For anyone who likes thoughtful science fiction (as opposed to spaceships slugging it out with rail guns – not that there’s anything wrong with spaceships and rail guns, mind you), I highly recommend this week’s Transfer Orbit interview with Christopher Brown. After reading it I immediately bought one of the cited novels (Tropic of Kansas), and will likely acquire more that were mentioned.

There’s something about sitting here all day watching WhaleTV that brings home the point of how awful it would be (will be?) if/when we have a true environmental collapse. Lifeless oceans, or all the insects or birds are gone, or other horrific I-told-you-so scenarios.

Brown used a phrase I haven’t heard much, “the extractor economy”. It’s a good one, and it begs the question what kind of economy isn’t an extractor economy? I suppose the so-called renewable resources we hear so much about would qualify, but there’s really no free lunch. Those solar panels we love were built from minerals mined (extracted) and refined. And those industrial-scale crops we eat require an awful lot of hydrocarbon-burning equipment and chemical treatments.

And while watching WhaleTV (trademark, copyright, legal minefield, don’t even think of borrowing this name, etc.), you also see hundreds of boats, large and small, cruising up the coast every single morning taking schlubs like me ocean fishing. Only a couple of decades ago, every boat would come back with plenty of fish, huge catches. A hundred years ago, I can only imagine. These days only about 20% of these daily fishing boats come back with anything (my estimate based on experience and observation, not a factual study), here in one of the greatest fishing areas of the world. That oughta tell us something.

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