Welcome to Planet B – A different life is possible! But How? A festival takes on the challenging search for answers to the contradictions of our time.

Neither naive escapism into virtual worlds, nor the technological ultra-topia of space colonization will save us from facing the big, uncomfortable questions. How will our life on this planet have to look to prevent ecological super disaster? What actions must we take and what consequences must we accept? How much persuasion, how much effort, how much pressure, how much coercion will be necessary, and what “collateral damage” will be involved?

The United Nations has declared the current decade the “Decade of Restoration” of our ecosystems.

How can we make such a fundamental and far-reaching change? After all, it is not enough to reduce CO₂ emissions. We now have robust data on what our world will look like if we don’t make the change, from New York being flooded by rising sea levels to Central Europe being a new Sahara. But what will our world look like if we do make the change? What technologies will we still have to develop for it, and what economic, social and democratic changes will accompany them?

Planet B is not the second chance for another place where we can continue as before, it is the cipher for the indispensable, new and in many forms completely different life and action on this only planet that exists for us. It is the chance for coexistence with the unique ecosystems of this planet, a chance for a new and fair coexistence of humans on this planet.

“Blah, Blah, Blah”—Greta Thunberg on the results of the current last global climate conference COP26.

After all, more than 30 years have passed since the IPCC’s first warnings. And that is how long it has taken for there to be an agreement under international law between 193 countries to limit global warming to 2° by 2050. The limit of 1.5° that is actually necessary is, however, no more than a wishful goal, and no sanctions have been agreed, but even if development is very slow to get underway, we have at least resolved to tackle the biggest social and economic transformation project in known history: By 2050 at the latest, the use of coal worldwide must be reduced by 95 percent, and the consumption of oil and gas must be reduced by 60 percent and 45 percent, respectively—and we must create the framework conditions for this.

From today’s perspective, with the dislocations of the Corona pandemic and the monstrosities of the war against Ukraine before our eyes, this is a completely hopeless undertaking that we can only achieve if we change as individuals, as a society, as humanity, if we agree on a different way of living on this planet. We know what to do with crystal clarity, but not how to do it; we are afraid of the consequences of climate change, but even more, of the many imponderables and unknowns of the necessary change.

So can we change not only the world we live in, but also ourselves?

If our idea of innovation has been primarily associated with technology, with systems and processes, with optimization, streamlining, and increasing profits, in the next ten years we will have to give ourselves an enormous innovation push.

We will need every bit of technology, every organizational, logistical optimization that can help us reduce emissions and filter them back out of the atmosphere. But the biggest innovation project in human history this time has to be ourselves, our ability to rise to the challenge as a global community — a reinvention of humanity!

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Gerfried Stocker, Co-CEO / Artistic Director Ars Electronica
Gerfried Stocker (AT) is a media artist and an engineer for communication technology and has been artistic director and co-CEO of Ars Electronica since 1995. In 1995/96 he developed the exhibition strategies of the Ars Electronica Center with a small team of artists and technicians and was responsible for the setup and establishment of Ars Electronica’s own R & D facility, the Ars Electronica Futurelab. He has overseen the development of the program for international Ars Electronica exhibitions since 2004, the planning and the revamping of the contents for the Ars Electronica Center, which was enlarged in 2009, since 2005; the expansion of the Ars Electronica Festival since 2015; and the extensive overhaul of Ars Electronica Center’s contents and interior design in 2019. Stocker is a consultant for numerous companies and institutions in the field of creativity and innovation management and is active as a guest lecturer at international conferences and universities. In 2019 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Aalto University, Finland.