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Vere Vreeswijk

How can personal narratives help in understanding the consequences of climate change?

“It is confronting to think about where to live in the future and the circumstances.”

To alleviate the negative effects of global climate change, it should become more personally relevant for the public. One question that is central in this project is how can we make climate change personal. The future is often vague or abstract and climate change is often presented as a problem for the future. So, if the future is so difficult to grasp, how can we imagine what the consequences of climate change are on our personal lives?

The design is an interactive story that asks people questions about their future and uses their answers to build the story. The story is about a fictional character called Sam, who lives in the Netherlands in 2038.  The story shows how climate change can affect the Dutch society and what situations people could encounter, based on the climate trends for the Netherlands in 2050. The design has the potential to help people imagine their future and what role climate change could play in it.

The project aims to have people thinking of who they are in the future by asking them questions about family, age, living situation, and more. Based on these answers, the people are provided with an interactive story to see how someone could live in a troubled climate-induced future. In the research, people used the project to express how they see the future, what their concerns are, and what the role of climate change is in their lives. It also helped identifying why people aren’t taking action to prevent these troubled climate futures.