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pkdpic_y9konAug 10, 2021

Thats an excellent point. The subtext there is borderline positive. Or at least borderline actionable. Anyway Im reading the Ministry for the Future and its August so I need to either kill myself or join the Children of Kali or something... Whats the deal with brown coal?

boplicityonAug 13, 2021

If you want to see a very realistic, depressing, and ever-so-slightly hopefully depiction of the possible near-future, read The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson.

SamBorickonAug 12, 2021

This is the inciting incident for the author of the Mars Trilogy's recent book "The Ministry for the Future".

I highly recommend it if this stuff scares you, and you need a little climate hope.

webmavenonMay 27, 2021

If anyone is interested in a fictionalized (and somewhat optimistic) narrative of how this might play out, I can recommend Kim Stanley Robinson's recent novel The Ministry for the Future:


moultanoonJuly 11, 2021

I hope these get cheap enough that every house in the tropics gets them on their rooves. AC is going to become essential as temperatures rise, the grid can't support the load, and we can't afford to power all those ACs with fossil fuel. Solar powered AC seems like the most reliable way to survive a severe heatwave like the one described in the opening chapter of The Ministry of the Future: https://www.orbitbooks.net/orbit-excerpts/the-ministry-for-t...

You can't rely on the underprovisioned grid in a scenario like that, especially since the heatwave will likely drive the power plants themselves out of their operating range. Solar seems like the only way. Its intermittency is a problem on general, but clouds that would disrupt the power would also stop the heat.

whoisstanonMar 28, 2021

It’s so totally misguided IMO that I feel like I am maybe not understanding that.

It seems to inspired or in the spirit of ‘The Ministry for the Future’ by Kim Stanley Robinson.

“ It’s called Carbon Coin in the book, a Bitcoin-like currency that the Ministry gives out for carbon sequestration — that is, any project that sucks CO2 out of the air, whether it’s carbon capture or farmers rewilding their fields — at a rate of one coin to one ton. Oil companies get coins if they stop being oil companies, basically, leaving their assets in the ground for a century or so. Coins can then be bought and sold on currency exchanges like any other.”

The only argument I can see is that the sheer resource hunger will force our hand in using renewable energy. Of course, I am not saying this is a good argument at all.

There is no such thing as virtual energy. And the other forms of payment we use are a million times more energy effective.

What bothers me is that newsletters as this one who I believe are widely read serve this up as a good idea.



andreykonJune 1, 2021

Great blog post. Just want to post in favor of this:

"Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future, which I know you know well. Although climate change / the Anthropocene has been widely recognized for more than ten years, I think the combination of, not solutions, but at least ameliorations, presented in the book couldn’t have been written more recently. I think it’s a remarkable book."

Read this book in a couple months ago, outstanding book.

boplicityonAug 11, 2021

Kim Stanley Robinson's recent book The Ministry For the Future starts with a very disturbing scenario: A heatwave with a "web bulb" temperature of 35 Celsius.

It turns out, in those temperatures, even young and healthy people can't survive. Combined with power outages, as happens in the book, everyone living under such a heat wave will likely die.

It's looking increasingly likely that such heatwaves are possible in the future, and possibly quite deadly. This could result in the mass deaths of many people, especially in poor tropical countries that don't have a stable infrastructure to cool most people during such a heatwave. I hope a mass death event from a "web bulb" 35C heatwave never happens, but I'm losing hope, especially with the increasing global temperatures, and the very lackluster progress being made on carbon output.

danielodievichonJune 8, 2021

I have similar perspective and it is very depressing to see the world marching towards destruction of the modern civilization.

I was speaking about this to a friend and he recommended to read book called Drawdown to lift me out of despair. The book is published in the library and all of it is available at https://drawdown.org/. It was great to see that the work to fix or at least slow things down is already underway. But of course by no means guaranteed to succeed. Especially since that collection of essays did kind of dance around the biggest challenge of industrial rapacious capitalism really being incompatible with caretaking of the entire planet in a fair and balanced way.

On that note, somehow right after reading The Drawdown I stumbled on (I think via HN maybe?) Kim Stanley Robinson's The Ministry for the Future (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ministry_for_the_Future) which I swear takes a lot of the stuff from The Drawdown and lays out a path to turning things around that includes a lot of people saying no to the current way of doing things and finally caring for the environment. It was interesting to see the pleas of Mary to the bankers who the book makes a great case are actually the rulers of the world with the quotes of USA's central bankers from just a couple of days where they explicitly state that climate is not within their purview.

I don't know. I got children and I get really depressed about shit they will have to deal with. My parents were similarly depressed when they were my age now, and I was my children age now, and nothing got done.

Wishing us all lots and lots of luck.

webmavenonJune 13, 2021

'The Deadline: A novel about project management' by Tom DeMarco

Critical Chain by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

The Unicorn Project by Gene Kim (sequel to the Phoenix Project)

Makers by Cory Doctorow

Daemon & Freedom™ by Daniel Suarez

The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson

Zodiac by Neal Stephenson

The Blue Ant trilogy (Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History) by William Gibson

Omnitopia: Dawn by Diane Duane

Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

Reamde by Neal Stephenson

Lock In by John Scalzi

Rascal Money by Joseph Garber

TepixonJuly 6, 2021

Recommended reading about the topic of climate change and wet bulb temperatures:

Kim Stanley Robinson's novel "The Ministry for the Future".

Here's the blurb from goodreads:

Established in 2025, the purpose of the new organization was simple: To advocate for the world's future generations and to protect all living creatures, present and future. It soon became known as the Ministry for the Future, and this is its story.

From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a vision of climate change unlike any ever imagined.

Told entirely through fictional eye-witness accounts, The Ministry For The Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, the story of how climate change will affect us all over the decades to come.

Its setting is not a desolate, post-apocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us - and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face.

It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever written.

anyonecancodeonJuly 19, 2021

I'm reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Ministry for the Future[1], where one of the major plot elements is the introduction of a "carbon coin" -- a complementary currency issued for reducing carbon, backed by central banks. It's essentially a targeted form of quantitative easing.

This idea is inspired by the Global Carbon Reward here in the submitted link. Given the numerous threads discussing whether blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies are or can be overall socially beneficial, thought the HN crowd might be interested, and a link to the original idea seemed the most relevant link.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ministry_for_the_Future

anyonecancodeonJuly 23, 2021

Currently reading Ministry for the Future, which in some ways is a very optimistic book, but is still quite grim. Also, I'm thinking perhaps next time I'm tempted to read a book with climate change as the subject, I'll wait until winter to do it, rather than in the summer when the described scenes are a bit too easy to imagine by simply stepping outside.

Read the mars trilogy and Rice and Salt as well. I like his optimism in humans' ability to actually make radical political change. I suppose this is what I mean by his being both optimistic and grim -- severe outcomes aren't avoided in his books, but in the end societies do change before the absolute worst comes to pass. A "hard optimism" I suppose, which I find valuable.

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