Montreal 2140: Hopeful Futures in Science and Storytelling
A Solvathon at the Bieler School of Environment, McGill University
Keynote speakers: Kim Stanley Robinson and Annalee Newitz
October 12-13, 2023
As we face the climate crisis – not a future cataclysm, but a series of often terrifying events happening right now – it is clear that pessimistic, depressing, even nihilistic narratives dominate our global discourse. Scientists who seek to report facts, data, and projections are often by necessity the bearers of bad news. Yet how they communicate their findings and research to the world matters greatly.
Climate change is arguably the most important story of our time. How we tell that story – the multiple stories – of climate change, has great impact. We cannot simply put forward a narrative of doom and gloom, dystopia, or end of the world. We need a range of moods and voices, and to include optimism, survival, resilience, transcendence and positivity, to carry us through dark times and help us make tough choices. We must imagine our future with hope!
The science fiction community has understood this. Hopepunk is a speculative fiction genre dedicated to positive narratives of social change and transformation, emphasizing empathy, kindness, community, and care. “Hopepunk says that in this world of brutal cynicism and nihilism, being kind is a political act. An act of rebellion. It's about demanding a better, kinder world,” says writer Alexandra Rowland, who coined the term hopepunk. There is also a growing scientific community around hopeful and positive futures, including Seeds of Good Anthropocenes, Bright Spots, etc. But in both cases, these small offshoots swim in a sea of dystopia and negativity.
Over two days in October 2023, Montreal 2140: Hopeful Futures in Science and Storytelling will bring together writers, researchers, and students across disciplines to tackle key questions at the nexus of storytelling and the climate crisis. We shall workshop solutions for communicating the climate stories of our time, and explore how scholarly research and speculative fiction can contribute to each other’s worlds – and build a better future for us all.