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Preparing Today's Generation for Climate Change

Updated: 4 days ago

Riley graphic
Episode on major audio podcast channels and YouTube at

We're living in a time of revolution, a time when the forces of climate change and artificial intelligence (AI) are converging in a way that will undoubtedly, dramatically change the world.

Tom Riley headshot

Tom Riley, a retired NASA instrument engineer and prolific author who believes AI offers tremendous potential for the world, has written a new book called "Dark Heat," and it pulls all of that together.

Udate: Tom just announced that Dark Heat is now available free -- temporarily -- as an audio book. All he asks of those who take advantage of this offer is that they submit comments. Specifically, Tom wants to know if the settings and characters ring true to you. "Young people's views are of particular interest," Tom says, "as they will have to live our future." Check it out!

When Tom retired from NASA in 2014, he started coaching young people in science, technology. engineering and mathematics (STEM), and he quickly realized he needed to develop a detailed discussion of what today's generation must do about our climate crisis and how it will affect their future.

"The thing that struck me so strongly was that we owe our young people an explanation and some guidance on what to do in this very difficult time," he says. "We simply are not providing them with the direction they need."

Preparing Today's Generation for Climate Change

Dark Heat cover

To help achieve that, Riley decided on a series of books aimed at today's generation, with the third one, "Dark Heat," now available. Written with the assistance of AI, it's a novel that pairs two "want-to-be detectives," Sarah and her AI companion, Janet N, who go into action when a friend who was involved in black market smuggling of food goes missing.

"They go through a long, complicated search to find out what happened to their friend and who the black marketers were," explains Riley, who has two engineering degrees and is a veteran of more than 40 years in high tech, mostly in space operations.

"It became very clear that the problems of climate change were just so overriding that it was unfair for me to teach young people about space if they're going to be hit upside the head by the climate crisis," Riley says on the podcast. "So we had to convert over, and I had to do a lot of research on what the problems were, what the long term problems were, what the short term problems were, (and) what the breaking points were."

Then last March, "the large word AIs became available with ChatGBT 4, and all of a sudden we were sprinting past one of the big landmarks that was either going to make or break us. Consequently, we started this project to write a mystery with AI as a partner," he explains.

Check out the complete interview for more about Riley's efforts in preparing today's generation for climate change and the burgeoning growth of artificial intelligence.

Special Bonus

Meanwhile, Riley is providing two signed copies of "Dark Heat" for the first two Lean to the Left listeners or viewers who request one. To win a copy, just send an email to with Dark Heat in the subject line, and your name and mailing address in the body of the email. The first two requests will receive the book free of charge.

Here are some key topics we discuss in the interview:

  • Climate change: doom and gloom or unicorns and rainbows?

  • Individual action is needed -- now. What should young people do?

  • How will climate change affect the world's food supply and what impact will that have on us in the U.S.?

  • Can AI, including robots, be employed to cope with the climate crisis?

  • As a space expert, do you believe there is life beyond Planet Earth?

  • A look at the Kecksburg, PA UFO incident from 1965. What was it?

  • Employment will be the area of biggest impact as artificial intelligence gains a foothold in the economy.

  • For more info about Riley check out his website at

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