Bonus Joules and the Knowledge Economy
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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.
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
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.
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
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”.
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.
Minister observed the awe in the sea of faces in front of him and felt
that awe reflected within him. He felt powers unprecedented.
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..”
“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
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.
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.
> Good morning