James Griffin 's Opinion

James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

James Griffin: The science of climactic endings

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James Griffin. Photo / Dean Purcell
James Griffin. Photo / Dean Purcell

The Scientist shuffled into the room. He hated this room and every time he was in it he longed for the safety of his laboratory. Not that he spent much time in the laboratory any more, not since he'd sold his soul to the devils of industry sitting across from him, in the room he hated with all his heart.

They all looked the same to the Scientist. Sure, they were every race and creed known to mankind, but in their suits, the devils all looked the same. The fleshiest devil, sitting in the middle, cleared his throat.

"Tell us some good news," he said. And for just a moment the Scientist pondered the nature of the word "good" as, in the context of what he was in the room to talk about, it really was a sliding scale.

"Well," the Scientist started, tentatively, "given recent events - tornadoes, floods, droughts and so forth, the 'Whole Messed-up Climate Syndrome', as we term it - it is getting more and more difficult to deny climate change to any believable degree ..."

"We're not interested in excuses," said one of the suits (the Scientist couldn't tell which one, as he was looking at the floor right at that moment). "We want to know what you're doing about it."

And, for just a moment, the Scientist actually thought he meant doing something about climate change. Then he realised that would be silly and way more expensive than hiring scientists to deny the change, so he parked that thought right at the back of his brain, in the recess where he stored his conscience and his soul.

"Okay," said the Scientist, "in the face of mounting actual real and incontrovertible evidence, we're tackling the problem on several fronts. As you know our 'Blame the Planet' scenario is still the most favoured option. So we have a team of tame paleoclimatologists who will shortly uncover evidence we're currently creating in the lab that will prove that Earth just kind of spazzes out, climate-wise, from time-to-time. So we should all just hang in there and ride it out, rather than do anything that might hinder business, like cutting CO2 emissions."

"To back this up in a way that the public might actually swallow - especially the arty-farty liberal doom-merchants - we're re-fabricating a companion volume to the Domesday Book of 1086 England. It's called the Ye Frekie Waether Almanac and will pretty much show that what is going on today was going on back then, with 'ye twisty, turney windes funnels' and 'floodes of all manner' and 'ye rising of the seas' being common in the 11th century. This book will be 'discovered' next month in a loft in Essex."

He continued: "But should this fail to convince, we will need to go to our back-up plan of admitting that climate change is real but picking a species other than man and blaming the whole thing on it. As you know our favoured option - the Plankton Option - was vetoed by the Japanese delegation on the grounds that whales would then become planet-saving plankton-eating machines, which would make turning them into sashimi for Tokyo restaurants even more difficult than lying it is being done in the name of science."

"Therefore, we have decided that should we go to plan 'It Wasn't Us', then sheep will be our favoured option as #1 Enemy of Mankind on the grounds that with the advances in synthetic-fabric technology we won't need wool any more and no one outside of New Zealand really eats lamb anyway, so they are entirely expendable - not unlike New Zealand itself.

"After that, things get a bit trickier, as we will be down to Operation Big Warm Cuddle, in which we try to sell the idea that emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is actually a good thing, in that it acts as a big warm blanket against the freezing cold of outer space. In this endeavour we have teams of domesticated climate scientists working with teams of feral PR people to stress things along the lines that CO2 has twice as many oxygen molecules in it than it does carbon and that when used separately the words 'green' and 'house' imply very good things."

And with that, the Scientist was done. He had nothing left to offer. The well, like wells all over Africa, was dry.

"And after that?" asked one of the suits, asking the question the Scientist didn't want to answer.

"Um, after that I guess we start looking for another planet," he said. And from the way the devils of industry smiled at him, the Scientist knew they were already way ahead of him.

- NZ Herald

James Griffin

James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

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