Putting the life back in science fiction


Hot Earth Dreams, 2.5 years on
June 22, 2018, 4:26 pm
Filed under: futurism, Hot Earth Dreams, Uncategorized | Tags:

Sorry for not blog posting.  We’ve been in the middle of a housing blitz, wherein developers, aided and abetted by the County of San Diego, are trying to ram through a bunch of high end, environmentally damaging housing developments.  They realized we’re slow to respond, so they’re trying to inundate us.

Still, I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about Hot Earth Dreams, which was published back at the end of 2015.  Before I published it, I seriously considered sending it to a conventional publisher.  Aside from its unconventional format and my lack of a guaranteed audience as a Celebrity Scientist, the problem with conventionally publishing  was that (given the normal one year lag between submission and appearance) it would have been published in December 2016.  While I didn’t think we’d have the politics we currently have, I did think it would disappear in the media noise.

The book’s sold pretty well.  While it didn’t sell well enough to immediately make the jump to commercial success, it’s still selling a few copies every quarter, all over the world.  The reviews on Amazon have been mostly positive, too, surprisingly for a book on climate.  Thanks to all who reviewed it!

Hot Earth Dreams actually changed my life, in good and bad ways.  One good (?) way is that it got me seriously engaged in climate activism.  I’d originally intended the book more as a source-book for writing cli-fi, but once I had some idea of where we’re likely headed, I couldn’t just sit back and profiteer off it.  I had to get involved.  One bad (?) change is that I’ve had to deal with anxiety issues ever since.  You can’t live with even a speculative apocalypse for three years and not be affected by it.  My coping strategy is meditation, and it does help quite a bit.

But I’ll bet you might be wondering what comes next, and the answer is yes, I am planning a substantial rewrite. A lot has changed since I started writing in 2012.  Back then, I was struggling, a chapter at a time, to understand what was going on.  After sitting with all the information for years, I have a better idea of how all my half-formed ideas fit together.  Rather more importantly, there’s been quite a lot of scholarship since the 2012-2015 timeframe I was writing in, and some of it has been quite useful.  And then, of course, I got a bunch of comments.  Most of them were about typos, but a few were substantive, and all were welcome.

So yes, there will be a new version of Hot Earth Dreams coming out sometime.  I hope it will be in 2019, but given politics and life, who knows?  It will be a different book, one aimed a bit more at helping people, as well as a source-book for the distant future.  Perhaps this gives you something to look forward to?

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The Doom of California (?)
April 27, 2018, 12:51 am
Filed under: California, climate change, futurism, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Since Weather West’s latest blog post and paper in Nature Climate Change got a lot of media attention, why not feed him even more links?  Anyway, the blog post is cool, the NCC paper is paywalled and I haven’t gotten around to asking him (Daniel Swain, the genius behind Weather West) for a copy yet.  And I figured I’d get back to talking about climate change for a post or two.

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Fun with Panpsychism
February 20, 2018, 12:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is a follow-on to a discussion on Charles Stross’ blog, and I’m posting it just to show an interesting case where some version of a God might be more parsimonious than assuming that God doesn’t exist. Continue reading



Too Big To Fail?
December 17, 2017, 5:36 pm
Filed under: American politics, economics, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

I saw this last night and decided it was too big, literally, to ignore.

The US Army currently reported that in FY 2015 it had $6,500,000,000,000 (that’s $6.5 trillion) in spending on an annual budget of $122,000,000,000 ($122 billion), or spending 54 times more than its budget.  Worse, between 1998 and 2015, the Army and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) somehow racked up $21,000,000,000,000 in spendings.  Here’s a link to the press release about Michigan State Professor (Mark Skidmore), who broke the news (although it had been mentioned by the government), here’s the article on it in Forbes.  Here’s the documents.  As noted in both articles, when Prof. Skidmore started probing these expenditures, documents on them, which had been publicly posted at the Office of Inspector General at the DoD, for some reason all the links started disappearing.  It’s a good thing Skidmore had already copied the documents and is now posting them online.  Oh, and this might potentially be why the DoD is undergoing its first agency-wide independent financial audit ever (press release).  I haven’t looked at what HUD is doing, if anything.  Continue reading



Beavering away at geoengineering

Two down, now three (four?) EIRs to go.  Oy.  And one of the ones I commented on planned, perhaps, to install a meter-wide water line in the same busy intersection as another group is currently going to install a 240 KW electrical transmission line.  Shocking, possibly explosive.  I can only hope that the engineers already knew of the juxtaposition, even if the environmental consultants did not.

So, I want to talk about something else: peat.  And beavers.  And some really silly ideas about geoengineering.

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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



Silly summer thoughts 3: Dune Shields

First, a bit of news: I’ve got another guest post up on Antipope, if you haven’t already seen it.  Go have fun with it, if it’s your sort of thing.

Now back to summer silliness; why not pick on Dune again?  It’s a fun target at the moment, especially since it gives this distorted impression that magnates and aristocrats could be part of  a breeding project to produce a superhuman messiah, even though rationally we know that regression to the mean seems to be a more common outcome for human reproduction(except for inbreeding, which gets rather worse).  The current administration in Washington is a great example of how each generation in a wealthy family gets smarter and more talented.  Or not.

In any case, for summer silliness, I give you the shields of the Dune universe, which apparently are spherical shells of force (or weirder, if you’re David Lynch and filming the novel), that slow down objects passing through them to 6 to 9 centimeters per second (this from the glossary in the original story and here) . Continue reading