The emerging solarpunk movement dives deep into the waters of hope for its environmental science fiction storytelling. A group of authors and editors launched a Kickstarter for a Solarpunk Magazine to begin publishing next year.
Science fiction at its best has shone a light on the path ahead of us, alerting us to possible dystopian pitfalls of emerging technological and social change, or giving us glimpses of more desirable futures. These thought experiments often help shape our thinking and subsequent technological and social innovations.
Practical policy applications of this kind of forward-looking mindset are evident in these videos supporting a Green New Deal in the United States.
Environmental science fiction and “cli-fi” authors
Within the speculative and science fiction genres, a burgeoning group of authors have been producing novels around the themes of climate chaos for decades. This ‘cli-fi’ continues to grow as the ongoing climate crisis unfolds. Much of it is fairly dystopian, but there are seeds of hope in places, as well.
Kim Stanley Robinson has written several acclaimed science fiction novels with environmental themes. In his recent TED talk (below), he offers a synopsis of ideas from his book The Ministry for the Future in the form of a ‘historical’ essay on the 2020s, as written in 2071.
The power of The Ministry for the Future as environmental science fiction is that it tells a the story of the successful struggle to respond appropriately to the climate crisis. While moments are harrowing, there is hope in the determination and thoughtfulness of the actions taken.
Ecospirituality in environmental science fiction
Toward the end of The Ministry for the Future, some of the novels’ characters hint at the importance of a new religious movement as a likely next step for cultural transformation.
This has echoes of Octavia E. Butler’s brilliant (though largely dystopian) Parable of the Sower (1993). In this novel, the Earthseed religion emerges from the chaos of climate and social disruption. The God’s Gardeners that appear in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009) and MaddAddam (2013) also seem to emerge in response to climate and ecological crisis.
On February 7th, 2021, Dr. Michelle Merrill was on the radio show Sustainability Now! with host Ronnie Lipschutz of the Sustainable Systems Research Foundation, to talk about Reconnecting with Nature through Ecospirtuality. She shared ideas about how Novasutras responds to the need for ecospiritual community. This need emerges from the biggest challenge humanity currently faces: how do we help people through the transition from an “Industrial Growth Society” to an “environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling human presence on the planet.”
How can we create and encourage the development of healthy ecospiritual communities to support us in the turmoil of environmental disruption, and build a culture of agaya and ubuntu?
Join the conversation and share your ideas in the comments below.