It’s been a long, hot trip on our journey through the desert, investigating lithium’s potential as a solution to the climate crisis. This week, we’re cooling things down. Sort of. Instead of hitting the road, we’re hitting the books and diving into the world of science fiction.
Science fiction and a sub-genre, climate fiction (or cli-fi), can often depict the scariest, bleakest scenarios of our future. Sometimes that can be kind of fun and dramatic, but the best cli-fi out there tries to dream up solutions.
Which is why we called up cli-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson, or Stan. Stan is the author of about 18 science fiction novels, with stories ranging from life on Mars to New York City’s demise. His latest work, “The Ministry for the Future,” is about all of the tiny, sometimes tedious ways we will have to take action to preserve life on Earth. This is something that our team has started referring to as the “optimism of hard work.”
In real life, as in the book, Stan says, we’ll need an effort from everyone on the planet. That is why he spends so much time writing about bureaucracy and the best way to run things in the future. “One thing that the pandemic did, was it … taught you that there is no self-sufficiency.” Instead, Stan says, we’re more like bees in a hive. “And bees that say they don’t need a hive are short-lived bees … we depend on everybody else just to have food on our table or to be able to get anywhere we’re going. [It’s] a massive collaboration.”
The first season of “How We Survive” is about the messy business of finding climate solutions. New episodes are out every Wednesday. Be sure to follow us on your favorite podcast app and tell a friend if you’re enjoying the show.