FutureCoast: A Voicemail Vision of Climate-to-Be
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.
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.
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.
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