Thursday, March 23, 2017

螳臂当车 -- In terms of humankind trying to stop runaway climate change, is this a noteworthy idiom to learn and remember? Are we humans the mantis and global warming is the chariot we cannot stop?

There is a Chinese-language idiom ...''Tang/Bi/Dang/Cher''

''TÁNG  BÌ  DĀNG  CHĒ'' [螳臂当车]

which means ''a mantis trying to stop a chariot''. It means to attempt the impossible!


 TÁNG = praying mantis
BÌ = arm
...
DĀNG = to be
CHĒ = car, or chariot/cart

In terms of humankind trying to stop runaway climate change, is this a noteworthy idiom to learn and remember? Are we humans the mantis and global warming is the chariot we cannot stop?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How one professor is finding the funny in climate change

SOCIETY

How one professor is finding the funny in climate change

 
And "climate fiction," or "cli-fi," is a budding field of literature, increasingly being taught on college campuses across the country.
BOULDER, Colorado USA — We have rising sea levels, world-record warming, acidifying oceans, an approaching food crisis and a president who is determined to cut any federal budget that is aimed at mitigating climate change. Is there anything that's funny about this?

That's a question about human behavior that Maxwell Boykoff, an associate professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is studying because he thinks humor may bring more people closer to understanding the threats and potential solutions to the problem of climate change.

He and a colleague, Beth Osnes, have produced "Creative Climate Communications," a class for graduating seniors majoring in environmental science that probes their fears about climate change and stresses the need for explaining policies that can cope with it.

Much of the literature about climate change is focused on the year 2050, a time when scientists predict rising oceans may begin to threaten many of the nation's coastal cities and states like Florida. By then, graduating seniors will be 55 years old, squarely in the middle of this mess, perhaps struggling with a collapsing economy and wild weather while trying to put children through college.

Boykoff, who is 43 and has a doctorate in environmental studies, wanted to set up what he calls a "living laboratory" to examine what his students think about this. So he built a course that involves producing annual comedy shows involving stand-up comics, skits and short videos to explore the humorous side of climate change.

 
"At first there was almost mutiny," Boykoff recalled. "They felt you're [tasking] us to take a very serious issue and find funny in there." To talk lightly about "scientifically grounded evidence"? This is impossible, they told him.

But Boykoff insisted that they would all learn something because communicating with other people about solutions to climate change is becoming extremely difficult. "Expressions of doom and gloom don't help open conversations" that are increasingly necessary to finding solutions.

He cited statistics showing newspaper coverage of climate change is declining, except for stories about the Trump administration's latest actions. He argued that people use climate denial to avoid thinking about needed changes and told students, "You may be able to use humor to meet people where they are."

Taking aim at ski bums, Inhofe and weather reports

The class comes at a time when scientists and other advocates for tackling climate change are seeking new ways to communicate catastrophic threats to the planet. The Showtime series "Years of Living Dangerously" featured big-name celebrities, including comedians like David Letterman, to tell the stories of how rising temperatures are affecting the planet. Some have sought to draw parallels between global warming and the HBO hit "Game of Thrones."

And "climate fiction," or "cli-fi," is a budding field of literature, increasingly being taught on college campuses across the country.

Change in attitudes among Boykoff's students and other participants in his show came slowly — some of them had no idea they were going on stage — but it came. One example is a short video that appeared in this year's show, "Stand Up for Climate Change: An Experiment With Creative Climate Comedy."

The video features a talking baby explaining to President Trump, who will be 71 in June: "You won't be around to face the consequences of climate change, but I will. So please, Mr. Trump, planet Earth first!"
In last year's show, the class took on three presidential candidates in a skit where they posed as bachelors and bachelorettes on a mock version of the television show "The Dating Game."
In another, three students walk into a dorm carrying ski gear while another keeps trying to light his bong. A woman reminds the would-be skiers that it hasn't snowed for months. "We've got to do something about this," says one of them, who seems surprised. The student smoking the bong looks up in glassy-eyed despair: "Shit. We're fucked."

Luke Campbell, one of last year's students, started with a stand-up routine that mocked Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) for walking into the Senate and throwing a snowball during a late-spring snowstorm, as if that proved climate change to be a hoax. But then Campbell seemed to drift off script, admitting that it was unfair to blame Inhofe or any other single person for climate change.
"Blame yourself and everyone else," he told the audience in a small campus theater. "Climate change is bad news. Eventually something terrible is going to happen, and everyone is on their phones saying we probably shouldn't do that," he said, referring on a common reliance on gasoline to drive for even short errands in their cars. "And they do and they do and they keep doing that."

