This Possible Climate-Saving Solution Was Pulled From The Pages Of A Sci-Fi Novel

Global warming is one of the most pressing issues of modern times. As BBC says, some researchers argue that many effects of climate change cannot be reversed, which might signal an increase in ecological devastation across the planet. The outlet underlines estimates that suggest climate change could be especially disastrous for over 40% of the human population. Various world leaders, countries, and interest groups have come together to propose multiple solutions to the problem. And some climate change conferences — like the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) being held on November 6 — are attempts at addressing the core problems. 

What some people might not know, however, is that a potential climate change solution could have been hiding out in a sci-fi novel the entire time. Kim Stanley Robinson's novel "The Ministry for the Future" is a book on climate disaster that proposes a new type of currency to fight back against pollution (per The Wall Street Journal). 

Kim Stanley Robinson's unique climate change solution explained

American novelist Kim Stanley Robinson's novel "The Ministry for the Future" has been hailed as one of the most terrifying contemporary sci-fi novels around today. As Bill Gates said on his website Gates Notes, the novel is a dramatically realistic portrayal of just how dangerous climate change can be. The story takes place just a couple of years into the future when dangerous heat waves are killing off people in the city of Uttar Pradesh, India. The heat wave eventually kills off over 20 million people, bringing to life the most horrifying conclusion of global warming that may yet happen to us. 

As The Wall Street Journal explains, the novel's ultimate solution to this crisis is a carbon coin. This carbon-based currency incentivizes fossil-fuel companies and other corporations to avoid oil extraction, with the goal of lessening their carbon footprint. Eventually, the entire world economy is based on these carbon coins, leading to a dramatic reduction in carbon use around the world. And this idea wasn't actually created by Robinson himself, but by an engineer by the name of Delton Chen. 

Engineer Delton Chen came up with the carbon coin idea

Delton Chen is the current director and founder of Global Carbon Reward, which is a climate change initiative based on finding financial reward-based solutions to climate change. As its official website explains, it wants to promote what it calls "carrot and stick " carbon pricing. The concept is straightforward: companies will pursue ecologically friendly projects like greenhouse gas removal in exchange for financial rewards. 

As The Wall Street Journal says, this goes against traditional punish-based carbon tax policies, opting instead for the carrot instead of the stick, as the idiom goes. According to Chen, an important part of this carbon coin project is that it will largely be funded by a central bank guarantee instead of direct government costs or taxpayers. The coin idea will supposedly push companies toward dropping fossil fuel use altogether, instead investing in green energy and more sustainable means of production. Whether this project would actually succeed or not remains up to interpretation, though the idea is unique nonetheless.