One way to understand the scope of the planetary crisis is how authors of speculative/science fiction deal with the problem of avoiding self-inflicted human extinction.  Alastair Reynolds composed a page of (fictional) historical reflection in Blue Remembered Earth (2012).

 

Context:

Geoffrey (the primary protagonist) is returning to his home in Africa from a space flight to the Moon. Unbeknownst to him until she speaks, he’s accompanied by a “construct” of his grandmother, Eunice (a main protagonist).

cover_BlueRememberedEarth_Reynolds_2014-06-26 at 7.43.43 PM“Look at that planet. It’s still beautiful. It’s still ours, still our home. The oceans rose, the atmosphere warmed up, the weather went ape-shit, we had stupid, needless wars. And yet we still found a way to ride it out, to stay alive. To do more than just survive. To come out of all that and still feel like we have a home.” (Eunice,  p. 167)

Geoffrey and Eunice are in “the recuperation and observation deck . . . Africa lay spread out . . . in all its astonishing variegated vastness. The Libreville anchorpoint was actually a hundred kilometers south of its namesake city and as far west again, built out into the Atlantic. Looking straight down, he could see the grey scratch of the sea-battered artificial peninsula daggering from the Gabon coastline, with the anchorpoint a circular widening at its westerly end.

To the north, beginning to be pulled out of sight by the curvature of the Earth, lay the great, barely inhabited emptiness of Saharan Africa, from Mauritania to the Sudan. Tens of millions of people had lived there, until not much more than a century ago—enough to cram the densest megacity anywhere on the planet. Clustered  around the tiny life-giving motes of oases and rivers, those millions had left the emptiness practically untouched. Daunting persistence had been required to make a living in those desert spaces, where appalling hardship was only ever a famine or drought away. But people had done so, successfully, for thousands of years. It was only the coming of the Anthropocene, the human-instigated climate shift of recent centuries, that had finally brought the Saharan depopulation. In mere lifetimes, the entire region had been subject to massive planned migration. Mali, Chad, Niger . . . these were political entities that still existed, but only in the most abstract and technical of senses., their borders still recorded, their GDPs still tracked. Almost no one actually lived in them, save a skeleton staff of AU caretakers and industrialists.

The rising sea levels of the twenty-first century had scarcely dented Africa’s coastline, and much of what would have been lost to the oceans had been conserved by thousands of kilometres of walled defenses thrown up in haste and later buttressed and secured against further inundation. But there was no sense that Africa had been spared. The shifting of the monsoon had stolen the rains from one part and redistributed them elsewhere—parching the Congo, anointing the formerly arid sub-Saharan Sahel region from Guinea to Nigeria.

Change on that kind of scale, a literal redrawing of the map, could never be painless. There had been testing times, the Resource and Reallocation years: almost the worst that people could bear. Yet these were Africans, used to that kind of thing. They had come through the grim tunnel of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and made it out the other side. And at least climate change didn’t ride into town with tanks and guns and machetes.

For the most part. It was pointless to pretend that there hadn’t been outbreaks of local stupidity, micro-atrocities. Ethnic tensions, simmering for decades, had flared up at the least provocation. But that was the case the world over; it wasn’t a uniquely African problem.

A million glints of sunlight spangled back at Geoffrey from the central Saharan energy belt. When people moved away, machines had arrived. In their wake they had left regimented arrays of solar collectors, ranks of photovoltaic cells and long, stately chains of solar towers, fed by sun-tracking mirrors as large as radio telescopes. The energy belt stretched for thousands of kilometres, from the Middle East out into the Atlantic, across the ocean to the Southern United States, and it wrapped humming, superconducting tentacles around the rest of the planet, giving power to dense new conurbations in Scandinavia, Greenland, Patagonia, and Western Antarctica. Where there had been ice a hundred and fifty years ago, much was now green or the warm bruised grey of dense urban infrastructure. Half of the world’s entire energy needs were supplied by Saharan sunlight, or had been until the fusion reactors began to shoulder the burden. By some measure, the energy belt was evidence of global calamity, the visible symptom of a debilitating planetary crisis. It was also, inarguably, something rather wonderful to behold.” (pp.165-166. Ace: New York)

 

 

#KRKTR is an open game for everyone interested in developing individual character and social resilience.

