The Nature of the Future

3 min read

Precisely 50 years ago, in June 1972, Stockholm held the first United Nations’ conference dedicated to human environment, where 26 principles aimed at environmental protection were adopted. Fifty years later, the temperature has risen more than in any other 50-year period in the last ten millennia. The concentration of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by one third and five times more energy is consumed. There are more than twice as many people, but around 60% of all animals have died out, with more than half of the coral reefs destroyed.

Quite devastating, isn’t it, but perhaps it is still more important that we are comfortable – soft, warm/cold and comfortable, no matter how long it lasts… However, the problem is that it may not last if we keep going this way because climate calculation has to include exponential and intertwined impacts of many different events happening in nature.

The climate crisis is deep, all-pervading and extremely hermetic. The complex feedback loop of processes, causes and effects results in doubt and hesitation, even though it is evident that the (re)action needs to be immediate, as well as that it needs to take on a global and universal character. In a world so divided by (in)visible dividing lines, it is almost certain that this will not happen, or that it won’t happen in time.

What are our alternatives? Quite directly, propelled by science but rather shyly or concisely communicated messages tell that the human civilization is threatened to collapse before the end of this century. It sounds harsh, but I the author and you who are reading this will almost certainly not be alive by then. However, our children and their children will face the potential first wave of extinction of our species. Their possibilities to adapt will be drastically reduced even though the space for action has already been radically narrowed down.

Although these predictions certainly do not seem encouraging, there is still a possibility of choice. In a spectrum of bad and worse scenarios, it might be worth remembering what it means to be human, homo compard to all other species, and what it means to be humane, humanist, humanitarian. Although linguistically incorrect, a possible synonym and a unifying factor could be solidarity, that which unites, supports and empowers us! Behind the veil of solidarity, many great troubles have been overcome, although humanity has never before faced such a devastating and complex adversary as climate changes.

What is certainly crucial or even critical is arming the global community with something that might be called climate literacy, as a set of knowledge and skills required for understanding the phenomenon of climate change, events that accompany it and possible measures to adapt to or avoid consequences. With this in mind, the Center for the Promotion of Science, together with its Novi Sad partners and with the support of Novi Sad 2022 Foundation, launched a project called EkOtisak (eco footprint), as an interdisciplinary space dedicated to scientific, artistic and educational practices and knowledge. Our goal is to offer one alternative, highly overlooked perspective which might offer additional strength or motivation to accept reality and come to grips with what we created. As someone would say, we need to be more human and less mere observers of our own destiny.

Dobrivoje Lale Erić
Curator of the art+science EkOtisak program