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Solarpunk

sustainable energy future vision population humanism coexistance harmony ecosystem biosphere

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#1
zEVerzan

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Many of us, being generally concerned with cultural trends, have likely brushed up against solarpunk as the vision begins to take form.

 

Cyberpunk, more than just an aesthetic, was a vision that took shape in the 80s depicting dystopian worlds ruined by the nightmarish consequences of rampant capitalism. Over the decades however, the aesthetic alone has come to be more or less glamorized to the point that many look forward to the idea of smog-choked skies and neon-lit hive-cities ruled by ruthless megacorps and bloated governments. These days I consider cyberpunk a warning that failed because many now desire a world like it.

 

Solarpunk builds on the core warnings of cyberpunk but reacts to them by portraying solutions toward avoiding the dystopia, often a post-dystopian world with qualities such as:

 

Small-scale community - self-sufficient, relatively low-population urban centers with an emphasis on local leadership rather than national or world-spanning systems of power. In order to consolidate supply lines for food, everything would be grown locally.

 

DIY craftsmanship - with an emphasis on practical skills like engineering and recycling in order to make it last. With solarpunk engineering, if something isn't robust enough to last, it ought to be recyclable or modular enough to be reclaimed for another purpose.

 

Renewable green energy - freeing ourselves from the reliance on a globe-spanning energy grid supplied by coal, oil, and nuclear, powering civilization on local renewable sources like hydroelectric, wind, solar, and geothermal is the ideal.

 

Advanced technology - with the caveat of scaling back large-scale heavy industries. Instead of using technology to focus on infinite economic growth around the world, it should be used toward building life itself. Modern-day informations technology is scarcely comprehensible to a layman and relies on a model of planned obsolescence to advance.

 

Recovering ecology - often portrayed by an ABUNDANCE of wild flora and fauna coexisting with an otherwise urban environment. Human development ought to bolster ecosystems rather than harm them.

 

Solarpunk+City+1200.jpg?format=1000w&con

 

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Some skills I could see existing in solarpunk:

  • hydroponic farming
  • chipsmithing
  • ecologic
  • urban gardening
  • generator crafting

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#2
funkervogt

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How does AGI fit into this?

#3
zEVerzan

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I don't see why they'd be necessarily opposed other than for the fact that AGI presumably consumes a large share of energy to facilitate its calculations. Supporting it through infrastructure would be the challenge that determines whether the AGI is worth the cost.

 

More than any other technology AGI represents a wild card, but like any technology, the benefit of AGI depends on what it's used for. I'd like to think it would derive more personal fulfilment from planning to optimize human enrichment, researching sustainable technologies and problem-solving around the challenge of advancing both technology/infrastructure and ecological sustainability.

 

Because as we all know, nothing is more enjoyable than the overseeing of development and the distribution of resources through an urban environment. There's a whole genre of video games around it - more enjoyable than day-trading at least.

 

Hopefully within society itself AGI would take on a more egalitarian role like an advisor than an almighty ruler - just because that sounds nice.

 

The general theme is making technology and nature work for each other.


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#4
Yuli Ban

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What Mother Meki was trending ultra-heavily towards
I feel this is really stressing the term "punk." Not that I prefer "post-cyberpunk" or "cyberprep," but presumably the issues in a solarpunk world aren't going to revolve around the failings of society as a whole, at least on such a systemic level in the genre.
 
Needless pedantism on my part, don't worry. I've heard so much about solarpunk in the past decade and view it as exactly what our society needs. We're so drunk on pessimism and cynicism that we've somehow managed to defang a genre as explosively political as cyberpunk into nothing more than detective and cop stories with a neo-exoticist coat of neon paint. It's considered a waste of time asking "what if things were better?" when that's exactly the opposite point the original punks were making. They said that nothing would ever get better under the current system. But as we live under that system, those last four words have conveniently been scratched off over the years.
 
Something like solarpunk and some robonomics and an Antemillennialist worldview would recharge things, I'm sure.

 

The danger that cyberpunks and pessimist-science fiction authors were raising was this view that high tech and undefined "change" would magically lead to a utopian world that was beyond the darkness of the early-20th century writers who foretold of totalitarian regimes crushing humanity's spirit. Or in other words, "that drug dealers and prostitutes would still exist in the world of Star Trek." Even if all basic needs are met by the robots, if we still have the system we have now, there'll still be scarcity mindsets. People will still become addicted to drugs or have murderous psychopathic tendencies no matter how pleasant, egalitarian, and peaceful society is— the human brain's dopamine reaction to heroin doesn't give ten-quadrillionths of a shit about whether or not private property's been abolished. So clearly the future won't be all sunshine and rainbows even in an ideal future, and we weren't trending towards an ideal future, so why not show where these trends of the present can lead? 

That's not to say that showing an optimistic view of things is wrong. If anything, it's a good break to show us what things could still be. So long as you don't get wrapped up in utopic hyper-idealism and can handle the idea that a bunch of tragic things and inconveniences a dystopia does not make, go tell that story in a future society better than the one we have now.

