Climate Repair: “The Co2lector,” a Carbonpunk story + my Jacobin debut + more

Today my friends at the Open Air Collective posted my short story “The Co2lector” as the first in their “Carbon Punk” fiction series exploring different possible futures of carbon dioxide removal and climate repair. This was a fun story to write, exploring an entrepreneurial character trying to navigate an overly complicated, but better-than-nothing world of CDR technology and policy. I consider it predictive rather than proscriptive, hopefully offering some insight into the way this nascent industry might evolve and grow amidst a shifting economic, political, social, and energy landscape. We can do much better than this market-driven mess the story draws, but hopefully we can also enjoy this tale of Raf’s precarious hustle.

If you aren’t plugged into this “climate repair” tip I’ve been on, this story is a good place to start, perhaps read in concert with my recent Jacobin debut: Zero Emissions Isn’t Enough. ​We Need Climate Repair. I’ve also mused a bit about this “civilizational project” on my newsletter, And of course there was a chunk of speculation about carbon removal in my book. Most importantly to note: climate repair/carbon removal is not technofix replacements for deep decarbonization. Rather I think it is a necessary next step to restoring a stable and habitable world, one to be powered by clean, renewable energy and regenerative land use practices.

What is “carbonpunk”? For me it is sci-fi that imagines the street-level, burner phone version of a particular slab of technological futurity, that of machines, industry, and other practices meant to clean up the carbon waste with which we’ve wrecked the atmosphere (and, increasingly, the oceans). It kicks us into the complexities of living through that upheaval, and pushes us to consider just how evenly (or unevenly) distributed and in-our-lives such futurity can get.

More to come from me on this topic, no doubt.