My source; could not find original source
Have you ever heard of solarpunk? I hadn't, until a couple days ago, but since then I've fallen in love with it.
Solarpunk is a literary genre and art aesthetic along the lines of cyberpunk or steampunk. As cyberpunk hypothesizes a future (or, increasingly, a present) of pervasive digital technology and steampunk hypothesizes an alternative present of coal-fired steam engines and clacking gears without internal combustion, solarpunk hypothesizes a future where dirty and dangerous fossil fuel energy has been entirely wiped out by pervasive solar panels and other affordable sustainable solutions. Furthermore, terrace gardens, green belts, and other flora are permitted to flourish in urban areas - not just in trees planted in precise intervals along a sidewalk, but just wherever they and other plants decide to plant themselves - thus bringing man into a new harmony with earth that is far healthier for them both. Thus, solarpunk tends to have a tinge of optimism missing from cyberpunk and many other hyphen-punk aesthetics.
Now, I find solar power to be incredibly interesting. We have been blessed by God to live very close to a star which is just flooding our planet with free, safe, clean energy, and save for making food out of it, we've done an absolutely horrible job of taking advantage of it - but we're getting better! In a parallel universe, I didn't waste my time in college on a humanities degree I never use, but instead became a solar engineer, finding ways to make panels and batteries more efficient and affordable. But even without my help, I do think that I will live to see the "solarity" - the point at which solar energy becomes so efficient and affordable to harvest that fossil fuels are no longer economical for most energy needs, including homes, offices, cars, trains, and factories. And I can't wait for the day when I can afford to cover the roof of my condo in matte black photovoltaics.
There are a few seminal documents in the formation of this subculture. The current state of it traces back to this Tumblr post; it’s not the first place that the word “solarpunk” before, but it’s likely the place where the art, concepts, and word all came together. Solarpunk: Notes toward a Manifesto has kind of a majestic title, but it’s actually what it is - a proto-manifesto. Both of these articles date from 2014.
Read more up on the topic, and you’ll find a lot of articles tend to dwell on the validity of the “punk” aspect of solarpunk. If solarpunk eschews the nihilism of cyberpunk in exchange for optimism, is it really “punk?” Yes ,some argue, because optimism leads to building a better future and rejecting the bleakness the status quo is steering us towards. I personally think this sort of discussion is moot, though - the “punk” suffix has long since come to mean “speculative aesthetic” far more than “counterculture;” for example, much steampunk art and literature is quite pleasant and optimistic as well.
There’s also a tone of socialism and anarcho-communism in some of the discussion around it, such as the subreddit (the current top post is “What’s Wrong with Our Food System? Capitalism.” Um, excuse me, but the quality and variety of food available in modern grocery stores is one of capitalism’s greatest successes, thank you), this blog and this massive screed.
But I think there’s much here for us liberty-minded folks too. Homesteaders and urban gardeners can relate to the do-it-yourself aesthetics. Crypto fans, think of all the mining and encrypting you could do with free electricity! And if this future brings us a lifestyle with less want, brings our communities closer together, well, that’s all the less need for daddy government, is it not?
Anyway, this is an aesthetic I’m gonna keep an eye on. If you have any great pics, stories, or even music to share, please do!