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DESIGNER TERRESTRIALS

- to mobilise moderns towards a terrestrial position


Modifica Lab, Växjö, Year 2035 13.23 Information Desk.

Karen: Hej, I am here to pick up my baby. I delivered #8654729964 on 22nd December 2018, two days ago at the Gods Grace Hospital, Havetorngatan. Receptionist: Yes, please have a seat and we will take you soon to the Lab-hall #26. Can I please get the baby file and the receipt ? Karen hands the folder to the receptionist across the counter. Karen: ‘You will find everything in here.’ Receptionist: ‘Thank you and please have a seat.’ Nurse 1: Parent codes 150 - 175 please follow me. The parents follow the nurse down the hall and take the elevator to the 5th floor. They are led into the labhall #1067 one by one to pick up their babes. They are then directed to the outpatient section. At the outpatient hall, Nurse 2: Thank you for letting us serve you. You are some of the world’s best caring parents these children could hope for. You have taken the very best decision for the future of your child and this planet. Please don’t forget to help yourselves to our complimentary face masks here on your way out.


https://diabeticfootonline.com/2012/02/28/for-true-innovation-see-bell-labs-c-1960s/


DESIGNER TERRESTRIALS Life is about to change irrevocably. Nature was believed to be boundless and ripe for exploitation in the late 18th century but scientific results show serious doubt on nature’s ability to sustain the exploitative onslaught for human’s economic progress (Fuad 2009). The entire surface of the earth has been colonised by the human race some way or the other solely for capitalistic gains through mass production and over consumption. This impacting human activity has come about being defined as a geological feature - Anthropocene, and are in urgent need to finding ways of living more sustainably (Ståhl 2016). When considering the consequences of anthropocene times that we live in, one of the most critical current environmental problem is the loss of biodiversity that shall finally impact the human well-being (Ceballos, Ehrlich, Barnosky, García, Pringle, & Palmer 2015). Although species mass extinction is simply an inevitable consequence of evolution, the rate of extinction is 100 times over the normal rate since most organisms are unable to evolve in response to the climate change caused by continuing the business-as-usual course (Ceballos & Ehrlich 2018). Mobilising the moderns to taking a terrestrial position can be a start towards damage control. A terrestrial is when the human is de-centred when taking in account the soil, resources and atmosphere that we live within this critical zone which sustains the terrestrial biosphere (Richardson 2017). However, modernisation has taken us far away from the reality of planet Earth. This by abolishing the world from what it really is while modelling and building another on a denial of nature by being a modern (Latour & Riquier 2018). The existence of anthropogenic climate change is denied by a sizeable and growing proportion of the public. Thus convincing and converting these deniers is necessary in the first place for promoting pro-environmental actions (Bain, Hornsey, Bongiorno & Jeffries 2012).The aim of this design project is to speculate the bio-technology advancement to help cope with the threats of the 6th mass extinction and at the same time our dependency on the high risk technology of genetic modification as our last hope from the catastrophic future.


Psycho-Social Strategy and the Deniers People show they are ill-equipped mentally and emotionally when bombarded with the scientific findings on the climate change implications and thus does not motivate any kind of pro-environmental actions (Latour & Riquier 2018). They are easily trapped to believing the denier strategist thought of - if everyone is not reacting then nothing is wrong (Bruno Latour, twitter 2018) Latour a French philosopher, anthropologist and sociologist explains that the incapability of people to adapt to taking this decentralised position of modern man by posing intriguing question from both a political and social perspective about whom are we going to live with, where and on what kind of earth (Latour & Riquier 2018). Activism through Transdiciplinarity and Design Studies of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems are based on interdisciplinary research models since the problems fall into several domains of various sectors and disciplines. Knowledge of complexity like the territorial or earthly situation demands a transdisciplinary vision (Thompson 2004). This because it avoids reducing complex topics into narrow disciplines and opens for collaboration and effective solutions. It addresses problems not simply through a single or more scientific discipline but also from outside science (Hinkel, Leemans, Klein & Klein 2008). New connections can be made by reconnecting the disconnected through design to the extent of even making new memes1 (Fuad 2009). To make the unthinkable possible is what the designers are licensed to do. Here the role of a design activist is being taken to work towards the greater good of humankind and nature through the power of design (Fuad 2009). Speculative Design Activist Speculative design can simply be described as a parallel design channel used to explore ideas and issues. It critiques market driven design while still functioning within the reality as it is (Dunne & Raby 2013). When speculating, several industries promote perfect future worlds (Dunne & Raby 2013). However, this project takes the role of design activism to explore alternate visions that can arise pro environmental emotions amongst the mass deniers.

