Monday, October 13, 2008

Scotland 2050

The David Hume Institute, an Edinburgh think-tank, is tomorrow publishing a report called "Reducing Carbon Emissions - the View from 2050". It is already available for download from here. In it, sixteen experts in different fields were asked to offer a retrospective on the effects on climate change on 21st century Scotland from an imagined standpoint in the year 2050. A summary of their crystal-ball gazing can be found here. The report offers a range of scenarios reflecting the areas of concern of the writers: from refugee movements, energy production and political instability to the rise of a Vegan Party and a renewal of eco-spirituality. One of the authors, Michael Northcott, is Professor of Ethics here at the School of Divinity in Edinburgh University.

Such predictions are usually wrong, often humorously so. The range of factors affecting the possible outcomes are myriad and complex in their interactions. But the value of these predictions does not lie in their accuracy. Instead, such pictures act as invitations to our imaginations and affections to come and see the world in a particular way, to try loving certain aspects of it and recognising present and potential threats to those good things. We can only resolve upon particular actions here and now, not in fifty years time or fifty years ago. But imaginative anticipation and memory are crucial elements in our deliberations and in the shaping of the loves and hopes that bind us together.