in partnership with British Embassy Lisbon
Future Scenarios is an exploration of the themes of vulnerability to, and responsibility for climate change, and the role that narrative plays in shaping our future. Through collaboration with leading climate change scientists, researchers and policy makers in the Global South and the UK we have learnt how the narrative of vulnerability that once surrounded those nations most vulnerable to climate change has developed into a narrative of resilience and adaptation.
The countries once thought of as helpless in the face of climate change are now emerging as leaders in the development of mitigation and adaptation strategies, environmental policy, the use of indigenous resilience and adaptation knowledge, research into loss and damage, knowledge sharing, renewables and are the closest to decarbonizing their economies, even though as a group they have contributed the least to total global carbon emissions. While conversely the developed nations that are principally responsible for climate change and have the greatest technological and financial resources to tackle it seem to be stuck in a state of political apathy and are making little progress towards mitigation or adaptation.
By foregrounding this new narrative of resilience and adaptation, we intend to reveal how this story opens up a dialogue about a still yet-to-be determined future and how it rejects the fatalistic narrative about vulnerability that compounds the victimhood of those who are most vulnerable to climate change.
Working with scenarios thinking we have documented climate change exacerbated phenomena that offer us glimpses of the future (Naomi Klein) with the intention of suggesting a palpable imagining of difficult and improving Climate Change future scenarios. In locations that are vulnerable to, and historically responsible for climate change we have investigated scenarios of climate induced migration, intensified natural disasters, sea level rise, energy futures, conflict, heat and water stress and food security.
Describing climate change as what Timothy Morton has dubbed a “Hyperobject*” Future scenarios displaces climate change, skews the responsibility vulnerability divide and reveals the pervasive power relationships and slow violence that is inherent to climate change. In this way we hope to draw attention to how we are all responsible for and all vulnerable to climate change, of course not equally responsible, but nevertheless how we all have a carbon footprint and therefore we all have a role to play in tackling climate change (Dr. Saleemul Huq).
Operating as a collaborative cross disciplinary investigation, Future scenarios considers how we may represent climate change through photography and artist film and how we may decolonize nature (T.J. Demos). Ultimately we believe that to decolonise social and natural environments and begin to envision habitable futures we need to look afresh, and perhaps unlearn old ways of seeing, in order to allow new narratives and scenarios to arise.
Future Scenarios has been produced in Lao PDR, Bangladesh, Nepal, The USA, The United Kingdom and Uganda in 2017-8 following our participation in the yearlong Culture and Climate Change: Future Scenarios Networked Residency in 2016-7 which was supported by Culture and Climate Change, the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, The University of Sheffield, The Open University, The Ashden Trust. The residency explored the idea of artists working as climate change researchers by connecting artists with a network of Climate Change researchers, NGO’s, policy makers and institutions such as: The British Antarctic Survey, The Scott Polar Museum, The Tyndall Centre, The International centre for climate change and development in Bangladesh (ICCCAD), The IIED, The UNHCR and Jesuit Refugee Services.
*”A Hyperobject is an entity that is so massively distributed in space and time that you can’t point to all of it at once. Even if you use very advanced prosthetic devices like fast supercomputers, it might still be difficult to map one” (T. Morton).
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