By Kristen Bristow
It’s a lovely sunny day as you step out of your front door, your organic permaculture farm is thriving as bees buzz in the orchards. Pollinators thrive in your no spray fields, as farm hands pick your fresh produce safe, secure and happy in the knowledge their wages from you are more than enough to support them and their families. A citizen of the city steps out their front door, even in the heart of the city there is little noise as electric cars are the norm but even they are scarce as most prefer to use the reliable green energy public transport options. They walk to the daily market to buy the fresh produce from the local farms and remark on the green walls and avenue of urban trees along the way. Solar panels adorning the roof of every house glint gently in the sunlight as birds sing happily and bees buzz along pollinator highways of the cities’ green roofs.
If anything in that paragraph leapt out to you as a dream come true then I would like to welcome you to the solarpunk movement. If you have never heard of solarpunk before it is easily summed up as a genre of speculative fiction that is also its own distinguished aesthetic. Focusing mainly on renewable energy, living in harmony with nature, and the better future envisioned through both.
Unlike steampunk or cyberpunk dystopian fictions, Solarpunk has a far more positive message to share. Solarpunk styles and fictions vary but the overall trend is a future where humanity has solved or mitigated our major societal and environmental challenges: climate change, pollution, ecosystem collapse, societal inequality and access to resources. At its heart solarpunk is a vision of the best of humanity. You may already have scene solarpunk fiction, the Pokémon series for example showcases some of the core principles of solarpunk such as harmony with nature and renewable energy representation.
This positive outlook on the future is why I first became interested in the solarpunk movement, too often environmentalists give dark warnings and worst case scenarios and so far they have not made enough of an impact. Solarpunk gave me hope, what the future could be. Something to strive towards gives back agency to make a difference, rather than just trying hard as you can to mitigate worst case scenarios.
But why is this fictional utopia important? In many cases science fiction has foreshadowed science fact, like star trek inspiring flip phones. Solarpunk can help us imagine what a sustainable and environmentally sensitive future might look like. Art and fiction inspires people to make those steps towards it.
Conservationists can often fall in the trap of pessimism and foreboding environmental collapse, some of us need a light at the end of the tunnel, something to aim for rather than run from, more organic, permaculture, Fairtrade carrots rather than doomsday apocalyptic sticks.
If you are curious to learn more about solarpunk I recommend reading the solarpunk manifesto:
And find more from me here: