Legends from our own lunchtimes

Monday, November 03, 2008

Emissions Trading

Our family has always been aware of the dangers of greenhouse gasses.

While it wasn’t long ago that global warming was observed and considered to be a threat, and even less time before scientists became so confused with what they were seeing that they renamed the phenomena “climate change”, how the simple logic behind the science has escaped almost the entire population of the world is beyond us.

Each year after Christmas, my grandparents used to holiday at Redcliffe, now one of Brisbane’s outer suburbs, although in the early sixties that was a relatively easy commute to “town”, it seemed to be miles from anywhere. We’d join them for some of the time, although my father never took leave from his duties in the office presumable a better alternative than spending protracted periods with his mother in law!

If some of those Global Warming Scientists had spent any time at all with my grandmother after Christmas, the concept of emissions trading would be well evolved by now. By the age of ten, it was pretty clear to me that the temperature of the toilet compartment in the flat had consistently increased by more than a few degrees after her occupancy of the space. If one grandmother was capable of that, what evil powers were being unleashed on the earth each day by the combination of all the grandmothers in the world?

It was my father though, who took the concept of emissions trading to an entirely new level. In what some would describe as his declining years, although undoubtedly his view was that he had been saving his best till last, he developed a temporary condition which polite company would refer to as a “stomach bug”.

We were picnicking in a lush green parkland when he felt the urge to respond to what colloquially may be described as a “call of nature”. He was bent almost double, with the beginning of a tear in his eyes as he hobbled across to the conveniences.

In due course he emerged, still bent double, still with tears in his eyes so it was difficult to tell at first whether his condition had improved, but on closer inspection the grimace that had once graced his countenance had been replaced by an evil grin.

He was claiming a personal best.

He had not been alone in that toilet block. The cubicle beside the one he had occupied had a tenant of its own.

Apparently, the greenhouse gases he had produced were of sufficient toxicity to increase the temperature of an entire suburb by considerably more than a few percentage points, although confined as they were in a relatively small space, it didn’t take a very long time at all for the neighbour to become acutely aware of the impact of global warming on his own little patch.

So overcome was this invisible stranger that he became suddenly loudly and violently ill, his plaintive retching reverberating through the otherwise silent cavern, except of course for my father's muffled chuckles.

This tale of course gives rise to some serious thought on the question of emissions trading. If we have something so terribly nasty that it can change the global weather, who is going to be silly enough to trade with us, and what will we get for them?

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