Through speculative fiction, five interlocking novelettes explore the possible realities of our climate future.
What is the future of our climate? Given that our summers now regularly feature arctic heat waves and wildfire blood skies, polar vortex winters that reach all the way down to Texas, and “100-year” storms that hit every few months, it may seem that catastrophe is a done deal. As grim as things are, however, we still have options. Combining fiction and nonfiction and employing speculative tools for scholarly purposes, Our Shared Storm explores not just one potential climate future but five possible outcomes dependent upon our actions today.
Written by speculative fiction writer and sustainability researcher Andrew Dana Hudson, Our Shared Storm features five overlapping fictions to employ a futurist technique called “scenarios thinking.” Rather than trying to predict how history will unfold—picking one out of many unpredictable and contingent branching paths—it instead creates a set of futures that represent major trends or counterposed possibilities, based on a set of climate modeling scenarios known as the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs).
Set in the year 2054, during the Conference of the Parties global climate negotiations (a.k.a., The COP) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Each story features a common cast of characters, but with events unfolding differently for them—and human society—in each alternate universe. These five scenarios highlight the political, economic, and culture possibilities of futures where investments in climate adaptation and mitigation promised today have been successfully completed, kicked down the road, or abandoned altogether. From harrowing to hopeful, these stories highlight the choices we must make to stabilize the planet.
Our Shared Storm is an experiment in deploying practice-based research methods to explore the opportunities and challenges of using climate fiction to engage scientific and academic frameworks. As such, the book includes an introduction and afterword, providing a framework for examining the SSPs as speculative narratives and the COP as a site for climate imaginaries, and offering a new theoretical contribution in the concept of “post-normal fiction”—a humanities iteration of sustainability’s “post-normal science.”