In this section you will find teaching resources and ways to further investigate and better understand the themes that the Future Scenarios project explores.
In the linked document below you will find a tool kit containing questions and activities that are designed to help pedagogues and their students unpick the themes that the Future Scenarios project explores.Click Here for the toolkit.
Click on the questions below to see the answers.
WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE?
Climate change, also known as global warming or global heating, is the long-term shift in average weather patterns across the world. Since the mid-1800s, humans have contributed to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases such as methane into the air though industrial, leisure and consumption-based activities. This has caused global temperatures to rise which is leading to long-term changes to earth's climate, which in-turn is impacting the livelihoods, culture, health, and psychologies of people around the world as well as all of Earth's ecosystems and many of its more than human inhabitants.
WHAT IS LOSS AND DAMAGE?
Loss and Damage is the term used by the United Nations to describe the adverse effect of climate change. Loss refers to things that are lost forever and cannot be brought back, such as human lives or species that become extinct, while damage refer to things that are damaged, but can be repaired or restored, such as roads or river embankments. The negotiations around Loss and Damage at the UNFCCC COP under the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) are particularly important to the nations of the Global South like Bangladesh and Tuvalu, who stand to bear the brunt of climate change, because without financial and technical support climate vulnerable nations like these will be unable to prevent or reduce the loss and damage that they may see in the future. Although, every nation from the Global North, which includes nations like the U.S. and United Kingdom, has ratified the Paris Agreement, many are blocking any form of financial compensation and are refusing to accept liability for their historic emissions. When viewed through a de-colonising lens, the Global North refusal to accept responsibility for its emissions and adequately compensate those who will be worst affected by loss and damage, can be understood as an extension of structural racism that mirrors the colonial power dynamic.
WHAT IS A FUTURE SCENARIO?
A scenario is a 'story' speculating upon a possible future or aspects of a possible future. Scenarios are not predictions about the future but instead they are hypothetical simulations of possible futures meant to help decision makers become aware of unforeseen problems such as climate change. Scenario planning also known as scenario thinking involves aspects of systems thinking, with many factors combining in complex ways to create sometimes surprising futures via feedback loops. Scenarios describing different amounts of warming are included within the Paris agreement to help governments to understand what actions they need to take to avoid a climatic catastrophe. Unfortunately, scenarios have also been created by fossil fuel companies such as Shell, but instead of trying to imagine habitable futures, the scenarios that Shell creates, focus on how the company will profit and play a central roll in any possible future.
WHAT IS MITIGATION, RESILIANCE AND ADAPTATION?
The mitigation of climate change is the reduction of emissions by the nations of the world though such things as switching to wind and solar energy power generation, that will thereby reduce total global carbon emissions and therefore the amount of warming that will happen. Adaptation means taking steps to deal with the impacts of climate change such as building sea walls or floating houses. Building resilience to climate change means that key economic and social systems are climate-proofed for a potentially difficult future through such things as diversifying the livelihoods of those that reside in a community or the crops that they depend upon.
WHAT IS THE CAPITALOCENE?
Geologists have proclaimed that we have entered a new geological epoch, one that is defined by humanities becoming a geological agent (something that affects the geology of Earth). While the official name for this epoch is the Anthropocene, the term Capitalocene, which has been proposed by Jason Moore, is an alternative politically enabled geological descriptor that more aptly points to capitalism's extractivist logic, the colonial extractivism that preceded it, and to the capitalist enterprises, such as ExxonMobil, Monsanto, Rio Tinto, Shell, and BP, that are responsible for such things as climate change and the sixth mass extinction of species on Earth.
WHAT IS CLIMATE JUSTICE?
Climate justice is the term used to frame climate change as an ethical and political issue, rather than one that is purely environmental or physical in nature. Owing to the fact that the impacts of climate change will not be borne equally or fairly, between rich and poor, women and men, and older and younger generations, it is necessary to shift from a discourse purely focused on greenhouse gases and melting ice caps to one concerned with civil rights and the peoples, species, ecosystems, and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts at its heart. A climate just future, would broadly speaking, entail a future in which humanity lives within the limits of the Earth and the rights of all peoples and nature are recognised and protected.
WHAT IS SLOW VIOLENCE?
Slow violence, a term coined by Rob Nixon is a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all that includes such things as climate change, the release of radioactive materials at Chernobyl, the poisoning of water in the Niger Delta due to oil extraction and the presence of microplastics in our bodies. Climate change is the ultimate expression of slow violence, due to its temporal and geographical outsourcing of environmental devastation and social inequality to the most vulnerable populations and to future generations. By correctly labelling climate change as a form of slow violence, we are better able to describe how contemporary imperialism (capitalism and now neoliberal capitalism) transfers its toxic by-products to peoples, species, and ecosystems at the peripheries of the global economy and how this cumulative, attritional, and mundane form of imperial violence does not always resolve into moments of spectacular destruction which are news worthy.
