The Positive Vision We’ve Been Waiting For

We hear a lot about a postcarbon world, but what might that actually look like? A new media exhibit and website have been created to answer that question.

The Future We Want project gives Americans a virtual experience of what life could be like in a “clean-energy economy.” It includes life-size screens that project what cities, suburbs, and rural areas would look like if modeled using sustainable, ecofriendly design—a blend of enlightened Nordic city and Waldenesque idyll—along with the very practical next steps to achieving this kind of society.

The genesis for the idea was, ironically, General Motors, says Bill Becker, the executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, who spearheads the project. In 1939, during the Depression, the automobile company presented an exhibit of a future in which society revolved around cars. The display included 330 moving seats that took viewers on a tour of this future city. The show inspired Americans and gave them an image to rally around. After World War II came to an end, that vision was realized.

Now, says Becker, it’s time for a new vision. He believes that without a clear vision of the goal, society will be less motivated to make the necessary changes.

The Future We Want exhibit will be on display in Chicago’s Field Museum before going on tour internationally.