When I first saw the title of Michael Lewis’s 2018 book, The Fifth Risk, my associative circuitry immediately connected it to The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert’s ominous 2014 look at how massive changes in earth systems, brought on by human ingenuity and shortsightedness, has us well on the way to the sixth mass extinction of earth’s 4 billion year old existence; the extinction of the dinosaurs is the most recent of the previous five.  It turns out the two are connected by more than similar titles.

Not long after Donald Trump was elected, Lewis, like many Americans, grew increasingly alarmed by reports of the unpreparedness, confusion and outright negligence in the new administration.  Of the many alarm bells ringing, the appointment of former Texas governor, Rick Perry, as Secretary of Energy rang loud and continuously for Lewis.  Perry had infamously said during his run for presidential nomination , against Trump, that if elected president he would abolish several cabinet level departments, among them, the Department of Energy.  What it did exactly, he didn’t know, but he was sure it was a prime example of government waste and over-regulation.

Lewis, questions simmering and ready for another heavy lift following books such as Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Big Short, The Undoing Project, began making calls.  Among the first meetings that resulted was with John MacWilliams, the Chief Risk Officer of the U.S. Department of Energy. 

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