WHAT A HYPEROBJECT?
Philosopher Timothy Morton coined the phrase Hyperobject in 2008 to describe things that you can study, think about and compute, but that are not so easy to see directly because they are massively distributed in space and time and cannot be seen all at once. Things like climate change, all of the Styrofoam that has been created ever, the SARS COVID-2 virus and the internet. For example, we can consider plastic a Hyperobject. To do so we need to think about all the plastic that is on Earth right now, and all the plastic that will ever be created, and how plastic interacts with everything else in the universe. With plastic taking up to 1000 years to decompose, during which time it will interact with various bodies, be they plant, animal, human, geological or geographical, at various scales from the cellular to the global and beyond, and in a multitude of ways. When we think about plastic in this way, we can start to understand that we cannot see or comprehend all of the ways in which the presence of plastic is affecting other things. However, by labelling and understanding plastic as a Hyperobject, we are better able to understand how far and wide its negative impacts are spread, and therefore we are better able to find reasons to stop making it and motivation to clean it up. The same is true of climate change although its interactions are infinitely more complex.
WHAT IS DECOLONISATION?
Decolonisation is the undoing of colonialism through the examination of our society, which includes recognising who is accountable for colonising, understanding what has happened during the colonisation, and the re-insertion of experiences, knowledge and believes into society that have been side-lined in the process of colonial domination. To do so means to accept that colonial forces are oppressive. To achieve decolonisation, restorative justice may be employed to return cultural, psychological, political, and economic freedoms to oppressed peoples, species, or ecosystems. Examples of colonisation include: The colonisation of countries such as Tibet where the colonising force (the Chinese state) stop the Indigenous Tibetan population from freely worshiping, practising cultural traditions or exerting political agency. The colonisation of ancestral lands such as those of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe where the construction of an oil pipeline by the Dakota Access. LLC corporation have destroyed or damaged ancient burial grounds and cultural sites of historic importance and continue to threaten to poison water supplies that the community depend on. The colonisation of ecosystems such as the Amazon where the rights of all indigenous species and peoples are being threatened by deforestation, resources extraction and the increased prevalence of wildfire due to climate change. The colonisation of the atmosphere by greenhouse gas emitters such as Shell, Exxon, and BP. And the colonisation of the future by corporations, governments and individuals who are failing to act to advert a climate catastrophe or working to project dominance into the future.
WHAT IS INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE?
Indigenous knowledge refers to the epistemologies, pedagogies and cosmologies developed by societies whose functioning is fully embedded within the place where they reside and where their ancestors resided. Their cosmologies (worldviews) are strongly influenced by animism which attributes a living soul to plants, inanimate objects, natural phenomena as well as sophisticated local mythologies that are embedded and conveyed through language. Indigenous knowledge is characterised by a place-based approach to teaching and gaining knowledge, orality, intergenerational and nonlinear historicity, and a lack of division between rational enquiry and practice-based emotional enquiry when establishing scientific findings. Indigenous technologies encompass but are not limited to such inventions and practices as floating houses, floating gardens, underground aqueducts, temporary fishing damns, forest gardens, living root bridges and many other such examples. Medical and psychological well-being practices include shamanic rituals, acupuncture, meditation, and the identification and administering of medicinal plants. Indigenous knowledge is important because it is better positioned than much of western science to help develop decisive solutions to combat climate change and ecocide that will protect the rights, culture and political agency of those peoples and ecosystems that are most impacted and most vulnerable. For example, the Sumak Kawsay or Buen Vivir (Good Life) concept that codified and enshrined in law, in the constitution of Bolivia, rights for nature, has been developed from regional Indigenous cosmologies to protect the territories and traditional practices of the Indigenous peoples of Bolivia.
WHAT IS ECOCIDE?
The inclusion of the Ecocide law in international law would prohibit the mass damage and destruction of the Earth and create a legal duty of care for all inhabitants that have been or are at risk of being significantly harmed due to Ecocide. The duty of care applies to prevent, prohibit, and pre-empt both human-caused Ecocide and natural catastrophes, meaning that large scale polluters such as ExxonMobil, Shell or BP and mining corporations like Rio Tinto would face criminal charges for the activities they carry out every day. When Ecocide would occur as a crime, a remedy would be sought through national courts and the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague or a similar body. Ecocide has not yet been accepted as an internationally punishable crime like the four international crimes against peace, which are genocide, crimes of aggression, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, by the United Nations, but there is mounting pressure to include it.