In New York 2140, Kim Stanley Robinson takes on one of the almost unimaginable yet probable outcomes of climate change: that in the foreseeable future, some of New York City will be underwater. Of course, Robinson does not adhere to the most conservative estimates of sea-level rise. But in redrawing the New York Harbor to be 50 feet above sea level, he does stay inside what he has called, in an interview with Scientific American, “the extreme edge of what’s possible” based on somewhat controversial projections of Antarctic ice melt.
Almost a thousand people stand on Olympus Mons, the tallest volcano in our solar system, and watch as an ice asteroid leaves a gash in the newly minted Martian atmosphere. The asteroid has been commandeered by UN-approved robotic ships that have landed and converted the material of the asteroid itself into fuel, altering its trajectory for this calculated near miss. The assembled crowd aren’t in it for the fireworks, though. They are a thousand among many Earth expats who have undertaken every project conceivable to turn Mars into a surrogate for Earth, the planet humanity has exhausted. This ice asteroid will inject valuable heat and water into the Martian atmosphere, bringing it one step closer to being able to support life—even as it takes the planet one step further from what we think of as “Mars.”