Technological advancement, economic development, population increase – are they signs of a thriving society? Or too much of a good thing? Based on the best-selling book A Short History of Progress, this provocative documentary explores the concept of progress in our modern world, guiding us through a sweeping but detailed survey of the major “progress traps” facing our civilization in the arenas of technology, economics, consumption, and the environment. Continue reading Now Showing: Surviving Progress
The Year of the Flood
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2009, 448 pages.
Information is important, but stories are essential. While scientists can tell us about the extinction of species and the loss of Arctic sea ice, we need stories to help us make sense of these events.
But we are buried in unfinished stories. After decades of expert analysis, we remain unable to sketch a narrative of how to get from here to a sustainable future. From climate change to the fate of bees, we just don’t know how it will turn out.
Perhaps that’s why there is so much appetite for films and books that know how to finish a story. The big movie this year is Avatar – a tale of conquest and defence of nature and homeland. As with much speculative fiction – recall Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four or the fable at the start of Silent Spring – stories are often not just about the future, but about their own time. They confront the fear that we are walking into disaster, and the hope that we may yet get it right.
In 2009, Canadian authors told two of the more interesting such stories. In Douglas Coupland’s Generation A, bees sting into motion bizarre events involving five characters from around the planet, and Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood takes genetic manipulation and corporate control into grim territory.