Violent Climate Imaginaries: Science-Fiction-Politics


There are many ways in which climate futures can be envisioned, such as global and regional climate models, scenarios of future emission trajectories, or pathways and visions of societal transformation. All these anticipatory practices aim to make the climatic future knowable in the present. In so doing, they quite often envision a climatic future that is inherently violent: a future marked by disasters, wars, mass migration, turmoil, and terror. This working paper seeks to explain the popularity and tenacity of such violent imaginaries of (future) climate change in scientific research, popular culture, and political discourse. For this, it asks two interrelated questions: First, how do violent imaginaries of future climate change come about? Second, why and how do these imaginaries circulate and proliferate? To answer these questions, the paper provides a discussion of the concept of “violence” and elaborates how different forms of it are featured in imaginaries of future climate change. On this basis, the paper then traces three different modes of future-making that together produce and reproduce violent climate imaginaries: modeling the future, writing the future, and visualizing the future. Finally, the paper proposes and discusses several factors that could help explaining the circulation of violent climate imaginaries between the fields of science, fiction, and politics. These factors include the existence of an interdiscourse that bridges different specialized discourses, the broader political economy of imaginaries, interpersonal relations between actors in different fields, and the coproduction of dominant imaginaries with broader technological developments

    Similar works