In Cory Doctorow’s latest podcast episode he reads from his article “Science fiction and the unforeseeable future: In the 2020s, let’s imagine better things“. It lays out that speculative fiction is more valuable as a way to present possibilities we can choose among rather than as prognostications. It presents a brilliant possible future for Canada as an example.
Canada goes on a war footing: Full employment is guaranteed to anyone who will work on the energy transition – building wind, tide and solar facilities; power storage systems; electrified transit systems; high-speed rail; and retrofits to existing housing stock for an order-of-magnitude increase in energy and thermal efficiency. All of these are entirely precedented – retrofitting the housing stock is not so different from the job we undertook to purge our homes of lead paint and asbestos, and the cause every bit as urgent.
With the economy at full employment, our research institutes will turn to full-time work on climate remediation – new materials, new energy, new power storage. Our internet-based digital nervous system will be steered away from surveillance and extraction and into better co-ordination so we can enjoy abundance without maxing out our raw materials, emptying our garages and closets of low-quality, low-use items (such as suitcases, lawnmowers, power drills and other items most of us don’t use often enough to justify buying a decent one) with shared, circulating items that are of higher quality than any of us would have bought for ourselves.
Our country’s sprawling geography offers Canada a unique advantage: In a country as big as ours, the wind is always blowing somewhere, and even on the cloudiest day in one province, there’s sun in another. What could be more science fictional to the last generation to live under neoliberal capitalism than to imagine abundant leisure?