Interview With A Figment, Part VII

Sorry for the delay, Bloggers!  I’ve been busy with STUFF…

…And I’m actually still busy, but as a palate-cleanser (if only for myself) I thought I’d post you a daydream I had a couple of months ago.  It’s been kicking around this desk drawer waiting for some action, I hear tell.  Well, it’s about to get some.

Hope it survives the experience…

*

CEO OF LARGE OIL COMPANY: (from stage) First of all, thank you for meeting with me today.

PLOK: You’re thanking me? (looks around at large, empty auditorium) Huh, smells like a TED talk died in here…

CEO: Pardon me?

PLOK: Nothing, nothing. So…

CEO: (eagerly) Yes?

PLOK: What’s this all about? What’s with the Let’s Make A Deal set? Not to be impolite, but what can you and I possibly have to discuss? What do we even have in common?

CEO: What do we have in common? Why…the FUTURE, of course!

PLOK: The future.

CEO: No, not “the future”…The FUTURE!

PLOK: …

PLOK: You’re sure you didn’t want David Suzuki in here instead, or…

CEO: No, no, you’re perfect.

PLOK: I’m perfect?

CEO: You’re exactly the sort of person we need to have on board.

PLOK: On board?

CEO: You’re middle-class, you’re chatty, you have a library card, and you vote. And you seem like a reasonable person. Not an extremist or a radical.

PLOK: I’m also not very sympathetic to big companies like yours, before you get too carried away with listing my virtues…

CEO: No, no, that’s the best part! I don’t want someone who likes me standing in here. I don’t even want someone who thinks like me. I want a normal, reasonable person who’s nevertheless worried about Big Oil ruining the planet…but without having been radicalized.

PLOK: Your definition of “radicalized” might be a little different from mine, though. If I am worried about you ruining the planet, isn’t that proof in your book that I must have been radicalized? Aren’t you the guys who say the SPCA and the Girl Guides are radical organizations if they oppose letting you frack some shale down by the elementary school or in the parking lot of the Children’s Hospital? Aren’t you the guys with the commercials that talk about Fort Mac like it’s as green as Eden was before Eve bit into the apple?

CEO: (sadly) You really don’t think much of us, do you.

PLOK: (cheerfully) I really don’t, Mr. Sad Face! Welp, I won’t say it hasn’t been fun, although of course…as you know…

CEO: Wait, WAIT! You’re not being fair!

PLOK: Oh, am I not? (walks away)

CEO: You don’t think I know what’s going to happen? The polluted oceans? The farm belt turned to ash? Tornadoes and tidal waves, all that Ben Affleck shit?

PLOK: (stops at door) …”Ben Affleck shit”?

CEO: Brother, that stuff’s just the tip of the iceberg, you know what I’m saying?

PLOK: …

PLOK: Did you really just say that?

CEO: Or I dunno, maybe it’s Matt Damon. I always get those two beatnik assholes mixed up…

PLOK: Right. Right. Hey, who doesn’t? (walks back to stage) So, fine then…let’s talk. Lay it on me. How bad’s it gonna get?

CEO: Right, well. Thanks. Thankyou…

PLOK: Don’t mention it.

CEO: I have to decide when to debut this stuff. It’s all new stuff. You know we have scientists working on this all the time, and they keep me informed, but they can’t tell me when the time is right to let the world know about it. “Peak Oil”, it’s not like we never heard about it, right? And whose scientists do you think even came up with the name “global warming”? You know what I’m saying?

PLOK: Sure, all right.

CEO: So the problem is, we’ve been working on it long enough that we’ve got the big picture, right? But everybody else, the Johnny-Come-Latelies, it’s like they’re addicted to this knee-jerk black-and-white reaction…

PLOK: To be fair, though…your scientists should’ve told you…it is a bit black-and-white.

CEO: Well of course it’s goddamn black-and-white! Sure it’s black-and-white, and I’m not denying that, but it’s grey too, and that’s the thing nobody gets!

PLOK: All right. So what’s the grey part?

CEO: Well, uh…this is the part I haven’t quite figured out how to say…

PLOK: Just go ahead and say it.

CEO: Okay…the grey part is we’re fucked anyway. Even if we stopped it all from happening. It’d still happen.