 

However, as aforementioned, that's become a harder and harder sell for a lot of people who are now only in it for the aesthetics and the cynic-porn.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#5
caltrek

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To be honest, I do not have much of an understanding as to any of the "punk" genre.  What solar punk does remind me of is what an earlier generation called "appropriate technology."  I started a thread on that which I will link here:

 

http://www.futuretim...ate-technology/

 

The thread never took off in the way that I had hoped.  I think part of the problem is that "appropriate technology" is such a dull technocratic sounding term.  It is also unsatisfactory to both environmentalists and high tech enthusiasts, so neither camp embraces it for different reasons.  "Solar Punk " might actually have the advantage of being a more interesting way of labeling and expanding upon the whole idea.

 

Highly influential to the whole appropriate technology movement was E.F Schumacher, who wrote a book entitled Small is BeautifulSchumacher was in turn inspired by the philosophy of Gandhi.  I think the opening post is very much in the spirit of these earlier thinkers.

 

I also liked the illustrations posted.  I noticed that "architecture" was not listed as a tag word for the topic, but the illustrations did suggest to me a whole new approach to both urban (and rural) planning and to the whole field of architecture.  Being a bit of a country boy myself, urban architecture often strikes me as being ugly in a brutal sort of way.  A more conscious blending of nature, natural lighting, water, etc would be a quite welcome development.  


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#6
zEVerzan

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I think "punk" is a more than appropriate term to describe it. If you can define the punk subculture as being generally anti-establishment with a focus around DIY techniques and individual freedoms, solarpunk is that to a T.

 

The term "appropriate technology" makes me think of broad, manicured lawn-park campuses dotted with sleek, glass-and-steel architecture. A very neutered, corporate, utopian vision.

 

Like you said, technocratic.

 

Solarpunk is not that. Solarpunk is a down-and-dirty, lived-in, used-future, often post-dystopian, - but your life is better for it. You know how your tech works; you know a guy who crafts stained-glass solar panels; you know how to wire them to the grid with your soil-covered hands. The weeds and wildflowers are everywhere, and that's a good thing because it means the world is recovering.

 

One of my favorite solarpunk tropes is seeing the ruin of a futuristic, cyberpunk modernity; with the implication that the continuation of modern ways led to the decline of civilization, and now that it's further in the future, people are rebuilding civilization back better, cleaner, and wiser.


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#7
Cyber_Rebel

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^ That sounds more post-apocalyptic than anything else, the "punk" aspect you mention isn't really rebelling against anything other than the former way of life. I guess that's still a valid take, but when it comes to a new genre like "Solarpunk" which most people envision to be more eutopic in nature, I'd suggest asking some core questions:

Can a Solarpunk society work within a Capitalistic framework? One might instantly believe no given current history, but is that truly the case? What if a benevolent mega-corp decided sustainable energy is better in the long term for profits? Healthier people means a healthier society, which translates to better growth projections. Of course, this risk crossing over with post-cyberpunk, and I guess the "punk" aspect of this is ensuring your group, clique, or whatever you may be apart of gets a piece of this bright new pie. A point of conflict in this scenario may be an exploitation over energy allocation and regions still stricken in old world living conditions. 

Can Solarpunk exist outside of the Capitalistic framework? If so, then is what form? This may be what most who envision a utopia gravitate towards, a society where we've eliminated the flaws of our current corrupt fossil fuel polluted system. What does society look like and how is it maintained? Is the state the dominant entity in order to secure everyone's well being, and the large scale urban planning? (I think Archologies would be prevalent) A core feature and warning of Cyberpunk fiction often is the weakness of government as it has been either bought out or outright replaced by corrupt mega-corps. Such a society may then be thought of as collectivist in nature, as the values are much more egalitarian. What challenges and sacrifices did it take to reach this society?

Then there's all the other little details, such as sexuality, humanity, purpose, progress and how it's defined, etc. Cyberpunk tackled these issues, so Solarpunk would need to as well if it's intended purpose is to be a solution to the issues of the former.

Your opening post would hint at a society a lot more decentralized, which is fine, but I'd consider every possibility. "Solarpunk" needs to stand out on its own in order to be a viable future alternative. Every bit as advanced if not more so than Cyberpunk, so as to not equate it with "bamboo" technology, or primitive archaism. 



#8
zEVerzan

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Then there's all the other little details, such as sexuality, humanity, purpose, progress and how it's defined, etc. Cyberpunk tackled these issues, so Solarpunk would need to as well if it's intended purpose is to be a solution to the issues of the former.

Your opening post would hint at a society a lot more decentralized, which is fine, but I'd consider every possibility. "Solarpunk" needs to stand out on its own in order to be a viable future alternative. Every bit as advanced if not more so than Cyberpunk, so as to not equate it with "bamboo" technology, or primitive archaism. 

 

I suppose the assumption at the heart of Solarpunk is that worlds as depicted by Cyberpunk...

  • overpopulated, polluted, elderly cities...
  • existing among ecologically devastated planets...
  • ruled by rampant capitalism, vast and ossified institutions, and multinational megacorporations...
  • faced with technologies that subvert the human condition rather than enhance it...

...are not only dystopian as intended, they're inherently unsustainable on their face - and such a world is where we're headed.

