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Solarpunk: A new horizon for the future

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ashoka chapter.

Edited by: Mohan Rajagopal

Ever wondered what a sustainable civilization would look like? How will we build one? I am sure most of us are so resigned to our fates that the prospects of having a future itself seem grim, be it sustainable or otherwise. In order to dispel the darkness of this doomsday gloom, Solarpunk has arisen like the Sun on the future’s horizon. It emphasises in its 22-point manifesto, the commitment to envisioning and bringing to bear a sustainable, optimistic, and green future. All of us, in our early twenties, must take inspiration and if possible, in our own small way, make an effort to usher in this or similarly positive visions of the future.

This article will benefit the reader better if they browse the web for exquisite artistic visualisations of what a Solarpunk aesthetic is actually like. The word Solarpunk might remind one of terms like Steampunk or Cyberpunk, depending on what social circles one is a part of. Certainly, it is part of that tradition of aesthetic-cultural movements, but is neither beset with the technology-driven nihilism of Cyberpunk, nor akin to the anachronistic, semi-reactionary theme of Steampunk. It wants to end scarcity, hierarchy, and soulless capitalism. It wants a humanity which sees itself as a part of nature and uses clean energy only. At the same time, it lives up to the Punk genre by challenging the mainstream view and daring to do something new and radical. One way in which it wishes to do that is to focus on building small and diverse self-sustaining communities which celebrate ingenuity, independence and what the future has to offer. It does not shun progress; instead, it chooses only those paths which align with its core values, like environmental sustainability and social justice.

Solarpunk does not depend on large governments or corporations to solve the problems of the world. It gives the people their agency back. Embracing a maker culture, local solutions for energy, water supply, and waste management are sought while also making use of automation technology. It gives space to large movements in their own right, like New Urbanism and New Pedestrianism. The concrete jungle which alienates and breaks the bonds between people and the earth is replaced by several small communities which are buzzing with activity and sharing the earth with other animals and plants. Science is used to help build and nurture an ecosystem where humans take great care not to disturb the balance of nature. The movement accepts limits to growth and does not advocate living beyond one’s needs. Mass-produced consumerism does not promote simple and meaningful life. Similarly, a centralised and heavily bureaucratic state can’t govern humanity effectively. People have to take charge of their destinies and be responsible for the policies and laws which they choose to apply to themselves.

As college students, we too must try to reduce our consumption and only use those technologies which are absolutely necessary for us. Whether it is minimising water consumption and waste generation, or even taking the stairs from time to time, it all shapes our mindset. Instead of buying fancy brands, how many times have we spared a thought to support the struggling local producers? The portion of money deducted for a charity that a multinational company claims is better utilised if spent on promoting and preserving locally sourced products. What the future will bring is something we can’t change, we are now too far down the road to turn back. However, we must prepare ourselves for what will come after and begin making ourselves a part of movements like Solarpunk.

Our activism should focus on the principles of universal acceptance and peaceful coexistence. The sooner we realise that we are one family with one future, the smoother our road to recovery and equilibrium will be, after the many crises of the present and those of the future, come to an end.

Srijay Raj

Ashoka '23

I am interested in spirituality, music, films and politics.