Putting the life back in science fiction

Paris aftermath
December 11, 2015, 6:34 pm
Filed under: climate change, futurism, Hot Earth Dreams, Speculation | Tags: , , ,

Friday 11 December 2015: Okay, the negotiation dudes are running over. I’m shocked, shocked that this is happening.

Since I’m so shocked, shocked, and pretend to myself that I know what’s going on, I’ll try my hand at prognosticating what will come out of this. Then we can see what reality dishes up in the next few days.

If you’re really pessimistic, you’ll bet that the talks fall apart over the next 24-72 hours. That would suck, because it’s as good a “beginning of the end of civilization” point as future historians are ever likely to find. After that, there’s no momentum to deal with climate change, and it’s every group for themselves. If we’re lucky, this will end in Hot Earth Dreams territory. It might conceivably be worse, depending on what happens with Arctic methane clathrates.

Still, my guess is that this probably won’t happen, and a deal will be announced, probably Sunday afternoon or so. Here’s what I think will happen, and we’ll see whether I got any of it right.

1. Brinksmanship. For the last few decades, we’ve been engaged in disaster capitalism, with richer countries and corporations forcing their weaker opponents to accept bad deals under the duress of emergencies. Even though it would be cheaper and better for everyone to not do this at the COP21 Conference, I’m equally sure that this hasn’t stopped any negotiator from trying to use the possibility of failure to leverage a deal out of someone. Because of this, any deal will be last second stuff, when negotiators finally stop being assholes for a few minutes and actually bargain in good faith.

2. The deal will be “legally binding,” but not in a useful way.

3. There will be lots of noise about keeping the Earth to 2oC warming. Admittedly, I haven’t analyzed what 2oC looks like in terms of human misery, but my guess is that most people don’t realize just how much of a mess it sets us up for in the next few hundred years. By itself, it probably won’t crash civilization, but it will likely leave us with the biggest migration in human history. Among other things.

Whether the deal will actually keep us to 2oC is another question entirely, and I don’t know if any of us will live long enough to see the answer to that.

4. There won’t be enough money provided by the major polluters (especially the US) to do anything truly substantive. The last I’d heard, pledges were less than 1% of the amount thought to be needed to actually fix the world.

5. At least some major hard decisions will be kicked down the road to COP22 or whenever.

6. The major good effect, to the extent there is one, is that there will be increasing political and social momentum to decarbonize global civilization. Getting people to act is an unfortunately huge accomplishment.

7. If we’re lucky, that decarbonization momentum won’t be gone by April 2016.

Any predictions you want to add? If you’re reading this later on when the talks are over, what do you think (or know) about what actually happened?

Paris in the Fall, mais oui
December 2, 2015, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Hot Earth Dreams, livable future, sustainability | Tags: ,

Okay, I’m a pessimist.  Is it a good thing to cheer on the Paris COP21 Climate talks, or not?

On the one hand, if they fail, I’ve got a great marketing tool for Hot Earth Dreams: it will be a more likely future.  Except that the scenario will probably fail because the Earth will get hotter faster than I predicted, so I might have to do a bit of a rewrite and get depressed that I wasn’t pessimistic enough the first time.

On the other hand, if COP21 comes up with a treaty, no one will want to read about a hot Earth, except that I’m pretty much describing what the COP21 treaty will accomplish: partial control of carbon emissions, which extends the terafart out to 100 years when it could run in as little as 20-50 years.  Guess that means I’ll try selling the book again in 10 years, when people start seeing the shortcomings of getting GHG emissions cut but not eliminated.

Still, why not be hopeful?  Maybe something will come out of this one.  My pessimism is wrong more often than not.  That’s why I’m pessimistic about it too.

If you’re interested in exploring a future that’s not depleted of fossil fuels, where we get GHG emissions truly under control, you might want to check out The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project.  It’s a think-tank, excuse me, a “global collaboration of energy research teams charting practical pathways to deeply reducing greenhouse gas emissions in their own countries.”  With decent PR, obviously, despite “decarbonization.”  From what I’ve read of their reports so far, they aren’t bad.

