Yves Abanda
BSc Physics and Environment
BLUE Fellow
|
Fall
2020
Understanding the impact of future narratives on behavior, health and capacity to sustain a society
BLUE Fellow
Fall
2020

Background

I graduated from McGill with a Bachelors of Liberal Sciences in physics with a minor in environmental studies in 2020. As an undergraduate student, I underwent a profound existential and spiritual crisis. It felt like the structure of education I was immersed in was obsolete compared to the reality of the predicaments I believed our generation and the unborn was about to face.

Our relationship to the future - expectations, narratives, domains of certainty/uncertainty/possibility, beliefs and desires/fears about what shall and could unfold - seems to affect our decisions on how to presently live our lives. They also seem tied to our value systems and emotional and psychological wellbeing : on the road to our deepest dreams lie our greatest fears. On a larger scale, I hypothesize that looking at the predictions and prophecies societies take to be true, as well as who gains from/has the power to forge and disseminate beliefs about the future can tell us a lot about their functioning and likelihood to last. I am reminded of this every time I hear about the eco-anxiety and resolve of a collapsonaut flirting with the doomsday apocalypse, or when I encounter the optimism and magnetism of narratives of technological development, the future of AI, nuclear fusion or the terraformation of Mars brightening the future of mankind like the promised land.

By zooming in on these two stereotyped postures , my project "Dreaming of Mars in the face of collapse : deep adaptation and decolonization of our relationships to possible and uncertain futures" explores our relationship to the future in terms of how it affects our behaviour, health, and capacity to sustain a society.

Prophecies of Mars in the face of Collapse: Deep Adaptation and Decolonization of our relationship to possible and uncertain futures

Dreaming of Mars in the face of Collapse refers to a pivotal conversation I had with a friend that is both an environmental activist and a student in Finance. He believed to the bone that humanity would have colonized Mars by 2100 - and that it was its only ultimate chance for survival. I believed that our global civilization was on the brink of “collapse” (remember the Roman Empire did not collapse in one day - it’s a gradual process punctuated with brutal events) and that our global predicament would prevent us from ever seriously settling Mars. I realized that it was as if he and I followed different prophets and prophecies about the future, and noted how similarly different our pathways of action and strategies for societal change were.

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