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Chapter Five - Land of the Other- The Burning Miracle

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Blog by Dave McArthur 6 June 2008

The fable of the Decarbonised Universe: Once upon a time, well about World Environment Day June 5 2008, there was this far away land in the great Southern Oceans. This land, known as Aotearoa or New Zealand, was inhabited by a gentle people, a loving people and they, like all the rest of the people in the world, were being threatened by a terrible monster, which they called Climate Change.

A meeting was called in this far away land and a panel of Great Experts was set up chaired by a prominent broadcaster, Chris Laidlaw. Some panel members like Dr Rajendra Pachauri from India and Achim Steiner from Europe used many barrels of a rare and precious resource called mineral oil and travelled many moons of miles around the planet to attend the meeting.

 A multitude was gathered to hear the deliberations of the panel and microphones and cameras stood by to broadcast the event to the world. The time for the meeting to begin arrived and passed and still not all the panel members were assembled. It seems two members were delayed and a cell phone link was established enabling a countdown of the minutes till their arrival to begin.

 A member of the learned panel, perhaps it was the Hon David Parker, sought to keep the gathered multitude from becoming restless and called for someone to come forth with a joke while all waited. I was about to stand and tell this ancient joke when the last member of the panel arrived and the great discourse was able to begin.

 President Abote Tong of Kiribati gave a dignified and passionate address detailing how the monster was already destroying their land and culture and asked those assembled to provide a new home for his people. Some among the multitude appeared close to tears as they heard his sad story.

Some on the learned panel fervently promoted the creation of something called an Emissions Trading Scheme. They argued that every person would be able to use this device to trade away and appease the monster. Not all of those present looked convinced. It is possible that even the most ardent supporters of this device acknowledged deep in their heart of hearts that it was fundamentally flawed and would feed the monster if the majority of human kind adopted its use.

A consensus soon seemed to emerge among the learned panel that the only way everyone could be saved from the dreaded monster, Climate Change, was to decarbonise the world. This had never been done before in the history of the universe(s) and it soon became apparent to the assembled multitude that even the Great Experts on the panel knew of no way it could be done.

Then suddenly it occurred to someone, it has never been known who this was till this very day, that one of the members of the Panel was the Minister of Energy. All eyes turned to the Minister of Energy as this unknown person addressed him thus:

“Oh Minister of Energy, we all know you are the Minister responsible for all the potential of the universe and how it is manifest. Surely it is you that decides whether that all the potential in a drop of water suspended in the skies becomes the glistening raindrop sliding down the blades of our grass or becomes part of a torrent at the end of a sparkling lake that forces our great turbines to spin and generate an electrical form of energy we can use to heat our homes or becomes part of the great salty oceans in which the fish and all other manner of life can swim or becomes part of a shimmering rainbow radiating all the colours of our world for our delight.

Oh Minister of Energy, use all your sublime powers and decarbonise the world”.

 The Minister listened and dwelled in his mind for a moment. Perhaps he had never truly reflected on his title and role. The multitude was silent, breathless in anticipation, awaiting his response. The sight of the Minister of Energy deep in thought was an awesome vision to behold for even the most uneducated among the people sensed that when the mind of the Minster of Energy embraces matter then anything could happen.

 The Minister observed the awe in the sea of faces in front of him and felt that awe reflected within him. He felt powers unprecedented.

 “As you wish,” he said and in that moment to the amazement of all people carbon began to dematerialise throughout the universe(s). The world began to disintegrate and even as they evaporated many present gave vent to great wails of fear and alarm. They cried, “Oh Minister of Energy, what have you done? Help us! Save us before it is too late..”

The Minster of Energy observed the great distress of the fading ghosts of the panel members and the multitude. He stopped to think again. He stared at his hands and observed they too were fading with the universe(s).

“Oh my God,” he cried out in consternation though his voice was but a fading whisper, “It’s too late. I have just realised I am but a mortal being too…”

The punch line to this joke was never known because it disappeared with the last atom of carbon in that universe(s). However it remains very funny to think of the capacity of humans to delude themselves that they can be Ministers of Energy and others can accept them as so, that they can trade away their roles as stewards of the great carbon flows of the universe and that humans can decarbonise the world. It is even funnier to think people would want to decarbonise the world, even if humans could.


The cartoon strip that accompanies this blog was drawn about seven years ago.The cartoon strip that accompanies this blog was drawn about seven years ago. It is total coincidence that it is being republished with this blog.

During the 1990s New Zealand was Enronised and the Government became beholden to advisors such as Arthur Andersen and Co, KPMG, The Harvard Electricity Policy Group (William W Hogan et al) and other similar minded groups. It created legislation forcing NZ communities to either divest their ownership of their electrical grids or their local electrical intelligence i.e. communities could no longer democratically use their local electrical potential as had been their historic right. They had to sell either the wires or the intelligence capacity of them. They could no longer own both and the activities based on what they were still permitted to own had to be driven the profit motive rather than the customary service motive.

These reforms, which remain in force still, enabled a few bankers of the Bulk-generated electricity and fossil fuels sectors to assume control New Zealand’s electrical potential. As part of their strategy the energy symbol was redefined as their products and this cartoon shows how one of their agencies, Genesis Energy, used education modules to destroy the science of combustion in our schools and communities. The cartoon was part of my ongoing campaign to expose the non-science perpetrated by these corporations, including our Royal Society, and about two years ago Genesis Energy finally pulled the interactive Internet education module as “it was not working anymore”.

Even as the Minister of Energy was speaking yesterday at World Environment Day Opposition parliamentarians were in the media calling on his Government to do something about the  “energy crisis New Zealand is now in” or resign. In brief, the current flawed uses of our electrical potential and excessive demand/dependency on Bulk-generated electricity is creating considerable problems and impoverishment for the nation.

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Meeting details

> Good morning
> We are delighted to advise the addition of a further discussant to the
> panel for the Lunchtime Panel Discussion, How Do We Decarbonize The
> Word?, being held by the Institute of Policy Studies on World
> Environment Day.
> President Anote Tong, Head of State of Kiribati will join the Hon
> David Parker, Minister Responsible for Climate Change Issues, Dr
> Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
> Change and Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations
> Environmental Programme. It will be chaired by Chris Laidlaw.
> Please join us:
> Date: Thursday 5 June
> Time: 12.15-1.45 pm
> Venue: Lecture theatre one, Rutherford House, 23 Lambton Quay
> ------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -
> ------------ ----
> Maureen Revell
> Institute of Policy Studies
> School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington
> PO Box 600, Level 5, West Wing Railway Building, Bunny Street
> Wellington, New Zealand
> DDI +64 4 463 5307