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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.

In photos: Scenes from some of the worst fires raging in the U.S.

A home explodes into flames as the Dixie Fire rips through the Indian Falls neighborhood of unincorporated Plumas County, California, on July 24. The blaze started near the origin of the deadly 2018 Camp Fire and has churned burned over 185,000 acres. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Out-of-state crews went to Montana to tackle a wildfire that wounded five firefighters as Australia sent a large air tanker to help Californian firefighting efforts, as 88 large blazes raged in the U.S. Saturday.

The big picture: Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) tweeted his thanks to Utah and California for sending crews over the weekend, as the two states battle their own blazes. The Australian tanker arrived in Calif., this week, where Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) proclaimed a state of emergency for four northern counties Friday.

Updated 3 hours ago - Sports

Swimmer Chase Kalisz first American to win Tokyo Olympics gold medal

Chase Kalisz of Team United States celebrates after winning the Men's 400m Individual Medley Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Swimmer Chase Kalisz has become the first Team United States Olympian to win gold at the Tokyo Games.

The big picture: The Rio 2016 silver medalist's winning time in the men's 400 meters Individual Medley Final was 4 minutes 9.42 seconds. His teammate Jay Litherland took silver, .86 seconds behind him. Moments later, Kieran Smith grabbed a third medal for the U.S. when he won bronze in the 400-meter freestyle.

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.