climate fiction. What is Kim Robinson's novel “Ministry of the Future” praised by Bill Gates about?
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The trendy novel “Ministry of the Future” shows how the world will change in 20 years. A world in which they will protect the environment in all possible ways. This utopia is about a new world order, where everyone will be forced to love nature – our mother. After the book was recommended for “summer reading” by Bill Gates, there was nowhere to retreat. The correspondent of Focushas read Kim Robinson's bestseller and will reveal a little about the plot of the novel.
The action begins in the near future – 2024 and the Great Heat in India. Due to an incredible drought and prolonged heat above 40 degrees in one of the cities, all the inhabitants die. The last citizens are saved in a small lake in the center, but the water does not bring them salvation. A very terrible, hopeless beginning.
The tragedy becomes a catalyst for further developments, after the Great Heat, it is already possible to break laws for the sake of the future.
The Kim Robinson novel itself is divided into many storylines. Artistic, with which it begins. The fate of the only survivor in the heat is being investigated. The social line is the behavior of people and terrorists. Science line – several scientists are trying to save the glaciers, the atmosphere. The economic line – how the world will live without hydrocarbons. The legal direction is the rights of future generations (a very interesting direction that is already developing now. For example, it will be possible to file a lawsuit and ban genetic experiments on behalf of unborn people – as their preventive protection).
Layer 1. Social. Ecoterrorism and saving the world
Realizing that the Great Heat could be repeated, the whole world began to fuss. The same Ministry of the Future was created under the UN. The countries of the world and the rich are being dumped into various bailouts. Close polluting enterprises, stop coal mining. Stop the melting of glaciers. Throw fine dust into the atmosphere to lower the temperature on the Earth's surface. (In 1991, after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, there was a large emission of ash, which reduced the average temperature on Earth by 0.5 degrees. So this is not only the author's notion, but also the real justification for the possibility of such actions).
At the same time, of course, there were individual citizens, groups of citizens and entire secret organizations that started a war in the name of good. Terrorists killed the heads of corporations who did not want to give up their coal and oil production. Hundreds of drones attacked planes and ships using kerosene and other fuels – hundreds of people died.
The most “gifted” began to infect cows on farms with spongiform encephalopathy, which was transmitted to people eating steaks. Thus, the entire population of people quickly became vegetarians. And “bovine methane” emissions have been reduced.
So in this direction, the novel gives a lot of food for thought: what methods do you agree with, which seem extreme. And most importantly – how we are all not far from it.
Layer 2. Educational: Society 2000 watts
The “Ministry of the Future” also does a lot of educational work. From it you will learn some global, but little-known facts.
- Example 1 is from the field of ecology. A story about an Asian brown cloud that covers part of the Indian Ocean, India, Pakistan and China. Consists of industrial emissions: soot, sulfates, mineral dust. In addition to damaging the atmosphere, it also reduces the solar illumination of the surface below it by 10%.
- Example 2 – 2000 watt public traffic. The concept was developed in 1998 in Zurich. A group of activist scientists have calculated that if global consumption is reduced to 2,000 watts per year per person, this will significantly improve the ecological situation. Considering that the average consumption in Europe is 6,000 watts and 12,000 in the USA, we will be moving towards this for a long time. But – the concept exists and, theoretically, in the event of a global cataclysm, it is ready for use.
By the way, 2000 watts in terms of understandable – about 50 kW per day per person. It would seem, with a margin? No. Not only the readings of your electric meter are taken into account, but also your expenses for a car or public transport per day are taken into account. How much energy was spent on the baguette that you bought in the store, and on the slaughter of the same cow, the burger from which you ate in Mac. In the Mac, which also uses energy to keep you light, warm and possibly wash your hands. If you spread out these 50 kW per day for everything, even in Ukraine you can not meet the limit.
- Example 3 is economic. The Jevons Paradox says that the efficiency of resource use does not reduce its consumption, but increases it. This is, in fact, an explanation of technological progress. Industry invents technologies to use coal or gasoline more economically. But because of this, even more coal and gasoline are required.
A useful book. For that matter.
Layer 3. Utopia. Justify the forbidden
Reading paragraph after paragraph, you constantly catch yourself on a certain idealism of the author. Some generally socialist ideas – to ban production, take away money from those who pollute and give it to those who clean. And a strained attempt, with the help of various theories, to prove that this has a social and even economic justification.
And you can regard the novel as a kind of psychological preparation of society for the fact that for the sake of high ideals you can break the law. Here, just a week ago, two young activists, trying to say something to the world, did not find anything better than trying to spoil Van Gogh's masterpiece “Sunflowers”. I do not think that even now the justice of Europe will strongly condemn them. Rather, do not judge. But why further – crimes cannot be more? Does Bill Gates approve of this too?
But perhaps the billionaire and philanthropist is urging us to just think? To think is, perhaps, the main mission of the “Ministry of the Future”. I don't want to be told what I'm eating – meat or beet substitute or insects. But I understand that there will be discussions. And the “Ministry of the Future” will provide an opportunity to determine a position for yourself.
Of course, if it's boring, you can only read about terrorists and the strange friendship of the main characters. Or just about scientists who save Antarctica. The novel is really multi-layered enough that it seems to be able to hook everyone. And if you are wondering what awaits the planet and the world in literally 10-15 years, the “Ministry of the Future” is a must read.