 

How could a cyberpunk-style civilization last a human lifetime, let alone centuries or millennia? Being always within the throes of such aggressive change, isn't it only a matter of time before the internal contradictions of such a society lead to its collapse if we aren't saved by hand-wavey techbro solutions?

 

So how do we avoid that? And if we can't avoid that, what comes after it? If we're already in a cyberpunk world, could we run off to the hills and found the futuristic social-equivalent of an Amish settlement without eschewing the technology and QoL?

 

To address your other questions individually:

  • sexuality: solarpunk leans toward a great degree of social anarchism with few stigmas around sexuality. Expect polycules and creches to be as socially acceptable as the suburban nuclear family.
  • humanity: some degree of transhumanism isn't incompatible with solarpunk, as no knowledge of medicine, bioengineering and cybernetics ought to be lost - the thing that really matters is how it's used. I can only imagine that your average billionaire's ambitions to reject humanity altogether and ascend to become our digital god-king would be frowned upon to put it lightly.
  • purpose: community, beauty, to work toward a better planet and an ever more fulfilling, sustainable way of life.
  • progress: where civilization and nature work for each other rather than against each other, progress is when greater degrees of harmony are reached and the various destructive consequences of the anthropocene are mitigated or undone. For example, is it possible to use bioengineering technology to craft an intricate ecosystem from scratch that also generates power?

The "punk" in solarpunk refers to the rebellion against notions of progress as defined by billionaires who've looked at the warnings of cyberpunk and said, "...yeah. That's the world I want"

 

Solarpunk: Notes Toward A Manifesto

It’s hard out here for futurists under 30.

 

As we percolated through our respective nations’ education systems, we were exposed to WorldChanging and TED talks, to artfully-designed green consumerism and sustainable development NGOs. Yet we also grew up with doomsday predictions slated to hit before our expected retirement ages, with the slow but inexorable militarization of metropolitan police departments, with the failure of the existing political order to deal with the existential-but-not-yet-urgent threat of climate change. Many of us feel it’s unethical to bring children into a world like ours. We have grown up under a shadow, and if we sometimes resemble fungus it should be taken as a credit to our adaptability.

 

We’re solarpunks because the only other options are denial or despair.

 

The promises offered by most Singulatarians and Transhumanists are individualist and unsustainable: How many of them are scoped for a world where energy is not cheap and plentiful, to say nothing of rare earth elements?

 

Solarpunk is about finding ways to make life more wonderful for us right now, and more importantly for the generations that follow us – i.e., extending human life at the species level, rather than individually. Our future must involve repurposing and creating new things from what we already have (instead of 20th century “destroy it all and build something completely different” modernism). Our futurism is not nihilistic like cyberpunk and it avoids steampunk’s potentially quasi-reactionary tendencies: it is about ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community.

 

And yes, there’s a -punk there, and not just because it’s become a trendy suffix. There’s an oppositional quality to solarpunk, but it’s an opposition that begins with infrastructure as a form of resistance. We’re already seeing it in the struggles of public utilities to deal with the explosion in rooftop solar. “Dealing with infrastructure is a protection against being robbed of one’s self-determination,” said Chokwe Lumumba, the late mayor of Jackson, MS, and he was right. Certainly there are good reasons to have a grid, and we don’t want it to rot away, but one of the healthy things about local resilience is that it puts you in a much better bargaining position against the people who might want to shut you off (We’re looking at you, Detroit).

 

Solarpunk punkSolarpunk draws on the ideal of Jefferson’s yeoman farmer, Ghandi’s ideal of swadeshi and subsequent Salt March, and countless other traditions of innovative dissent. (FWIW, both Ghandi and Jefferson were inventors.)

 

The visual aesthetics of Solarpunk are open and evolving. As it stands, it’s a mash-up of the following:

 

1800s age-of-sail/frontier living (but with more bicycles)

Creative reuse of existing infrastructure (sometimes post-apocalyptic, sometimes present-weird)

Jugaad-style innovation from the developing world

High-tech backends with simple, elegant outputs

Obviously, the further you get into the future, the more ambitious you can get. In the long-term, solarpunk takes the images we’ve been fed by bright-green blogs and draws them out further, longer, and deeper. Imagine permaculturists thinking in cathedral time. Consider terraced irrigation systems that also act as fluidic computers. Contemplate the life of a Department of Reclamation officer managing a sparsely populated American southwest given over to solar collection and pump storage. Imagine “smart cities” being junked in favor of smart citizenry.

 

Tumblr lit up within the last week from this post envisioning a form of solar punk with an art nouveau Edwardian-garden aesthetic, which is gorgeous and reminds me of Miyazaki. There’s something lovely in the way it reacts against the mainstream visions of overly smooth, clean, white modernist iPod futures. Solarpunk is a future with a human face and dirt behind its ears.

 


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#9
zEVerzan

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y2js5jla94t61.jpg


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#10
Erowind

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Arcosanti pics 

 

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Arcosanti-Jessica-Jameson_5ED0803A-25E1-







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: sustainable, energy, future, vision, population, humanism, coexistance, harmony, ecosystem, biosphere

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