Book recommendation: New York 2140

The earth’s climate is changing, and humans are a significant cause of that change. The effects of climate change include, among other things: rising sea level and global average temperature, increasing severe weather events, ocean acidification, desertification, extinction of species, not to mention the illness, displacement, and other problems that will accrue directly to us humans. Those are the facts, the reality we have to face up to. But questions about how best to move forward are hard to answer, and it is hard to motivate people to productively address the situation. I think that is partly because it is hard to imagine how those big changes will impact identifiable humans who we care about.

Thankfully, we have Kim Stanley’s Robinson’s excellent novel, New York 2140, to help us with that. It is a real page turner full of interesting characters, dramatic events, and human ingenuity in the year 2140, after sea levels have risen 50 feet, turning much of the city into a new Venice of canals instead of streets and people living in the upper floors of skyscrapers with submerged bases. I liked the book’s attention to the economics involved in bringing about and adapting to the climate crisis – I don’t see a lot of that elsewhere, and it gave me some good food for thought.

You may also want to listen to a great interview with the author about his book on Science Friday.