Putting the life back in science fiction

A Bright and Shiny Future. With Mirrorshades

More avoidance.  I was going to write about the IEA’s 2017 World Energy Outlook (Vox article).  Or I could write about The Grauniad’s seven megatrends that could beat global warming” article.  Or I could write about the bright and shiny, 100% electrified future that seems to be the major global bankwagon that people like the IEA are now jumping on.  But that would be avoiding the real work.  Continue reading


2016 Predictions: The roadkill edition
December 27, 2016, 5:35 pm
Filed under: 2016, climate change, Hot Earth Dreams, Speculation, Uncategorized | Tags:

As 2016 waits for the knackers, I figured I’d go back to the predictions I made last January to see how far off I was.  While yes, I understand that I’m not supposed to look backwards, because the past is gaining on us and they’ve got the original papers on what we owe the future, well, I’m still a pessimist, so let’s see what I got wrong.  Or right.   Continue reading

From here to Technofeudalism (or not)
December 18, 2016, 6:48 pm
Filed under: 2016, futurism, Speculation | Tags: ,

This was prompted by a comment by Wolfgang Brinck on the last post, that we’re going into a feudal society, with the capitalists in the place of the feudal lords of the Middle Ages.  It’s not that simple, of course, but here’s a way we could conceivably get to something resembling that state. Continue reading

Chaos and the Art of the Dead Cat
November 23, 2016, 10:46 pm
Filed under: 2016, American politics, Uncategorized | Tags:

I know, I know, everybody’s getting stressed out about acting thankful tomorrow, and I’m supposed to put out a message about what I’m thankful for (which is a lot, actually.  I’m still breathing.  That counts for something).

Unfortunately, I’m just providing ammo for that Thanksgiving political argument you don’t want to get into.  So if you’re not interested in that, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and read the rest of this on Friday.

Continue reading

The Day After

Yay, it’s the day after Earth Day.  They’ve started signing the Paris climate accord, John Kerry photo-opping by signing with his granddaughter on his lap.  Obama will ratify it by executive action, the Senate Republicans will pass something nauseating telling him to stop chasing myths (unless maybe that doesn’t happen?), he’ll veto their attempt to quash him, and…

Well, what happens next?  In the real world, I’m not so sure, but after I finish the swarm of stuff I’m working on (I won’t be blogging for the next few weeks), I’ll start figuring out how to revise Hot Earth Dreams. There’s still time to get your comments in, but the window is closing.

Now that it’s the day after Earth Day, what have I learned?

Continue reading

What mass extinctions look like

Another post, in part to remind myself that I’ll need to update the chapter on reefs in Hot Earth Dreams.  The bad news of March, at least in my opinion (aside from all the rain that didn’t fall on California) was that the bleaching of the northern section of the Great Barrier reef (as mentioned by, among many others, National Geographic, DW, Slate, CNN, and The University of Queensland.  Personally I like the last one the best, but tastes differ).

What’s going on, to be brief and oversimplify, is that coral have a temperature range, and the Coral Sea, or at least parts of it, are exceeding that range with this year’s El Niño.  By itself it’s a tragedy, and it’s one that’s going to leave a mark that’s bigger than you might think.

Here’s why.

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Predictions for 2016
January 1, 2016, 3:18 am
Filed under: 2016, climate change, Hot Earth Dreams, Speculation | Tags:

Happy 2016 everyone!

Here’s what I hope will happen in 2016: COP21 will take force; entrepreneurs worldwide will realize there are fortunes to be made in shifting the world towards sustainability; Big Oil companies will be indicted and sued over their knowledge of climate change and actively suppressing public action on that knowledge, and we’ll finally get on with trying to adapt.

Why not be optimistic?

Actually, I’ll be really interested in seeing what happens to the COP21 agreement in the US over this presidential campaign year.  If it disappears without a trace, that will be bad.

One tedious 2016 problem is that the mainstream American media will undoubtedly focus the vast majority of their attention on the 2016 campaigns, and for good reason: thanks to the Citizen’s United ruling, there’s a huge amount of potential ad revenue out there for them to suck up.  Perhaps I’m pessimistic, but I can’t see them getting away from the inane “politics as a horse race” for the next 11 months.  We’ll have to watch the second-line and international media to see what the Obama administration, states like California, and the megacorps do (or don’t do) to implement COP21 or otherwise deal with climate change.  Hopefully, the rest of the world will be less caught up in the Trump/Clinton supermarathon, and rather more interested in deep decarbonization.

In other news, I suspect the weather will get more chaotic, and a lot of people will suffer.  My take on the changing weather is that it’s sort of like the random wandering monster encounter tables from the Old Dungeons and Dragons.  This dates me horribly, but remember those tables, where you rolled a d20 to see whether orcs or a gelatinous mass turned up?  (My apologies if someone thinks those two are political references.)

What global weirding of the weather is doing is shifting the probabilities in the weather encounter table.  Things like cold, dry weather are getting less common.  Hot weather is getting more common, as are wet weather and hot, wet weather.  The thing is that the encounter table hasn’t yet changed, just the probabilities for each event.  Thus, the denialists can claim that the storms of last week are just “normal Texas weather” or similar, while climate alarmists like me can say it’s global weirding, and we both look right to our friends.  A shift in the probabilities isn’t a shift in averages, at least at first.

Still, extreme climate change would turn most of the Mississippi River basin tropical, more like the current Amazon.  When you look what the current storms are doing to the area, you can kind of see how it might get there, with increased floods in the winter and possibly in the summer (depending on hurricane tracks) and increased heat in the summer.  It’s not a pleasant vision.

But still, I’m a pessimist, so tonight I’m pessimistic about my pessimism.  Maybe we’ll see some positive action in 2016.  I’d like nothing better than to publish a book called Pleasantly Disappointed in 2025, and talk about how all my predictions in Hot Earth Dreams were wrong.

What are your predictions for 2016?