Fiction (or simply a space to dream crazy worlds) is critical in the development of disruptive change – it allows the development of revolutionary processes rather than the evolutionary processes that currently dominate environmental science.
While some fiction allows us to imagine worlds where dragons spit fire, dead people walk around as drunkards and trees talk to one another some ideas propose far-fetched ideas with a shred of realism. I vividly remember hyper-speed space travel (Star Wars), computer chips in our brains (Feed) and the Hoverboard (Back to the Future). These crazy technologies imagined 10-30 years ago are now actually developed (NASA’s deep space missions, Elon Musk’s Neuralink, Lexus’ Slide).
To explain my position further on evolutionary vs. revolutionary ideation processes:
Evolutionary Process: Expert study best practices, optimize systems and identify room for improvement. They then make recommendations to their conservative (read economically constrained) organizations to make the problem slightly better.
Revolutionary Process: Come up with a rad idea (it probably has got major flaws that any sane expert or organization would shoot down immediately). These ideas typically come from educated outsiders, such as fiction writers, film producers, that understand a little bit but do not completely understand everything in precise detail. Most revolutionary ideas would miserably fail if implemented for unforeseen reasons. However, every so often – one crazy idea might work.
I do not mean to disregard the important evolutionary work experts are doing currently, nature needs revolutionary ideas – the current situation is rather dire (sorry to be a downer). Fiction (or simply a space to dream crazy worlds) is the key to making this happen.