Atlantis, Past and Future

On the shoreline of the Welsh coast near Borth, violent winter storms caused remnants of an ancient kingdom and forest to emerge from the sea, lending some physical evidence to underpin the area’s deluge myth of Cantre’r Gwaelod, a sunken realm and forest long said to lie beneath Cardigan Bay.

The remnants of the Borth forest. Photo: Keith Morris/LNP

The remnants of the Borth forest, preserved for thousands of years beneath layers of peat, sand and saltwater.
Photo: Keith Morris/LNP

The Cantre’r Gwaelod legend says that the low-lying kingdom was lost to floods when a maiden neglected her duties and left a well unwatched. The well overflowed, inundating the land. Another version features a wastrel prince who allowed the floodgates to remain open and the sea to flood the city. It’s said that the watery church bells from the lost city can be heard echoing across the sea in times of danger.

In FutureVoices, a collaboration between climate scientists, game developers and writers, a deluge myth of a different kind is being created. FutureCoast is a part of the project that imagines daily life in a not-too-distant future via ‘geocached’ artifacts called ‘chronofacts’, which contain messages and voicemails from various locations.

A 'chronofact' object. Image: Eric Molinksy/WNYC

A ‘chronofact’ object.
Image: Eric Molinksy/WNYC

A sort of online game/scavenger hunt combination held during a period this spring, FutureCoast alerted participants to the presence of an artifact, and invited those who found the artifacts to make recordings of a standard type of voicemail, but imagining themselves facing daily challenges in a future undergoing major climate change, sometime between 2020 and 2065.

The project aims to inspire people to think about their future selves in a changed world, and to make concrete choices today on improving that world.

In most of our ancient deluge myths such as Cantre’r Gwaelod, the flooding and loss of the kingdom is blamed on humans behaving badly rather than the real culprit: climate change.

Today, current climate change is the result of humans, behaving badly.

FutureCoast is one of many warning bells, one that floats out across future seas.

From an illustrated children's book, Cantre'r Gwaewold. Artist: Sian Lewis

From an illustrated children’s book, Cantre’r Gwaewold.
Artist: Sian Lewis


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