Blog : Climate

What’s cooking for the future?

What’s cooking for the future?


Scene at the insect farm in Film 3


Smoking in-vitro meat on the way to the new city

A guest post from Karolina Thakker – our consultant on the future of food for the 2097 films.

“A man opens his lunchbox. Thanks to its healthy appearance one can tell that he belongs to the upper middle classes. Today he carries a simple salad with dressing, a portable food smoker with thin slices of swan meat and few ampules of microbial shots.

A wooden sweet aroma hits him when he opens the smoker. He uses a pre-packed fragrance set for smoking that includes black tea leaves, rose hips and cardamom. Tea-smoking became popular in the 2030s. This was about the time when China gained a major economic power, Mandarin was taught in schools worldwide, and texts on ancient Chinese philosophy and medicine were discussed by students in pubs.

The man loves tea-smoked swan meat. This time he has paper-thin flower-shaped slices. The meat comes from a lab where it was grown and 3D-printed to these shapes. He has heard stories that millennials would eat meat products every day.  Chicken, beef, pork… meat as a centrepiece surrounded by shy and blunt vegetables. However, the population boom and climate change forced everyone to change their unsustainable diets. Not everyone was ready to go vegan so in-vitro meat began to be grown in large quantities as a source of protein. The man is rather traditional in his choice. Young people nowadays enjoy in-vitro meats of imaginary or long time extinct animals.

The man mixes the swan slices with a salad. The salad consists mainly of wild herbs and greens native to the Scottish Highlands. Its taste reminds him of his childhood in the 2060s. Those were lean times, when human impact on the climate and the environment peaked. Chefs and scientists had to stay creative to find nutritious food. They went to forests, fields and every part of the sea. It was this time that insects became popular. For dressing, he uses oil from coconut larvae worm. It is sweet and fits perfectly with sour dog rose syrup and paste from roasted garlics and chilis. The salad is topped with pieces of fresh coconut and beets.

At last he looks at ampules of microbial shots. His parents were passionate minimalists. A lot of people were back then. Circumstances forced them to lead an ascetic, community life and know basic survival skills. His parents taught him how to read his body needs and eat accordingly. Microbial shots were very common. People used them to feed their digestive flora and prevent diseases.

Nowadays people forget about those times. They digest microbes that allow them to eat rocks and barks. Girls prolong their lactation period to have a continuous supply of fresh milk. ‘We live in crazy times’, he thinks and smears lavender balm under his nose to calm his mind.”

Adapting to flood risk in a changing climate

Adapting to flood risk in a changing climate

University Professor Dr. Chris Skinner forecasts the floods of tomorrow. His work at the University of Hull looks at the conditions which cause flash floods, and since 2014, he’s run SeriousGeoGames – a project which uses virtual reality and gamification to let people understand flooding and the complex decisions which go into protecting against them.

Chris argues coastal cities in particular must respond to increasingly extreme weather conditions – and he is a firm believer that we must do more to live side by side with the sea. He is however skeptical that Hull will one day be underwater, pointing to the IPCC’s predictions that sea-levels will rise just 1m in the next 80 years.

SeriousGeoGames: Flash floods

Across the globe, extreme weather and flooding is increasing and this summer’s tenth anniversary of the devastating floods across much of the UK, act as a stark reminder. In Hull alone, three people were killed and over 10,000 homes and businesses were evacuated. Most of the city’s schools closed down and residents were forced out of their homes for months and, in some cases, years.

Our approach to flooding, and the steps we take to protect against it in the future, is now critical. The UK government’s review of flood resilience highlights the need to build new towns and cities with inbuilt flood defences such a sea walls. Yet towns such as Pickering in North Yorkshire contradict this approach – successfully withstanding major regional flooding in 2016 using natural protections such as ‘leaky dams’ made of logs and branches.

In Aarhus, Denmark, climate change is also on the agenda. On a recent trip to the city, Signe Marie-Iversen from the Center for Environment and Energy, shows us a satellite map of Aarhus on which she has cryptically written in biro: ‘100-years incident in 2050’.

Aarhus docklands
Aarhus docklands at night

Large areas on the map are marked in pale blue: the river valley west of the city centre, the well-to-do suburbs of Vejlby-Risskov to the north – indicating predictions for flooding in the case of extreme rainfall. The city’s new waterfront developments, including the landmark Iceberg building, are marked in pink: at risk of flooding due to storm surges.

Signe seems sanguine about the potential impact on the city of a ‘one in a hundred year’ event, and well versed in the complexity of balancing the practical needs of the city with the increased risk of flooding as the climate changes.

This month, a £14m project was announced in Hull that works with the environment to protect against flooding. The project, which uses drainage lagoons and aqua storage systems to store excess water, offers the best hope yet that the devastating floods of 2007 are not repeated.

Whether nature offers the best protection against flooding, or man made defences, such as higher levees and sea walls – it’s clear that more urgency is needed when it comes to adapting to the new reality of our global climate.


Watch Chris’s interview


Image credits: Creative Commons, David Finch / Flickr and Søren Rajczyk, Flickr

Have your say and follow the conversation using the hashtags #its2097 and #expertinterview


What’s next for a sustainable economy?

What’s next for a sustainable economy?

Donald Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement this month could be the most harmful decision to the future of our planet, ever.

His intention to resurrect the United State’s old industries of mining and coal has brought widespread condemnation from business leaders and oil giants alike. Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said that the withdrawal was “bad for the environment, bad for the economy and it puts out children’s future at risk”.  This was echoed by Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, who condemned the President’s move in his first ever tweet.

Potentially turning the clock back decades on environmental policy, what does Trump’s decision mean for the future?

As part of the research for our upcoming sci-fi films imagining life in 2097, we spoke to university professor David Gibbs about the challenge of reconciling global industry and consumption with the need to live sustainably.

David argues that sustainable economies depend on transformations at every level: from government policy  to local networks and ‘green entrepreneurs’ such as the UK farmer who transformed his farm to grow crops for eco-friendly building materials. Ideas such as the ‘steady state’ economy and the ‘circular’ economy – championed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – seek to accelerate this transformation.




David points to these and to the development of renewable energy, like the gigantic Siemens factories in both Hull and Denmark – producing 75 metre long rotor blades for wind farms in the North Sea – as showing promise that sustainable thinking is now going mainstream.

He frames the challenge today as one of imagination and re-invention.
Can we transform industry to meet our appetites for consumption in a way that is sustainable?


Watch David’s interview


Have your say and follow the conversation using the hashtags #Its2097 and #ExpertInterview