One is a genius, the other is insane


How policy discussions take place:

This is in the context of how much New Zealand needs to cut our greenhouse gas emissions.

What we said:
Him:
We at [important government ministry] are deeply concerned about climate change. Deeply. We think its one of the important factors that New Zealand has to face. But there are many other factors that we also need to consider, the economy, our trading position, national security and so on. But we’re taking climate change very seriously, so the goals we set for carbon emissions need to be achieveable and credible ones.

Me:
The scientists that I represent are coming at this from a very different direction, basing their ideas for targets around what is necessary to avoid the quite substantial possible future impacts should our emissions continue along the current path. From that point of view, we come up with targets for emissions reduction that are quite remarkably different from those that are currently considered achieveable, or even credible. And while there’s an acceptance issue there, the ultimate success or failure of policies is determined by the biosphere, not by public or business acceptance.

What we meant:
Him:
Our serious concerns conveniently reaffirm our desire to do nothing at all.

Me:
Yeah, well my biosphere can beat up your economy, so yah boo sucks to you.

Its a requirement in this job to be very, very polite to people that you fundamentally disagree with.

Does NZ matter in climate change at all?
This is me just working some factual args over in my head
NZ is emitting 0.2% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. So do we matter? Really, only six places matter. The US, EU, Brazil, China, India and Russia make up 82% and growing. So what we do only matters from a moral point of view. But hey, morals make money, especially for countries that want to export stuff to rich nations. That’ll be us then.

Oh, and I solved the world’s energy problem
Yup, me. Coz I am a genios.

Everyone wants to run their cars on hydrogen. Its as clean as can be, only water vapour for an exhaust. However, storing hydrogen is tricky, as its a gas. So, you can try to get it stupidly cold, so that its a liquid, or compress it into big tanks, or use metal hydrides, or nanotubes or buckyballs. But none of these methods are good enough. But then an Idea occurred!
You could store the hydrogen in molecular form, bonded to a polymer backbone, say a chain of carbon atoms, maybe eight to ten atoms long. Best of all, that wouldn’t need pressurised storage or even cooling, coz it would be liquid at room temperature.

Then I thought a bit longer, then I had to go and hang my head in shame. I had invented petrol.

2 thoughts on “One is a genius, the other is insane

  1. hee hee

    inventing petrol? I think the dinosaurs beat you to that.. although their contributions perhaps weren’t so voluntary.

    as for being polite.. boy, I could NOT do that for a living. no way, no how.

    1. Re: hee hee

      Well, the whole politeness thing comes from the fact that Wellington is a small place and I’m going to be working with these people for twenty or thirty years. And at some point in that time, they’ll be right and I’ll be wrong. Insulting people for being wrong is only going to come back to bite me.

      So that’s how we play the game.

      remind me to explain the rules to Government Top Trumps some time

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