Monday, November 16, 2015

Science Fiction Meets Climate Change Reality

Kim Stanley Robinson has been writing science fiction for over three decades.  That's long enough for some of his themes of ecological calamities, weather extremes and climate decay to become strikingly real.

He's thought a lot about climate change and climate solution frequently called on to give his perspective.  Robinson was the keynote speaker recently at the 350 Sacramento town hall on climate change.

Author Kim Stanley Robinson speaking at
350 Sacramento Climate Town Hall Nov. 14, 2015

Successfully addressing climate change is now defined by many environmental and world leaders as limiting the increase in global temperatures to about 2 degrees centigrade (about 3.5 degrees farenheit).  Even if we achieve that cap on warming, we're likely to see many negative impacts, including sea level rise of about 3 feet by the end of this century, more extreme weather events and very high localized temperatures.

Robinson thinks of success as reducing CO2 levels to levels to pre-impact levels.

"It's also true that complete success is not going to come in our lifetimes," he told the audience in Sacramento.  "It's going to be a multi-generational effort and yet here at the start of it we can't let that discourage us. We can't quit just because we're going to have to pass on to the next generation the semi-damaged world where the solutions are not yet fully in place."

"We do what we can in our generation," Robinson said.  "We pass it on in a kind of scaffolding system, build the scaffold as strong as we can and hopefully the next generation will stand on that scaffold and do a little better and we'll get ourselves to sustainability at last."

Participants at 350 Sacramento Town Hall Nov. 14, 2015

How do you avoid becoming overwhelmed?

Robinson spoke of keeping the vision in mind.  "The long term project is a vision so it orients you like you're driving at night and you have something on the horizon.  A vision of what it can be like when it is going well.  That's the utopian mindset.  ... 350 Sacramento?  That's the long term goal.  If you say to a politician you need 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere tomorrow ...  well it's not possible ... but then it's like building a bridge and you put the footing in on your shore and you have a vision of where you're headed."

Kim Stanley Robinson continues to write about climate issues.  He said his next novel will be about massive sea level rise.  He also recently republished the climate "Science in the Capital" trilogy he wrote a decade ago.  He condensed the books into one volume and updated some of the information based on the latest science.  The new volume is "Green Earth."

"I will keep pounding away on these issues," he says.  He is optimistic about the prospects for a better future.  "When you get together in groups like this and you see the people devoting their time to this cause, you realize it can work .. it can be done"


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