Is Solar Punk Our Future?

In the midst of growing climate concerns and a deepening crisis, the Solarpunk movement offers an optimistic vision of the future: a radically different social and economic structure in harmony with nature. A possible way forward to nature?
25 November, 2022 by
Is Solar Punk Our Future?
GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

Solar punks could be described as the radically optimistic version of the climate youth. They envision a future in which people have overcome the great ecological and social crises of our time and created a safe, fair world in the process. This is powered by clean energy and organised on the basis of communal social ideals. Cities are reimagined as living spaces that are "more than human". They are home to different forms of life that coexist with each other.

Solarpunk originally emerged in 2008 as an art genre that saw itself as the antithesis of the cyberpunk aesthetic. Cyberpunk, in turn, is a subgenre of science fiction whose main features include futuristic technologies such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics. They are juxtaposed with themes such as societal collapse or monolithic corporations. Cyberpunk, the precursor of solar punk, is thus a movement rooted in people's fears of the rapidly evolving technological age.

The art genre of solar punk developed into a movement and subculture that postulates concrete ideas for the future. Outside of any fiction, there are already more and more biophilic designs, for example, for residential buildings or shopping centres, that integrate natural elements into the built environment. They are intended to improve public well-being and sustainability. For example, the Gardens by the Bay or the Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore.

Solarpunk also stimulates discussion about current systemic problems and the need for social change. The interest in these ideas is reflected, among other things, in the increasing popularity of concepts such as the degrowth economy. In it, resource consumption is to be reduced, and growth is to be achieved not through economic expansion but through ecological and social justice.

Find out more about the Solarpunks here – and on the 19th European Trend Day, we will discuss a new relationship between humans and nature. On the theme Biophilia: When Nature Becomes the New Tech, experts will show how the understanding of nature and our relationship with it is changing. At the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute on 8 March 2023, we will present new findings from research and the most exciting start-ups in the bioeconomy.

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