And just like that another ski holiday in the books. I always threaten that were I not entirely devoted to saving the planet I’d spend my days reviewing the top spas in the world… and I mean really work at it. But this year I stayed behind a full three weeks to wend my way by train through Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and France.
Now I have to get back for the Queen’s Cup—and my clients. There’s not a chance I’ll go to my actual home in California this week… not with the mass invasion coming through, so it’s back to my childhood home in St. John’s Wood. As for California though, I don’t want to bring it up lest my father launch into another one of his—get out while you can speeches. He’s off California at the moment. Just prior to boarding I caught a television monitor showing migrants in the tens of thousands flooding into the U.S. So scary. It was really not to be believed. Yet despite the horrific images, one feels so very bad for these souls—most of whom are escaping poverty brought on by climate change after all.
I had one glass of champagne, drifted off, and woke to the mad buzzings of my mobile. I swear the moment we crossed the Swiss border my phone started blowing up. Text after text from clients—and perhaps something to be said for the prosperity of the Swiss. And yes the timing was easily explained by proximity to a satellite tower but I felt the scold of their unwavering efficiency.
Icky smoke vs. clean wind power.
Truth is I didn’t have a solution for our problem and no amount of aromatherapied relaxation had brought any remedy. There was a worldwide shortage of raw materials and we’ve brazenly promised "carbon neutral" by 2040. What had they been thinking? It wasn’t my idea but unfortunately I couldn’t solve this with a slick press launch and smiling glitterati. UGH!
Like a kid who imagines there just might be a sunken treasure near one’s country house I’d read up on how difficult the mining process was, hoping a layman’s take might find something previously overlooked. (Ever the Cheltenham girl.) What I found was that lithium doesn’t even occur naturally in its pure form. It’s combined in small amounts in nearly all igneous rocks and in the waters of many mineral springs, so basically it’s everywhere but it’s a nightmare to extract it. Tedious and expensive and by some means you have to extract the lithium from the other things you just mined. Oh, and on top of that, it’s toxic, and dangerous. Why hadn’t we thought this through before we started shouting green promises from the rooftops?
I also hoped that greed would solve this given it was being touted as ‘the next gold rush’ and ‘the new petroleum’ but it was time to admit defeat and call the geophysical engineer—my father. ‘Hi, Daddy!’ I said, trying to sound sunny and casual. ‘I’ve a small question…’
‘SELL!’ he bellowed, ‘Burn the place down if you have to but get out of California!’
‘No, Daddy, I’m...’
‘Still on holiday?’ he interrupted.
‘No, on my way back to England, but thing is… well, it’s lithium. I just thought with your years in oil exploration you might have an idea’.
‘I do! Keep drilling for oil and drive a working car’, he said. Problem solved.
Now that's green.
I could feel the ozone facial escaping from every one of my pores. ‘DADDY!’ I shrieked, ‘I DON’T WORK FOR THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY!’’
‘No, indeed’ he said, ‘I do. And we’ve been backing you up since the dawn of Earth Day’. UGH! Sometimes I find it best to just let him say his peace so I remained calm and focused on the Rhone Alps in the distance.
‘So if you were me…’, I began again, ‘And you wanted to keep your job… what about if I go over to Nigeria, make a really big deal of it, show how we plan to set up a mine and also draw attention away from China who just beat Tesla out of a bid for a mine?’
‘Now there’s an idea’, he said. ‘No one is really covering the situation over there. And by situation I mean heavily armed gangs and vigilante militias, lucrative mass kidnappings, murder in the thousands, and over a million have been forced out of their homes over land disputes… so sure, why not pop over and suggest what they might do with their land instead’.
‘But isn’t this trouble primarily caused by climate change?’ I asked.
‘Well, you can make that claim, just don’t do it around me. Corruption is the problem. It’s true the cattle herders have a harder go of things during the rainy season now that their villages were burned and they are forced to live in the forest. But, go ahead: blame the flooding. And then later blame the drought. And if I may remind you, aliens are invading your beloved California and claiming it’s "climate change", because apparently it stops at the U.S. border’.
I hate it when he has a point. ‘OK, point taken, but China’s making a go of it’, I said.
Can't get much greener than a lithium mine.
‘Depending on what happens with China,’ he said. ‘Mind you they couldn’t beat the Japanese even with the help of the Soviet Union, the U.K., and the Americans. But at the present they’re not exactly hawking lithium’.
‘This is bad’. I said. ‘And bad on me’.
‘Well you didn’t make the carbon-neutral promise, and you’ll smooth it out somehow. What about your green friend who’s come up in the world recently?’
‘Who?’ I asked.
‘Charles’, he said.
‘Yes, the very one’.
Hmm. He had a point. And I’d likely see the sovereign at the Queen’s Cup. That’s the thing with Daddy, often irreverent. And sometimes right.