Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More Web Resources

I came across a great web resource the other day -- You can sign up to have tips emailed to you daily. The idea behind it seems to be that for many of us, if we just knew what to do, we'd do it. I did sign up, and the emails I've gotten for three days so far now have been useful reminders, and I learned a few new things. Worth the time. Hasn't resulted in any excess spam so far. I like it!

And for a more complex site you can get to a lot of research documents from, try climate solutions.

I also got an email from a fellow that's just starting to do a wiki about sustainable goals. It's pretty empty right now - think of it as a clean slate you can go help him write on! The url is

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Little Mirrors

There is an article running around the web and in the papers with a bunch of far-out scientific ideas for global warming mitigation...adding iron to the sea, making artificial trees, having a man-made volcano. One of these ideas, out of the University of Arizona, is called a space-launched solar umbrella and is made up of a bunch of mirrors that reflect some of the sunlight away from the earth.
The first science fiction story I published was a collaboration with the very brilliant Larry Niven called "Ice and Mirrors." In that story, published in Asimov's Science Fiction in February 2001, Larry and I have evil aliens use the same exact device to freeze a planet. The idea for the mirrors was Larry's (all this was shortly after Kim Stanley Robinson wrote his Red/Green/Blue Mars series that had a single big mirror called a "soletta" warming Mars and so the idea may have kind of come from that - I really don't remember).
It feels kind of like Star Trek communicators and cell phones....maybe we'll get weather control from space using little mirrors. A great example of the way science and science fiction play well with each other.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Night Walk with Frogs

I walked up to the local 7-11 last night. It was, sort of, raining. We have a particular kind of soft rain in the northwest that seems like tiny drops just hanging like a thin curtain in the air. Not falling, just making sure everything is properly wet. This walk is along 148th street, four lanes with turn-outs and traffic lights, past the entrance to Microsoft's Red-West campus, past a municipal golf course, and a large wetland Nintendo keeps claiming they'll build on. In simpler terms, it's a big, busy concrete street with a lot of wet stuff on either side, and wet stuff hanging in the air.
There was a chorus playing almost the whole way. An uncountable number of frogs reveling in the warming wet air and singing in the dark. Living with the concrete and the cars and singing. I realize this is anthropomorphizing, but they sounded quite happy.
This is what we risk. The happiness of frogs. They are a bit of a bellwether species, and while I can't see the poor thin polar bears, I can hear the frogs.
I keep seeing the words mass extinction associated with global warming, and I suspect it's because the change is too fast. Evolution likes change, just not change moving at the speed of a big SUV barrelling down 148th, threatening the frogs.
I think I'll try to listed to the frogs as often as possible this year.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Kim Stanley Robinson

I'm reading the next book in Kim Stanley Robinson's series on climate change, SIXTY DAYS AND COUNTING. He's really very, very good. This is a series of fiction books that outlines a possible scenario for climate change. The scary part is that the books talks about many of the things brought up today in a CNN article about the affects of climate change. I know KSR does his homework - I read his series about terraforming Mars and then did a bunch of actual research on terraforming to prepare for writing BUILDING HARLEQUIN'S MOON with Larry Niven. KSR had clearly used the same base research we found (a book by Martin Fogg and a bunch of articles by various people). So it didn't surprise me to find that his science fiction is mimicking the real world rather well.
I highly recommend the series. In fact, I highly recommend that you either read KSR's whole trilogy or you read the CNN article and think about it hard, or you do both. :)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Earthweek: Australia Thinking like Terraformers

This week's Earthweek has a little blurb mentioning that Australia is trying to create an "escape corridor," or a place where animals can migrate to different habitats freely without having to pass through major cities.
The science fiction writer in me kinda likes that idea. When we write about terraforming (changing a planet to make it more habitable) we often consider that humans will have a major role in gardening new species/helping earth species adapt.
Perhaps we will need to also take a hand in helping species survive the current warming period.