The Ministry for the Future

by Kim Stanley Robinson, 2021

Book Review by Ray Herrmann

The author is famous for adhering to current science and for his understanding of the political mind and these characteristics make this book a wealth of information and ideas of how we might combat Global Warming. The book starts off in 2025 with a fictional persistent Heat Wave in India that kills 20 million people (compare that with the REAL heat waves in 2021, across the U.S.A. mid-west where temperatures hovered between 107ºF and 120ºF for over a week).
    Kim states that The Lethal point is a "Wet-Bulb" (dew point) temperature of 35ºC (=95ºF). That's when it becomes is so hot AND humid that we can't sweat to cool down, so we die of Heat Stroke within hours.

This 2025 deadly heat wave becomes a wake-up call for India (and the world) to stop procrastinating and attempt to mitigate Global Warming effects. A particularly good idea comes from the author's understanding of the World Banks as the true world leaders. He makes a believable point (based on their historical rise) that these Banks act as the havens for the rich and use their power to prop preferred politicians (pgs 211-218). So one of the many projects put forward by the fictitious, global organization, Ministry for the Future is to convince the Banks to back a new currency: "Carbon Coin", which was then guaranteed by the World Banks to "mature" with a profit in 100 years, but that could be traded even now as money. People and Companies, including Oil Companies were paid in Carbon Coins for the Carbon they left in the ground. That, combined with strong Carbon Taxes provided a carrot-and stick persuasion that finally lead to global CO2 levels stabilizing.

There are many other Climate-driven issues that this book deals with (probably not all of them realistic), like: Pumping out the lubricating water under the glaciers to cause them to settle and re-attach onto the ground beneath, Replacing Jets with Blimps, Using Sailboats and Kites to propel both Cargo and Cruise Ships. But this story is a great source of ideas.

Negative influences, like the potential collapse of economies (which motivated their banks), radicals using drones to bring down Jets and the sporadic killing of the rich are presented (but not condoned) as part of a realistic scenario …these things happen.

The time frame of the book is from 2025 to about 2050. This story is more like a half-factual, documentary of the plausible near-future and its well worth reading.