Amsterdam is shifting to “Donut Economics”. Kate Raworth developed a “donut-shaped economic model” as a substitute for the traditional models of growth-driven economies. Watch below:
What do you think about this sea change in the economic model that the human community has traditionally embraced (growth-based economy)? An economy based on an Earth-sustaining economy that is equitable as well as prosperous? Learn more here.
8-5-21 Update: Just watched this YouTube interview of the author by the Post Carbon Institute program, What Could Possibly Go Right?
Kim Stanley Robinson’s new speculative fiction novel, The Ministry for the Future, is revelatory. The breadth of imagination, depth of scholarship on climate change science, and international movements to organize nations to respond to it–plus a complex plot and range of characters–I finish reading each chapter with renewed awe. That includes the one-page, sometimes one paragraph, chapters with a voice for the market, history, and even a carbon atom. With each of these unique stopping points, the author offers us an invitation to rethink our place in the whole huge planetary system, or how we make history, or the long, long arm of time in which we are but a flash.
The Ministry for the Future is an agency created at The United Nations Conference of the Parties in 2024 to operate independently to protect the futures of unborn generations and all the living plants and animals without a voice to advocate for the future. [For reference the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP) is scheduled for Glasgow in November. It is COP26. I am currently reading the book during COP48 (2043).]
The novel is contemporary and that makes it relevant. Robinson is charting the possible course of humanity over the next couple decades. That makes it a page-turner. The author delves into the monetary system, global movements in Africa, Europe, and smaller island nations. Shit happens as the saying goes. Each time there is breakdown of a system or a climate catastrophe, or millions of people who refuse to repay their student loans, possibilities open up or, there is at least a potentiation for something good. Sometimes several things, like a market crash coupled with political movements in Africa, and climate imperatives result in a shift in the global mind so that people opposed to certain ideas now consider them. It moves like a train without a conductor but its path seems sure. And we are all passengers (human and nonhuman) and collectively our presence, thoughts and actions are steering it.
The first line in the book. “It was getting hotter.”
It’s probably unwise to review a book while still reading it, but folks, I think it is so important that I needed to stop reading to alert you, and to beg you to read it. Then we should talk!
Scroll to the bottom of this page for the YouTube video review of The Ministry by the Bioneers. Or link here.
As a novelist who writes climate change stories, I try to show characters who are experiencing the impacts of climate disturbance. The forces that impact people are multifaceted, ranging from emotional to economic to physical. I feel it my duty as a writer to also suggest solutions and to empower characters who represent communities that traditionally are affected disproportionately. See my 2016 novel, Threshold.
High Country News conducted an interesting project in 2019 from the premise that speculative journalism could potentially accomplish more than strict fact-based journalism has not been able to accomplish. Read this article below included here with permission from High Country News.
In June 1988, James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, testified before a congressional committee, where he announced, with 99% certainty, that human-caused global warming was real. A year later, the Global Climate Coalition, an industry group formed by fossil fuel companies, began a determined effort to stymie climate action. Hansen, being a scientist, based his testimony on scientific fact. The GCC lobbyists, being slimeballs, based their efforts on telling stories — including, incredibly, the 1992 release of a video claiming that adding CO2 to the atmosphere would boost crop yields and end world hunger.
Thirty years later, we are still fighting stories with facts, and the results have been underwhelming. While it is easy to get frustrated by this state of affairs, it is also easy to understand why it’s happening. Global warming is a human-caused phenomenon that exceeds the human capacity for understanding. The typical institutions that we rely on to guide government policy — science and journalism — have not been fully up to the task. We know this at HCN because we cover, over and again, a changing climate. The facts are there, and the problem is still there — and getting worse. So last December, when the U.S. government issued a damning, detailed assessment on the climate, even we were at a loss with what to do with it. How, we wondered, can we help people understand the importance of all these facts, if the facts aren’t enough to speak for themselves?
One possible answer is this issue, a departure from our usual rigorous, fact-based journalism, and a foray into the world of imagination. Call it science fiction, or, if you prefer, speculative journalism. We took the projections of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, interviewed scientists, pored over studies — then imagined what the West would look like 50 years from the release of the report.
The result is a multiverse of future Wests, all set in the year 2068. No two stories take place in the same reality, but each is a reflection of possibilities presented in the climate assessment. In some, the West verges on satirical catastrophe. In others, technology steps up as reality melts away. Some of us imagined a better world; others imagined how much worse things might get. Readers weighed in, too. Taken together, we hope these stories inspire further exploration of the national climate assessment, which is available online and is an impressive body of work. For our hardcore readers, we’ve provided a citations page, where more information on the relevant science and studies can be found.
None of these stories are true, but any of them could be. The fact is, we don’t really know what climate chaos will bring … but we do know that enormous challenges — and opportunities — lie ahead. Our chance to change the future is now, but we’ll need a better story first.
Poring through all of this peer-reviewed scientific literature wasn’t easy. Luckily, the writers in this issue were aided by countless experts, including climate scientists, rangeland ecologists, hydrologists and others, who helped us interpret climate models and clearly imagine these many possible future Wests. See references to scientific research each piece was based on at the end of the story.
Onpoint, NPR, broadcast and interviewed three scholars to discuss the state of American democracy. Go here to listen. It is worth listening more than once. During the discussion, Americans contributed their thoughts to the discussion. These are very insightful and encouraging in terms of action and belief in our democratic way of life.
On the Onpoint site there are other resources to continue reading and listening to scholars who have deep understanding of what comprises a democracy, our current situation. Let’s start a discussion here. Please post your thoughts.