Ishani Dasgupta, Alex Goddard, & Siobhan Mullally
Ishani Dasgupta’s Letter
I am a self-proclaimed journalist, environmental activist, and friend to mother nature. Although I am most proud of being a human being and believe me when I say, I understand the irony of that statement compared to my aforementioned “titles”. I am well aware that people and our built systems, such as the government or the economy, are deeply faulted. I am well aware that our growth in technology, infrastructure, and so-called “progress” is a veiled sledgehammer that is destroying natural spaces. But still, I am proud to be a human being that cares deeply about the very Earth her peers are destroying. Mostly, because I know I am not alone in the fight to save and protect the biosphere.
This is the age of activism. A global revolution where groups are shouting, now mostly online, and resisting ignorant conformity. It is completely overwhelming and yet completely necessary. A group of dedicated dreamers, acting in the most human way they can, stubbornly protecting what they love, and what we need, nature. I am part of this group; I was as soon as I stepped outside and could breathe fresh air or hear the sounds of wildlife. Now I understand that this is becoming a privilege for many people.
I do not know where I will be in 2071, or even who I will be for that matter. But I do know that I will not be alone.
I will be surrounded by the fighters of my generation, reminiscing about either the success or failure of the climate activism movement. We will be old, weathered with time, but hopefully not jaded by our own experiences. I hope that we will encourage and inspire some curious and passionate 20-something year-olds (like the editors and writers in this issue). Most importantly, I hope I will be able to walk outside and not be disappointed or worried like I am today.
I want to be climbing trees (or attempting to with my walking cane in hand) and rambling to children about a red-winged blackbird that hopefully has not gone extinct. And I know that I use the word “hope” quite a lot because for me that is what 2071 and this issue boils down to. A hope for a better future, where humanity disposed of their greed and consumption. Or at the very least, a hope that this issue will force those in positions of power to act, instead of remaining dormant in the ever rapid destruction of the environment.
Perhaps having this hope is futile, but it is also a shared trait amongst us all. I have mentioned that I am proud to be human and my articles might make you feel the same or the complete opposite. My only advice to you, dear reader, is that from this issue you garner hope for a better future or a better fight and know you are not alone.
We walk this road together and in the next 50 years, I hope to see you walking with me.
Alex Goddard’s Letter
Over the years the excitement of the future and what it brings seems to have dwindled. Back in the 20th century, depictions of the future showed advanced societies with flying cars and time machines by the early 21st century. Now, when given the task of thinking to the future, what comes to mind? Do you have the same optimism of technological advancements as those 100 years ago did? Being an editor for the “2071” issue allowed me to reflect on what my predictions would be, and what I thought my life 50 years from now would be like. To be honest, it was filled with much less optimism than flying cars, with myself immediately wondering how hot the earth will have gotten and hoping that our (unfortunately still wheeled) cars have moved away from the internal combustion engines unsustainably consuming fossil fuels.
Of course, it is easy to dwell on the negatives, throw your hands in the air and say, ‘but what can I do’? I, like so many other environmentalists out there sometimes find it all a bit overwhelming and am left questioning what else there is to be done. These feelings however are always negated by the passions and endeavours of other environmentalists and movements that assert that we can, and will, create a better future – there just might be a few road bumps on the way.
This issue is focused on 2071 and its journey there, with all of its road bumps included. These stories stay away from the lasting doom and gloom, all written with hope embedded into the future.
Yes, on the way we will have our issues, however we know that after the storm of these years, the calm will finally arrive. This hope can be seen through stories such as Luna demonstrating the beauty in nature and its perseverance, as well as the beautifully written Ecological Loss which is centered around our strengthening love and protection of nature, heightened due to its loss over the years.
The most important thing I hope you take away from this issue is that the future is still in our hands, no matter how out of control it may seem to be or how small our individual actions appear to be. The best way to a fruitful future is action in the present – how do YOU want 2071 to look? I hope that these stories can give you a start.
Siobhan Mullally’s Letter
Out of all the A\J issues that I have been a part of since joining the A\J team in January 2021, this issue has given me the most challenging and different experience. When I was brought on board to be a part of the creation of “2071”, the first task that I had to do was mentally put myself 50 years into the future. Even before the first stages of the magazine creation process – the envisioning and brainstorming – I had to deeply reflect on what the next five decades will bring and where I, personally, might be in 2071. Although it was an interesting exercise, it was also sobering and compelling. If I make it to 2071, I will be in my 70s. What will my life look like when I’m older? Will I have children or grandchildren? What will society look like? Not only will I be very different from who I am today – older and (hopefully) wiser – but I will be living in a very different world.
When thinking of the future, I fear it is all too easy to fall into a pit of negativity. The world has so many problems – how can we possibly deal with them all, and move in a good direction for all people and the planet? Some days, it seems impossible. And some days, eco-anxiety and fear set in, and thinking about the future is difficult. But on other days, a better world does seem possible – on days when I have empowering conversations with other environmentalists or when I realize how many people are dedicating their lives to making the world a better place. The brighter version of the future seems much more possible when humans do good work together, believe in one another, and stay true to the collective vision of a better world.
That future – the bright, just, healthy, equitable, safe, BETTER future – is what this issue is all about. We made it to 2071 and now we are telling the story of how we got there. This is not a dystopian, doom-and-gloom issue. The vision of this issue includes the positive, yet still realistic, outcomes that we hope will inspire people and show them how this favourable future can be possible if we all believe in it.
Despite the inevitable losses and tragedies ahead, there is also light and community and possibility, as you will read in the following pages. Put yourself in the year 2071 – what does that look like for you or your family members? What do you want it to look like? And what needs to be done to get to that future? All we have to do is start with those questions, do some mental time travelling, and then take the first small step towards creating a better future together. Starting now.