GGG#020: Climate Change! Geoengineering! Terraforming! (Guest: Eli Kintisch)


Eli Kintisch, author of Hack the Planet, joins us to discuss some of the ambitious and risky geoengineering schemes that are being proposed to address climate change. Dave and John talk terraforming.



0:00 Introduction by

0:38 Dave and John introduce the show

Interview: Eli Kintisch

02:00 Interview begins

02:11 How Eli got interested in science and became a science writer

02:51 Eli’s favorite science fiction authors and “climate porn”

03:30 Worst-case scenarios: methane, mega-droughts, and the death of the rainforests

05:27 Regarding geoengineering, and how the book came to be

06:17 Proposed methods of geoengineering

08:00 Small-scale environmental engineering and how it’s gone wrong

11:38 The history of geohacking; turns out it goes back a long way

13:32 Countries with competing interests in where to set the thermostat

14:51 Eli’s opinions of other books in the field

15:46 Regarding Michael Crichton’s State of Fear and Carl Sagan’s treatment of other planets

17:01 Eli’s take on terraforming: the ultimate hubris

18:12 How immersion in the subject has impacted Eli personally

19:12 The conspiracy theorists

20:18 Geoengineering vs. cutting carbon

21:53 Is there climate-related speculation happening now?

22:41 Coastal cities and adaptation to climate change

23:13 Waterworld and what generations down the line might be dealing with

24:02 What about super-cooling the planet? The problem of thermal inertia

25:58 What can we do as individuals?

26:41 Eli would love to hear from listeners at

26:57 End of interview

Dave and John talk about geoengineering and terraforming

27:08 Geoengineering and the Gulf oil spill

28:45 People’s natural revulsion toward geoengineering

29:56 Lex Luthor’s misguided effort at geoenginering to increase property values

31:28 The Day After Tomorrow, and scientists as heroes

36:25 The difficulty that SF faces today, and the optimistic futures of the Shine anthology, edited by Jetse de Vries

38:51 The importance of the cautionary tale: Soylent Green; Anathem

40:57 Glaciers, sea levels, ice, and fresh water: Ice Pirates; The Millenial Project

43:34 Terraforming 101: AIR.

45:08 Regarding Mars: Total Recall; the Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson

46:25 Example of terraforming in Star Trek: the Genesis Torpedo in Star Trek II; ST:TNG

47:32 More about Mars: Red Planet and Mission to Mars

49:47 When terraforming becomes routine: Isle of the Dead by Roger Zelazny; Slartibartfast’s award-winning fjords

51:34 Zelazny’s “The Keys to December” and the unforeseen consequences of geoengineering

53:02 Altering humanity to suit the environment: Frederik Pohl’s Man Plus; “People of Sand and Slag” by Paolo Bacigalupi

53:54 The origin of the term “terraforming”

54:17 Gene Wolf’s Book of the New Sun

55:07 Stuck in the Solar system: terraforming what we’ve got, and the example of Firefly

56:49 Mike Resnick’s Kirinyaga

57:43 The ethics of terraforming

59:45 Show wrap-up

Next week: Nnedi Okorafor, author of Who Fears Death

Thanks for listening!

John Joseph Adams ( is an anthologist, a writer, and a geek. He is the editor of the anthologies By Blood We Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Living Dead (a World Fantasy Award finalist), Seeds of Change, and Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse. He is currently assembling several other anthologies, including Brave New Worlds, The Living Dead 2, The Mad Scientistís Guide to World Domination, and The Way of the Wizard. He worked for more than eight years as an editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and is currently the fiction editor of Lightspeed Magazine, which launches in June 2010.

David Barr Kirtley ( is a writer living in New York who has been called “one of the newest and freshest voices in sf.” His short fiction appears in magazines such as Realms of Fantasy and Weird Tales, and in anthologies such as The Living Dead, New Voices in Science Fiction, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year, 2008 Edition.

Show notes compiled by podtern Christie Yant. Friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.



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