"I think the US is in a terrible state of denial," he says firmly. "Worse than that, we seem to be caught in a kind of Gotterdammerung response: we'd rather have the world go down in flames than change our lifestyle or admit we're wrong. Even here in California, 50% of cars on the freeway are SUVs, and they're political statements: they say, we're going to take the rest of the world down with us because we don't give a damn. Essentially they're Republican vehicles: when you see an SUV go by, you know the driver voted for Bush. I do think the world has larger global warming problems, but if the US were actually engaged in dealing with them, there'd be a sense that the worst abuser had seen the light and the whole world was on the same page. There's a really sizeable minority here who back measures to reduce emissions, but the political process is controlled by the Republican administration, which is basically in thrall to the oil industry. So it'll come down to another election - and with the last two elections both in their different ways perhaps having been stolen, we can't even really count on democracy anymore. It's pretty scary here."
Science fiction is one of the best instruments for progressive political and ideological change in our arsenal. In the end, books like Robinson's will triumph. Long after Michael Crichton and the "Left Behind" series have been deservedly forgotten, we'll be able to look back and chart the genre's impact on our social and technological trajectory. And the world will be a better place.