Storytelling and sustainability: We need more stories to address the climate crisis

By Asitha Jayawardena

Storytelling is an excellent path to address the climate crisis and sustainability.

We need new stories on climate. That is for sure.

The first story in 2014

Nearly nine years ago, on 17 April 2014, I penned a story, launching the articles published on LinkedIn. Titled “A game of plates at ‘Growth vs. Earth’ Café | Who depends on whom?” the post drives on the dependence relations of sustainability, by A Wilden (1987). On that day, I thought that we need more stories to battle the escalating climate crisis.

Today, my article count on LinkedIn has increased to 100. Moreover, on 24 March 2020, Sustain blog was started and it has 100 posts. However, around 10 are stories.

Not one central solution

In the article in The Guardian, ‘If you win the popular imagination, you change the game’: why we need new stories on climate, the central solution to the climate crisis is ceasing to extract and burn fossil fuels but it would not stop there. Protecting carbon-sequestering peat bogs, forests and grasslands; transforming high-impact materials such as cement; implementing better design for buildings, transport and cities; and addressing soil conservation, farming and food production and consumption matter are many of the side solutions. The central solution as well as side solutions form the total solution to the climate crisis.

Stories I tried on Mother Nature and the aliens

I tried a variety of stories.

In the interviews with Mother Nature, I hypothetically interview Mother Nature and She gives the explanations for the causes of the climate crisis. In the end, the alarm goes off, waking me up. The two such stories are:

Once humans go extinct due to climate change, other beings will live happily ever after, says Mother Nature

The IPCC Report 2021 questions about human wellbeing and survival, says Mother Nature

Aliens are the second one that I tried. Leading a group of aliens, Chlorophyll Green from Planet Naturus writes to the UN Secretary-General about the devastations of the climate crisis from time to time. I started the alien letter on 1 January 2016 and continued until 2022, completing 6 letters.

Paris climate change deal costs Earth a galactic award, reveals an alien letter to the UN https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/paris-climate-change-deal-costs-earth-galactic-award-un-jayawardena

Alien Letter 4: G7 is not climate-friendly, COP26 is four months away and Planet Earth is warming!

Alien Letter 5: IPCC Report is “a code red for humanity” while COP26 is the last chance for humankind

Alien Letter 6: 50 years since Stockholm Conference, Greta’s Climate Book and COP27 in November 2022

The third area is miscellaneous. The first story in 2014 is about a theory (e.g., the dependence relations of sustainability).

A game of plates at ‘Growth vs. Earth’ Café | Who depends on whom? https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140407045738-101066234-a-game-of-plates-at-growth-vs-earth-caf%C3%A9-who-depends-on-whom

Another is systems change for sustainability.

The talking elephant and the SYSTEMS light | A modern folk tale (with two morals) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/talking-elephant-systems-light-modern-folk-tale-two-jayawardena

An encounter with Lord Future in the House of Lords with the Big Ben striking 12.

A chance encounter with Lord Future | Gala apple tablets, Look Technology and Brexit… https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/chance-encounter-lord-future-gala-apple-tablets-look-jayawardena

An institution, an organisation or a charity

So, the stories continue. I prefer to be a part of an institution, an organisation or a charity to do the storytelling so that it will act as a solution to the climate crisis.

More stories

As The Guardian article concludes, in response to a question of whether climate crisis has doomed or not, “I mean there’s no single answer that will solve all of our future problems. There’s no magic bullet. Instead, there are thousands of answers – at least. You can be one of them if you choose to be.”

In addition to the central solution of keeping fossil fuels in the ground, many side solutions are there for the climate crisis and therefore for sustainability, but we have to tell them in stories. Storytelling is the key.

More…

‘If you win the popular imagination, you change the game’: why we need new stories on climate https://www.theguardian.com/news/2023/jan/12/rebecca-solnit-climate-crisis-popular-imagination-why-we-need-new-stories

2 comments

  1. I also hope to inspire future climate change action by writing inspiring stories! For me the hardest part is focusing on just one story and seeing it through to “The End” and then sending it off for publication consideration. I fear personal success, more than failure, because I’m familiar with life as it is now. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a successful writer.

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