How do we think about climate futures ahead of us? Different actors tend to use different tools for that. The stream of weather catastrophes in the news media suggests a rather gloomy future. Some recent novels try to paint a more optimistic picture of the decades ahead (see our post on this).
International climate politics, for its part, has mainly based visions of the future on IPCC scenarios and model projections. For example, integrated assessment models (IAMs) played an important role in highlighting the feasibility of limiting global warming to 2 or even 1.5 degrees, and thereby led the way to the Paris Agreement. At the same time, this policy ambition came at the expense of modelling huge quantities of negative emission technologies, which again had a strong influence on the climate policy discourse.
Clearly, model-based climate futures are important for climate politics, but it is far from obvious what goes into them and based on which premises they are devised. Lisette van Beek tried to shine some light on fundamental questions about IAMs by teaming up with artists Ekaterina Volkova and Julien Thomas and writing an IAM manual.
This spring, I gave my mother a book as a present, promising an optimistic take on climate change and on how our next 30 years might play out. Half a year later, she still has not read past page 32 – “it’s too depressing”, she says. I cannot blame her. The Ministry for the Future, a science fiction novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, starts with a heat wave killing around 20 million people in India and subsequent international conflict about unilateral solar geoengineering. On the other hand, the novel ends in 2050 with people flying around the globe in electric air ships, marveling at all the rewilded and restored ecosystems. In between, it forms a subtle narrative arc in which the initial pessimism (or realism) slowly and almost unnoticeably tips into optimism and hope. Continue reading Where Realism Tips Into Optimism: Review of “The Ministry for the Future” (2020)
Following up on our series about climate change in pop culture (read part 1 about young adult novels and part 2 about pop songs), here are some more examples of songs dealing with the topic of climate change. This time, we focused on independent and alternative music.
During my research stay in Stellenbosch, South Africa, I came across an interesting arts project on climate change, which was installed during the cultural festival “Woordfees”.
A note on the wall invites onlookers to participate: to illustrate or write about what or who they would miss the most if our climate completely collapsed. Another note asked to describe fond memories of nature.
All around, people posted little notes and drawings, all of which gave interesting insights into their perceptions of climate change, especially their fears.