Points are earned for promoting and continuing communication, especially across different topics and among different groups. The idea is that both character and resilience are built at the intersections.

Rules

This ReTweet is worth 700 points: 100 (tweet itself) + 100 (it's a RT) + 500 (First Response).

This ReTweet is worth 700 points: 100 (tweet itself) + 100 (it’s a RT) + 500 (First Response).

  1. Every Tweet must include the hashtag #KRKTR
  2. Conference-based players should also include the conference hashtag, e.g., #NCORE2014
  3. All players, including non-conference players, may include other relevant hashtags
  4. Official play has distinct start and end times, announced by @KRKTR_HUB (all players are encouraged to follow @KRKTR_HUB but this is not a requirement).
  5. Unofficial play is continuous.
  6. This is a good faith game.
  7. Stimulating laughter is welcome; exercise good taste!
  8. Playing #KRKTR is an assertion of shine, all players are Bright Allies.
This ReTweet is worth 700 points.

This ReTweet is worth 700 points.

Points

  • 100 points per Tweet (remember it has to conform to the Rules above)
    • Plus 200 points if your Tweet is a Reply to another’s Tweet (be sure to include the #KRKTR hashtag!)
    • Plus 100 points if your Tweet is a ReTweet (don’t lose the #KRKTR hashtag!)
    • Plus 500 points if your Tweet is the First Response (as determined by the timelines at twitter.com/KRKTR_HUB and twubs.com/KRKTR)
    • Plus 250 points if your Tweet is the Second Response 
    • Plus 100 points if your Tweet is the Third Response or later; all additional responses earn +100 points
    • The Last Response in each thread earns all the points accumulated in that thread: 500 + 250 + 100 x (nbr of additional Tweets) NOTE: The Last Response is determined by the end of official game play as announced by @KRKTR_HUB.
1500 Points for SJEchat (800 + 700)...will elhistoryprof continue the conversation?

If this was official game play: 1500 points for SJEchat (800 + 700)…will elhistoryprof continue the conversation?

Threads

A thread is created whenever Replies and/or ReTweets are made to any original Tweet that includes the #KRKTR hashtag.

  • Previous Tweets from the #KRKTR archive can be ReTweeted or Replied to in order to earn points during official game play.
  • Threads can originate from any #KRKTR player.
  • Threads originated by @KRKTR_HUB may become privileged. (Haven’t figured this part out yet.)
  • Serious #KRKTR players are encouraged not to respond to “bad will” Tweets. Let them die alone and quickly.
Connecting issues across populations using hashtags. NOTE: The #KRKTR hashtag is missing = no points during official game play.

Connecting issues across populations using hashtags. NOTE: The #KRKTR hashtag is missing = no points during official game play.

Hashtags

Advanced play involves careful and strategic use of hashtags to make connections whenever an intersection appears.

Cultivation of a connection across two different discourses (as organized by the hashtag) requires repetition and persistence.

Rather than hashtagging every word, be focused and deliberate about the connection you’re trying to forge.

Prizes

Prizes will be announced as sponsors come forth with them.  (Negotiations are underway. Contact Steph with offers for this and future rounds of play.)

 

At the end of May, I’ll be presenting two major workshops at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) in higher education.

 

One presentation, called Social Interpreting: An emerging model of simultaneous interactioninvolves Babelverse, which you can learn about by watching this 20 minute video prepared for the @ think! Interpreting conference in Istanbul (March, 2014).

 

 

The second workshop is called Transmedia Character Building for Social Resilience. It promotes the idea that building character (#KRKTR) is an idea that can unify people across all kinds of divisions, and contribute to establishing locally-oriented community connections both within and beyond traditional power structures.

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