It’s shaping up to be the summer of smoke (Canada, Sweden, France, Ukraine…) and so I’m having to leave Wimbledon to put out some fires myself. So unfair and still it seems everyone is trying to make my job harder. There are my clients who keep promising net-zero emissions with no actual plan in sight, and then there are the Gretas of the world—yes Greta Thunberg whom my father calls 'that Swedish troll’ and who is forever making us look positively nuts. Just last week she was arrested for blockading an oil port.
Frankly I don’t know how she found six days to protest when crossing the Atlantic takes her a full two weeks, but then it would do for anyone aboard a solar-powered yacht. And it likely didn’t occur to her that waving and preening for a parade of media vessels negates her net-zero crossing altogether. Ditto for the helicopters buzzing around her arrest. I’ve half a mind to greet her with, ‘How dare you!’ but we environmentalists must stick together even if some of us are downright embarrassing. Also I’m hoping that with maturity, (and a six-month jail sentence), she’ll soon learn to put her own energy to better use.
Someday my prince will come.
Speaking of Sweden—their newly elected leader has also dumped their climate agenda, and axed their environment ministry altogether. It’s a painful blow to the renewable goals we’ve been working toward at the World Economic Forum, but I’m meeting several colleagues in Stockholm and we hope to talk him (Ulf Kristersson) out of lowering fuel prices and continuing with biofuels.
The only trick I have up my sleeve is that Sweden’s freedom of speech laws have led to an increase in public Koran burnings, which have in turn, damaged Sweden's bid to join NATO. Naturally this didn’t sit well with Turkey, and Erdogan was quick to say his country cannot ratify Sweden's application until Koran burnings are stopped. But there is no law in place that can allow Swedish police to deny these public protests, so my hope is… a reinstated energy ministry can deny them on the basis of their carbon output. It’s a win-win really.
The other issue is our darling troll assembled a group of non-players to meet with Zelensky in order to once again—preen for cameras! This time in lumberjack get-up. Her scheme was to appeal to his vanity by presuming a victory, followed by a demand to hold Russia accountable for the environmental toll of this war. Honestly! Could you see Churchill taking a meeting about dirty water during the bombings of Dresden? Everything is a childish game to this tantrumming imp and we look the right fools because of her. But no doubt Zelensky lapped it up—never considering such meetings undermine the optics of it being an actual war.
With Greta out of the clink, I am headed to Ottawa to meet with Canada's Minister of Natural Resources. For whatever reason this agency now handles what was previously the Ministries of Energy, Forestry, Mines, Affairs, and Natural Resources. A one-stop-shop for me but how much time will he really have especially with Canada still on fire? But I have a plan.
Don’t forget my actual home is in California where wildfires saw to my evacuation on more than one occasion, so I’ve had some time to think about this. We landed without incident despite smoky skies and I spotted my driver who was wearing a cloth mask. I asked if it was for Covid or smoke and he said, ‘smoke’. I didn’t bother telling him my Google search had shown cloth was not useful for either. I’d fallen asleep for most of the ride but woke from the loud blowhorn of the protestors just outside the Minister’s office. As I wasn’t carrying a sign, and emerged from a car with a driver… they assumed I was part of the problem and were not letting me through. Clearly no one knows me in Canada. Boo! This was never going to work. I phoned the minister who said he’d been warned about the protest and was advised not to come in at all. Lovely. When was he going to tell me this? He suggested dinner over a steak at The Keg which was impossible as my charter was leaving in three hours time. We agreed to a Zoom in the morning and I rang off.
I was grumpy now and asked my driver to pull into Tim Hortons before heading back to Gatineau International. Biting into a Maple Dip Donut I rang my father. ‘Hi Daddy. I hate Canada’. I began.
‘Impossible! Your comrade is doing such a wonderful job there’, he responded.
‘I mean it. And I was all ready to discuss how we need to up our game to reach our carbon-neutral goals’. ‘
Up your game? Is that really your plan?’
‘YES OF COURSE IT’S THE PLAN! Temperatures are rising and I am literally standing in a smoke-fest because of it’.
‘Ah, that plan. The more-of-the-same plan’.
‘No Daddy, NOT the same. I mean, yes, we have to do something. People are dying due to climate and…’
‘Actually substantially fewer people are dying, Jennifer. In the 1920’s half a million people died every year from floods, and wildfires, and extreme temperatures. Whereas now it’s about 25,000 per year. You can thank the engineers’, he said smugly.
‘Okay, but speaking of engineers, I have a plan to stop fires. I’m thinking first, fire needs a spark…’
‘So you’ll ban lightning? It was lightning that started the fires in Canada, and a spark from a flat tire burned 20,000 acres in California’.
‘No, not that. But fire also needs oxygen. And I think if we compressed carbon dioxide and released it into a burning fire, instead of trying to put it out by dropping water… we could stop a fire faster. Carbon dioxide can be compressed and it’s heavier than oxygen’.
He was quiet for a while and then said, ‘Hmm. Only slightly heavier, but yes it could work. It should work better than water, you’re right’. ‘I’m right? So it could be engineered to work?’
Clearing brush -- that's the ticket!
‘Well… aye, there’s the rub’ he said. 'Theoretically, yes. But fire also needs fuel, and we already have the technology for that—it’s called clearing brush, and controlled burning. But you environmentalists fight that every single time, and voila…8.8 million acres burned. For all your good intentions… again, there’s the rub’.
‘Okay, but the planet IS getting hotter’.
‘Which I dispute. Mind you, to a hammer everything looks like a nail, meaning if you are only looking to find a warming trend, you measure in ways that suit your goal. But proper measurements made by means of satellites, show a cooling trend’.
HA! That’s so textbook of my father—arguing methodology. Nobody’s talking about that when good intentions are on the line. So…there’s the rub!