• Karl-Friedrich Lenz

      Thanks for your friendly interest, and also for your tweeting about this. Much appreciated! :)

  1. jmdesp

    Lenz, I hope this book is a kind of tongue-in-cheek, humorous mockery of how we seem to not care at all about the future of humanity in our ever increasing consumption of natural resources.

    The answer to the serious question is something very well known of economists, it’s called “time preference” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_preference . Humanity as a whole is very much a high time preference entity. Immediate satisfaction is much more important than whatever may happen in future.
    One intriguing model that has been proposed to explain that is that we care no more to what may happen to our future self than if it were a different person, see this paper http://www.bos.frb.org/economic/wp/wp2009/wp0917.pdf “Multiple Selves in Intertemporal Choice”.

    The reason why humanity achieved success despite of that is that much of the time immediate satisfaction is not too badly aligned with long term success. Making your car a little faster today, is probably an effective way of making it much faster in the future, and the whole economy more efficient because the time need to transport thing by car is shorter. It only goes very wrong when immediate satisfaction is completely disaligned with long term perspectives.

    In the case of stock market and economical choices of companies, they behave actually under an extreme version of the time preference, that is more properly described as the “time horizon” (it’s interesting to see that actually frequently the very term “time horizon” is used when describing investment decision). In the “time horizon” version of “time preference”, you just don’t give a fucking damn about whatever may happen after the duration you use as your “time horizon”. The value of the time horizon for stock markets is extremely short, at most a few month.
    The time horizon explains a lot of what happen with the subprime crisis in the US. Almost every single person directly involved in that market knew if just could not go on for very long. But they didn’t care. In the last months before the crash, most people betting on CDOs knew they would crash, but expected to be able to profit from them before the crash, so they did not care at all about what would happen later.

    In my opinion, most people building wind power or solar panels perfectly well know it doesn’t perform as expected, but expects to profit from the FITs anyway, and don’t care at all about what will happen in the long term, when they utterly fail, as they did until know, to curb the CO2 generation curve in any measurable way.

    In France last year, EDF just published that the average CO2 level in electricity production has gone down to just 30,4g/kWh. Their estimate for the equivalent level in Germany is 450 to 500g/kWh. What an amazing success of 10 years of outrageous spendings in renewables !!

    • >The answer to the serious question is something very well known of economists, it’s called “time preference”

      The answer to that problem is to emphasize the immediate impacts, not in 50 or 30 or even 5 years’ time.

      Right now, the burning of coal and petroleum are causing cancers (coal producing areas have considerably more lymphomas). They cause respiratory disorders.

      Right now, extreme weather events have become more frequent, and more powerful. Anyone can compile a list from the past few years.

      Right now, there are already climate refugees: Alaskans whose homes have collapsed because of the melting permafrost that used to support them.

      Many great cities are very close to sea level. New York has already been inundated. People who live in Boston or London or Paris or Brisbane or Amsterdam might take note.


  2. Karl-Friedrich Lenz

    I don’t discuss the “renewable versus nuclear” debate at all in that novel.

    And it has an theoretical background in something Bruce Schneier said at a TED talk in 2011. From my afterword:

    The first idea came from viewing a talk Bruce Schneier gave at TED. He discussed the gap between perception of risk and real risk. That is very interesting for me, because I think that many people don’t understand the enormity of the danger of global warming. And I think that Schneier’s theory can help understand why that is so.

    He explains that perception of risk has evolved like everything else in a long process of evolution. Schneier gives the example of a rabbit eating some grass and hearing a predator. If the rabbit bolts too early, he won’t have time to eat enough. If he flees too late, he will be eaten by the predator.

    Therefore, having a good sense of risk is an advantage in this game of evolution.
    Unfortunately, humans have lived for most of their history out in the jungle. Therefore, our perception of risk is not optimized for the radically different environment civilization has blessed us with.

    In the jungle, it makes sense to fear individual threats from large predators nearby. If there is a tiger approaching, you better run faster than some other human who will be his dinner.

    In the jungle, it would not make much sense to worry about an abstract threat with no individual face to it.

    That means that humans tend to underestimate the threat from a very slow and very abstract development like global warming. We are not wired to perceive this kind of threat correctly.

  3. […] fact that the greenhouse effect on Venus is extremely strong. This is a basic premise of my recent global warming science fiction novel “Great News”. What I did not realize is that Venus actually receives less sunlight at its surface than does the […]

  4. […] How to come up with $100 billion a year? One idea would be to use part of the military budgets. Declare global warming a security threat. Declare war against the evil alien Khalmorot who wants to burn our planet (if you don’t understand what that means, please have a look at my global warming science fiction novel “Great News”, available as a free PDF download here). […]

  5. Sam

    This looks interesting! Definitely downloading! This would be the first time I read a book about Global Warming. This should be fun!

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