[ExI] Solarpunk Is Growing a Gorgeous New World in the Cracks of the Old One

John Grigg possiblepaths2050 at gmail.com
Sat Oct 17 09:50:20 UTC 2020

"The streets of *Blade Runner* and Hong Kong have become more
indistinguishable than ever. The disturbingly wealthy have launched
rockets over streets filled with people in cloth masks raising their fists
and demanding justice, while SWAT teams dispense surveillance drones and
teargas. Smoke is turning the sun red as historic wild fires rage. Powerful
storms lash buildings and flood cities. Elon Musk did our era no visual
favor by introducing a truck whose design suggests cool and kevlar are
becoming one—a style perhaps best described as “apocalypse flair.”

Iconic game creator Mike Pondsmith is often credited with the creation of
the cyberpunk aesthetic: In 2020, so many people started calling out the
idea his work is coming to life that he issued a statement reminding people
that his aesthetic had been “a warning,” not something to aspire to.

Indeed, a lot of serious science fiction work aims to scare us away from
less-than-palatable trajectories we might be considering, or have already
embarked on. On Sci-Fi-Agenda <https://scifiagenda.com/>, a comprehensive
curation of science fiction movies with visionary ambitions, not a single
film imagines a world with more beauty than we have now (or have already
left behind).

This, one could argue, is because doomsday scenarios are easier to paint
than realistic utopias. But as 2020 began appearing more and more like a
sixth season of *Black Mirror*, the creator of the iconic series, Charlie
Brooker, said he was taking a break
from his fictional dystopias. The need for psychological ease, for soothing
images of impending solace, and, better yet, something concrete to believe
in and strive towards? Well, that need is acute.

Enter an aesthetic and ideological movement known as solarpunk.

Solarpunk is gorgeous by most measures and serves as an umbrella term for
an aesthetic and ideology that emphasizes biomimicry, greenery, and
mind-blowing architectonic structures built to enable sustainability and
self-sufficiency. It’s high-tech *art nouveau*, if you will. It’s not the
hippie dream of people spending their brief lifetime on laborious
agriculture, it’s agritech and automated farming. It’s not “back to
nature,” but forward into an upgraded, engineered take on “the natural.”
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