A reading club with a view to the future

110 Kim Stanley Robinson: The Ministry for the Future

A novel that explores the complex challenges facing humanity in the 21st century and the need for a global perspective and cooperation to address them.

Kim Stanley Robinson: The Ministry for the Future


The novel centers on the creation of a new international organization called the Ministry for the Future, tasked with promoting sustainable development and combating climate change. Through the stories of various characters, the book explores the technological, economic, and political challenges facing humanity in the coming decades, and presents a vision of a future that is both hopeful and realistic.


Title: The Ministry for the Future

Author: Kim Stanley Robinson

Year of publication: 2020

Publisher: Orbit

Length in hours: 20 hours and 42 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, and requires global cooperation and action to address it.
  2. The development and deployment of renewable energy sources and other sustainable technologies is crucial for the future of the planet.
  3. Economic and political systems need to be reformed to incentivize sustainable development and combat inequality.
  4. Advances in technology such as artificial intelligence and geoengineering have the potential to transform society, but also pose significant risks and challenges.
  5. Ultimately, the fate of humanity is in our own hands, and we have the power to create a better future for ourselves and for future generations.
Kim Stanley Robinson: The Ministry for the Future

5 funny quotes

  1. "The Ministry for the Future. I like that. It sounds like a band from the '80s."
  2. "In the future, the only thing scarcer than work will be boredom."
  3. "Artificial intelligence is a bit like a toddler with a machine gun. It's exciting to watch, but you don't want to get in its way."
  4. "Geoengineering is like a giant air conditioner for the planet. It's not a perfect solution, but it beats sweating to death."
  5. "The only thing worse than being ruled by robots is being ruled by humans pretending to be robots."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "We are going to need to accept that there is no such thing as a stable equilibrium anymore, and that our only hope for stability is change."
  2. "Climate change is not a problem that can be solved, but rather a predicament that we must learn to live with and manage."
  3. "The essence of capitalism is that it generates wealth by concentrating resources and power, but this same concentration is also its Achilles heel."
  4. "The challenges we face are too complex and too urgent to be solved by any one country or organization alone."
  5. "We need to reimagine our relationship with nature, and recognize that we are a part of the natural world, not separate from it."

5 dilemmas

  1. The dilemma of geoengineering: The novel explores the ethical and political challenges of geoengineering, or deliberate manipulation of the Earth's climate to counteract global warming. The characters debate the benefits and risks of various geoengineering proposals, such as carbon capture, solar radiation management, and ocean fertilization.
  2. The dilemma of intergenerational justice: The novel raises questions about how to balance the needs and desires of the present generation with those of future generations. The Ministry for the Future is created to represent the interests of future generations, but how can we ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are met?
  3. The dilemma of economic inequality: The novel explores the challenges of reducing economic inequality and promoting sustainable economic growth. The characters debate the merits of various economic models, such as degrowth, basic income, and sustainable development.
  4. The dilemma of political will: The novel raises the question of how to mobilize political will to address urgent global challenges such as climate change. The characters grapple with the obstacles to effective international cooperation and the role of individual action and activism.
  5. The dilemma of personal sacrifice: The novel explores the difficult choices that individuals must make in the face of global crises. The characters struggle with the tension between personal desires and responsibilities to the greater good, and they confront the difficult moral questions that arise when the stakes are so high.


Regenerate response

5 examples

  1. Mary Murphy, a climate scientist who becomes an adviser to the Ministry for the Future, and plays a key role in developing the organization's climate models and policies.
  2. Frank May, a former investment banker who becomes an advocate for sustainable development and starts a successful carbon credit trading business.
  3. Badim, a Russian engineer who develops a revolutionary new type of battery that helps to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.
  4. Vinay Gupta, a futurist and disaster response expert who helps to coordinate relief efforts in the aftermath of a devastating flood in India.
  5. Max, a teenage activist who becomes a leading voice in the global youth climate movement, and inspires millions of people around

Referenced books

  1. "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" by Elizabeth Kolbert
  2. "The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming" by David Wallace-Wells
  3. "The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable" by Amitav Ghosh
  4. "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" by Naomi Klein
  5. "The Water Knife" by Paolo Bacigalupi

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"We are going to need to accept that there is no such thing as a stable equilibrium anymore, and that our only hope for stability is change."

Kim Stanley Robinson: The Ministry for the Future
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