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Imagen de la portada del libro The Ministry for the Future, foto de Nohan Meza Martínez
Imagen de la portada del libro The Ministry for the Future, foto de Nohan Meza Martínez

Medio Ambiente

Climate Crisis: What if We Just Solved It?

A review of The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

Por Nohan Meza
February 2023
With only six years left to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions below 1.5C to prevent permanent environmental collapse, we need to understand both the severity of the problem, and the complexity of the necessary solutions. Kim Stanley Robinson frames what’s at stake in his newest novel, The Ministry for the Future.
Wet Bulb conditions: When humidity and heat reach the point where the evaporation of sweat no longer cools the human body, causing the death of otherwise healthy persons.

This is what awaits us. Or, at least, that’s what the very near future of 2025 that opens Kim Stanley Robinson’s environmental sci-fi novel The Ministry for the Future, where he explores what will happen to our world if we continue down the path of negligence and how, if we truly try, we can save it. 

The novel opens in 2025, with one of the most catastrophic heat waves in history, killing over 20 million people due to wet bulb conditions. This leads to the UN creating an organization called The Ministry for the Future, “charged with defending all living creatures present and future who cannot speak for themselves”. In his novel, Robinson focuses on accuracy, writing his near future through the lens of hard science fiction, meaning everything in the novel is based on historical accuracy, and the technologies encountered are extrapolated from the technology we have available today. 

Through The Ministry for the Future and the various political and ideological groups it encounters, we are shown the complexity of the climate crisis, and the domino effect that it will invariably lead to if we, as a collective, are unable to keep global warming below 1.5 C, which would be equivalent to CO2 emissions below pre-industrial levels. It becomes apparent, rather quickly into the novel, that the plethora of solutions and collaborations required to solve the biggest challenge to our species’ survival are complex and will require changes in our ideology, in our monetary policies, in the way we craft language and share news and even, perhaps, in our approach to religion, belief, and meaning.

And while the reach of the book is vast, it doesn’t create blanket statements that occlude underrepresented identities. Robinson is fully aware that the actions needed to solve the climate crisis will also give rise to geopolitical tensions that will require a unison of BIPOC voices. Furthermore, he is also aware of how the conversation has been denied to those who don’t speak the geopolitical tongues: “If your native language was anything but English, you were estranged to one degree or another from the global village.” 

Above all, however, what Robinson is trying to tell us is that, as we spill into the future, our choices matter. That soda can you choose to recycle matters, that container you transform into a little pot for plants matters. Who you vote for matters; what corporations you give your money to matters. It also matters what you know—Your knowledge and action is the only thing that can build our future. 

We forget, often, that stories are working models of complex ideas. In The Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson has created a near portrait of what awaits us, including our upcoming horrors. However, in writing this book, it almost seems as if he’s saying, “We can fix it, here’s how.”

If there is one book everyone needs to read this year, it’s this one, for it shows that the climate crisis is, at its core, a humanitarian crisis without precedent that will come to affect us all. 

The Ministry for the Future is available at your local library.

To read more articles about climate change and sustainability, go to our Environment section.

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