1

units of cultural transmission that elicit new behaviour.


Speculating Future Scenario There will be significant changes in the physical features of the world due to the increase in the global temperature and the rising sea level. Distribution of the human and non-human species will be altered due to these changes (Hughes 2000). However to cope with the fast changing environment, the human and non human species are incapable of evolving fast enough to adapt to the changes. While speculating a future planet, this project chose changes with three life sustaining elements on the planet which the human and non-human species will have to adapt itself to in order to survive extinction. The elements considered are - air, water and sun. Future Visions With global warming and rising sea levels, human and other species may have to move to higher and higher altitudes to save themselves from the flooding of the low lying areas. This would mean the higher the altitude lower the oxygen level will go Secondly, the sea water rising can intrude into fresh water sources reducing considerable availability in volumes of drinking water. And thirdly, with the increased CO2 emissions causing the ozone layer depletion, the human and non human species will have to endure higher exposure to UV radiation and additionally at a higher altitude. While considering these adaptations for man, there exists evolved genes in humans who had to endure any one of the situations mentioned above but not all together. For example, the situation of oxygen deprivation called hypoxia have been adapted in humans in several locations like Tibet, where Tibetans living in high altitudes have demonstrated genes that are adapted to chronic hypoxia (Petousi & Robbins 2014). A study found that there exists UV-resistant gene that many people carry and thus make them less susceptible to melanoma or skin cancer. This gene is vital in cell-repair process in people who therefore are not prone to skin cancer unlike the redheads due to their genetic background (Science Daily 2016). While speculating if humans can stay hydrated on salt water, there exists the desert rats who possess a long ‘loops of Henle’ in the kidney unlike in humans. The loops of henle is what helps in processing the salt water for urination and the longer the loop of henle, the


more salt water can be consumed. Theoretically it is said that the human kidneys can be genetically modified but requires to be done while the baby is growing in the womb. Gene Modification technology is already discovered six years ago called CRISPR. This technology allows cheap and quick edits in the genes of all organisms within days rather than weeks or months (Plumer, 2018). Therefore to speculate the above, what if the human species were designed to live on little oxygen, salt water (Ocean water) and harsh UV radiation ? What if the humans are needed to be genetically modified with these three features to survive global warming ?

Loop of Henle Gene Edit Skin Pigmentation Gene Edit

CRISPR 2018

2020

2016

2035

2025 Hypoxia Adapted Gene Edit (Tibetan Gene Pool) Gene Edited baby born in China (HIV virus carrying gene removed)

2030

1st GEN - T (TERRESTRIALS)


Backcasting In order to construct a plausible scenario a backcasting is made to help branstorm a timeline and process needed for the scenario to occur. The following timeline projects the possible steps to having designer terrestrials or generation T of humans by 2070. With the changes made in their genes we can only imagine what humans can become to survive the 6th mass extinction on planet earth.

Observations & Further Testing

2040

Terrestrial 2070 2060

2050 Observations & Testing

Gene Drives

(1st GEN - Ts to procreate) Image courtesy of Rob Gargett, The Subversive Archaeologist Blogspot


