Insulation or Extinction? Minsk in 2121
The energy politics of post- Soviet Europe is dominated by Russia. As Russia pushes its hydrocarbon economy upon its neighbors, there is usually little desire or little power to resist. Thus, in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, nobody is taking global warming too seriously, as to do so might affect economic success of the country they most depend upon. In any case the winters of Belarus continue to be frigid cold, and a few degrees’ rise in global temperature— Belarusians are likely to believe— will not put a halt to that.
Therefore the current government of Belarus, led by the autocrat Alexander Lukashenko, follows the Russian disdain for the Kyoto Protocol. For seventy years, the Belorussian people were forced to be a part of the Soviet empire and since becoming independent in the 1990s, they have often been pressured to discuss with Russian authorities about a possible reunion with Russia.
By the late twenty-first century, the pressure will have become too much. The need for Minsk to rid itself of crippling financial debt, and to secure cheap Russian gas, will probably have brought Belarus back into the Russian Federation. A strong desire for independence is likely to linger on, however, and in 2121, it will be manifest in a strange architectural form.
To rely less upon Russian gas for heating their homes and offices, nationalist Belarusians will cover their buildings with a furry insulation material that mimics the local variety of brown bear.
Belarusians nowadays resort to exhibiting lit candles in their windowsills if they choose to demonstrate against their strong- armed government (this is a popular practice when citizens want to publicly protest against Lukashenko’s ongoing imprisonment of political opponents). It is an ambiguous action, to be sure. A lit candle in the window could signify a plethora of meanings, usually spiritual rather than political, but this protest leaves them less likely to attract negative attention from the secret police.
At the moment most Belarusians are more worried about surviving the winters and various financial crises than about bringing democracy to their land, but when Russia subsumes their country into a greater federation once again in the late twenty- first century, the “Bear Fur roof movement” will grow to become a tangible, if at first ambiguous, sign of resistance to Russian control.
Soon, anyone with a complaint against Russian authority across Eastern Europe and Eurasia will insulate their roofs in this way, as an act of defiance against Russian gas-powered hegemony. At the same time, they will strike a blow against greenhouse gases. One day, around 2121, Utopia will dawn upon Minsk when greater Russia disintegrates once more, allowing Belarus to become independent again.