Friday, March 30, 2007

A follow up to Life in Neutral

An as-yet unpublished submission to the Sydney Morning Herald's Heckler column, by The Great White Hype under my real name.


The Modern Day BioDome

It is the year 2024.

Carbon trading and emissions offsets have reached a peak. There has been mass clearing of land by developers under the new government Affordable Housing Mandate (Amended 2009) in order to enable families to own that far-too-large dream house in the suburbs of Sydney by the age of 23.

The decade old law pertaining to the ambitious Carbon Removal Scheme of 2014 and its required contributions has left a monopoly for a handful of firms prepared to maintain the troublesome and flawed system.

The entire Sydney basin carbon emission load, under the regulations of the COT (carbon offset tax), is now borne by one rather large scribbly gum situated in a hermetically sealed bubble that Sydney-siders affectionately call The Dome, in the middle of Martin Place.

The cost of upkeep of the dome protecting the tree from planet-warming, carbon-saturated atmosphere is so great that the majority of the tax dollars go directly to the running of the large pumps and filters keeping the tree alive. Large groups of workers, their faces obscured by filtration masks of a similar nature, gather around the Dome to gaze on its sparse foliage and twisted branches.

Not even three hikes in the tax rate has managed to result in the planned growth of the number of trees (from one tree to two), in order to satisfy the clamour from the general public and large corporations prepared to pay money to relieve their “carbon guilt”. Psychologists have coined the term for the sudden explosion of trembling and feelings of intense shame associated with workmates and neighbours’ discovering your level of voluntary contribution is somewhat less than their own. There has been little or no change in lifestyles to contribute to global problems associated with greenhouse gases, as wages grew exponentially in order to cover the compulsory COT contributions.

The President of Australia, in conjunction with her colleague in New Zealand, is looking at a broad-brush approach, whereby the population of New Zealand will be relocated to Australia. The net result of the scheme would be the replanting of New Zealand, to be used as Australia’s carbon-offset supply for the next thirty years.

This has raised the ire of several fundamentalist groups, but the precedent has already been set. With Hawaii having been emptied of all but a skeleton staff in 2015 to cater for the US east-coast emission trades, the increase in scale is not so daunting.

The government has launched a new campaign for the Christmas gift offset rush. It is hoped that the second tree will be ready and functional by late 2027. It will be located more towards the geographic centre of Sydney, in the Emu Plains Mall.


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