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The stories we’ve been told about the arc of human progress are now under question.
We were told we were nearing the end of history; that globalisation would lift millions out of poverty, and that the onward march of time would bring unprecedented peace and stability across the world. But globalisation is delivering on its promises only to a powerful minority, and the result is a global system that our planet can’t sustain.
Acclaimed writer Amitav Ghosh visits the RSA to reflect on humanity’s condition in the Anthropocene era, and how the stories we tell can help us understand our place in a drastically changing world. What we need, he says, is to be able to think the unthinkable; if the climate catastrophe we’re facing is a collective failure of imagination as well as one of ethics and action, we need to think beyond the limits of realism to confront the state in which we find ourselves. Fiction, he tells us, can be a powerful force for good in helping us to recognise the realities of our condition, and navigate the constant change that defines the modern world.