PLOK: You mean, things are too far gone, there’s already too much greenhouse gas in the…

CEO: No, I mean even if there wasn’t, even if we’d stopped it thirty years ago…it was already too late then.

PLOK: (crosses arms) Explain.

CEO: So, what happens when the environment goes to hell in a handbasket, right? Basically 90% of everybody dies. Societies collapse. Cities fall into ruin. No one can remember how to do things. This one guy of mine, he explained to me that there won’t even be anything that’s easy to mine anymore, so you won’t rebuild civilization because it’s too hard to get the copper. But that won’t matter anyway, because most everybody will die just as the result, the secondhand result, of extreme weather. They’ll die before there’s no food left, because there won’t be any food they can get; if the five biggest American cities all have a Sandy- or Katrina-sized environmental disaster at the same time, it’ll strain the national economy to the breaking point…and if that happens two years in a row, it’s pretty much all over. It’s about highways, really, this guy says: if the places they go between turn to shit, then it’s the same effect as if all the highways just disappeared. Can you imagine what would happen, if all the highways in America just vanished overnight? Like someone took an eraser and just rubbed them off the maps?

PLOK: Uh-huh…

CEO: But here’s the thing, that same thing can happen, even if global warming got stopped. Right now we’re going to extract and burn every drop of oil that’s in the ground, not just because we want to, but because we have to. Because we’re in too deep.

PLOK: …The stock market, you mean.

CEO: I mean the stock market, yeah. Exactly. All that money, what happens to it — what happens to it tomorrow — if the government says something like “okay, from now on we’re only gonna let people take out half the stuff that’s in the ground, that they already own and paid big bucks for”?

PLOK: Hmm, and that wouldn’t even be enough to halt global warming…

CEO: It absolutely wouldn’t, but it would accelerate, uh, “economic warming” so much that it wouldn’t even matter if global warming was stopped or slowed or anything else, because it’d be the same result. All the biggest companies in the entire world would crash before 12 noon on the day they made the announcement, and by midnight everything would start to stop working. Like the highways got rubbed off the maps anyway. Cuba would be in the top ten of world economies by the end of the week. And what do you think Russia and China would do about it?

PLOK: …

PLOK: They’d burn oil.

CEO: They’d burn oil. Not just their own oil. They’d come and get our oil. And the only way they wouldn’t do that, is if economic warming hit them so hard too, that they just couldn’t recover. But either way, it’s nothing but dead ends and disasters, and it all happens long before total acidification of the oceans. So to prevent immediate disaster, that’s every bit as bad — for us — as total environmental collapse — the oil has to get pumped out. It just has to. There’s no way out. It gets pumped out, or it’s the end of the world.

PLOK: Except it’s also the end of the world anyway, if it does get pumped out, right? It just takes another generation or two. Your great-grandchildren.

CEO: I know that.

PLOK: Your great-grandchildren, only with total acidification of the oceans.

CEO: Yes, yes…

PLOK: Economic collapse on the scale you’re describing, it’d be a nightmare, but if it doesn’t happen then the alternative’s actually worse. Plenty of places on Earth will barely notice if the satellites fall out of the sky because there’s no money to keep them up, and societies there will survive; wealth there will survive. But if the economic collapse doesn’t come, then all that goes away too, and then you really can’t rebuild civilization.

CEO: Yes, yes…

PLOK: So really you’re arguing against your own point, aren’t you? By your logic, we should get the economic collapse started tomorrow, and not only that but we should try our best to make it as extreme as we can. Just wipe out industrialization completely.

CEO: Yes…

PLOK: “Nuke the place from orbit; it’s the only way to be sure.” (pause) If it was David Suzuki sitting here, he’d tell you that’s too much of a black-and-white solution, wouldn’t he?

CEO: …Yes, but you’re still not getting the big picture!

PLOK: I’m not?

CEO: It actually doesn’t have to be that way, it doesn’t have to be either of those ways! Like I said, we’ve been working on this a long time. We’ve spent billions of dollars on finding a third way.

PLOK: A third way, huh? That sounds nice; do they show Touched By An Angel in this Shangri-La of yours?

CEO: Pardon me?