Perhaps the funniest moment of Boykoff's first two seasons as a comedy impresario came in a short video from Vancouver, British Columbia, where Heather Libby, a writer and graphic designer, was inspired by years of hating local television news programs to produce one of her own. It was titled "Weathergirl Goes Rogue."

The announcer, played by Libby's partner, a former CTV bureau chief, kicks it off: "It's the Labor Day weekend, last chance to lounge by that pool and wrap up your summer reading list," and then summons Pippa, the weather girl, to explain why "the nice warm weather isn't quite ready to leave."
Pippa replies sarcastically, "I don't know why you would imagine that. We've broken thousands of temperature records across the country and the planet this year. In fact, we're heading into the 329th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th-century average."
Announcer, looking puzzled: "Well it's definitely time to light up that barbecue." He invites Pippa to give her seven-day forecast.

Pippa starts with the weather "way up north." The Arctic is missing 4 million square kilometers of ice. "That's bigger than India," she points out. Instead of a white ice sheet reflecting the sunlight back into space, there is "dark water sucking up even more heat, making it warm up faster and faster!"
The announcer, frowning, reminds Pippa he asked for a weather report.
Pippa screams at him, "You think all this is a coincidence? You want a weather report? This is a reality report!" She predicts "total mayhem if it continues."

The announcer has the control room turn off Pippa's sound. "So all and all, it looks like a great Labor Day weekend," he says, smiling, "and good times for the air conditioner industry."
Pippa: "Until the power goes out, you moron!"

As the announcer turns to celebrity news, the weather girl lunges at him from across the studio, knocking him off his chair.

An 'aha moment'?

According to Libby, there were quite a few other people who shared Pippa's rage. Her video went viral on the internet, getting half a million views in the first two weeks. That whetted Boykoff's appetite for more guest videos. Last year, there were nine entries for his comedy show, where judges select the top three. This year, there were 18 entries that will be shown next fall by Rebecca Safran, a biologist, who teaches a separate course about film and climate change.

Osnes, an associate professor of theater studies, joined Boykoff in teaching this year's course on communicating climate issues. Environmental science majors are different from her usual students, she explained. "They've got deep content knowledge," she said, but getting them up on stage just to do public speaking is often daunting, let alone trying comedy.

Osnes patrols the rehearsals, prodding people to keep their lines short, stay near the front of the stage and use portable microphones.

She thinks the time is ripe for audiences to connect with climate change. "More people are having their own physical experiences with extreme weather. There is a kind of aha moment."
Comedy, especially parody, she says, can "explode some of the inconsistencies and hypocrisies with which we're all living in a way that we can kind of laugh at." The format, she pointed out, goes back to ancient Greece, where Aristophanes wrote "Lysistrata," a comedy that suggested women deny their husbands sex until they stopped the destruction and killing in the Peloponnesian War.

"We're just trying to give them ideas they can riff off of," she explained.

So that is how Pablo Laris-Gonzalez, a student from Mexico City, wound up on the stage this year in a golden robe and a crown. He was "Sol," portraying the role of the sun.

Students dressed as bugs, plants and animals came on stage with him, but they were covered with a blanket simulating dirt, rocks and debris that compressed them for millions of years until the pressure and Sol's heat produced "Fos." This is a raffish character in a scaly, black costume worn by Larry Gumina from New Jersey. He roamed around the stage bragging about the beauties of having coal and high-powered cars.

Sol and Fos, who represented fossil fuels, had a kind of love-hate relationship. In one scene, Fos came out on the stage to sleep off a drink and Sol mentioned something about a strip, which made Fos happy. But then Fos woke up to find Sol running a toy bulldozer over his body.
"Wait a minute, I thought you were going to do a strip," said Fos.

"I said strip mining," explained Sol.
 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

SF writer N.K. Jemison reviews NEW YORK 2140 by SF legend Kim Stanley Robinson

In the NYTimes, she writes:
 
''It is altogether peculiar to immerse oneself in a story of New York written by a near-lifelong Californian.
 
Then again, Kim Stanley Robinson’s NEW YORK 2140 (Orbit, $28) is a novel of contradictions.
 
It explores capitalism but addresses class strife only obliquely; it makes predictions for Harlem and the South Bronx yet relegates racial and ethnic dynamics to the background; and in an age when local real estate agents already toss around terms like “Anthropocene” and “flood zone” over brunch, its audacious futurism arrives feeling a bit obsolete.
 
