Fire and Ice Serendipitously Greet the Release of “Dune: Part Two”


Over the last century and even longer, we have taken a useful fossil fuel energy road that has also led to the problematic adverse effects of acute and long-term disasters. Is this reflected in current popular films like “Dune: Part Two”?

fire ice



Back in the fall of 2021, on October 26, I wrote a column about “Dune and Our Future of Climate Change.” The connection to the present of that time was when Dubai, that city built out of massive energy consumption in the desert, was putting on a World Expo. Paradoxically, a major focus of the Expo was on ways to address our climate and environmental crisis.

Now, in the beginning of spring 2024, as if right on a movie-making cue, the highly anticipated public release of the science fiction movie “Dune: Part Two” was accompanied by the nonfiction weather of fire and ice in the United States. Unprecedented destructive wildfires were raging in the Texas panhandle and an ice-producing “monster blizzard” was blowing through the Sierra Nevada Mountain areas in California. A recent study found that wildfires are associated with worsening mental well-being for individuals nearby.1

The planet Dune depicts a different sort of environmental and climate disaster, that of desert conditions and a life-threatening water shortage. Moreover, both the movie and our reality contain climate disasters amidst resources viewed as extremely valuable, the psychotropic spice in Dune and fossil fuels in our time. By the end of “Dune: Part Two,” the main spice warehouse is at risk of being blown up.

A little over a century ago, the famous poet Robert Frost wrote his warning in the brief poem “Fire and Ice”:

“Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire,

But if it had to perish twice

I think I know enough of hate

To know that for destruction ice

Is also great,

And would suffice.”

Much more than a literal description of looming environmental disasters back then, scholars suggest that the fire and ice are metaphors of the human emotions of undue desire and hate, respectively. Now we are experiencing the harms of our desire for fossil fuels and our hatred of the other.

Before that poem, Frost wrote this even more popular one titled “The Road not Taken.” It ends with:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Over the last century and even longer, we have taken a useful fossil fuel energy road that has also led to the problematic adverse effects of acute and long-term disasters. Using the principles of secondary and tertiary prevention, disaster psychiatry is always on the ready to help when these disasters occur. However, to apply primary prevention to avoid future living in a desolate environment like Dune, it is high time to take another energy road that has been much less taken. Given that human behavior is the driving force of these climate changes, it is a psychiatric challenge, and we can be part of the solutions.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.


1. Wettstein ZS, Vaidyanathan A. Psychotropic medication prescriptions and large California wildfires. JAMA Network Open. 2024;7(2):e2356466.

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