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Photo: Hachette Book Group

A recent novel illustrates the likely consequences of climate change in the decades to come, and offers hope that better technology and politics might help us save the future.

Why it matters: Perhaps no subject as important as climate change has also proven so difficult to effectively and accurately dramatize. "The Ministry for the Future" is the one novel I've read that captures the consequences of warming while offering a realistic blueprint for how we can stop it.

How it works: Written by the prolific author Kim Stanley Robinson, "Ministry" centers around a UN agency created in the near-future that is meant to represent the interests of generations not yet born, the generations that have the most at stake on climate change.

  • The inciting incident is a horrific heat wave in India, where temperatures and humidity rise so high that human beings can't survive. As a result, millions of people die in a single sweep, kicking off a desperate last-chance effort to slow warming that unfolds over hundreds of pages and a few dozen years in the novel.
  • Like much of what Robinson describes, such a catastrophic event is all too possible in the years to come.

Details: Robinson is what's known as a "hard sci-fi" writer, one who engrosses himself in the minute, realistic details of everything from blockchain to geoengineering to ice sheet dynamics.

  • But he has a playful touch as well, narrating short chapters from the perspective of inanimate forces, like a carbon molecule or the global market.
  • Beyond science, "Ministry" illustrates the knotty political and financial problems that bar the way to effective climate action — and shows how we might solve them.

The bottom line: If you don't trust my take, just listen to President Obama.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Jan 14, 2021 - Energy & Environment

VC investments into climate change technology reach record high

Expand chart
Data: PitchBook; Chart: Axios Visuals

Venture capital investment into technologies aimed at combating climate change reached a record high in 2020, according to PitchBook, a private-market data firm.

Why it matters: Clean-energy technologies must increase substantially to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years. It’s also notable that the pandemic didn’t dampen the trend.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
3 hours ago - Sports

European soccer is at war

Liverpool celebrating its 2019 Champions League victory. Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

2021's expected earnings blowout begins

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.