MITIGATION OF SHOCK JOURNAL
Over ten years ago, I did a project that explored scenarios of a ‘post-apocalyptic civilization’. It was a time when the rumblings of climate change had only just begun to be felt in the public domain. Today things are different. It’s hard to escape the news, certainly impossible to not experience the actual effects of extreme weather conditions, just one of the many signs of climate change.
In the last year alone, average temperatures have exceeded recorded averages month upon month, marking seven months of new highs since the end of 2015. February 2016 was recorded at 1.35 degrees Celsius above the long-term average. Migratory patterns and natural behaviours of the planet’s fauna are already changing to adapt to the new normal. James Hanson and his colleagues’ new research demonstrates how the global sea level is likely to increase “several meters over a timescale of 50 to 150 years. As climate change threatens significant change to our planet and society, what will be left of the world we have grown to know, and love?
The history, present, and future of climate change, is also the study of the history, present, and future of inequality and injustice. Will the effects of climate change reinforce or subvert the status quo?
Parallel to these questions is the gravity of predictions and anticipatory warnings from climate researchers, data scientists, and economists, which collides with the lived realities of people living in western democracies. Our lifestyles of access and abundance look set to dramatically change. Row upon row of supermarket shelves, filled with all the food you could want, from all around the world, all year round, so cheap that you can buy two for one and throw one away, will soon be in short supply.
The disconnect between scientific, data driven predictions of global warming, and the lack of immediately visible signs contributes to a space of cognitive dissonance, its implications unsettling and ominous. But it is also a space which offers the opportunity to confront our fears, to experiment with ways in which the shocks of the impact of climate change can be mitigated. It is in this space that we at Superflux have situated our research and design project: Mitigation of Shock.
We want to conduct experimental design responses to first world disasters that are likely to happen in the near future, by prototyping alternatives today. Tools, methods, materials and commons that individuals can learn, use and share in order to gain agency and capacity to mitigate the shock of climate change.
Here are some images from our recent experiments. We are posting our progress on instagram, look out for #projectMoS
If you are working in climate science, food insecurity, global economics, supply chains, or related fields, we’d love to talk to you. Do drop us a line.