SolarPunk is about more than just green cities and egalitarianism. You can read about the various aspects of SolarPunk using the links below for a more specific look into the area of SolarPunk that most interests you.
What Is SolarPunk?
In the broadest sense, SolarPunk and the works inspired by it aim to convey possible futures or alternate realities in which many of our world’s contemporary problems such as poverty, pollution, inequality, food scarcity and disease have been overcome in a sustainable , technologically advanced way that marries our current desire for technology to increase our quality of life, with our imperative to live in harmony with all living organisms on Earth. These principles are outlined repeatedly in the “SolarPunk Manifesto”
The rabbit hole of SolarPunk usually starts with beautiful artwork depicting a utopian society, much like the image above. For many, these images inspire optimism inform the future of our planet and our global civilization. Art like the one above often shows a society where membership in the community is not restricted to Humankind. Plants and animals are often regarded as co-equal members of the civilization, with humans dedicating an equal amount of their labor maintaining or improving the living conditions of other species compared to their own.
The urban design of SolarPunk varies greatly. The technology featured can be as futuristic as flying trains and floating walkways, to as simple as a solar powered sailboat or a hydropower streetcar. What all well-designed SolarPunk cities have in common are their commitment to accessibility and public transit, their thoughtful integration of plant life and animal habitats into public spaces, and the complete and exclusive use of renewable energy sources.
More-so than the economic and aesthetic pillars, the urban design pillar is the aspect of SolarPunk that real world governments are already investing in. Wether it is introducing or maintaining entirely car-free cities, transitioning over 90% of energy production in the country to renewable resources, or simply investing in green public spaces, there are examples on every continent that suggest that the future may indeed be bright.
The economic pillar of the SolarPunk philosophy is difficult to discuss as there is no consensus on what would work best in the real world. SolarPunk societies have either eliminated scarcity altogether or have otherwise managed to perfectly balance consumption with the amount of resources available in a sustainable manner. Achieving such a society is obviously the stated aim of nearly every government in the world, but the ability to achieve such results still eludes even our best efforts.
Typically, forms of socialism or communism are the economic models proposed by SolarPunk advocates trying to achieve some degree of the quality of life proposed by the genre in their own lives. With our current technology, growing your own food and sharing your bounty with others while only taking what you need for yourself is encouraged.
The labor required to sustain and provide services to the community is often also meant to be equally shared amongst community members according to their own talents and qualifications. However, since proponents often opt for decentralized governments or the complete absence of any governing authority, service delivery and infrastructure maintenance in proposed real world SolarPunk communities often relies purely on the good will and diligence of other community members as the consequences for failing to deliver services if you are the sole provider are ambiguous.
SolarPunk is both an aesthetic style and a philosophy that addresses multiple facets of human life from urban planning to economics.