Brazilians' blind enthusiasm for pre-salt oil suggests to me a crazy parallel to the Chinese science fiction trilogy Cixin Liu, "Remembrance of the Past of the Earth." Rather, with the second book in the series, "Dark Forest."
This column will try to explain the parallel. Rather, it is imperative to say that this is the best work in the business read in many years: enigmatic, inventive and thorough fantasy on the central theme of good science fiction, human nature (in this case, it would be right to say nature of civilization, of civilizations) .
One more warning: I am not against pre-salt exploitation. There is no way to give up wealth that could help millions of Brazilians out of poverty.
Only it's not helping. It is actually contributing to their lives – and hundreds of millions of poor people around the world – because we are doing everything wrong here and around the world.
It would be wise to use very little of the pre-salt and any fossil fuel deposits to avoid climate crisis and use that income to revolutionize energy production towards renewables. Only a small part of the world's oil and gas reserves can be extracted without throwing the planet into a tragic warming spiral.
Here comes the parallel with Cixin Liu. “Dark Forest” is the universe inhabited by an unfathomable number of civilizations, some with fatal technology and vastly more developed than the Earthling. Enough to travel at fractions of the speed of light with a fleet aimed at annihilating humanity within a few centuries.
Liu's cosmic sociology is based on the principles of survival and universal distrust. Without communication between two civilizations of distant planetary systems, there is no way for them to know if the other has the power and intention to destroy it. The only way out is to attack.
In the first book, humans discover that a Trisolaris squad will arrive in about 400 years to take their Earth. A Doomsday Battle takes place in the future, but the fantastic character Luo Ji manages to dissuade trisolarians by threatening them with mutual annihilation.
The situation of precarious equilibrium resembles that of the Cold War, when atomic arsenals could destroy the USSR and the US several times and were therefore never used. In the case of oil, no civilization – no country, better said – is today striving to avoid the worst, or is forced to do so.
Perhaps because the death toll from unbridled global warming will occur in the long and slow term, no one foregoes daily burning a few megatons of oil. We acted as if the trisolar fleet was not accelerating toward us.
In Liu's trilogy, humanity already has the technology of hibernation to suspend the lives of some heroes and revive them centuries later. The story must go on. Some of them wake up in a subterranean city civilization created by survivors of the planetary environmental hecatomb known as the Great Ravine.
It is comforting to know that there are not enough years left to see Earth burn like a Greater California, or to witness the advent of hibernation technology that would allow it to cross this Dark Forest. But it is depressing to imagine that grandchildren might be forced to do so.
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