Their overall message so far is something that should be familiar to those who have read Hot Earth Dreams: it’s technologically feasible to get greenhouse gas emissions under control, keep economic growth going, and so forth.  The problem is one of politics and logistics, since it requires a large-scale transformation of civilization over the next few decades to pull it off.

Am I the only one who thought “oh, so it will never work”  on reading that last sentence?  Why won’t it work?  Builders are going to get rich rebuilding civilization to deal with this crisis.  Why are so many people running away from it, rather than towards it?  It’s funny that in the 21st Century, “let’s reinvent society so that everyone gets a better life” is something we’ve been taught to cringe from, when in the 20th Century, whole revolutionary movements got started that way.  How times have changed.

In any case, let’s be hopeful that something good comes out of Paris.  And if you want to write about a 21st Century with climate change, I’d suggest that the Decarbonization crew is a good place to start your worldbuilding research.

Any thoughts on it?




Hot Earth Dreams Comment Thread
November 17, 2015, 6:51 am
Filed under: Hot Earth Dreams, Uncategorized | Tags:

Here’s the official comment thread for Hot Earth Dreams.  Comments, questions,  errata, typos, other feedback.  Yes, positive feedback is very much welcome.   Note that this is for the whole book, not just for the first five chapters in the sample.

It’s Here! Sorta
November 12, 2015, 2:13 pm
Filed under: book, deep time, futurism, Hot Earth Dreams

1/25 update: Welcome Legalise-Freedom listeners and Archdruid Report readers! You can read the first five chapters and see the cover here.

Here is where Hot Earth Dreams is available:

Createspace as a paperback (https://www.createspace.com/5799140),

Amazon as a paperback (http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Earth-Dreams-climate-happens/dp/1517799392),

Kindle as a mobi  (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017S5NDK8),

Barnes and Noble as a paperback (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hot-earth-dreams-frank-landis-phd/1122947640),

Kobo as an epub (https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/hot-earth-dreams),

Smashwords as an epub, mobi, or lrf (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/593567).

All the ebook formats should not contain DRM.  Please let me know if they do.

Charlie Stross also allowed me to post a guest-blog at his site .  I’m not going to cross-post too much information, but there is one critical point:

Thank you to all the people who’ve read my posts, and, most especially, to those who have commented on them.  Over the last three years, I’ve tried out ideas from Hot Earth Dreams here, and the feedback I got, both positive and negative, really shaped what went into that book.  I couldn’t have done it without you, so thank you very much for your help, and I hope you enjoy it.

Well, one other thing: my publishing strategy is to self-publish first, to see how well it does.  I’m planning on shopping it around to mainstream non-fiction publishers, but according to what I’ve been told, a big part of a successful non-fiction proposal is the size of my existing audience.  If enough copies sell, it will level up to a publishing house, which will help get it in book stores, libraries, reviewed, and so forth.  This, of course, is where you come in.  If you like this book, review it online, tell your friends, talk about it, spread the word.  That’s the best advertising I can get right now, along with blurbs from Big Names (and if you are one, let me know)


Hot Earth Dreams Sample
November 3, 2015, 2:44 am
Filed under: book, futurism, Hot Earth Dreams, Real Science Content, Speculation | Tags: ,

Well, I was hoping to get that book out by now, but thanks to life intervening and Ol’ BigMuddy doing something interesting with the formatting, not to mention another round of copy editing, I’m planning to release it November 15, although that’s a soft deadline. The release will be a paperback version and a Kindle version, both available on Ol’ BigMuddy, in as many markets as I can get it into.

To whet your appetites, here’s a pdf sample from the paperback. Enjoy!

Hot Earth Dreams Sample

(update: you can see where to buy it here)