Story 17. Kudzu
Carbo was furious. Not only had the latest drought abated, but since he had shown himself to Thermo, climate scientists in every nation surely would soon know of his existence. And not just his existence, but they would also know about all his released friends in the atmosphere.
“I had no problem being thought of as a theory,” Carbo mused. “But it’s a different game now.”
The war had escalated. The stakes were higher. The weapons had become deadlier.
Back at Mauna Loa, Dr. Emanuel Key also realized the battle had ascended to a new level. As he monitored news broadcasts from around the world, he heard alarming reports of climate scientists being harassed and even physically attacked because of their views on carbon pollution. As he considered what to do, he realized that if anyone had the resources to counter this attack, he did.
“Thermo, I have another task for you,” Dr. Key told his creation. “Scientists in the field of climatology are in great peril. Many of them already know this, but I need you to spread the word. I believe that lives are in danger.”
Armed with his father’s life-saving message, Thermo flew from city to city, from country to country, broadcasting Dr. Key’s warning that climate scientists should be extra cautious, that dark forces were at work to not only squelch climate science, but to silence the voices that disseminated it.
At first, many scientists discounted the danger, or simply hoped it would pass. That was until one infamous incident that forced them to reconsider the threat.
Thermo had only a few scientists left on his list of those to warn. As he jetted toward the home of one of them, he saw a tragic scene outside. An ambulance was parked in the driveway and two uniformed men were running inside. On the porch, a woman was weeping into her cupped hands. As he viewed the heartbreaking scene, he heard a faint whooshing sound behind him. Turning, he caught a brief glimpse of a clear spherical creature speeding away. Thermo wasn’t sure, but he thought he saw two smaller spheres attached to the creature on either side.
Once Thermo was back in Mauna Loa, Dr. Key read aloud to him the newspaper headline, “Scientist Dies from Carbon Dioxide Poisoning.”
Thermo sat somberly next to the doctor, thinking. Finally he spoke. “Cui bono?”
“What?” asked Dr. Key.
“Who benefits?” Thermo repeated.
“Exactly!” Dr. Key concluded. “If I’m not mistaken, Carbo and his cohorts are behind this despicable deed. You know, Thermo, that could have been me, had I not had the protection of this exquisite cave.”
“Maybe we should find caves for other scientists too,” suggested Thermo. “They could live there with their families until the danger is over.”
Dr. Key smiled. “Thermo, you are turning into a treasure trove of ideas. Go find us some caves!”
Over the next few weeks, Thermo scouted out a number of caves suitable for habitation. The only problem was that most could be easily spotted from the outside, and thus vulnerable to discovery by Carbo and his minions. As he flew over the Deep South, not far from the place that had been encased in ice by Skates years ago, Thermo marveled at the rapidly growing broadleaf weed spreading over the landscape. He set down near one of the plants for a closer examination.
As Thermo eyed the plant intently, it suddenly spoke. “Hello. I am part of the Vine of Life,” the weed said. “But you can call me Kudzu. Who are you?”
Thermo introduced himself and explained his mission, describing the desperate situation for climate scientists throughout the world. Kudzu grew more interested with every word. Finally the weed said, “I am the perfect camouflage for your caves! I grow fast, I grow tall, and I convert all carbon dioxide molecules that come near me into oxygen simply by inhaling and exhaling. If you plant me outside the door of every one of your caves, I will hide them and guard them from intruders.”
And it worked. The scientists moved into the caves Thermo had found, planting groves of Kudzu outside. One day, as Thermo was inspecting their handiwork, a large nearby Kudzu plant suddenly hiccupped. Thermo turned toward the plant questioningly.
“Excuse me,” blushed Kudzu. “I just got a noseful of evil carbon dioxide molecules. But now,” Kudzu said exhaling loudly, “they are nice friendly molecules of oxygen. Mission accomplished.”
Soon, word got out among Carbo’s released friends to steer clear of Kudzu, and the cave-dwelling climatologists continued their lives and their research, safe from the reach of Carbo and his minions.
“Foiled by a bunch of plants!” Carbo lamented. It was back to the drawing board.
In real life, of course, carbon dioxide is not attacking anyone, let alone climate scientists. However, climate scientists and some environmentalists have been attacked, harassed and even killed for supporting their opinions. One such environmentalist was “Doc” Gerry Ortega of the Philippines. In March 2011 Mr. Ortega was shot while browsing in a second-hand clothing store in Puerto Princesa, the capital of the Palawan province. Ortega made enemies hosting a daily radio show, in which he criticized politicians whom he accused of being corrupt and allowing the island’s natural resources to be pillaged. Palawan has been called the “last ecological frontier of the Philippines,” and Ortega’s death is emblematic of a struggle across that country, where, according to the organization Global Witness, at least fifty environmental campaigners have been killed over the past decade.
The Climate Guy
Text and artwork are copyright by Guy Walton. I would like to get this book published. Please drop me a note if you are willing to help.
My friend Alyssa Josue drew the art.
To see the rest of the World of Thermo stories click: http://www.guyonclimate.com/category/worldofthermo/