Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Climate Change Fashions and a Climate Change Classic, "Dune"


As women of a certain age, we begin to intuit that climate change does not become us. Though our storage boxes burgeon with vintage summer clothes, we have nothing to wear.  With regret we have banished favorite threadbare t-shirts and baggy running shorts. Exasperated, we wonder, When did these cease to be appropriate? 

Here is my litany of woes:  sleeveless tops reveal fascinatingly sun- striated arms, shorts are proper only at home, all hats look stupid, and would cotton gloves improve or draw attention to veiny dishpan hands?  A friend wittily suggests that sandals should be illegal after age 50.  I wear them, but I know what she means.  This has been a summer of tennis shoes.

And gradually I have adopted more forgiving fashions, pedal pushers (or should I say capris?), cropped pants, baggy tunics, tasteful pajamas, and matron blouses.  When my mother was in her eighties, her fashion advice was: Wear turtlenecks, long pants, and nylon knee-highs. Alas, I see this arriving in the future, sans nylons, which are much, much too hot.

And now let me switch to a subject I know:  books.  I recommend the CLIMATE CHANGE CLASSIC, Dune by Frank Herbert.

 Did you know that HBO Max will release a new movie adaptation of Dune in October?  It's a  great time to read or reread Dune.  I can't persuade my husband to read this, and I'm devastated, so I hope one of you will read it! 

Let me start with one of my favorite quotes from the book.

“To the working planetologist, his most important tool is human beings… You must cultivate ecological literacy among the people.”–Frank Herbert’s Dune



Dune, winner of the Nebula and Hugo Awards in 1966, did not become a best-seller until the environmentally aware '70s. Set on a desert planet, it focuses on the scarcity of water and the exploitation of a planet’s resources for the mining of an addictive spice called Melange.

This novel is, to a large extent, about the politics of water.  It is the most precious commodity on the planet, though the ruling class are never dehydrated and live in luxury.
At the center of the book is the Atreides family, who have recently arrived on the planet to rule the melange region. During a coup,  Duke Leto Atreides is killed, but his wife,  Jessica, a trained priestess with psychic powers,  and son Paul, trained by his mother, escape to the desert, where they must master the ecology:  it is the difference between life and death.

The  Atreides learn from the native Fremen to wear “stillsuits” that recycle every drop of sweat and urine while they travel or work in the spice mines.  When someone dies, the water is taken from the body to be reused, because 70% of the body is water.  Plastic dew collectors save every drop of condensation for growing plants. Dangerous sand and dust storms blow up to 700 kilometers an hour and “can eat flesh off bones and etch the bones to sliver.”  There are also giant worms.  But the planetologist, who knows exactly how much water is needed to make the planet green over the next few hundred years, teaches the people how to change.

This is a timely novel even for the ecologically literate. Let's hope the movie makes it a best-seller again.


  1. I love Dune, which I first read in the late 60s/early 70s and have re-read a number of times since (must say I was never much interested in the sequels and read only a few) As you say, it's a classic sci-fi novel; I'm eagerly awaiting the new re-make (David Lynch's version was awful IMO; he went for the weird and ignored the real strengths of the book).
    It's interesting to see newer sci-fi going being taken up by "serious" authors and going off in an ecological direction. With respect to the first, have you read Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy? For the second, anything by Paolo Bacigalupi? He does genetic engineering themes (The Wind-Up Girl) but The Water Knife treats the results of climate change more directly (the Colorado River's gone!)
    As for fashion, well --- just move to Florida! Lots to complain about substatively, but as far as clothing, anything goes, in public no less, and no one bats an eye!

    1. I remember the David Lynch film as very dusty! And I will look up Paolo Bacigalupi. I have seen his books around, and I need to drown my Climate Change sorrows in a good eco-novel.

      "Anything goes" IS the best fashion!

  2. I am now wearing muumuu dresses.