Ten Signs You Might Be A SolarPunk, What is Solarpunk? Teen Climate Champion Lesein Mutunkei, First Electric Cargo Ship Sets Sail In Norway

by | Dec 6, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Ten signs you might Be A Solar Punk, plus, what is solarpunk? The first electric cargo ship sets sail in Norway, and meet teen climate champion, Lesein Mutunkei.




We’ve talked about Norwegian electric ferries here on The Climate Daily. Ferrying is a way of life in Norway, plus it has a massive merchant ship industry, so finding an answer to diesel-powered ships is top of mind in that ship-building country.

So it was with a great sense of pride that the world’s first self-driving, electric container ship made its first trip to Oslo, Norway last week. The ship-building company called Vard and the technology company Kongsberg to develop the ship collaborated on the ship’s design and build. That’s because the ship’s owner Yara International, a Norwegian chemical company–wanted to develop a zero-emissions ship that was also completely autonomous.

The ship’s owners aim to cut pollution by moving large amounts of products by water on the southern coast of Norway instead of by truck. The ship, called Yara Birkeland, will eliminate the need for around 40,000 truck journeys a year that are now fueled by polluting diesel.

Svein Tore Holsether, chief executive of Yara, said, “It feels even more rewarding to stand here today in front this ship and see that we were able to do it.”

On board, the traditional machine room has been replaced by eight battery compartments, giving the Yara Birkeland a capacity of 6.8 MWh, or as project manager Jostein Braaten said, “That’s the equivalent of 100 Teslas.”

Why does this matter to us? International and domestic shipping and fishing emitted more than 1.1 billion tons of GHGs in 2018. While this ship will eliminate only about 700 tons of CO2 annually, it’s a start toward the maritime sector’s pledge to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 and by half by mid-century.

DEEPER DIVE: France24, NFK, Press Reader



Lesein Mutunkei, a 17-year-old from Nairobi, Kenya created a project called Trees For Goals (T4G). It encourages soccer teams to plant 11 trees for every goal scored (one for each player).

Lesein said he started Trees for Goals because, “I understood the impact of deforestation, climate change and plastic pollution when I was about 11 years old.”

Through the initiative, he’s influenced change in his school, football club, local community as well as encouraged his peers to join the tree planting and growing efforts. Already, over 1,500 trees have been planted, and Lesein is working to spread the idea further. He’d really like to get the soccer group FIFA to back the idea.

Why does this matter to us? Lesein shows it does not matter how small or young one is, everything anybody does for the environment counts.

T4G was a 2021 finalist for The Children’s Climate Prize, started by the Swedish company Telge Energi in 2016. As The Climate Daily reported earlier in 2021, The Children’s Climate Prize is given annually to a person between the ages of 12 and 17 who has made “extraordinary efforts” to improve life on the planet for children now and in the future.

DEEPER DIVE: WWF-Kenya, NFK, CCP, Trees for Goals



You look different today. Something about you, it’s like …

My solarpunk is showing.

Yes that’s what it is. But what’s solarpunk?

Well, according to Wikipedia– Solarpunk is a genre and art movement that envisions how the future might look if humanity succeeded in solving major contemporary challenges with an emphasis on sustainability, climate change and pollution.

It emerged in the 2010s as a reaction to the prevalence of post-apocalyptic and dystopian media focused on heightened awareness of social injustices, impacts of climate change, and widening economic inequality. Solarpunk artists and aficionados seek alternatives to consequential dystopic futures.

Futurist Adam Flynn said it best when he wrote, “Solarpunk is about finding ways to make life more wonderful for us right now, and more importantly for the generations that follow us – i.e., extending human life at the species level, rather than individually. Our future must involve repurposing and creating new things from what we already have (instead of 20th century “destroy it all and build something completely different” modernism). Our futurism is not nihilistic like cyberpunk and it avoids steampunk’s potentially quasi-reactionary tendencies: it is about ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community.

Becky Chambers‘s A Psalm for the Wild-Built is considered one of the first purpose-built solarpunk novels. The setting of the story, Panga, is seen undergoing rewilding. The story also depicts humans and robots having independence from one another, while issues such as overpopulation and oil over usage appear, too Also touched on are issues of therapy, satisfaction and finding a purpose.

Solarpunk is concerned with technology, but it in a way that also embraces low-tech ways of living sustainably such as gardening, positive psychology and do it yourself ethics. Its themes may reflect on environmental philosophy such as bright green environmentalism, deep ecology, and ecomodernism, as well as punk ideologies such as anti-consumerism, anti-authoritarianism, and civil rights.

DEEPER DIVE: Solarpunk Art, Wikipedia, Tor.com, Adam Flynn



So, Lindsay Jane of The Solarpunk scene recently put out a great video called, “10 signs you might be a solarpunk.”  Lindsay A. Jane is a horticulturist and Solarpunk. She became one because,  “Our world is overrun by news of a grim future, so I created a space for creators to be able to present what they’re doing to create a brighter world.”  (great minds…)

In case you weren’t listening to the last story, Solarpunk is a literary and visual movement that originated in Brazil in the early 2000s. It rejects dystopian pessimism and puts forward images of renewable-powered utopias that challenge us to alter our social habits.

We encourage you to check out Lindsay’s YouTube video—click on the link in the Deeper Dive section at the end of this story on theclimate.org/episodes to find it. In the meantime, we thought we’d let you take the quiz here, right now. So here are 10 signs that indicate you might be a solarpunk:

  1. You want renewable energy
  2. You care about Nature and the environment
  3. You try to live sustainably
  4. You’re tired of gloom and doom
  5. You want to create positive change
  6. You want to be self-reliant
  7. You want things to be designed with form and function
  8. You’re adaptable
  9. You care for other people and try to be compassionate
  10. You want to be optimistic

Lindsay Jane’s got other great solarpunk videos, so we encourage you to follow her @thesolarpunkscene  on FB or subscribe to her YouTube channel, the solarpunk scene.

DEEPER DIVE: 10 Signs, Rojava, Ecologia, TheSolarpunkScene