 
Still, New York is among other things a city of immigrants, as Robinson recognizes, so it’s only appropriate that an outsider should be the one to bring fresh perspective to its streets.
 
Or its canals, I should say: In Robinson’s post-icecaps future, Lower Manhattan has become the Venice of North America, with subways exchanged for bridges between buildings and business suits exchanged for drysuits.
 
There are several plots here, the most intriguing of which follows an investigation into two missing computer scientists, and there are memorable characters as well.
 
Make no mistake, though: The main character is the transformed New York, and Robinson gets it more right than wrong.
 
The novel deftly conveys its unnerving strangeness through interludes and asides: “New York, New York, it’s a hell of a bay” does have the ring of a culture adapting itself. (It’s also the quintessential outsider’s touch, since it riffs on a 1940s-era Broadway musical. Romanticizing the past and predicting the future while eliding the present: This is what tourists do.)
 
 

Kenneth Wick publishes his debut cli-fi novel at Amazon, titled PROGENCY'S PROMISE"

Kenneth Wick publishes his debut cli-fi novel at Amazon: link and news here: He tells this blog page today:

'' Hi Dan,
It has been awhile since my last email and I hope you are doing well.

I must apologize for my ''Progeny's Promise'' manuscript I sent to you around October of last year. It was very poorly done. It's taken a long time but after much editing and revisions, it's a bit improved. (And I hope I have become a better writer than the fellow that tortured you w...ith the first manuscript.)

I took your advice and self-published on Amazon. I'm glad I did. Thank you. Although the publish date on Amazon says Feb 01, the last revised Kindle ebook went live on March 20th, 2017, and the CreateSpace print version launched the next day, March 21st.

I have your ''100 Literary and Philosophical Ruminations about Cli-Fi'' in my Kindle and it is both inspiring and much needed these days. As you've stated "Earth matters" and Earth is capitalized throughout ''Progeny's Promise.'' I also placed a short reflection / author's note in the back of the book emphasizing the importance.

https://www.createspace.com/6639219

"For centuries Earth has struggled to rebound from devastating exploitation, as if a patched-up athlete constantly forced back into the game.

Our planet is weary and has become unforgiving of our misuse. Perhaps Earth is telling us she's had enough, and like many a loving mother, she may have waited too long."

Thank you, Dan, for getting the ''Cli-Fi'' ball rolling and continuing to stress its importance. With the Trump pall now suffocating the White House, it's needed more than ever. I hope my scribbling can help too.

I know you are very busy, but may I please ask you to take another look at ''Progeny's Promise.'' I hope the book proves worthy of Team Cli-Fi.

I've attached both a Word doc. and PDF along with a link to my Amazon author page.

Thank you again, Dan, for your help and all you do.

My best,
Kenneth Wick

https://www.createspace.com/6639219

Monday, March 20, 2017

''Star Sailors'' makes for some heavy reading!

james-mcnaughton-small-colour3-by-grant-maiden.jpg
James McNaughton speaks:

''One of the significant problems with climate change is that it’s depressing to dwell on. The first decision I made when writing Star Sailors was to give it a Comedy plot, meaning that the principle characters would be united at the end—after many troubles and travails—in loving understanding.

I took Shakespearean Comedy conventions, such as a character misunderstanding an overheard conversation, and changed the curtain he was lurking behind into a laptop camera. The waiter costume one of my protagonists wears at a masked orgy for super-elderly elites was inspired by Shakespeare’s many cross-dressers and disguised princes and princesses.

But with the global civilisation being lost, the humour remains dark.

At the end of the fifth act I knew that there could be no clear fix, in which thermal inertia could be magically rolled back after emissions end and the world returned to normal.

Star Sailors is a muted Comedy but love prevails.''

=======================

And now for our review:

''Star Sailors'' makes for some heavy reading!

by Dan Bloom at The Cli-Fi Report www.cli-fi.net

http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/calendar-details/star-sailors-by-james-mcnaughton

When James McNauighton's new cli-fi novel arrived in the mail the other day, by air freight, from Wellington to my little town in southern Taiwan, the 400-plus page novel weighed in at 0.62 kilograms! Therefore, I immediately started to dig in. And what a book it is.

Written for an audience in New Zealand first, it also reaches out to readers worldwide, who will also understand and "get" the trouble we humans are in, in terms of future global warming impact events in the distant future. Maybe the near future. Maybe sooner than that.

So dig in, too. This is a novel that packs a punch. If you're worried about where things stand in the southern hemisphere and what comes next, James McNaughton's novel "Star Sailors" is a good place to begin your reading now.

I said in the headline the book makes for some heavy reading. I meant "heavy" in the sense of "serious." Thoughtful, a book that will prod you out of your comfort zone about climate change and make you see things in a new, revealing way.

First, some background news.


British scientist and author James Lovelock has called New Zealand in a radio interview "Lifeboat New Zealand." He meant that in the future, millions of climate refugees might very well make a beeline for New Zealand via airplane or boat, as the Climapocalypse
descends on the Earth and all who dwell here. Now comes a novel by New Zealander James McNaughton titled "Star Sailors" which points to the very same possibility. It's fiction. It's a cli-fi novel.

McNaughton, who lives in Wellington with his wife and young son, wrote the book to entertain readers and also as call to action, a wake up call about global warming and climate change.
 
There are many of us all around the world who believe, like Lovelock, that we are in a race against time. "Star Sailors" tells a gripping story in its 400-plus pages, and the cover alone is worth a look. Rodney Smithdid the amazing artwork.
 
As McNaughton's page-turner of a story goes: In the not too distant future, the effects of climate change devastate the world and New Zealand becomes a haven for climate refugess from all walks of life and also for elites like rich computer company bosses from the tech world in North America and Europe. Asia, too.

When a young couple from the wrong side of the tracks gain entry into an exclusive gated community in Wellington, New Zealand, it appears their troubles are over. But they find themselves divided over the identity of Sam Starsailor, an alien prophet who has washed up on a local beach near New Hokitika and is said to bring warnings from another planet.

The couple's housewarming party becomes an all-night carnival, and revolution gathers beyond the gate.

It's Lovelock's
 
''Lifeboat New Zealand''

 
all over again, but this time in a novel by a writer in Wellington. And it's not just for readers in his island nation. It's book intended for an international audience.
 
We have been warned. Fiction can do these kinds of things.
 
Think Kim Stanley Robinson's "New York 2140" or Nathaniel Rich's "Odds Against Tomorrow." Or Liz Jensen's "Rapture" and Claire Vaye Watkins' "Gold Fame Citrus." And from Australia, Cat Sparks climate fiction novel titled "Lotus Blue."






Lovelock said in a radio interview in New Zealand that New Zealand is wasting its time passing an Emissions Trading Scheme, or ETS for short. He said this on the Radio New Zealand program during the 4-minute interview."I think the role of New Zealand, similar to that of the UK and other island nations, is to be a lifeboat, because the world may get almost intolerable during the coming century. And you see that happening already in Australia -- the desert is spreading and things just won't grow. And island nations like New Zealand will be spared that kind of damage."

"New Zealand could lead the world by being the perfect 'lifeboat' and taking that just right number of people that you can support and feed and the rest of it, and doing it building proper cities. That's going to take the money and the effort. Trying to stop global warming is almost a certain waste of time.
​​




According to Angela Gregory, writing in the New Zealand Herald, "Global warming 'could see Lifeboat New Zealand swamped by refugees'."




"New Zealand could become a climate change lifeboat, swamped with returning expats, Australians and thousands of refugees from the Pacific as the weather plays havoc around the globe," she writes.

As global warming accelerates in the near future, New Zealand will not feel the rate of change as much as most countries as it was surrounded by the vast Southern Ocean which would warm relatively slowly,
and this means that New Zealand would be perceived as a good place to live and its agriculture would even get a boost from the extra warmth.

"But what happens if climate refugees from North America and Europe and around the Pacific or Asia knock on the door, or our half-million expat Kiwis all decide to come home to ride out the rigours of climate change?" Gregory asks.




"If we are seen to be a good place to escape the worst of climate change, lifeboat New Zealand could quickly become overcrowded. Managing immigration will be even more of a political hot potato if thousands of people are knocking at the door," she adds.

Land values and house prices would inevitably increase, she said.

Despite New Zealand coming off quite well, it will not be totally off the hook. Isolation will again present challenges because of the volumes of food miles incurred in exporting.


New Zealand could very well face a scenario of billions of 'climate change refugees' migrating to their shores in the future.

In two recent international news articles about climate change ("How much more proof is needed for people to act" and "Ignoring the future - the psychology of denial"), the importance of facing major issues that will confront the future of the human species were emphasized.

Climate change is indeed an issue that is on everyone's mind today, and while Australia and New Zealand seem to be far removed from the experts who recently made their way to Copenhagen to try to hammer our blueprints to prevent global warming from having a doomsday impact on humankind, these two Pacific Ocean countries, facing Asia to the north and Antarctica to the south will be on the front line of these issues.

Despite most observers thinking that solutions lie in mitigation ideas, there are a growing number of climatologists and scientists who believe that the A-word - adaptation - must be confronted head-on, too. The fact is, despite the head-in-the-sand protestations of climate denialists,  we cannot stop climate change or global warming.

The Earth's atmosphere has already passed the tipping point, and in the next 500 years, temperatures will rise considerably, sea levels will rise considerably and millions, even billions, of people from the tropical and temperate zones of the Earth will be forced to migrate north in search of food, fuel and shelter. This is where Australia, and New Zealand in particular, will play central roles.

By the year 2500, New Zealand could be home to millions, even billions, of climate refugees from India and China and other Asia nations who will have migrated south, seeking safe harbor from the devastating impact of global warming in those future times.

Many parts of the New Zealand coastlines will be under water, and both countries will find themselves home to new kinds of visitors from Asia and Europe. They won't be coming on cruise ships or airplanes, since there will be no fuel for such services. They will be coming by rudimentary sailing vessels and barges. Prepare yourselves.

New Zealanders must be prepared for the worst-case scenario. By 2500, millions, billions of people will have been forced to leave their home countries in the tropical and temperate zones and migrate south en masse to faraway southern regions to find shelter in United Nations-funded climate refuges in places such as New Zealand. People from India, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines will make their way there, especially to LifeBoat New Zealand. It won't be a pretty picture.

When I asked acclaimed British scientist James Lovelock if such a scenario for New Zealand was likely, he said in an e-mail: "It may very well happen, yes."

Humans cannot engineer our way out of global warming, although scientists who believe in geo-engineering have offered their theories on how to do it. There are no easy fixes. Humankind has put too many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the result of the industrial revolution that gave us trains, plans and automobiles - and much more to live comfortable and trendy lives - and now there is so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the Earth cannot recover. Forget trying to be more "green" in our daily lives.

New Zealand, like the rest of the world, is now doomed to a very bleak future. There will be millions of climate refugees seeking shelter in Alaska and Canada, of courcse, but also in far south places such as New Zealand, Tasmania and Antarctica as well.

Meetings in Copenhagen and Rio de Janiero and at the U.N. building in Manhattan will not stop global warming. What we need to focus on now is preparing future generations for what our world will become in the next 500 years and how best to survive it. The national legislature of New Zealand needs to start thinking about these issues, too.

For the next 100 years or so, life will go on as normal in New Zealand, so don't worry too much. There is nothing to worry about now. For the next 100 years, posh department stores will continue to hawk their trendy items, international computer firms will continue to launch their latest cell phones and tech gadgets, and airline companies will continue to offer passengers quick passage here and there, to the Maldives and to Manhattan, for business and for pleasure.

But in the next 500 years, according to Lovelock and otther scientists who are not afraid to think outside the box, things are going to get bad. Unspeakably bad. Those of us who are alive today won't suffer, and the next few generations of humans will be fine, too.

The big troubles will probably start around 2200 - Lovelock says sooner - and last for some 300 years or so. By 2500, much of Australia will be uninhabited, although New Zealand will offer safe refuge to climate refugees who make it there. Most of the countries in Africa, Asia, Central America, North America, South America and Europe will be uninhabited, too. Prepare yourselves, o ye who think this is all science fiction. In fact, this is science fact!



We are entering uncharted waters, and as the waters rise and the temperatures go up as well, future generations will have some important choices to make: where to live, how to live, how to grow food, how to power their climate refugee settlements, how to plan and how to pray.

James McNaughton's cli-fi novel "Star Sailors" is a good place to begin your reading now.

=============

BONUS COMMENT FROM SUE PARRITT, an Australian novelist who was born in the UK and came to Australia when she was 20 (she's now 66)  and is the author of a trilogy, which begins with Sannah and the Pilgrim:

Q. As an Australian, you’ve made New Zealand the egalitarian safe-haven of these books in your trilogy. What is it you love most about the country?

A. What I love most about New Zealand – apart from the magnificent scenery and friendly people – is that the country’s politicians are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in: e.g. since 1984 nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships have been barred from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters. More recently, on 31 October 2016, Prime Minister John Key said his government would not accept any move to create “different classes of New Zealand citizens” by barring refugees who settled there from ever returning to Australia as proposed by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.


In Kim Stanley Robinson's NEW YORK 2140, the character named Gen Octaviasdottir is an homage and show ot respect and shout out to SF pioneer writer Octavia Butler!

In Kim Stanley Robinson's NEW YORK 2140, the character named Gen Octaviasdottir is an homage and show ot respect and  shout out to SF pioneer writer Octavia Butler!

WHY? Well....

 

Publishers and critics have labelled Butler's work as science fiction. While Butler enjoyed the genre deeply, calling it "potentially the freest genre in existence," she resisted being branded a genre writer. Many critics have pointed out that her narratives have drawn attention of people from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds. She claimed to have three loyal audiences: black readers, science-fiction fans, and feminists.

            Genevieve Valentine · explains a few things about the character named Gen Octaviasdottir in Kim Stanley Robinson's new novel titled NEW YORK 2140, where many readers are now suspecting (guessing) that the character's name is quiet homage and show of respect and shout out to the pioneering SF author Octvia Butler.

 


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Verbatim excerpts from NEW YORK 2140 novel by Kim Stanley Robinson

''I definitely screwed that up, and I’m sorry. I’ll apologize later. I hope you know I only did it because I couldn’t stand it anymore. Here we are in this beautiful world, if we’re not dead and in limbo, and they were ripping our heads off. Pretending there were shortages and terrorists and pitting us against each other while they took ninety-nine percent of everything. Immiserate the same people who keep you alive. Which god or idiot did that in Homer? None of them. They’re worse than the worst gods in Homer. That’s what they’re doing, Mutt. I can’t stand it.''
[Robinson combines his trademark optimism with a righteous anger for something that feels new and immediate, even if it's set 123 years from now. A space opera set in America's greatest city.]

[Polar bear attacks! Diving bell urchins! "What the hell? They nuked my polar bears?" Canadians in skyvillages. Iceskating boats, Melville's ghost. Buried treasure. Building beaches. Insane hurricanes. Street of Fundy wakeboarding. Political intrigue.]

[So much going on here, and all of it fitting together perfectly. And those are just the set pieces. The real joy is when he takes the time to delve into New York history, or the mechanics of a hurricane or sea level rise or circa-2008 bubble economics.]


Amelia's ship:

The blimp, actually a dirigible—if you acknowledged that an internal framework could be only semirigid or demirigid, made of aerogels and not much heavier than the gas in the ballonets—was forty meters long and had a capacious gondola, running along the underside of the airship like a fat keel. It had been built in Friedrichshafen right before the turn of the century and since then had flown many miles, in a career somewhat like those of the tramp steamers of the latter part of the nineteenth century. The keys to its durability were its flexibility and its lightness, and also the photovoltaic outer skin of the bag, which made the craft effectively autonomous in energy terms. Of course there was sun damage eventually, and supplies were needed on a regular basis, but often it was possible to restock without landing by meeting with skyvillages they passed. So, like the millions of other similar airships wandering the skies, they didn’t really ever have to come down. And like millions of other aircraft occupants, for many years Amelia had therefore not gone down. It had been a refuge she had needed. During those years there had seldom been a time when she couldn’t see other airships in the distance, but that was fine by her, even comforting, as it gave her the idea of other people without their actual presence, and made the atmosphere into a human space, an ever-shifting calvinocity. It looked as if after the coastlines had drowned, people had taken to the skies like dandelion seeds and recongregated in the clouds.

Re-thinking geoengineering: [People stopped burning carbon much faster than they thought they could before the First Pulse. They closed that barn door the very second the horses had gotten out. The four horses, to be exact.

Too late, of course. The global warming initiated before the First Pulse was baked in by then and could not be stopped by anything the postpulse people could do. So despite “changing everything” and decarbonizing as fast as they should have fifty years earlier, they were still cooked like bugs on a griddle. Even tossing a few billion tons of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere to mimic a volcanic eruption and thus deflect a fair bit of sunlight, depressing temperatures for a decade or two, which they did in the 2060s to great fanfare and/or gnashing of teeth, was not enough to halt the warming, because the relevant heat was already deep in the oceans, and it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, no matter how people played with the global thermostat imagining they had godlike powers. They didn’t.

It was that ocean heat that caused the First Pulse to pulse, and later brought on the second one. People sometimes say no one saw it coming, but no, wrong: they did. Paleoclimatologists looked at the modern situation and saw CO2 levels screaming up from 280 to 450 parts per million in less than three hundred years, faster than had ever happened in the Earth’s entire previous five billion years (can we say “Anthropocene,” class?), and they searched the geological record for the best analogs to this unprecedented event, and they said, Whoa. They said, Holy shit. People! they said. Sea level rise! During the Eemian period, they said, which we’ve been looking at, the world saw a temperature rise only half as big as the one we’ve just created, and rapid dramatic sea level rise followed immediately. They put it in bumper sticker terms: massive sea level rise sure to follow our unprecedented release of CO2! They published their papers, and shouted and waved their arms, and a few canny and deeply thoughtful sci-fi writers wrote up lurid accounts of such an eventuality, and the rest of civilization went on torching the planet like a Burning Man pyromasterpiece. Really. That’s how much those knuckleheads cared about their grandchildren, and that’s how much they believed their scientists, even though every time they felt a slight cold coming on they ran to the nearest scientist (i.e. doctor) to seek aid.


The problem with longterm preparation: [But okay, you can’t really imagine a catastrophe will hit you until it does. People just don’t have that kind of mental capacity. If you did you would be stricken paralytic with fear at all times, because there are some guaranteed catastrophes bearing down on you that you aren’t going to be able to avoid (i.e. death), so evolution has kindly given you a strategically located mental blind spot, an inability to imagine future disasters in any way you can really believe, so that you can continue to function, as pointless as that may be. It is an aporia, as the Greeks and intellectuals among us would say, a “not-seeing.” So, nice. Useful. Except when disastrously bad.

Hacking the system for socialism:

“There were other tweaks I did that might have been, you know, even more of a freak-out.”
“More than stealing a few billion dollars an hour?”
“It wasn’t stealing, it was redirecting. To the SEC no less. I’m not sure that kind of thing isn’t happening all the time. If it was, who would know? Would the SEC know? These are fictional trillions, they’re derivatives and securities and the nth tranche of a jumble bond. If someone had a tap in, if there were taps all over, no one would be able to know. Some bank accounts in a tax haven would grow and no one would be the wiser.”
“Why did you do it, then?”
“To alert the SEC as to what can happen. Maybe also give them the funding to be able to deal with some of this shit. Hire some people away from the hedge funds, put some muscle into the laws. Create a fucking sheriff, for God’s sake!”
“So you did want them to notice.”
“I guess so. Yeah, I did. The SEC I did. I did all sorts of stuff. That might not even be what got noticed.”
“No? What else did you do?”
“I killed all those tax havens.”
Mutt stares at him. “Killed them?”
“I tweaked the list of countries it’s illegal to send funds to. You know how there’s about ten terror sponsor countries that you can’t wire money to? I added all the tax havens to that list.”
“You mean like England?”
“All of them.”
“So how’s the world economy supposed to work? Money can’t move if it can’t move to tax havens.”
“It shouldn’t be that way. There shouldn’t be tax havens.”
Mutt throws up his hands. “What else did you do? If I may ask.”
“I pikettied the U.S. tax code.”
“Meaning?”
“Sharp progressive tax on capital assets. All capital assets in the United States, taxed at a progressive rate that goes to ninety percent of any holdings over one hundred million.”
Mutt goes and sits down on his bed. “So this would be, like …” He makes a cutting motion with his hand.
“It would be like what Keynes called the euthanasia of the rentier. Yes. He fully expected it to happen, and that was two centuries ago.”
“Didn’t he also say that most supposedly smart economists are idiots working from ideas that are centuries old?”
“He did say something like that, yes. And he was right.”
“So now you’re doing it too?”
“It seemed like a good idea at the time. Keynes is timeless.”
Mutt shakes his head. “Decapitation of the oligarchy, isn’t that another term for it? Meaning the guillotine, right?”
“But just their money,” Jeff says. “We cut off their money. Their excess money. Everyone is left their last five million. Five million dollars, I mean that’s enough, right?”
“There’s never enough money.”
“That’s what people say, but it’s not true! After a while you’re buying marble toilet seats and flying your private plane to the moon trying to use your excess money, but really all it gets you is bodyguards and accountants and crazy children and sleepless nights and acid reflux! It’s too much, and too much is a curse! It’s a fucking Midas touch.”


World history from 2008-2140:
Amelia's wtf lines:
[1. Naked starlets wrestling wolf pups: no.

