UCSB: The Green Place

A Climate Fiction Photo Essay

University of California, Santa Barbara. 2073. Following the appointment of U.S. President Ronald Chump in 2016, all public universities have been cut from funding to invest in the largest construction project the world has ever seen: Project Chump. According to the President’s privately-funded group of climate scientists, the Earth has hit a critical desalination point upon melting of the freshwater ice caps. It is unclear as to why Chump’s researchers have collected no data of their own since the start of his presidency.

With the loss of massive amounts of land ice, sea level is inevitably rising.

Project Chump seeks to combat this critical tipping point by constructing a 75-foot wall around the entire U.S. coast. Funding for the project was estimated at $11 billion in 2020, $57 billion in 2025 and now stands at $2.3 trillion in 2073. Schools across the country have been shut down in order to supply extra funding to the project. K-12 through PhD programs have been forced to obtain funding from private sectors through corporate sponsorships known as Chump Fellowship Curriculums. These CFCs, for short, have been harmful not only to the authenticity of education but campus ecologies across the nation.

BP, or Best Petroleum, has sponsored UC Santa Barbara’s CFC in order to subliminally push pro-oil propaganda on students and discourage sustainable transportation across the campus. The company remains confident with their strategy—when asked by investors about the possibility that the students would catch on, they assured them that:

…the Gauchos would assume BP stood for ‘Beer Pong’ and, besides, they’re already desensitized to the event of oil spills.

In order to increase emissions across the campus, BP has banned the use of all sustainable transportation, including bikes and skateboards.

In order to assure students get to their classes in time, BP has partnered with Uber to create UberBike, a low-cost taxi service that drives on the bike paths now that they are free of bikes.

Additionally, they have demolished the Earth Sciences buildings to begin the construction of additional parking structures.

All vehicles deemed “counterintuitive to the educational value that BP brings to each and every student” have been put in storage.

BP maintains these regulations very closely, and attempts to punish those who do not comply.

They have even implemented an alarm system that will alert the school if emissions become too low, causing the ozone to start reappearing.

Regardless, students communicate over social media to get around the law or simply to vent.

As the implementation of regulations continue, students begin skipping class more often and the dropout rate increases rapidly. The campus soon turns into a wasteland, void of activity.

While the students are bound to regulations—only hoping to obtain a degree and leave—the fauna and flora are free to fight back and regain their place in the campus ecology.

There is no stopping them now.

Species hiding in walls and plants have begun forming.

The transformation has been completed.

The takeover is underway.

As the school becomes powerless, the students reappear, find their transportation in deep storage, and return to their schooling.

UCSB is now back to the sustainable, environmentally-friendly campus it was always known to be. Whether this change came from the hope of the students, the redemption of land from the animals or the inevitable impeachment of President Chump…

…we’re now greener than ever.

Photography and Writing by Spencer Baker