Gene Modification for Global Warming This project speculates a future of human and non-human species genetically modified to be able to survive the severe conditions that will soon arise from global warming. The ever curious and ever resilient human race will try to beat evolution to it by taking mutation into their own hands. The project identifies potential development of CRISPR technology in genetic engineering for climate change adapting terrestrial design. The three main genetic features to survive global warming speculated for man are 1) surviving oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) in high-altitude environment due to rising ocean levels, 2) ability to consume more salt water for terrestrial hydration due to salt water intrusion in otherwise freshwater reserves and 3) skin adaptation to deflect UVB rays from the sun due to the depleting ozone layer. Procreation of first generation ‘Terrestrials’ can potentially create more adapted terrestrials for the future planet earth through gene drives. Gene drives are conducted using the CRISPR technology to again spread the altered genes to throughout the population. Gene drives can create the new generation with altered genes - Generation T or Designer Terrestrials.


https://www.vox.com/2018/7/23/17594864/crispr-cas9-gene-editing


Design Process While we all want to have a green prosporous future, this project goal is to bring a dystopic scenario to the climate change deniers. The process saw several concepts like plastic forests, gas masks and oxygen tank dependency memes as a design activist. However, this project chose to be simple yet effective by using the human baby to bring about an emotional and physical cringe aspect to the dystopic view. While being simple the result did not want to create an apparent meme for the climate deniers to ignore it after the first look.The genetic modification for global warming survival for humans may seem utopic in the first glance. But with a deeper glance, it must mock the hyper positive outlook on ‘technology as a saviour’ of the climate change deniers.

Activism and Standpoint CRISPR for global warming cannot stop with only humans but the rest of the organisms that have direct and/or indirect symbiotic relationship with each other. Although this theoretically shows a solution towards surviving the mass extinction, it is effectively far from being fast enough in the short window of opportunity we still have towards damage control. This project plays the role of an activist by creating a visual to point out psycho-social reactions to this proposed solution to global warming. A study said that climate change deniers can be motivated towards pro-environmental actions if the climate change mitigation efforts can make people more caring and considerate people while also promote economic and scientific progress. The study conducted by Bain et al (2012) supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant, quotes some of the respondents from the study “if we took action it would show we do care for the environment and therefore care for the human race”…… “while I personally don’t believe in climate change as a recent phenomenon, I do agree with reducing our carbon emissions . . . think of the possibilities that this would open to individuals and business alike, it would create jobs”. The potential ‘Designer Terrestrials’ does open a huge possibilities of research, studies and jobs. Would the climate deniers only look for economic benefit while injecting healthy babies with CRISPR that could cause dangerous unseen side-effects? The resulting poster of this project - Designer Terrestrial is to question the extent to which the climate change deniers can rather pick high-risk technology to save the people and species, over making radical changes for low carbon infrastructure and daily practices? Is CRISPR their view of well-being for the human race?


BABIES INJECTED, ALTERED TO SURVIVE GLOBAL WARMING. CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE OF THIS PLANET, THEY ARE THE TRACES OF ME AND THE REST OF MY CARBON FOOTPRINT.


Växjö, Year 2035 17.06 Home. Karen: Honey, I am home. David: In here. Karen carries little Henry to the living room. She places the bassinet on the table next to David. David peeks in and strokes the smooth pink cheeks of the little baby. He looks at the baby for little while and notices the bandages where little Henry was infected due to the pin-pricks. Karen: The doctor’s report says it should heal in two days. We shouldn’t worry about it. Little Henry shall fight through global warming like no one else.. Karen stares proudly at her baby. David: Hhmm… I wonder what would happen to the babies who could not afford to get the altered genes? It should be made free by the state soon. Karen: I don’t think we could afford additional tax for the time being. But I guess it will be done in the near future. Although, I was talking to this activist lady at work about little Henry. She was terrified at the idea that we have gone through with this. I mean she is really unaware of the gravity of the situation with global warming. David: I really don’t understand these activist people. We have developed technology for helping our children survive. What more do we need? We are making sure our children live on. Karen: She was talking about bacteria, bugs and critters. Apparently we are losing all species of plants and animals. Don’t they see, we can breed and grow as much as we want. David: Honey, that is only for the plants and animals we consume directly. No one will breed the rest of the species if they are not selling them. Hmm…. This is quite a tough situation especially with the growing dead zones around the globe. We should go to one of those climate change festivals they keep having bi-weekly near the market road.


