Note — Mar 13, 2022

Imagine Other Futures

I might need to just stop linking to Noema and trust you all to regularly read their site, but in the mean time here’s another article from them, this one by Chiara Di Leone. ‘Better futures’ and ‘other futures’ are topics I’ve covered here a number of times, I’m pointing to this one because the author takes an approach I haven’t seen before. She looks at the IPCC’s scenarios, which are necessarily quite ‘status quo compliant’ in terms of politics, and then takes us back to the early uses of scenarios in the creation of futures, and the tone often taken from the “cinematic grotesque of black comedies.” According to Di Leone, the IPCC approach to scenarios “fails to open different worlds and possibilities that are closed to us. Using scenarios as ways to reproduce the present gives us soft, tolerable corporate jargon.” She wonders if comedy can help shake up an increasingly flat future. Sadly, she doesn’t expand much on the question, but it’s a useful perspective to consider.

The social and economic aspects of the IPCC’s future scenarios are merely different flavors of extractive capitalism: They all include economic growth, obsolete measurements of “well-being” and undefinable concepts like “sustainability.” Worst of all, they frame climate change within the bounds of some imagined cost-benefit analysis, as if the writers are only going so far as to answer the question: “Until when can we extract and exploit both the planet and workers without threatening our way of life or profits?” […]

There is no way to produce predictions that are apolitical, agnostic to a certain ideology or economic system. There are the futures that preserve the status quo and the ones that challenge it by building truly different worlds.