Certified B Corporation Badge


Good Business Book Club: The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

3 February, 2023

“Cli-fi” is a burgeoning genre: apparently, a sub-genre of science fiction that deals with the impacts of climate change and global warming. Not surprising that most of the books published under this banner are apocalyptic and deeply depressing. But hope is at hand. The Ministry for the Future by noted sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson considers a future that is not as bleak as you may expect, if you make it to the end of its 500-plus pages.  

It’s the story of a group of bureaucrats at the Ministry for the Future, established by the UN under the auspices of the Paris Agreement to act as an advocate for future generations whose needs are deemed to be as valid as the present generation, and to explore new ways of living that can deliver this. It also brings in other voices – some named, some not – ranging from climate activists and aid workers, climate refugees and a host of scientists and other players who navigate a world approaching catastrophic tipping levels. In this world, environmental disasters kill at scale – the story opens with a searing heatwave in India and floods wipe out most of LA and the surrounding area later on and lead to mass unrest, eco-terrorism, migration and structural change.  

There’s a lot to learn as you go, all of it rooted in strong science. Many chapters are short accessible essays that take on subjects such as cryptocurrency, stranded assets, progressive taxation, labour relations, the co-operative system, geoengineering, wildlife corridors, quantitative easing and how to regenerate a glacier. You’ll feel smarter – and more optimistic – as you read, and it makes a convincing case for the role of smart but boring people taking small but necessary steps to save the world, provided that there is enough anger and activism alongside it to power the change. Five stars from the Good Business team!  

By Claire Jost

You might also like