PLOK: Nothing, nothing…so, you mean some sort of political change? Some kinda neo-socialism/neo-capitalism, neo-neo oxen-free-o?

CEO: What?

PLOK: What?

CEO: That’s the tricky thing, the politics.

PLOK: It is?

CEO: Yes, I…wait, are we talking about the same thing?

PLOK: I actually have this sinking feeling that we’re not.

CEO: We can make it happen if we sell it right. The risk-management guys say it’ll work. Wait, you do or you don’t know what I’m talking about?

PLOK: I’m 100% positive that I don’t.

CEO: Oh! Okay, then.

PLOK: So what is it?

CEO: (dramatic pause) …The FUTURE!

(He pulls out a remote control, pushes a button on it; slowly the curtains on the stage draw back to reveals a lavish 1/1000 scale working model that must’ve cost a quarter-million dollars to build)

CEO: Decades of work, billions of black-book cash, and the top minds of two generations from all over the world! Environmental architects, marine biologists, plasma-physics experts, computer scientists, quantum physicists! Genetic engineers, ethnobotanists, anthopologists, sociologists! Even the odd rocket scientist! Law professors, for God’s sake!

PLOK: Oh…my…GOD.

CEO: Isn’t it magnificent? I can tell you’re speechless…you never expected something like this, did you?

CEO: Behold, I give you the future…I give you the THIRD WAY!!

PLOK: …

PLOK: Well, this is like the worst Ned Beatty impression ever.

CEO: Excuse me?

PLOK: (distracted) “Network”. It’s a movie. You watch movies, right? I mean, you’ve seen movies? Seen them, not just watched them?

CEO: What’s the difference?

PLOK: You mean, what’s the difference between watching them and seeing them, or what’s the difference if you’ve ever watched a movie at all?

CEO: I don’t…I don’t see what you’re…

PLOK: (points at model) It’s. A. DOME.

CEO: Uh…

CEO: …Well, YES!

PLOK: Do you even know how shitty an idea this is? Do you even know. Do you know.

CEO: You have to understand…

PLOK: DO YOU. KNOW.

CEO: Look, I don’t really get why you’re seeming so hostile to it. Didn’t I just tell you this was the work of two generations of top…

PLOK: Reproductive rights.

CEO: …What?

PLOK: The reproductive rights legislation that the family members of the Ruling Council are exempt from. You don’t see a problem with that, down the line?

CEO: I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re…

PLOK: The supercomputer thing isn’t going to work, either.

CEO: HOW DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE SUPERCOMPUTER?!

PLOK: I don’t care what they told you, you’re going to need an Off switch for that thing.

CEO: But, if we have an off-switch, then that’ll require an entirely new caste, and if we…

PLOK: It’ll break down.

CEO: It’s impossible for it to break down!

PLOK: You mean, it’s impossible to keep anyone around who’s capable of fixing it if it does break down.

CEO: …

CEO: Okay, look, I don’t know who you’re working for…

PLOK: Now it’s about to be “Sleuth”.

CEO: LOOK, WHAT THE FUCK IS ALL THIS SHIT YOU KEEP TALKING ABOUT, I DON”T UNDERSTAND ANY OF IT! I can quote movie titles too, okay? “The Deer Hunter”, all right? “Dog Day Afternoon”!

PLOK: “Indecent Exposure” is another one. That’s got Robert Redford in it. Then there’s “Apocalypse Now”. Robert Redford’s not in that one.

CEO: WHY IN GOD’S NAME DO YOU KEEP TALKING ABOUT THIS?!

PLOK: And what about Arnold Schwarzenegger? He’s been in some movies as well…but I don’t think he’s been in any with Robert Redford or Ned Beatty…

CEO: Okay, I get it. You’re clearly just a crazy person. I picked a crazy person.

PLOK: Arnold and Bruce Willis, on the other hand…

CEO: (calls to rafters) Right, he’s just a crazy person!

PLOK: Probably a victim of the Soviet subliminals in the TV…

CEO: I think they got to him! Greenpeace, or something. They have those street teams now, with the subliminals…

PLOK: You can go about your business.

CEO: Might as well let him go! (to Plok) I guess we’re done here.

PLOK: Move along.

CEO: Thanks for coming.

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