Observatory Case

Flight Behaviour

Flight Behaviour is a 2013 novel by Barbara Kingsolver that deals with the impacts of climate change. When fifteen million monarch butterflies are discovered on an Appalachian farm, far beyond their usual migratory routes, the community begin to face the impacts of a changing climate. The story’s main arc focusses on the relationship between Dellarobia Turnbow, the discoverer of the butterflies, and Ovid Byron, an entomologist who has come to investigate the cause of the phenomenon. Speaking to a Tina, television journalist about climate change, Byron comments:

“The Arctic is genuinely collapsing. Scientists used to call these things the canary in the mine. What they say now is, the canary is dead. We are at the top of Niagara Falls, Tina, in a canoe. There is an image for your viewers. We got here by drifting, but we cannot turn around for a lazy paddle back when you finally stop pissing around. We have arrived at the point of an audible roar. Does it strike you as a good time to debate the existence of the falls?”  ― Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behaviour

Cover image via Faber & Faber

“Rather than being this abstract idea of climate change, reading the novel it became something that people experience in their daily lives through the monarch butterfly, and how their migration patterns are changing. It made it so much more real, than the way we talk about it in the scientific literature – novels can do that, can make something real for people.”