Extrapolation Factory

Climate Futures, 2021

“What kinds of climate action do the next generation envision?”

This is the question that led the CLIMATE FUTURES project. A group of roughly 30 youth from Bronzeville were invited by ComEd to take part in a future-visioning program, inspired by techniques used by professional futurists. Through the project, they dreamed up social and technological inventions that respond to climate change in ingenious and resourceful ways.

Each student group was first introduced to fundamentals of climate science, and then heard from experts in climate justice and energy technology. Following that, students looked for signals of change, mapped out consequences of those signals, and depicted their imagined futures as quotidian streetscapes in their neighborhoods.

The Extrapolation Factory translated the student visions into the life-size objects which you see on this site.

The project aims to Increase awareness about the consequences of climate change, empower youth to express their hopes and dreams for the future of their community, and engage the community in a new conversation about climate change and energy transitions.

View the online exhibtion at:

Photography: Daris Jasper

Site Design: Albert Johnson

Design Assistance: Heer Metha

Generous support by ComEd

Concept and production: the Extrapolation Factory

Chicago Air Scrubbing Network

What if future residents prioritized clean air as a human right?

Air qualities in urban centers are notoriously bad, in part due to the types of infrastructure, transportation and urban planning that exist near urban neighborhoods.

In addition to undoing the existing infrastructure that causes elevated air pollution, cities may need to introduce new technologies that purify air. Air scrubbers could be attached to city infrastructure near where pollutants are emitted.

Chicago Community Cow Project

What if future communities raise and care for cattle in Chicago’s vacant lots to supplement our food system?

Large scale agriculture is a top emitter of greenhouse gases, but it’s often out of sight, and therefore out of mind. If community members all worked together to provide local milk, cheese and beef for the neighborhood, would we find a newfound respect and appreciation for the highest impact foods we eat? If so, would we eat these foods less frequently and savor them more?

In addition to localizing livestock, methane capture devices might be invented to further decrease the climate impact of our diets. These devices could be attached to the feed troughs of the local pastures to absorb methane particles from the air cows breathe out.

Corn Clothing  Printer

What if future fuel economies made corn so affordable that it was used in clothing production?

Future consumers could choose to buy clothing made from sustainable corn fibers. Since these garments could be easily compostable, they might be customized to individual whims and desires on any given day or for on-the-go outfit changes.

Corn clothing vending machines might be found around cities, especially near venues or where people might want a quick outfit change. These corn clothing vending machines could be easily controlled and would produce comfortable garments for all body types, using scanning technology.

Food Waste Power Portals

What if future food production rates increased due to advanced agriculture technologies?

Food scarcity might be a thing of the past, and with fresh, plentiful and accessible food for all, cities might develop systems for converting compostable food waste into power using bioreactors and biofuel generators.

Similar to public trash bins, urban centers might have bioreactors near streetlights, directly converting food waste into useable energy for the grid. This system could reduce trash volume and fossil fuel energy generation needs.

Lake Tropical Staycations

What if future travelers chose to spend holidays at local staycation destinations? 

Air travel is a major source of carbon dioxide, and a decrease in air travel would have a positive impact on emissions. Vacationers might be more enthusiastic about choosing not to fly, and instead planning local staycations if cities created special destinations that feel exciting and distinct from the region.

If the city of Chicago chose to create a “Lake Tropical” region that was dedicated to relaxation, emulating remote tropical experiences of more exotic destinations, would locals choose to plan more staycations and book fewer flights?  These staycation sites could be especially designed to feel relaxing, remote, emulating tropical vibes of more exotic locations.