When we think of the future, what does mainstream media show us? On the side of the dystopic: behemoth brutalist architecture bathed in glaring neon billboards, holographic advertisements flashing through steam and smoke. Roaming drones and militarized robots. On the utopic: hermetically-sealed structures just as goliath but perhaps designed with a more open, translucent façade. Glass and steel intertwined with trees and ferns to suggest eco-civilized harmony; pristine white interior design with the occasional pop of green from an austere, well-placed bonsai. In these fictional hyper-Anthropocene futures, we grapple with our anthropocentric anxieties: resource scarcity, severe deprivation, and economic quality of life.
But where is nature, the very literal bedrock of our future, in all of these imaginings? In our global culture of capitalism and consumerism, nature has been reduced to a commodity and the futures explored by our most revered storytellers maintain this status quo of leaving the land out of the future. How can we disentangle capitalism, nature, and our narcissistic vision of the future? How is the concept of progress corrupted by imperialist capitalism? And what does a future look like with nature at the fore instead of our own “standard of living”?