Tyler is nervous about the job. Andrea is confident; she has more experience with this kind of thing. Tyler is worried about bringing his daughter, Sierra, with them. There’s a logging road nearby that’s always busy with trucks and woodchippers. They have a plan for it.
Some of this story can be read in the preview of I’m With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet.
“First Light” by Robert Russell Sassor
A mother sits at a hospital bed, reminiscing about her son who lies there. His face is partially covered with bandages. Later, the mother receives some visitors at home, to help her through this time.
This story can be read in the preview of Winds of Change: Short Stories About Our Climate.