Environment featured

Kim Stanley Robinson: “Climate, Fiction, and The Future”

April 12, 2023

(Conversation recorded on March 14th, 2022)

Show Summary

On this episode, Nate is joined by climate science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson to discuss how he contributes to the discussion of climate and pro-social changemaking through writing. There have been many calls to improve the communication of scientists to the general public in hopes it will help people understand the severity of the various global threats we face. A key component to such communication comes from art and literature. Even further, the humanities help us think about the type of future and culture we want to have given the information that science brings us. How can we incorporate fiction into our set of tools to bring more people into awareness of the pressing systemic dynamics underpinning global events?

About Kim Stanley Robinson:

Kim Stanley Robinson is an American science fiction writer. He is the author of over twenty books, including the internationally bestselling Mars trilogy, and more recently Red Moon, New York 2140, and The Ministry for the Future. He was part of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers’ Program in 1995 and 2016, and a featured speaker at COP-26 in Glasgow, as a guest of the UK government and the UN. His work has been translated into 28 languages, and won awards including the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. In 2016 asteroid 72432 was named “Kimrobinson.”

To watch this video episode on Youtube → https://youtu.be/Xc53KPv7flk

Show Notes & Links to Learn More:

00:05 – Kim Stanley Robinson Info + Works

00:46 – Ministry For The Future

06:09 – New York 2140

06:59 – 40 Signs of Rain

07:15 – National Science Foundation

07:50 – An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore

13:30 – Rich getting richer since the 1980s and exponentially during the pandemic

13:35 – Quantitative Easing value was captured by top 2% of wealthiest people

13:52 – Carbon Footprint of Quantitative Easing

14:09 – Externalities

14:17 – Discount Rate

14:55 – Carbon Coin

16:14 – Keynesian

19:35 – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology DNA test in a river to determine the living species

26:04 – Actor Network Theory

26:35 – Anglo-Saxon Literature

26:58 – Eyewitness Account in Fiction

28:04 – Erica Thompson + TGS Episode

30:15 – Dystopia reinforces resignation to catastrophe

31:02 – Nineteen Eighty-Four 

34:26 – Wet Bulb Temperature

36:01 – False conception that humans are infinitely adaptable

37:41 – Increase in heat waves and mortality

41:25 – Aurora

44:34 – Half-Earth EO Wilson

45:04 – Ben Franklin, William James

45:31 – 30 by 30

48:11 – Regenerative agriculture

48:28 – Bill McKibben

48:52 – Mordor Economy

51:20 – Carbon in the soil is 1% in North America

51:39 – Maximum carbon content in the soil is around 3-4%

52:02 – If we maxed out carbon content in the soil it would be equivalent to what we’ve released since the beginning of the industrial revolution

53:51 – Pinatubo volcanic eruption

54:35 – Slowing down glacial melt in antarctica

54:51 – When we killed off 95% of whales we ruined the oceans bio-pump

55:05 – Replacing whale excrement 

56:45 – Twilight Zone

57:02 – The Dispossessed

57:55 – John Muir

59:22 – The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropist

59:45 – Freddy and the Baseball Team From Mars

1:03:26 – Raymond Williams – Structure of Feeling

1:10:30 – Aldo Leopold

1:14:15 – Biophilia by EO Wilson

1:14:40 – The Superorganism EO Wilson

1:14:41 – Nate’s Superorganism Paper

1:15:20 – COP 15 Biosphere treaty

1:15:32 – Ocean Treaty

1:15:55 – Network for Greening the Financial System

1:18:30 – Human Development Index, Gross National Happiness

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens is the Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future (ISEOF) an organization focused on educating and preparing society for the coming cultural transition. Allied with leading ecologists, energy experts, politicians and systems thinkers ISEOF assembles road-maps and off-ramps for how human societies can adapt to lower throughput lifestyles. Nate holds a Masters Degree in Finance with Honors from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He teaches an Honors course, Reality 101, at the University of Minnesota.

Tags: art as social change, climate change responses, climate fiction, storytelling