Sustainable Futures: Climate story wars

During the April 13-16 national Popular Culture Association (PCA) conference, ISF will present on “Climate Crisis and the Story Wars: Inventing the Future in Popular Culture.” This presentation will feature some of the key ideas and points from a new ISF paper on that topic, noting the dueling stories and perspectives explaining the nature of climate change, its reality and impacts, as told across the domains of science, literature, religion, movies and politics.

Ultimately the climate story wars are part of a broader political and ideological struggle over the need and nature of change in an anthropocentric, fossil-fuel dependent, hyper-consumerist world still locked into a dysfunctional vision of “progress” based on unlimited economic growth. Next to the UN-oriented vision of sustainable development and climate strategies of mitigation/adaptation in contrast to the Trump/GOP denialism, the third path is that of transformation – transitions to a sustainable future. Mainstream media/popular culture, writers and filmmakers have yet to fully embrace narrative strategies, stories, and storyworlds visualizing sustainability transitions and futures, this is a slowly emerging field and focus for ISF.

This presentation/paper builds on earlier ISF works – the chapter “The Challenge of Imagining Sustainable Futures: Climate Fiction in Sustainability

Communication” (in The Sustainability Communication Reader, Springer, 2021), “the Search for Sustainability Transitions in Science Fiction Futures (in Utopia and Dystopia in the Age of Trump, Rowman & Littlefield, 2019), and previous presentations at MAPACA, SCORAI, IECA, IAMCR, ICA as well as last year’s PCA conference.

All of these activities are part of an evolving framework of ideas and activities in our Envisioning Sustainable Futures program. We have other projects and plans in mind, which we will be sharing in upcoming newsletter editions.

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