After Atlas Shrugs comes the Ice

View 703 Monday, November 28, 2011

I had a number of panels at LOSCON this weekend. One was a 20th Anniversary consideration of FALLEN ANGELS by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn. There’s a Kindle Edition. I thought there was a print edition still available as a new book, but I haven’t found one, which is a bit of a surprise to me.

The Kindle edition is quite readable, but despite its appearance this isn’t a pitch to sell books. The premise of Fallen Angels was that climate is returning to the 100,000 year cooling cycle interrupted by the warming period that began ten to twenty thousand years ago.

Approximately every 100,000 years Earth’s climate warms up temporarily. These warm periods, called interglacial periods, appear to last approximately 15,000 to 20,000 years before regressing back to a cold ice age climate. At year 18,000 and counting our current interglacial vacation from the Ice Age is much nearer its end than its beginning.

Global warming during Earth’s current interglacial warm period has greatly altered our environment and the distribution and diversity of all life. For example:

clip_image001Approximately 15,000 years ago the earth had warmed sufficiently to halt the advance of glaciers, and sea levels worldwide began to rise.

clip_image001[1]By 8,000 years ago the land bridge across the Bering Strait was drowned, cutting off the migration of men and animals to North America from Asia.

clip_image001[2]Since the end of the Ice Age, Earth’s temperature has risen approximately 16 degrees F and sea levels have risen a total of 300 feet! Forests have returned where once there was only ice.

Something in the panel – Niven and me, with John Hertz as interviewer/moderator – got me thinking about the book Niven and I are doing. Then came another panel that got me thinking further along those lines, and this morning I saw reports of a New York Times article about Democratic Party strategy for the upcoming election, which in essence was to abandon the productive class in order to get all the votes of a coalition of the unproductive (those in need, on welfare, who want extension of unemployment, more food stamps, etc.) and Government Employees, teachers unions, and so forth. A different strategy to win political office that almost explicitly pits the unproductive against the productive in the name of fair play. This reminded me powerfully of Atlas Shrugged, and that got me thinking about the structure of our novel, and precisely what stories we want to tell in it (as with Hammer it’s a big multi-viewpoint novel). Of course this is an article by a party strategist.

Then Peter Flynn got me to do a long interview on the theme of ‘Why Science Fiction?’. I had to think on that. Why does science fiction exist, or why do I write it, or—. Anyway, one of the purposes of science fiction is warning; what Robert Heinlein called the “If this goes on—“ story. And of course it got me thinking about just why Niven and I are doing so much work on this book. No one but a blockhead writes except for money, but few writers including Dr. Johnson ever wrote just for money.

Then this morning I got this mail:

Climategate 2.0

Wonder how long it will take this house of cards to fall?


Of course I have a lot of mail on Climategate 2.0 but this came just as I was thinking about incentives for Atlas not merely to shrug but to get his gun. What happens after Atlas Shrugged? Anyway, that’s one reason why this place is just a bit sparse lately. Thanks to all of you who subscribed, and particularly my Patrons and Platinum Club members, I can take a day off to think about what stories Niven and I can tell.

Suppose the Ice is coming back, or there is credible evidence of it; and suppose that can be prevented, but it’s a long term project, not something you can do overnight. You’ll need – well, that’s part of the story. But what happens after Atlas shrugs?


I have the last of my diabetes control classes at Kaiser this afternoon, so I have to cut this short. When I get back I’ll put together a mailbag, and I owe BYTE and all of you a new Chaos Manor Reviews column, and great heavens, there’s no lack of things to use me energies, but one reason one writes is to have written – there’s considerable satisfaction in saying that’s done, ship it! – and I am way behind on it all. I thought I was dancing as fast as I can, but perhaps I can pick the pace just a bit more.


I see that the Mayor of LA gave the Occupy LA people a deadline of midnight last night to get off the public square, but they aren’t doing it. The regulators have declared much of their free food preparation effort illegal, which spills over to other charity operations such as very long standing soup kitchens and school bake sales; using regulators to do the job of riot police can cast a long shadow.

If no one believes in a republic, it will fall to someone who does believe in his cause. When people are weary and without hope, then perhaps they are ready for an Akbar or Charlemagne, if they are fortunate enough to find one. I wonder if anyone reads people like John Stuart Mill any longer? And of course in searching for Charlemagne they may find Fidel Castro.

We have apparently come down to protests over the right to protest, and victory consists of being able to stay on the public square. That’s victory? But now I have to sort through today’s mail, have lunch, and get out to Kaiser for my final class. More tonight.


I am reminded that I have not given the explanation of the Texas/Wisconsin education statistics seeming paradox. First thing tomorrow. It’s a good story, there’s no paradox at all (although one has to accept a politically incorrect fact to resolve it), and it will help me avoid getting into the Cain mess until we know whether there is any connection between the latest woman and Axelrod.

I posted this Thursday. This is a repeat:

I will give you one fact to ponder over the weekend.

Some Teachers Unions have pointed out that the average grade and high school performances in Wisconsin, which has teachers unions, are higher than the corresponding averages in Texas, which is a right to work state. This is true. The average student performance in Wisconsin is higher than the average student performance in Texas.

It is also true that the average black student performance in Texas is higher than black student performance in Wisconsin. The average Hispanic student performance in Texas is higher than the average Hispanic student performance in Wisconsin. The average white (non-Latino) student performance in Texas is higher than the average white (non-Latino) student performance in Wisconsin. The three classes are collectively exhaustive.

These facts are true, and they are not contradictory although they may appear to be. We’ll talk more about this next week, but if you are moved to comment I’m listening.






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