"Every crisis is in part a storytelling crisis. This is as true of climate
chaos as anything else. We are hemmed in by stories that prevent us from
seeing, or believing in, or acting on the possibilities for change. Some are
habits of mind, some are industry propaganda. Sometimes, the situation has
changed but the stories haven’t, and people follow the old versions, like
outdated maps, into dead ends.
We need to leave the age of fossil fuel behind, swiftly and decisively. But
what drives our machines won’t change until we change what drives our ideas.
The visionary organiser adrienne maree brown wrote not long ago that there is
an element of science fiction in climate action: “We are shaping the future we
long for and have not yet experienced. I believe that we are in an imagination
In order to do what the climate crisis demands of us, we have to find stories
of a livable future, stories of popular power, stories that motivate people to
do what it takes to make the world we need. Perhaps we also need to become
better critics and listeners, more careful about what we take in and who’s
telling it, and what we believe and repeat, because stories can give power – or
they can take it away.
To change our relationship to the physical world – to end an era of profligate
consumption by the few that has consequences for the many – means changing how
we think about pretty much everything: wealth, power, joy, time, space, nature,
value, what constitutes a good life, what matters, how change itself happens.
As the climate journalist Mary Heglar writes, we are not short on innovation.
“We’ve got loads of ideas for solar panels and microgrids. While we have all of
these pieces, we don’t have a picture of how they come together to build a new
world. For too long, the climate fight has been limited to scientists and
policy experts. While we need their skills, we also need so much more. When I
survey the field, it’s clear that what we desperately need is more artists.”
What the climate crisis is, what we can do about it, and what kind of a world
we can have is all about what stories we tell and whose stories are heard.
Climate change was a story that fell on mostly indifferent ears when it was
first discussed in the mainstream more than 30 years ago. Even a dozen years
ago, it was supposed to be happening very slowly and in the distant future.
There were a lot of references to “our grandchildren’s time”. It was a problem
that was difficult to grasp – this dispersed, incremental, atmospheric,
invisible, global problem with many causes and manifestations, whose solutions
are also dispersed and manifold. That voices from the climate movement have
finally succeeded in making the vast majority understand it, and many care
passionately about it, might be the biggest single victory the movement will
have. Because once you’ve won the popular imagination, you’ve changed the game
and its possible outcomes. But this was a long, slow, arduous process, and
misconceptions still abound."
Via Future Crunch
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics