Climate Change

Neal Stephenson's Termination Shock Is a Glorious Sci-Fi Vision of How To Respond to Global Warming, One Geoengineering Problem at a Time

In Stephenson's near-future novel, innovation, not legislation, is the best response to a changing climate.

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By the time Neal Stephenson's new novel, Termination Shock, begins, humans have already begun adapting to climate change. Stephenson's near-future world has grown hotter, in some cases dangerously so. But people, in their infinite idiosyncratic ways, have more or less figured out how to deal. 

Some of these adaptations are obvious: In Texas, where much of the action is set, roadways are raised, and houses are built or retrofitted to sit on stilts in order to avoid flood plains. Some of these adaptations are unexpected and not entirely welcome: An influx of fire ants attracted to the ozone produced by air conditioner relays, which for mostly unrelated reasons had been complicated by supply chain issues from a monopolistic Chinese supplier, had left large numbers of people in the state without cool air. That, in turn, created masses of "relayfugees" who set up ad hoc camps, which, this being Texas, are built out of recreational vehicles, camp trailers, and oversized SUVs.

Other sorts of adaptations are just neat: There are novel drone systems that provide sensory information to quasi-cyborg state operatives and massive truck stop/gas station complexes that serve as full-service hubs for mobile living. People of means or whose jobs require it wear modular, powered suits that can keep them cool even in sustained wet-bulb temperatures that might otherwise quickly kill a person. If it worked for Dune, it can work for Texas.

Every one of these adaptations solves what is essentially a small, or at least manageable, problem: what to do about local flooding, or pest invasions and supply chain frustrations, or having to work outside when the heat is so strong it could kill you. These aren't attempts to fully resolve the problem of global warming, or remake the world's political order. They're just methods of responding, through a combination of engineering and distributed decision making, to the minor irritations and major challenges that global warming will present. And that, in its own strange way, is the solution—or at least the very best we can do. Termination Shock is a novel about how myriad small innovations can give us a more livable world.

If there's a single big idea behind Stephenson's new novel, that's it: Global warming—climate change, the vast complexity of the modern fossil fuel economy, the geopolitics of emissions reductions, and so on and so forth—can't really be solved, or at least not in the sense that people often talk about solving it. It's too big, too complex, involving too many people, too many governments, too many interests. You can't wrap your head around it. No one can.

Instead, what you can do is break it down and solve one discrete problem at a time, using engineering and mutually beneficial cooperation rather than politics.

Early in the book, Stephenson presents this idea explicitly. A Dutch royal functionary is discussing the threat rising sea levels pose with his proudly nationalistic father. The functionary asks whether his father takes the threat of sea-level rise seriously, and his father responds that of course he does.

The conversation proceeds (I've excised some of the narration and description):

"What are we going to do about it is the question."

"We, as a civilization? About global climate change?"

"I know, right? Too vague! Too much diffusion of responsibility. Too much politics," the functionary says. And then he proposes to his father an alternative way of looking at things:

"Instead ask, what are the Dutch people going to do specifically about rising sea level and suddenly it is simpler and clearer, no? Instead of the whole world—the United Nations and all that—it's just the Netherlands. And instead of all the detailed ramifications of greenhouse gases and climate change, we are talking about one issue that is clear and concrete: rising sea level."

Termination Shock is thus a novelistic attempt to break down the challenges of climate change and address them clearly and concretely rather than as a mass of unsolvable civilizational mega-challenges.

Which doesn't mean no one does big things. On the contrary, the story kicks off when a genial, somewhat cantankerous Texas billionaire who owns a chain of sprawling high-tech truck stops decides to take matters into his own hands, or in this case, airspace. Rather than advocating for emissions standards or international treaties or supporting climate activism, he builds a gigantic subterranean launcher, which he dubs the Biggest Gun in the World, and begins firing sulfur into the atmosphere. He doesn't ask the Federal Aviation Administration for permission. He doesn't set up a governing authority or get stakeholder buy-in. He just collects sulfur, builds a big machine, and takes action.

Scientists have speculated for years that releasing sulfur into the upper atmosphere could help cool the planet by reflecting sunlight in a way that allows temperatures to cool. Indeed, this is precisely what happened in 1991, when Mount Pinatubo exploded in the Philippines, releasing vast amounts of sulfur into the atmosphere and producing several years of cooler global temperatures.

To do this intentionally would be to engage in a kind of geoengineering, which is generally either ignored or frowned upon as part of the climate change response toolkit. Stephenson's novel, then, offers a thought experiment: What if, instead of attending summits and signing treaties and attempting to work through various bureaucratized and collectivized political systems, some feisty, motivated individual just did it? Someone, for example, like the aforementioned genial, somewhat cantankerous Texas billionaire, who, naturally, names his sulfur-launching ranch Pina2bo.

This might sound like a rather large-scale solution, and in some ways it is. But Stephenson presents it as little more than another engineering project designed to solve a specific, individual problem: It's too hot in Texas, and it's causing various issues for the billionaire's many properties there. Local heat is a problem. Putting sulfur in the air will help mitigate that problem. In some ways, that's all there is to it.

But of course, the story doesn't stop there. The Texas experiment creates complications—namely that shooting sulfur into the atmosphere won't help every place equally, and in fact might make weather conditions in some places, like India, much worse. In addition, the Texas sulfur solution inspires imitators and competitors, including powerful European families and various nation-states, from the Middle East to China, all of which suddenly begin attempting to solve their own often-interlinked climate, weather, and political problems.

Frankly, it's kind of a mess, and it doesn't always go well. A weird foamy sea event kills dozens of innocent surfers. Small-scale quasi-wars among shadowy groups of maybe-private fighters break out in locales with weak governance. China and India fight a bizarre sort of social media–age reality TV border war using sticks, rocks, and regional martial arts techniques, with heroic fighters vying for nationalistic glory not-so-secretly backed by their governments. Feral hogs consistently prove to be huge, huge headaches.

In one of the novel's grandest sequences, the Maeslantkering, a Dutch storm surge barrier that is one of the largest moving objects in the world, is overpowered by a massive wave that may or may not have been specifically engineered by a rival nation. Termination Shock takes for granted that ad hoc geoengineering schemes will inevitably lead to some forms of global conflict.

Some of this is par for the course for Stephenson, who has had a longstanding fascination with large engineered structures and decentralized problem solving. At times the novel, like so many of Stephenson's stories, reads like a compendium of objects, people, and hobbies that Stephenson finds neat: There are extended sections on falconry, obscure stick-fighting methods, drone-assisted hog hunting, high-end private train travel, and the Texan obsession with brisket. It's weird and often quite comic—and also sometimes terrifying and awe-inspiring, because that's how Stephenson sees human civilization and technological progress. It's zany, complex, occasionally menacing, and kind of magnificent, all at once.

Early in the novel, one of the characters drives by the Bonnet Carré Spillway in New Orleans, a massive flood control system built starting in the late 1920s following a devastating flood that left hundreds dead and tens of thousands displaced from their homes. Stephenson lovingly describes the spillway's various engineering characteristics, how it was designed to function, its legacy in popular culture, and the way its usage changed over the years as weather patterns shifted. Notably, the spillway is currently used partly as a massive public recreation center. The environment has always presented challenges, the passage seems to suggest, sometimes deadly ones. But people have engineered solutions and integrated them into their lives.

Thus climate change, in the novel's vision, is real, and represents an increasingly large and serious problem for the citizens of the 21st century. But it's not necessarily a full-fledged extinction event. People will adapt, some better than others, using their own preferred means and methods, because that's what people do. Somehow, humans muddle through—and as often as not, it's both absurdly funny and incredibly cool.

Legislation vs. Innovation

Stephenson, of course, isn't the only science fiction author to tackle global warming in recent years. Indeed, there's an entire subgenre, dubbed "cli-fi," devoted to extrapolating how climate change will transform our world. Perhaps the best-known practitioner of this genre is Kim Stanley Robinson, the justly celebrated author of the Mars trilogy. His most recent novel, The Ministry for the Future, tackles many of the same concepts as Termination Shock, to the point where the two read almost like companion novels, except with perfectly opposing views about how to address the threat posed by climate change.

In The Ministry for the Future, a small international agency attempts to battle climate change largely through legal, bureaucratic, and political means. Yes, there are large-scale geoengineering schemes, including a clever system for refreezing glaciers, and there are certainly individual actors who take matters into their own hands, some of which include terrorist organizations motivated by what they see as climate violence.

But by and large, Robinson imagines responding to climate change by changing laws, and by using legal pressure to upend existing economic systems. And so The Ministry for the Future is the sort of novel that occasionally drops into direct-to-reader lectures about monetary policy, the origins of inequality, and the "defining characteristics of neoliberalism." It includes passages on the work of "Paris Agreement standards and certification teams," and an early chapter of the novel begins by describing the statutory authority for the creation of the United Nations subagency from which the novel takes its name. Much of its future-politics speculation hinges on the notion that central bankers are and will continue to be the real rulers of the modern world.

By the novel's end, the entire global economic order has been transformed, top to bottom—not only via a new globally managed cryptocurrency designed in part to track all economic activity so as to prevent actions deemed destructive to the climate, but also via a universal basic income, a reduced population and slower growth, a shift in the cultural power status of women, and what amounts to central management of the world economy by "Red Plenty algorithms" that somehow were programmed to avoid "the old bad inefficiencies, while keeping the good inefficiencies that were important for resilience and justice." Good luck with that.

For all this, it is a surprisingly effective and engaging novel. Robinson is a deft and elegiac writer with a powerful sense of the interaction between humans and social systems and fascinating ideas about how humans might manipulate their environments. He is not the madcap storyteller that Stephenson is, but he is earnest and melancholy and writes with real feeling and granular detail in an impressive number of voices and modes. He is worth reading and worth considering, even though I think he is wrong about both how the future will unfold, and how it should.

Robinson dedicated the book to a Marxist political theorist and has said he was influenced by "eco-Marxism," and so it is not surprising to find that ultimately he imagines a vast economic revolution, driven primarily by bureaucratic controls and the force of law—and also, perhaps, some necessary violence.

As it turns out, the ministry maintains a black ops wing that carries out at least some of the terrorist acts the novel portrays. The novel leaves it to the reader to determine exactly how far the ministry's secret violent campaigns went, but there is at least some suggestion that it might have included targeted killings along with property destruction. The novel portrays this violence without quite explicitly condoning it, but the violence is presented as in service of an ultimately positive and even necessary social, political, and economic revolution.

And thus The Ministry for the Future makes a surprisingly useful contrast with Termination Shock, for it assumes that the most effective way to respond to global warming is through top-down political control and near-totalizing social change—with stringent laws and, if necessary, unaccountable, opaque armed force.

Stephenson, on the other hand, imagines a distributed and ever-evolving set of responses forming out of differently motivated coalitions and individuals working toward their own varied ends, sometimes in conflict, but often in cooperation as well.

Stephenson's vision of a response to climate change is messy, imperfect, and indeed barely constitutes a plan of any kind at all. It's not a holistic solution; it's just some people doing stuff, and then other people doing stuff in response. Some things work. Some things don't. Mostly, it works out, but not always. It's a story of haphazard, undirected progress predicated on the idea that we can respond to problems with incremental innovation, not legislation.

Read in tandem, this pair of novels inevitably raises the questions: Which of these visions is more plausible, more realistic, more achievable, more likely, more humane, and more desirable?

Both stories start from the belief that humanity is vast and varied and idiosyncratic and wonderful and awful and generous and selfish and that, given any opportunity, people will inevitably pursue profit and pleasure and personal gain. For Robinson, that's precisely the problem. For Stephenson, it's the solution—or as close as we'll ever get.

NEXT: Leaving Uzbekistan

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  1. The Netflix crowd loves its carbon polluting lifestyle with “save the planet” or environmental dystopia sci-fi.
    Grow a food plot instead.

    1. The Netflix crowd

      But are they pro or anti Dave?

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    2. Doubt it. It's the only allowed plot these days and it's getting tiresome.

      1. Netflix's SF anthologies tend to go in other directions, and are usually pretty entertaining without beating you over the head with watermelonism.

        1. Really? The ones I've seen seem to all have the familiar theme of "We've fucked up the planet and need a new place to live."

          1. Yes- almost every one of them is some retread of Eden theory. Once there was paradise and now we are suffering for our sins.

            Others are, "Hey this is an existential threat that leads us to be inhuman bastards", aka "We have met the enemy and he is us!"

            1. aka "We have met the enemy and he is us!"

              Doesn't this describe 99% of all storytelling since the beginning of time?

              1. Maybe horror movies. But most greek myths aren't moral plays- they are more about explaining how people survived inexplicable things like plagues and earth quakes. Those evolved into Tragedies, but those were often about people getting their comeuppance because of a flaw. But with the advent of christianity, the typical hero was a christ like figure who saved us from some existential threat.

                "We have met the enemy and he is us" is more like the standard horror trope- where a small group is beset by Zombies, or whatever. And what ultimately kills most of them is some spiteful asshole doing something stupid and getting them killed.

                1. “ people getting their comeuppance because of a flaw. ”

                  Yeah. Totally different than becoming our own worst enemy because of a flaw.

              2. He is not us-

                It's Kim Robinson modeling Greta Thunberg's Antifa sweatshift

          2. The serials, sure. The compendiums of one-offs tend to not care so much about backstory, for obvious reasons, and so can be less reliant on tropery.

            1. I get Netflix and Amazon confused sometimes, but some of the shorts have been really good. Black Mirror, Love Death and Robots, Tales from the Loop.

              1. Now I'm glad Ken has me on mute, because he'd be lecturing on how those shows are communist propaganda and if I disagree or just want to be entertained then I'm a terrible person.

                1. You are a terrible person. And no one cares.

    3. And get a house with "The Wedd Button:"

      "Designs For Leaving"--Looney Tunes Cartoon
      https://dai.ly/x3fu6di

  2. At times the novel, like so many of Stephenson's stories, reads like a compendium of objects, people, and hobbies that Stephenson finds neat:

    I am involuntarily reminded that I couldn't get more than a tenth of the way through Anathem.

    1. I take it you didn’t find his “Hylaen” idea of multiple universes diverging from an initial, purely mathematical singularity conducive to keeping the pages turning? And how simulating conditions near the singularity can result in creating miraculous technology?

      And mind you, these are two of the less heavy ideas he explores in great detail in Anathem.

      I love Stephenson’s books, but they certainly can get dense at parts. Anathem was actually my favorite of his, Cryptonomicom is awesome as well. And SeveneveS is way out there, awesome hard sci-fi.

      Still have to get to the “Baroque Cycle”, next time I have a 3-4 months of reading time available.

      1. If it is not baroque, don’t fix it.

      2. I'd probably love all that, and might end up starting over on it in ten years when I'm not wasting all my free time on my kids. But the world-building introductory portions with the convent life and all the technoreligious jargon just lost me. Get to the point, dude.

      3. Last novel of his I actually felt like I read was Cryptonomicom. I did read the 3 Baroque volumes, but don't feel I absorbed much; they were too far apart, and I should have re-read the previous volumes when each new one came out, but there simply wasn't time for that, and too many other things to read which could be set down and come back to a week later when work got in the way. All books since have been piling up for retirement.

      4. Just kicked off Quicksilver. It's kinda strange since it ties in themes of Cryptonomicon (ancestor of fictional Waterhouse working in concert with contemporary savants of the era to make scientific/technological advancements). Anathem took a long time to get started which may also seem like a slog because you are spending most the time trying to piece together the variances in their terminology for things but after a bit it comes to you and the story picks up. Funny thing is of the books of his that I have read Snow Crash was probably the one I liked least.

    2. If you can push through that middle third of Anathem, the payoff is great.

      I was a big fan of Fall, or Die in Hell. Seveneves was...ok for the first 2/3 and then had a half thought out novella crammed onto the end.

      1. Agreed. Anathem is great.

        The beginning is deliberately confusing. Because it is immersing you in the math, not unlike how a 10 year old suddenly undergoes a a culture shock, has to learn Orth, has to learn the ways his new peers live.

        Ten years later you get the culture shock of the real world and the story progresses. But by then the odd language becomes a lot more clear. And unlike the Glass Bead Game that obviously inspired some of it, it gets better as the book progresses, not worse.

        Fall was good. Reamde was fun, but had too many characters to wrap up at the end (Stephenson's claim), but you liked the characters. So revisiting Dodge was cool.

        Seveneves I disliked. Maybe the novella should have been a novel of its own, it was so disconnected even if it did envision an interesting world. The first 2/3 just got less and less interesting to me, and the notion of an entire society's values being based on the genetic code of the one lady who crapped out the first kids was hard to swallow. Others disagree. But the whole unsatisfying ending thing reminded me of the Diamond Age, which seemed like it was just hitting its stride when they all walked into the sea and it was done. Many loose ends left loose.

        Except, other than the end, I liked the Diamond Age. Seveneves was a slog.

    3. "I am involuntarily reminded that I couldn't get more than a tenth of the way through Anathem."

      So you got a little farther than I did with Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves

      1. Have that on my list, sounds like a hard pass for you, because of unconventional style? Boring?

        Hard to find good contemporary horror, had my hopes up on this one.

    4. I thought Anathem was great and very engaging. If you really only made it 1/10 of the way through, I'd recommend trying again.

    5. That’s funny. Anathem is the only one of his books I made it through. I am not really into the cyberpunk stuff. But once you get about a third of the way through Anathem, it starts to pick up and get more interesting.

    6. Interestingly, ????????????????ℎ???????? is the unusual Stephenson book that is ???????????? "a compendium of objects, people, and hobbies". (as, say, ???????????????????????????????????????????????????? or ???????????????????????? are) It's actually a much more traditionally-structured sci-fi novel. VERY unusual concept though.

      1. lol. So much for unicode. Derp.

        The number of "?"s seems to have no relationship to the number of italicized letters. Interesting.

  3. It's too big, too complex, involving too many people, too many governments, too many interests. You can't wrap your head around it. No one can.

    Look, if morons like Al Gore, John Kerry, and Joe Biden can easily wrap their heads around it, how hard can it be? Just take an ice cream spoon, slip it up behind your eyeball, root around in your prefrontal cortex a little bit and, hey presto!, you can be just as smart as these guys!

  4. Dystopian SF is the only kind. Hey, "Blade Runner" was supposed to be 2019 LA, which in reality was better than 1982 LA when it was filmed. What's up with that?

    This book sounds perfect for people who don't want big issues addressed because, you know, the government! Fortunately, we - humans that is - have done pretty well over the 75 years and largely by big governments doing big things, including agreeing to not blow each other up. Since what we do about Climate change probably won't be "win/lose" but "did OK/got f..ked but still here", why surrender without trying? I know that's what most here want to do, because, you know, the government, but fortunately most of the world's humans don't agree and so there's hope this novel will be like Blade Runner - worrying about a future that ends up better than the writer's time.

    1. Ironically Joe is ignorant that many of dystopia SF novels revolve around an overbearing authoritarian government, like he supports.

      1. Fully aware of that Jesse and why anti-government types - might as well be anti-markets or roads, as if we might eliminate them - probably like them. But hey, modern films especially always end with the villain exposed as a leader of a mega-corp or government agency. Like bedtime stories for the always fashionable cynicism that only teenagers exhibited.

        1. The orange man bad bogeyman is a better villain for teen/pre-teen crowd. Thankfully the Social Justice League is around to foil his dastardly plans.

          We can’t have roads without vaccine mandates, social media account bans and capricious bank account audits?

      2. You can just cite the example of Los Angeles. The Clean Air Act was supposed to pretend to reduce the smog problem but actually be a first step in instituting overbearing authoritarian rule. Seems like it backfired and just reduced the smog problem – a cautionary tale.

        1. dystopian superpowers in the morality play include actually knowing quite a bit more about the environment than most people.

        2. The smog problem was reduced everywhere across the country. Very much doubt that had much to do with any local LA legislative fiat.

          More to do with people making improvements to products so they could make money. And oila! Cars whose emissions are <10% of what those old guzzlers used to emit.

          OTOH, are you saying LA has completely FAILED to institute authoritarian rule?

          1. "The smog problem was reduced everywhere across the country. Very much doubt that had much to do with any local LA legislative fiat"

            The Clean Air Act was federal (EPA). LA had just previously been a basket case example in air quality.

            "More to do with people making improvements to products so they could make money"

            Lol. That's quite a summary of environmental history. PragerU?

            Consider the history of the catalytic converter. Consumers weren't clamoring for a chance to pay more for a car that had one (their individual purchase would have little effect), and indeed the auto industry squabbled with the feds in court over requiring them. They went mainstream in 1975 prompted by regulation.

            Just how the world works. Sometimes called a 'tragedy of the commons' problem.

            This is the sort of problem that drives the hyper-ideological inevitably into science denial on topics like climate – easier to claim science doesn't work and to throw up FUD about the nature of a pollution problem (e.g. Kehoe and lead paint a century ago) than argue against the policy once you admit the empirical problem is real.

    2. Joe gives government great credit for building massive armies and not using them...except those times when they used them to kill millions of people. But because he loves those big governments, he thinks they are to be commended for not committing mass regicide.

      Hey Joe, I didn't murder my neighbor today. I also fed my kids. Do I get a medal?

      "This book sounds perfect for people who don't want big issues addressed because, you know, the government!"

      Really? Because this post sounds like a post by someone who wants to engage in tribal politics rather than discuss a book, because, you know, MUH TRIBE!

      1. Overt, no doubt you would have murdered your neighbor by now if not for the strong arm of the federal government.

        I discussed the book none of us have read. I intend to maintain that status.

        1. "Overt, no doubt you would have murdered your neighbor by now if not for the strong arm of the federal government."

          Are you projecting again Joe?

          This belief that "strong government" keeps people from killing one another would be hilarious if regicide weren't the leading cause of human death in the 20th century.

          Hint, Joe: The Killing Fields, Holodomor, Gulags, and Holocaust weren't examples of neighbors left to their own devices murdering one another. Did you really not know that?

          "I discussed the book none of us have read. I intend to maintain that status."

          Nah, you did what you normally do- came here to pick fights with imaginary people in your head in defense of "Strong federal governments".

        2. What, no mention of Paolo Bacigalupi? Ship Breakers? The Water Knife? Windup Girl?

    3. You think 2019 LA is better? And that it's better because of government rather than the action of the people who live there?

      sad

      1. They're one and the same in a democracy Agam.

        1. No, they're not. A government of, by and for the people is still not the people. Those who founded this country understood that, probably because they came from a place where this is plain: in a monarchy only the King ever mistakes The Crown for himself.

        2. If "we are the government," as you seem to think, then nothing the government ever does to citizens can ever be wrong.

          By your line of thinking, redistribution of wealth via taxation, natìonalization, confiscation, and eminent domain are just the Keynesian policy of "we owe it to ourselves." enslavement and conscription are really volunteerism, and genocide and democide are really just mass suicides.

          I hope and you see how Orwellian that really is

        3. We’re not a democracy.

    4. fortunately most of the world's humans don't agree

      Walter Russell Meade provides a stark counterpoint to this notion:

      COP26 was the kind of hollow ritual that characterized Carlyle’s Age of Shams. As one politician after another committed their countries to carefully crafted unenforceable pledges, none had the bad manners to observe that no country anywhere fully honored the climate pledges made with such fanfare in Paris six years ago. Even the pledges are insufficient to meet the stated goals of the U.N. climate process, and nobody is keeping the pledges.

      The intellectual and political disarray on display in Glasgow was terrifying. President Biden boasted about America’s new climate goals and its dedication to them. Yet in the same week he begged OPEC+ to bail out the world economy and his presidency by pumping more fossil fuels. Let future presidents face the rough contours of a world without fossil fuels; this one means to get re-elected, no matter how much greenhouse gas spews into the sky.

      Stated preferences vs. revealed preferences, you gullible oaf.

      1. Well I guess we can subtract this Iraq war supporter out of "most of the world's humans".

        OK with me.

        1. I'd mock you for being unable to grok the point of even the snippet, but we already knew that reading is not your strong suit.

          1. I honestly doubt Joe even understands the “grok” reference. Well done though to stay (somewhat) on topic!

  5. Fiction for the Climate religion.

    At least someone is giving the people of the distant future credit for being able to address the problems they might face.

    Climate religion zealots mostly think people in the future are helpless victims who might only be saved by sacrificing present-day lives and vitality.

    1. It is part of the savior complex endemic to many on the left. They believe they have cause to save the future no matter the cost.

      1. We had to compost the village to save the village.

    2. Yeah Ben, you don't have to do jack s..t except complain.

      Carry on.

      1. You forgot to punctuate that with "Clingers" and do a flourish with your cape, like Rev. Artie.

      2. Do you come here to be seen as a clown? If so, mission accomplished.

    3. The sheeple don't question it, but there's also a nauseating amount of fiction tailored for the round earth set. Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. It seems to feed the secularists' need to feel insignificant and small.

    4. Stephenson is too engineer-minded to realize how unlikely his self-organized profusion of local solutions really is.

      I think KSR is probably more on target, he's just too morally weak (read "Marxist") to deplore the cruelty of the top-down solutions, and too stupidly naive to see the corrupting nature of every single "centralized power" scheme. Yes, Mr. Robinson. I'm sure the elites, funded by the UN, have our best interests at heart.

      The REAL fictiony part of Robinson's book, it sounds, is that the world, after being saved by the power of the elites, will come out the other side MORE EQUAL. Jebus. I know the guys isn't 8 years old, but...that's beyond stupidly naive.

      1. "Yes, Mr. Robinson. I'm sure the elites, funded by the UN, have our best interests at heart."

        Peoples' motivations are not important as long as they are doing good. An acquaintance of mine, one of your elites, worked demining part of Lebanon in an internationally funded org. Would you condemn his actions if you found out his was doing it to impress a girl? It's cynical and uncharitable to assume the worst in people.

        "the cruelty of the top-down solutions, and too stupidly naive to see the corrupting nature of every single "centralized power" scheme. "

        A centralized power top down approach is inevitable unless we can come up with a carbon free alternative to fossil fuels that has all their advantages and none of their disadvantages, and is widely available at attractive prices.

  6. Elon Musk's twitter exchange with Bernie Sanders is all the comparison we really need. One one side, you have politicians who wants to spend $6 trillion out of our future paychecks for big government responses to an extremely complicated problem. On the other hand, you have an entrepreneur who has single handedly transformed the auto industry with his success raising money from private investors and selling a big part of the solution to climate change to eager consumers in a market.

    China and India have more coal fired power plants under construction than we could possibly decommission here in the U.S., and yet Bernie Sanders' solution to climate change has a lot to do with closing American power plants down, increasing the cost of electricity, which can only hurt the market penetration for electric cars!!! Oh, and compare Bernie Sanders to this:

    "Rivian's stock debuted on public markets on Nov. 10, 2021 through a highly-anticipated initial public offering (IPO). As many as 153 million shares were sold at an initial offering price of $78.00, valuing the company at $66.5 billion."

    https://www.investopedia.com/rivian-ipo-what-happened-and-why-it-matters-5209505

    I was hyping Rivian to John and soldiermedic a couple of years ago. I have ongoing concerns about the reliability of the Rivian platform off road due to water and dust infiltrating the motors at the wheels, but that is a superior platform to the standard trucks we have on the road today--against standard metrics like torque. Point being, entrepreneurs are transforming the auto industry by serving consumer demand--all of it financed with private investor's money.

    When progressive talk about "science", it's almost invariably an appeal to authority fallacy. Don't be fooled by it. The progressive solutions to climate change are ultimately justified by nothing but religious like devotion to their current fixation. The government was never the solution to climate change, and the chances of their efforts to address the problem making the real solutions harder to implement are almost 100%.

    For goodness' sake, when the rest of the world is trying to emulate Elon Musk's success--in making tons of money by addressing the problem of climate change--Bernie Sanders is literally trying to confiscate Elon's Musk's unrealized capital gains in Tesla stock--so that Bernie Sanders can finance his climate change bill! You can't make this shit up.

    Don't think that Bernie Sanders is an evil genius. He may be smarter than the idiot progressives who think his solutions will work, but he's an idiot. Their solutions are the problem. Progressives are religiously devoted, highly emotional people, who abhor any kind of scrutiny of any of their ideas, so it shouldn't be surprising that their ideas about the solutions to climate change are profoundly stupid. In the future, when someone writes the history of how we adapted and solved the problem of climate change, it'll be the story of how we did in spite of the progressives--not because of them.

    1. Musk we continue to listen to that fossil fool Bernie?

    2. "a big part of the solution to climate change"

      I don't think manufacturing luxury autos is a big part of the solution to climate change. Even if the cars are electric. A much more important solution would be to reduce or eliminate the burning of fossil fuels, something our climate scientists have identified as a major contributor to climate change because of the CO2 emissions and the green house gas effect. More luxury electric cars aren't going to change that. Or they will only make it worse as the manufacturing process depends on burning fossil fuels.

      1. Not Climate Scientists. Climate charlatans.

        1. Chinese plot, right Bruce?

          1. Sci-fi problems deserve sci-fi solutions.

            1. 'Save the Planet, Buy a Tesla' is the solution of an entitled, complacent bourgeois. A science fiction solution would require rocket ships and girls in pointy metal bras.

              1. Now I have to watch “UFO” again.

        2. As also endorsed by all of the world's national academies of charlatans like NAS, all of its physical charlatan associations like the APS, and national charlatan agencies like NASA and CSIRO.

          Letting the media go on using the term "scientist" to dignify these globalists and their continuing secularist and rationalist assault on our traditions is exactly the problem.

          1. "As also endorsed by all of the world's national academies of charlatans like NAS, all of its physical charlatan associations like the APS, and national charlatan agencies like NASA and CSIRO."

            Waxliberty, if that really is your name, you should add that those charlatan 'scientists' at NASA etc are laughing all the way to the bank, rolling in dough while Musk and other revered business persons go hungry, only tens of billions of dollars richer today than they were a year ago.

            1. I can tell adjunct geophysics researchers from a block away just based on their ostentatious bling, booming sound system and purring Teslas. Must be good to ride the Man's gravy train.

      2. “…something our climate scientists have identified..”
        Ken literally stated progressives rely on the appeal to authority fallacy. So thank you for making his point!

        1. Ironically in the climate science debates, the fallacy form of 'appeal to authority' is most commonly the bedrock of contrarian argument – arguing that the existence of an academic who disagrees with the textbook view anywhere (a Peter Ridd or similar Kehoe-esque figure) proves there is no real or empirical knowledge about climate...

        2. "Ken literally stated progressives rely on the appeal to authority fallacy. So thank you for making his point!"

          His point is banal. Progressives appeal to scientists because they agree on the issue. Reactionaries appeal to celebrities, lawyers, business persons, pundits and politicians because they can't find any scientists who agree with them.

      3. Oh come on. Just come out with it.
        The real "solution" can only be...genocide. Fewer humans. Go for it! Trump voters first, then Christians, then all the guys who bullied you in school, then all the guys who've banged your wife....

        It gets ugly fast, as all the top-down, authoritarian "solutions" are GUARAN-FUCKING-TEED to get ugly fast.

    3. How will cars powered by coal and natural gas stabilize the climate?

      1. The solutions don't come all at the same time. Introducing a fleet of cars that can be powered by clean electricity one step. And there are a lot of places in this country where you can already get electricity from hydro, nuclear, and other carbon free sources. How does jacking up the cost of natural gas for electricity production help drive the market penetration of electric vehicles?

        Natural gas was cheap and releases 40% less CO2 than coal to produce the same amount of energy--And Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate natural gas from power production. If consumers moving to electric cars is an important part of the solution, jacking up the cost of electricity discourages the adoption of electric cars--and is part of the problem. Bernie Sanders swiping Musk's billions to spend on jacking up the cost of poorer consumers using electric cars is even stupid from a climate change perspective!

        1. So plans to switch from fossil fuels need to coalesce.

          1. I saw what you did there, but I guess no one else had the energy to go with it.

            1. Maybe they were just mining their own business.

        2. I think it's probably safe to say that if Bernie advocates it, there's a good chance it's precisely the opposite of what will actually work.

        3. Maybe I should be more explicit. The Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill--that Bernie Sanders is championing--penalizes utilities that use natural gas on an annual basis, going forward, and rewards utilities (on an annual basis) that introduce renewables. It purposely jacks up the cost of using natural gas with the goal of eliminating all natural gas from electricity production in ten to fifteen years. Bernie Sanders wanted to spend up to $6 trillion towards this goal and was seriously miffed when they were only wiling to spend $3.5 trillion.

          When Manchin, Sinema, and the moderate Democrats in the House pushed back over how the progressives were planning to finance the budget reconciliation bill, Sanders proposed taxing the unrealized capital gains of a handful of billionaires--Musk among them. In other words, Sanders wants to force Musk to sell billions in Tesla stock--that could or would be used to capitalize R&D on batteries, the installation of home charging stations, Tesla's interests in home solar installations, power storage solutions for homes, etc.--and use it to finance Sanders' big government "solutions" to climate change.

          When Sanders took to Twitter about this, Musk struck back. Sanders is exposing himself here--by going after Musk. Sanders is either an idiot, or he doesn't give a shit about the environment. He is specifically advocating something that will hurt the cause of fighting climate change. The ultimate solution is innovation, private investment, entrepreneurship, and capitalism. We need a hundred more entrepreneurs like Elon Musk to fight climate change, and Bernie Sanders is treating the solution like the problem.

        4. The solutions don't come all at the same time. Introducing a fleet of cars that can be powered by clean electricity one step.

          One step not all at the same time? You're beginning to sound like Tony.

          1. I don't understand the criticism.

            Before people can substitute away from using fossil fuel cars, they need an affordable and attractive alternative.

            That's just one step.

            Incidentally, before building a broadband fiber optic network out in the 1990s, it was necessary for a significant number of people to own computers that could play Quake, download files from Napster, and watch pr0n. You shouldn't expect things like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, and social media to become prominent until there are a significant number of people who can consume those products. Musk selling Teslas and Rivian selling electric trucks to early adopters is like ATI and Nvidia selling upgrade video cards so people can play Quake III Arena.

            It's just one really important step, and it doesn't require taxpayer investment, government planning, or any legislation.

            1. I don't understand the criticism.

              Admittedly "Introducing a fleet of cars that can be powered by clean electricity one step." is a bit hard to parse on several levels, but Musk already introduced a fleet of cars. Do you want the fleet to just be introduced to have the desired effect or do you need more steps? Adoption has taken multiple steps. Displacement will take even more. Entire replacement will take many, many more steps and I doubt it's even possible. And that doesn't even address potential side steps like hybrids, CNG vehicles, and other, as yet unrealized alternatives.

              You're conceptually cheating/lying to yourself. "If we move 1 inch at a time 12 times, we've only taken one step, and one step is all it takes." We "replaced" incandescent bulbs with CFLs in "one step".

              1. I still don't understand what you're talking about. We're talking about people who want to address the issue of climate change. Musk is doing it by raising money from investors and selling electric cars to consumers who want them. No, that is not the final solution to climate change. It's just one step. Other entrepreneurs are addressing other issues in other ways--some of them overlap with Musk's business, like utilities selling electricity to Tesla's car owners. Some of the steps have nothing to do with transportation.

                Did you know that Beyond Burgers release 90% less in the way of greenhouse gases than regular beef?

                The rest of the auto industry is falling all over themselves to imitate Musk's success. Tesla's stock commands an insane p/e ratio of 345 (three hundred and forty-five) time earnings. Ford motor company has p/e ratio of 27. The world's automakers are all emulating Tesla's strategy of going electric because they want their earnings to enjoy a multiple like Tesla's. Entrepreneurs raising money from private investors to develop electric cars and sell them to consumers who are willing to pay a premium for them is one step. Manufacturers achieving scale so that they can bring their prices down and make their products available to more and more consumers with less and less disposable income is another step.

                As the number of electric cars increase, the market demand for charging stations to be built and installed increases, and entrepreneurs will be happy to build charging stations for consumers who are eager to use them or have them installed in their homes. That's another step. As more and more people use electricity to power their vehicles, electric utilities will find the need to expand and generate more and more electricity--as the demand for gasoline decreases. That's another step.

                This is the way economies and societies change over time with new technologies. It's investors chasing returns, entrepreneurs chasing profits, and consumers buying the new products they want. This is the way it happened with the internet. Millions of investors and thousands of entrepreneurs chasing returns and profits by offering hundreds of millions of consumers products they didn't even know they wanted. The same thing happened with telephones, television, and the initial electrification of the country itself. As more and more people buy something to use a resource, the more sense it makes investors to back entrepreneurs, and the more sense it makes for larger companies to build the infrastructure necessary to support it. Twenty years ago, hardly anyone had a smartphone, but today, I see homeless people with smartphones!

                This shouldn't be controversial or confusing.

                Is your complaint with consumer demand? Is your complaint that you don't want what other consumers care about? You're not out to use the government to stop other consumers from paying a premium for products they want because you don't care about them, are you? I have no use for butternut squash, soft rock of the 1970s, or a charity to send poor kids to communist summer camp, but if that's what consumers want to spend their money on, why should my qualitative preferences get in the way? So long as I'm not being forced to pay for it, I shouldn't have any say--apart from my ability to make my own choice in the market not to buy those products.

                P.S. The argument that we shouldn't embrace capitalism to solve whatever problems there are to do with climate change--because climate change is being used by the left to sell socialism--is practically self-contradictory. Yes, market capitalism is the solution to not enough butternut squash, bringing back 70s soft rock, poor kids going to summer camp, not enough people with internet access, the prolific use of smartphones and the infrastructure to support it, the rollout of the internet in the first place--and climate change. And whether climate change is real or important to you personally is completely beside the point.

    4. There is no AGW. It’s a boogeyman to demand more Marxism. Period.

      1. The argument for capitalism and against socialism doesn't require belief in climate change or climate change denial. If capitalists shouldn't be arguing anything differently--regardless of whether climate change is real--then your observation is not only irrelevant but also counterproductive. Why do you want to distract people with irrelevant arguments? Are you a socialist?

        1. Though in this case (assuming the common broad and ahistorical definition of socialism as anything involving government), it does require ignoring a certain amount of market economics and market economists (negative externalities etc.)...

          1. There is no such quandary in the question of whether we should take away the unrealized capital gains of entrepreneurs like Musk and use them to finance Bernie Sanders $6 trillion Green New Deal.

            1. Fair, certainly in this narrow case.

              Having spurned market-based approaches for decades, the increased urgency to slow impact creates an increasing justification for emergency directed intervention, requiring government to invest in perceived technology winners to balance the way it has been disastrously picking fossil fuels (via protected rights to pollute) for so long.

      2. There are no fiber optic cables. Dispatching messages about the bankruptcy of scientific theory at lightspeed around the globe is a boogeyman invented by Big Tech.

    5. Market innovation could have solved problems decades faster with help. Progressives could have believed in that more, conservatives could have believed in physics and math more...

      1. The government couldn't identify the most important problems, much less identify the most important solutions.

        The only way the government can help is by protecting the rights of investors, the rights of entrepreneurs, and the rights of consumers.

        Oh, and the thing those people need their rights protected from is progressives and government. Their solutions are the problem.

        1. "The government couldn't identify the most important problems"

          The problem has been exhaustively detailed for decades.

          "The only way the government can help is by protecting the rights of investors, the rights of entrepreneurs, and the rights of consumers"

          Again, this requires ejecting fundamental market economics concepts. The idea of negative externality problems isn't new, this is just a large one.

          www DOT clcouncil DOT org/economists-statement/

          www DOT austriancenter DOT com/central-planners-wont-solve-climate-change/

  7. Stephenson is an interesting cat. Reading his books you cannot help but decide that his entire worldview is colored by the sense that history is written by a few Top Men. Those Top Men are either good or bad, but in his books, they tend to always operate in the private sector- playing shadow games.

    Indeed, much of his character building in his books is done by contrasting the main character with plebians of the time- showing how they operate on different levels. The start of Snow Crash has Hiro delivering pizza to mass tracts of franchise housing, showing how the mass of humanity has settled into Suburbs! (tm) living while a select few live outside corporate conformity. Anathem takes place largely in a monastery, and key character building happens during visits from the local town to contrast petty townspeople with the intellectuals inside the cloistered walls.

    This worldview leads Stephenson (IMHO) to have some blind spots, where he sees these Top Men (tm) as unassailable saviors. For example, much of the character building of Sophia in Fall, or Dodge in Hell, occurs on a road trip where she tours an uncharitably imagined flyover country that is clearly a satire of Trump country. Sophia, being a Top Man (tm) has carefully curated and stewarded her growth with an information feed of the finest news and friends. Meanwhile, the people living in the outer lands have all succumbed to virus-like memes propagated through augmented reality, turning them into unthinking, eternally raging and religious crazies. The lack of self awareness on Stephenson's side is...amusing.

    I have not read all of his books, but the only times I can recall where the government played more than a minimal background was in Seveneves where the PotUS shows up for a small period and turns out to be a cynical space cannibal (true story!). More often, the government is a thin background noise. Somehow in Fall, entire sections of the country have seceded to become no-go zones and benevolent smart folk like Sophia have let it happen rather than demanding that government send in the troops. Why? because such an unbelievable course of events makes for fantastical story telling.

    This minimization of government is what makes Stephenson's science fiction so fantastic, and also so unrealistic. Snow Crash was amazing because it envisioned a world where nearly everything had been privatized. But you cannot look at the last 20 years of government growth and think that there is any likelihood of mass privatization. And the idea that the government would allow some texan to launch sulphur into the air without bringing in troops is absurd on its face.

    This is why, while I love the hard sci-fi plots and stories of Stephenson's books, I generally laugh when people suggest that his predictions are anything but superficially resembling anything that will happen in the future.

    1. This minimization of government is what makes Stephenson's science fiction so fantastic, and also so unrealistic. Snow Crash was amazing because it envisioned a world where nearly everything had been privatized. But you cannot look at the last 20 years of government growth and think that there is any likelihood of mass privatization.

      I don't disagree, but he does make it obvious in Snow Crash that they didn't have much of a choice in the matter: the governments all fucked themselves over so royally through mismanagement that the world just kind of passed them by. If you read through Meade's rant I posted upthread you may end up with the distinct impression that such a future is not altogether infeasible.

      1. Yes, but I think the more likely path for a government that has fucked itself is to go the way of Venezuela, not Switzerland.

      2. Overt doesn't state is openly but alludes to it through the length of his post; Stephenson wasn't always such a Top Man sycophant but he has grown (devolved?) into it.

        His stories used to be pretty evenly split, even odd couple-esque, with the (e.g.) morphine-addicted grunt and cloistered codebreaker or the gutter-trash sex abuse victim and the fallen victorian gentleman working together to save the world. Not so with his last several books.

    2. I read a few of his books, but after reading his last one, Fall, that will be the end. I won't bother with this one. I liked Seveneves, an exciting space yarn. I also appreciate the author squeezing the whole thing into one book, resisting the temptation that many SF writers succumb to, padding the thing out to a trilogy. Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy is typical, a compelling first volume, followed by a couple of less worthy volumes.

      1. I liked Seveneves, an exciting space yarn.

        Disagree. The part of his story that was 'hard science fiction' was too shot-through with flatly wrong facts/bad science and the way it was shot through gave it a very pro-wahmen or even just contrived vibe. At the very least, Stephenson needs to take a few biology classes.

        *spoilers*

        Women, being typically smaller and larger percentage fat by weight than men, are not more resistant to the radiation of space. Even if the women themselves were, pertinent to the story, their gametes aren't. Especially not the mix of random women shot into orbit relative to the trained men who turned up. They strive to save the genetic composition of the human race (nominally anyway) and, somehow, wind up not even saving even a single portion of the most abundant and easily collected portion. This massive scientific blunder is immediately overwritten when one woman, technically just a maintenance worker, working relatively alone, with the paucity of resources that could be jettisoned into orbit, entirely obviates the need for the entire genetic portion of the endeavor if not the entire endeavor itself.

        The first couple chapters and last half were good. The middle third was not and I, to this day, can't read the joke of an "interlude" (literally, "5,000 years later") in anything but a Jacques Cousteau-esque (a la Spongebob Squarepants) voice.

        1. You might enjoy the first volume of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. One hundred engineers, biologists and other scientists, fifty men and fifty women, some of dubious sexuality even from places such as Trinidad and Tobago, are sent to Mars to make it habitable. I'm not one to judge the soundness of the science, but my impression is that Robinson takes it more seriously than Stephenson. I'm also a sucker for anything related to Antarctica, and a good deal of the action in Mars and The Ministry of the Future take place there.

          The most exceptional 'hard science fiction' I've recently read was the Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin, a graduate of the North China University of Water Conservancy and Electric Power. I gather that the author is fairly conservative and authoritarian, but he manages to fill three volumes with suspense and an imaginative approach to first contact and alien invasion.

  8. "Stephenson's vision of a response to climate change is messy, imperfect, and indeed barely constitutes a plan of any kind at all."

    You can't build a seawall, nuclear power plant, HVDC grid and so on without a plan, relying only on wealthy cranks working at cross purposes. Dealing with famine, refugees, floods and fires is also beyond the scope of wealthy cranks, requiring the cooperation of large numbers of people, international coordination and even planning.

    1. Heresy! Burn him!

      1. Not heresy, "not even wrong".

      2. Only authoritarians and their mindless minions burn heretics. Who would be the ones to burn mtruman for suggesting an authoritarian 'solution' to the problem. Dummy.

        1. Dope scare quotes. Such a farce when authoritarians talk about seawalls as a "solution" to sea level rise...

          1. Only unplanned seawalls solve problems. A planned seawall is not a solution to anything.

    2. Wealthy cranks provide the capital, inventors provide the plans, manufacturers provide the technology, workers provide the labor. All are motivated by self-interest and gain, and yetcthe end result is even bigger than all of their efforts wnd aspirations. Fancy that.

      1. GPS, touch screens and many other technological innovations came about thanks to government funding. Research and development into controlled fusion is overwhelmingly funded by government and multi-government agencies. The costs and uncertain outcomes make it too risky for private funding. Governments, with the power of taxation, can afford to take these risks. Private money needs to see some kind of timely return on any investments. Not true for government.

        1. More heresy!

  9. Neal Stephenson's Termination Shock Is a Glorious Sci-Fi Vision of How To Respond to Global Warming

    Ignore Stephenson's book. Got it.

  10. >>How To Respond to Global Warming

    you got a capped To and non-capped to in the same title. and not responding is how to respond. book sounds fun though.

  11. I never liked his writing, and I think that Climate Change is ridiculous cargo cult science religion. I do find it hilarious that the proponents of this nonsense went from assuming a lot of nonsense, such as the oceans rising, that supposedly result from global warming, to the exact same sort of horribles from Climate Change, after Global Warming was falsified. Wake up. You had to switch from Global Warming after it was falsified as a theory when it turned out that their models predicting warming inevitably ran hot and couldn’t hindcast or forecast global temperature very well, to the unfalsifiable Climate Change religious tenet. But it was the warming that was supposed to cause the oceans to rise. The same warming that wasn’t happening, causing the switch from Global Warming to Climate Change. And somehow, despite the lack of any real detectable long term warming, the seas are still supposed to be rising? Wake up! It’s the missing warmth that falsified Global Warming that was supposed to melt the glaciers that are supposed to produce all the water that goes into the rising sea levels.

    Of course, the rising oceans predicted by Global Warming were never really that big of an issue. If they had been rising (globally, instead of what was really going on, which was somebody places were rising, and some were dropping, which mostly netted out), it was never really predicted to be fast enough to cause much of a problem. That is because building tend to have economic lives shorter than the speed of the Encroaching oceans. You just rebuild a little higher up next time. Maybe an issue in New Orleans, Manhattan, and the Netherlands, but not really much of anywhere else. To see this dynamic in reality, just look at the submerged ancient docks off the coast of Egypt, and elsewhere in the Mediterranean. In any case, if the oceans really are rising, just rebuild your buildings higher up along the shore by a couple feet of elevation every couple generations. But, of course, they aren’t.

    1. " I think that Climate Change is ridiculous cargo cult science religion."

      Martin Heidegger, Jean Paul Sartre and Joseph Stalin all received training as meteorologists and worked for a time in the field. Say no more.

      1. Apologists try to claim Fourier and Tyndall weren't active Stalinists when they played their part, but I think setting off a two century program in unprecedented global authoritarian control ranks them up there with the very worst of them.

        1. Worse than Anders Celsius, the euroweenie responsible for that inhuman, hateful scale of measuring temperature? I don't think so.

          1. Yeah I definitely wouldn't go that far. Many of the narrow and totalitarian base-10 systems we are shackled with have their roots in Celsius machinations.

  12. That day the Nazi-Regime churned up enough propaganda to make changing weather into a National Emergency......

    ... because that's what Nazi's do...
    And the sheeple followed Hitler very little skepticism.

    1. Martin Heidegger, Jean Paul Sartre and Joseph Stalin were all employed as meteorologists at some point in their careers. Coincidence?

  13. The only Stephenson book I tried to read was Quicksilver. Probably a bad choice? I got 90% of the way through and just couldn't take it anymore. Readers say the series gets better after that one, but perhaps that's just survivorship bias.

    I can't take the risk of trying another book of his.

  14. What, no mention of Paolo Bacigalupi? Ship breakers? The Water knife? Windup Girl?

    1. only read Windup Girl, partially because I spent a fair bit of time in Bangkok, but enjoyed it (both the atmosphere and tale of a world lost to genetically engineered food wars). Recommend either of the others?

    2. The short story The Tamarisk Hunter is a good place to start. California controls the water of the Colorado River, enclosed now to reduce evaporation, and nicknamed 'The Straw.' The tamarisk is noted for its ability to retain ground water, depriving Californians of what is rightfully theirs.

  15. This guy’s days are numbered. From Cryptnomicon.

    “ She reminds Randy of level-headed blue-collar lesbians he has known, drywall-hanging urban dykes with cats and cross-country ski racks.”

    “ There is a boom box held down with bungee cords, and a shoebox with a couple of dozen CDs in it, mostly albums by American woman singer-songwriters of the offbeat, misunderstood, highly intelligent but intensely emotional school, getting rich selling music to consumers who understand what it’s like not to be understood.*”

  16. Regulatory solutions are a bummer and hard, and anyway Mad Max land could be cool.

  17. Stephenson's riff on " A weird foamy sea event kills dozens of innocent surfers" is neither Cli Fi nor geoengineering .

    Five died lost under a foam avalanche winter surfing near the Maeslantkering a few years ago:

    http://www.pressure-drop.us/forums/showthread.php?5782-Thick-Foam-Creates-Tragedy-In-Netherlands

  18. I think the first thing we need to do is develop a scientifically proven method to determine what the average temperature of the earth actually is.

    1. Even the faulty one's show a ZERO return rate on the massively expensive Green-Deal.

      ...Any excuse to STEAL was the bottom-line all along.

    2. 'the first thing we need to do is develop a scientifically proven method to determine what the average temperature of the earth actually is.'

      God, not another integral calculus denier —
      when you apply it to lotsa thermometers and satellite radiometers what you actually get is the average temperature of the earth.

      1. Make sure to cut-out those during WWII that showed temperatures decreasing massively while more CO2 was released than any time before or after...

        No, no; Lets focus on that Cherry-Picked frame! Zoomed in beyond belief to the tune of 1/200th of a degree per year.. Oh yeah; chop off that Ice Age too. Whatever it takes to frame the propaganda. STEAL some more money and pay people endless amounts to frame the propaganda -- heck, better yet; start a whole new degree in Commie-School about how to frame and build MORE, MORE, MORE propaganda...

        And heaven forbid anyone actually look outside and see there isn't a weather emergency as predicted clear back in the 70-80's... No, no; don't believe your own F-EN eyes. Trust the mountains of propaganda instead..... /s

        1. What do you call someone who becomes ever more certain in his denial , the less of the scientific literature he reads ?

          1. Not gullible enough to believe someone else's 'literature' (actually propaganda) when it completely and compulsively violates reality.

            Now your turn; What do they call someone who keeps fantasizing about "end of the world" conspiracy theories year after year after year and every year their "end of the world" never appears they just keep PUSHING the "end of world" date out longer and longer and longer????

  19. The easiest and cheapest sulfur application is to relax sulfur content regulations for commercial aviation fuel. With a little more sulfur allowed in the fuel for jets flying above the clouds, SO2 etc would be gradually spread at an altitude where it would stay a while instead of being immediately rinsed out by acid rain.

    The aerosols would scatter sunlight, some of which would return to space. Best of all, this would come with a reduction in fuel price instead of some boondoggle government price tag.

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