Edge Effects Imagines the Future

A composite image of a nebula

It’s 2020. The start of a new decade is a reason to look back at how we’ve looked forward and consider how contributors to Edge Effects have imagined the future. In the essays and conversations below, scholars and activists envision new ways of living together and acknowledge the past injustices that shape possible futures for life on this planet.

—Laura Perry, Managing Editor


Building a New Future

Whether modeling future forms of living or growing plants in space, these pieces explore the politics and practical realities of breaking new ground.

Biosphere 2: Why an Eccentric Ecological Experiment Still Matters 25 Years Later

Biosphere 2: Why an Eccentric Ecological Experiment Still Matters 25 Years Later

Four scholars and one of the original "biospherians" offer their takes on perhaps the largest private science experiment in history.
Gardening in Outer Space: A Conversation with Simon Gilroy

Gardening in Outer Space: A Conversation with Simon Gilroy

Astronauts love growing plants in space, and it turns out there are benefits for us on Earth. Botanist Simon Gilroy discusses his experiments growing cotton in zero gravity.
Scarlet runner beans in many colors - dark brown, light brown, red, dark pink, yellow, speckled white and brown - appear against a white background with a ruler and label visible on either side

Banking on Seeds for Our Future

The USDA’s National Plant Germplasm System is arguably the most important seed bank for our food supply. An agroecologist explains why it is in desperate need of attention.
Quantum Computing

What Does Quantum Computing Mean for Conservation?

The rise in new, powerful computing techniques could transform a conservation sector that has grown increasingly reliant on sophisticated modeling and visualization software to make decisions about which places are worth protecting.
Several pipes run underneath a bridge and over a river in the Washington, DC, area.

Decolonizing Infrastructure in India and the US: A Conversation with Malini Ranganathan

Two urban geographers discuss decolonization in theory and practice, the politics of water and infrastructure, and the social sides of environmental science.

Protecting Future Generations

Activists help us reject how things are done and imagine how the world might be otherwise. These interviews and essays give voice to these different futures and shed light on the histories of injustice.

Winona LaDuke stands in a field behind three tall stalks of hemp that reach two feet above her head against a cloudy sky,

We Are the Seventh Generation: A Conversation with Winona LaDuke

Two centuries ago, Ojibwe people planned for seven generations to come. Today that seventh generation is fighting for the treaty rights their ancestors established and a just, sustainable future.
A group of protestors in Paris, one holding a sign that reads "cool kids saving a hot planet"

OK, Doomers! The Climate Generation Has Arrived

The climate generation is coming of age. Sarah Jaquette Ray, author of A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety, explains what older generations have to learn.
Savi Horne poses, smiling at the camera, in front of a large tilled field against a bright white sky.

Food Justice Requires Land Justice: A Conversation with Savi Horne

The fight against African American land loss isn't just about economic justice. It's about environmental sustainability.
Activism and Hope in Flint: Five Questions for Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

Activism and Hope in Flint: Five Questions for Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

Pediatrician, scientist, and activist Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha uncovered the effects of the Flint Water Crisis on children. Her new book tells this story and how the Flint community came together to fight environmental racism and science denial with perseverance and hope.
Tia Nelson poses folding her arms and wearing a light blue pullover in front of brown grass and yellow foliage.

Creating the Climate Voter: A Conversation with Tia Nelson

Last week's IPCC report sunk the spirits of many. But one veteran activist, with no time for despair, still believes in the power of citizens.

Imagining Other Futures

As someone once wrote, “write for the world you want, not the world you’ve got.” These pieces offer hope for better worlds and warnings about what’s to come.

Toxic Bodies and the Wetter, Better Future of "Mad Max: Fury Road"

Toxic Bodies and the Wetter, Better Future of “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Most Hollywood catastrophe films offer neat endings and the promise of a fresh start. Fury Road asks what happens when the broken world cannot be made whole.
A Pig Born a Commodity, Raised as a Friend in Neflix’s Okja

A Pig Born a Commodity, Raised as a Friend in Neflix’s Okja

To some, this pig is family. To others, she's food. In a review of Netflix's Okja, a geographer explores how the film's representation of super pigs and human-animal friendships asks us to rethink our relationships with nonhuman animals.
A photo portrait of Dylan Miner, looking at the camera wearing a plaid shirt and blue sportcoat with long braids on both sides of his head.

Indigenous Art as Creative Resistance: A Conversation with Dylan Miner

How can we use the arts to decolonize our relations to the land? An artist, activist, and scholar discusses the many forms of creative resistance we can use to imagine and enact new and better worlds.
A black and white etching of a flooded street with ships washing past buildings

Imagining a Green New Deal Through Climate Fiction

Is the Green New Deal real or science fiction? Kim Stanley Robinson's novel New York 2140 imagines a flooded world where climate action is unavoidable.
A trypctic featuring, left to right, gut bacteria in a petri dish, a photo portrait of Anna Tsing, and a silhouette of a smockstack and smoke.

The Best of End Times: A Conversation with Anna Tsing

The author of "The Mushroom at the End of the World" is back with another exploration of how humans and non-humans will make their lives in the ruins of modernity.

Featured image: The Helix nebula, a planetary nebula similar to what the Sun will produce in 8 billion years. Image from Wikimedia Commons.