2. “What?” Amelia cried. Without planning to she sat down hard on the floor of the bridge. “What the hell? They nuked my polar bears?”



A plan: coming. Or whatever the number, because bubbles go all the way back to Dutch tulips, or Babylon.”
Charlotte looked at the two prodigal quants. “Is this right?”
They nodded. “It’s what happened,” the taller one said lugubriously.
Charlotte palmed her forehead. “But what does it mean? I mean, what could we do different?”
I raised a finger, enjoying my moment of one-eyedness among the blind. “You could pop the bubble on purpose, I raised a finger, enjoying my moment of one-eyedness among the blind. “You could pop the bubble on purpose, having arranged a different response to the crash that would follow.” I pointed the raised finger over my shoulder, at uptown. “If liquidity relies on a steady payment stream from ordinary people, which it does, then you could crash the system any time you wanted, by people stopping their payments. Mortgages, rents, utilities, student debt, health insurance. Stop paying, everyone at once. Call it Odious Debt Default Day, or a financial general strike, or get the pope to declare it the Jubilee, he can do that anytime he wants.”


On automation and clean energy: [So energy systems were quickly installed: solar, of course, that ultimate source of earthly power, the efficiencies of translation of sunlight into electricity gaining every year; and wind power, sure, for the wind blows over the surface of this planet in fairly predictable ways. More predictable still are the tides and the ocean’s major currents, and with improvements in materials giving humanity at last machines that could withstand the perpetual bashing and corrosion of the salty sea, electricity-generating turbines and tide floats could be set offshore or even out in the vast deep to translate the movement of water into electricity. All these methods weren’t as explosively easy as burning fossil carbon, but they sufficed; and they provided a lot of employment, needed to install and maintain such big and various infrastructures. The idea that human labor was going to be rendered redundant began to be questioned: whose idea had that been anyway? No one was willing to step forward and own that one, it seemed. Just one of those lame old ideas of the silly old past, like phlogiston or ether. It hadn’t been respectable economists who had suggested it, of course not. More like phrenologists or theosophists, of course.

Transport was similar, as it relied on energy to move things around. The great diesel-burning container ships were broken up and reconfigured as containerclippers, smaller, slower, and there again, more labor-intensive. Oh my there was a real need for human labor again, how amazing! Although it was true that quite a few parts of operating a sailing ship could be automated. Same with freight airships, which had solar panels on their upper surfaces and were often entirely robotic. But the ships sailing the oceans of the world, made of graphenated composites very strong and light and also made of captured carbon dioxide, neatly enough, were usually occupied by people who seemed to enjoy the cruises, and the ships often served as floating schools, academies, factories, parties, or prison sentences. Sails were augmented by kite sails sent up far up into the atmosphere to catch stronger winds. This led to navigational hazards, accidents, adventures, indeed a whole new oceanic culture to replace the lost beach cultures, lost at least until the beaches were reestablished at the new higher coastlines; that too was a labor-intensive project.


New but old sea transport grew into the idea of the townships, again replacing the lost coastlines to a small extent; in the air, the carbon-neutral airships turned in some cases into skyvillages, and a large population slung their hooks and lived on clippers of the clouds. Civilization itself began to exhibit a kind of eastward preponderance of movement, following the jet streams; where the trade winds blew there was some countervailing action westward, but the drift of things was generally easterly. Many a cultural analyst wondered what this might mean, postulating some reversal in historical destiny given the earlier supposed western trend, et cetera, et cetera, and they were not deterred by those who observed it meant nothing except that the Earth rotated in the direction it did.


Deacidifying the oceans:

Modern commentary: She recalled hearing how after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, they had built prison camps faster than medical facilities. They had expected riots and so had put people of color in jail preemptively. But that was back in the twentieth century, in the dark ages, the age of fascisms both home and abroad. Since the floods they had learned better, hadn’t they?

He runs with Taibbi's metaphor: Every moment is a wicked struggle of political forces, so even as the intertidal emerges from the surf like Venus, capitalism will be flattening itself like the octopus it biomimics, sliding between the glass walls of law that try to keep it contained, and no one should be surprised to find it can squeeze itself to the width of its beak, the only part of it that it can’t squish flatter, the hard part that tears at our flesh when it is free to do so. No, the glass walls of justice will have to be placed together closer than the width of an octopus’s beak—now there’s a fortune cookie for you! And even then the octopus may think of some new ways to bite the world. A hinged beak, some super suckers, who knows what these people will try.