FutureCoast: A Voicemail Vision of Climate-to-Be

by | 3.31.2014 at 1:34pm | 2 Comments
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Melting polar glaciers are part of our present and take on a bigger role in our future - IPCC report and/or FutureCoast missive? (photo M. Turrin)

Melting polar glaciers are part of our present and take on a bigger role in our future – part of the IPCC report and/or a FutureCoast missive? (photo M. Turrin)

Melting glaciers, collapsing sea ice, water supplies under stress, increases in storm frequency, impacts on food supply — are we reading a New York Times synopsis of the IPCC report or messages from the future delivered through a software glitch? This is the question being asked from London to California to New York to Alaska as FutureCoast pulls in more and more people to participate in considering a cloud of possible tomorrows.

The future impacts stretch from the far north to the far south.  FutureCoast is collecting input from all parts of our globe. (photo FutureCoast)

The future impacts stretch from the far north to the far south. FutureCoast is collecting input from all parts of our globe. (photo FutureCoast)

FutureCoast.org is the home of this innovative collaborative storytelling project about possible climate changed futures — this is the advent of “CliFi” — Climate Fiction.

Created as one of the Climate Change Education projects of the PoLAR Partnership at Columbia Climate Center, FutureCoast has caught the attention of the public and science museums and has been the subject of numerous articles and blogs, including by Wired Magazine, the Center for the Future of Museums and an interview at the Situation Lab.

Who hasn’t wondered what the future will be like for us and for our planet?  This is your chance to find out!

How does FutureCoast work? The only requirement is your interest in considering “what might be” and a willingness to help be part of creating our future. The situation is this: The software system of the future has sprung a space-time leak. However, since the link is only in voicemail storage, it’s taking decades for it to be fixed. Meanwhile, voicemail messages are being delivered — in some instances falling from the sky — in strange looking coded discs called “chronofacts.”  People have been retrieving these chronofacts from all over the United States and even as far away as Europe. They have been listening to the messages and submitting them to a central clearinghouse that has been set up to host this cloud of possible futures.  Anyone can listen to the messages that people leave for each other in the years 2020 to 2065 – by turns banal, mysterious and terrifying.

Consider this sampling of voicemail topics: A doctor’s office calling a patient to report they have Chikungunya fever, a mosquito-borne illness familiar to Africa and Asia, found in Michigan in 2022; reminiscences from a young adult about the City Fields Mets stadium, now returned to marshland from chronic flooding, New York in 2030; a son calling home from JFK airport noting the elevated runways allowing the airport to remain operational as sea level rises, New York in 2033; marketing calls for incineration protection as firestorm season approaches in Sacramento 2041; food riots in Chicago in 2057…and the chronofacts keep coming in with more and more reports from the future.

A Chronofact containing a possible climate future is collected and awaiting transport for decoding. (photo FutureCoast)

A Chronofact containing a possible climate future is collected and awaiting transport for decoding. (photo FutureCoast)

How can you participate? Go to FutureCoast to scan through these voicemails from the future, speculate about the futures these communications must come from, and link them into timestreams connecting related topics, related areas, related future years. Then continue on to FutureVoices.net and add your voice. Sink into your own climate future using CliFi and imagine how your future will be affected by climate change and record a voicemail to add to the growing library.

Get started now; this project is live only through the end of April. Then tweet about your message and share it with your friends and colleagues — after all we will all share in some type of future together.

The future is up to you! Participate now at FutureCoast.org.

The future is up to you! Participate now at FutureCoast.org.

Note: In the U.S., people can create voicemails from the future simply by calling the FutureCoast Hotline at 321-7FC-OAST. For Alaska, there’s an Anchorage number: 907-331-6398. Internationally, people can Skype to our London Number: (UK) 202 81232371 – it’s free when using Skype. Then use the phone tree to hear example voicemails, get tips on voicemail creation, and to record.

Our PoLAR Project Headquarters: http://thepolarhub.org

More on FutureCoast: futurecoast.org

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2 Responses to “FutureCoast: A Voicemail Vision of Climate-to-Be”

  1. DEC says:

    “neo-luddites” will kill global warming enthusiasts

    This is insulting.

    When you fail to persuade reasonable people for lack of real evidence and real science you resort to intimidation, fear-mongering, and brainwashing. The entire “science” of global warming lacks credibility because it has become politicized.

    This is a too bad because the environment needs to be studied and understood so we can respond to problems in an intelligent way.

    Shame on Columbia University and the National Science Foundation.

  2. Dave Hagner says:

    A perfect acronym: CliFi. Thanks, FutureCoast. No term more effectively or ironically describes the extent to which you have outsmarted yourselves. Don’t feel bad when skeptics co-opt it. I, for one, will give attribution.

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