https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/newborn-baby-girl-dies-motherasleep-feeding-daventry-coroner-warning-parents-sat-bed-a7681941.html


Conclusion The intractable problem of climate change needs to be addressed and fed to the climate deniers from as many angles, platforms as possible to convert them to climate change activists. This so that the human force can act collectively work towards damage controlling in their everyday lives with a pace and progression that is economically and socially sustainable. But the goal of this project at first is to simply help climate change deniers to be converted to climate change activists for damage control. Considering the slow violence (Nixon 2011) we are casting on this planet, it is very challenging to alarm people of this slow violence through a spectacle. The spectacle could be produced through several visual media or interactive exhibits. Due to limited resources and timeline, the output of this project is a simple poster with a supporting fiction scene seen in this booklet. This, to create a spectacle presented for the deniers to reflect upon. Can this speculation create the spectacle needed for people to reflect upon? Would it be interpreted the same way as the designer has designed it to communicate?


Author: Naina Shenoy Tutors: Eric Snodgrass, Laia Colomer Module Coordinator: Petra Lilja Academic term: 18HT Subject: Transdisciplinary Design Level: Advanced Level Course code: 4DI533


References Bain, P. G., Hornsey, M. J., Bongiorno, R., & Jeffries, C. (2012). Promoting pro-environmental action in climate change deniers. Nature Climate Change, 2(8), 600–603. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1532 Ceballos, G., Ehrlich, P. R., Barnosky, A. D., García, A., Pringle, R. M., & Palmer, T. M. (2015). Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction. Science Advances, 1(5), e1400253. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1400253 Ceballos, G., & Ehrlich, P. R. (2018). The misunderstood sixth mass extinction. Science, 360(6393), 1080.21081. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aau0191 Dunne, A., & Raby, F. (2013). Speculative everything: design, fiction, and social dreaming. Cambridge, Massachusetts ; London: The MIT Press. Fuad-Luke, A. (2009). Design activism: beautiful strangeness for a sustainable world. London ; Sterling, VA: Earthscan. Hinkel, J., Leemans, R., Klein, R., & Klein, R. J. T. (2008). Transdisciplinary knowledge integration: cases from integrated assessment and vulnerability assessment. Retrieved from http://edepot.wur.nl/121973 Hughes, L. (2000). Biological consequences of global warming: is the signal already apparent? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 15(2), 56–61. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0169-5347(99)01764-4 Latour, B., & Riquier, C. (2018, February 6). For a terrestrial politics: An interview with Bruno Latour. Retrieved 21 December 2018, from https://www.eurozine.com/terrestrial-politics-interview-bruno-latour/ Nixon, R. (2011, June 13) Slow violence and environmental storytelling. Retrieved 8 January 2019, from https://niemanstoryboard.org/stories/slow-violence-and-environmental-storytelling/ Petousi, N., & Robbins, P. A. (2014). Human adaptation to the hypoxia of high altitude: the Tibetan paradigm from the pregenomic to the postgenomic era. Journal of Applied Physiology, 116(7), 875–884. https:// doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00605.2013 Plumer, B. (2018, July 23). A simple guide to CRISPR, one of the biggest science stories of the decade. Retrieved 12 December 2018, from https://www.vox.com/2018/7/23/17594864/crispr-cas9-gene-editing Richardson, J. B. (2017). Critical Zone. In W. M. White (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Geochemistry (pp. 1–5). Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-39193-9_355-1 Science Daily (2016).’Sunscreen’ gene may help protect against skin cancer: Study reveals that melanoma patients with deficient or mutant copies of the gene are less protected from harmful ultraviolet rays. (n.d.). Retrieved 13 December 2018, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160519130125.htm Ståhl, O. (2016). Animals on the Moon. Thompson Klein, J. (2004). Prospects for transdisciplinarity. Futures, 36(4), 515–526. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.futures.2003.10.007

Profile for Naina Shenoy

Designer Terrestrials  

Mobilising moderns towards a terrestrial position

Designer Terrestrials  

Mobilising moderns towards a terrestrial position

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