The Ministry for the Future

Book cover image Kim Stanley RobinsonThe Ministry for the Future

Kim Stanley Robinson

Hachette, October 2020.

The Ministry for the Future is a year old but it took me most of the year to discover it and read it, and now, with COP26 imminent, I feel an urgent need to share it with as many people as possible.

Sadly, I can’t find the time to give it the attention it deserves so I am resorting (as I have before) to a meta-review: extracts of reviews by writers who say between them what I would have liked to have said myself.

The conclusion of this short review by Mark Yon for SFFWorld.com will serve as an introduction to the longer pieces:

Whilst it could be said that Ministry for the Future is a political agenda dressed-up as fiction, my abiding feeling at the end is that it shows hope – a sensible and rational way out of the mess we live in – and reflects a heartfelt belief that sensible people, wanting to do the best for as many people as they can, can work in difficult situations to make the world a better place. And at the moment, with all of the political and environmental chaos going on around us, it is therefore the novel we need.

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Townsville floods remembered in PUNQ art show

Townsville’s winter is, as I’ve said before, so full of events that we hardly have time to take them all in. We were still recovering from Strand Ephemera, NAFA and the Fringe when PUNQ (Pop-Up North Queensland, co-ordinated by Umbrella Studio) opened a week ago.

There was a lot to see, as a look at their online program reveals. We didn’t get to all of it but did enjoy Golden Bee’s Hive Alive, the quirky Botanica-Techno installation in the Perfumed Gardens, and (getting to the point of the post) Alison McDonald’s site-specific After, a clever, powerful depiction of Ross River as a trail of, essentially, reclaimed debris.

After
‘After’, with Ross Dam in the distance and the port and Ross Creek in the foreground

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Beyond Climate Grief

book cover imageBeyond Climate Grief

Jonica Newby

NewSouth, 2021

Jonica Newby, best known as a presenter for the ABC’s science show Catalyst, fell into depression a few years ago when the fate of her beloved alpine landscape in a warming world suddenly hit home.

After a break to rebalance she decided to use her skills to “science the shit out of it” to work her way back towards normality. As she did so, she met many climate scientists who were struggling with the same grief at the inexorable loss of their own special places, and with psychologists who could explain how best to deal with the emotional burden.

She began writing in October 2019 and was soon forced by the horrific bushfires of that summer to expand her project to include managing immediate trauma. This book is the result. To be clear, it is not about climate change or climate science (Newby knows, and we know, enough about that already) but about how we can best cope with the ongoing and seemingly inevitable collapse of the natural world we love.   Continue reading “Beyond Climate Grief”

How can I decarbonise my life?

The question

What can we, as a family, do to reduce our carbon footprint and have a more ecologically sound lifestyle in general?

I know there are a lot of resources out there but I don’t have any particular expertise or the time to research everything, so I need a step-by-step or a handbook.

A related question – a lot of the difficulty is inertia. Any advice on how to get momentum turning away from the consumerist vortex of middle class American life (give me convenience or give me death) towards a more sustainable lifestyle?

This excellent question was posted to an online forum recently. It received some very good answers so I thought that I would treat it like a similar question on ethical investing a year ago and turn the discussion into a blog post.

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110 years of Australian temperatures

I’m a sucker for a good graphic and here’s one of the best.

What I’ve posted here is a screenshot of the BoM’s page, but clicking on it will take you straight to the original page where each of the individual maps is slightly larger and is linked to a full-page version. There’s also a link to a poster-size pdf if you have a place for it; a classroom wall would be an excellent spot.

Australian temperatures chart
110 years of Australian temperatures

Green Path has more climate change resources in a dedicated page, and the BoM has lots more on climate change, too – start here if you like solid data displayed in clever graphics.