The lawyer impatiently flags down the old man behind the worn wooden bar and orders three bourbons on the rocks. At first they talk about family, mutual friends, how their stocks are faring, and who’s going to win the world series. Since college, the engineer, the lawyer and the banker find the time to get together a few times a year.
Once they have their first drink in hand, they start in on debating the best way to solve pressing environmental issues. Seeing as the lawyer bought the drinks, he feels fit to throw his opinion out first. As he loosens his light pink silk tie he tells them, “If the government held polluters accountable for emissions with tighter policies it would reduce further pollution and slow the rise of the world’s oceans.”
Listening quietly while sipping bourbon from the edge of his glass, the engineer reminds his friends in their suits, “It’s difficult to tell where emissions come from. They are carried on the wind across state and international borders and it’s mostly past generations that made the majority of the emissions affecting us now.” A young woman sits a few bar stools away and orders a mojito and flashes the three men a curious glance.
Ice cubes clink against the banker’s perfectly-aligned white teeth as he swallows the last of his bourbon. He adds that, “Policy ought to be paired with taxation on emissions to create a financial incentive to reduce future warming”. He slicks back his thinning hair and adds, “It’s all about the money”.
Turning to the banker, the engineer says, “It’s unfair to tax upcoming urbanization in poor regions. How are they to get ahead with steep tax burdens not applied to other nations during their industrial revolution and urbanization stages? Slowing their economic growth would only stifle their ability to use more environmentally friendly methods to generate energy and add to the long-term use of coal.”
“Instead of policy,” the engineer tells them, “we could make current transportation systems more efficient and slow the progress of greenhouse gas release. Massive gas exchange units that work on the same principal as trees could be constructed to cycle carbon dioxide into oxygen as the wind passes through them. The same structures could double as wind turbines or be lined with solar panels to reduce dependence on oil and coal fired plants.” A few bar stools down, the young woman nods in agreement with the engineer.
While bragging with increasing volume and decreasing pronunciation about their individual skills and capabilities, they had quickly drained their first round of drinks. The banker waves at the old man and orders three citrus vodka cocktails on his tab. The second round rapidly expands their already oversized egos, throwing fuel on the heated debate.
The lawyer starts raving about how “International policies for building something like that would have to be in place to ensure the construction would go forward on schedule and meet regulations. It would benefit the international community but if conflict broke out in the region it was built…” he rattled on with self-righteous grandeur, until the banker butts in to ask “Who’ll pay for such a huge construction project? If we taxed emission we could use an international pool to fund the project.”
Taking another careful sip from his glass as to not dampen his thick mustache, the engineer tells the men in suits “It doesn’t matter where it’s built, as long as the conditions are prime for the physics and science behind the machine to work. If it works like it should and benefits everyone, then it would be important for all nations to preserve.”
From behind his gold-rimmed spectacles, the banker reminds his friend the engineer, its bankers that find investors for venture capital projects, and without men like him pipe dreams like giant gas sucking trees wouldn’t float. He points out that if they were to side with environmentalists, then Big Oil would back out, and he adds, with an awkwardly close lean toward the engineer in his dark denim jeans and half buttoned dress shirt, bring their money out with them.
“Big Oil would back it,” the engineer speaks frankly, over his raving friends “because it would fix their emissions issues. Hell, they’d install one on every oil rig and that would decrease ocean acidification as the gas was fixed into water molecules circulated in machinery installed on the rig’s base. They could suck up emissions, slow sea level rise and reverse ocean acidification. No taxes or policy needed, just sell Big Oil on the idea and hand them the schematics.”
The engineer allows the suits to banter and debate amongst themselves as he quietly slides down the bar next to the woman with the empty glass. She is studying environmental engineering at the local university and wants to hear more about this oil rig idea. He orders her another her mojito and asks if she’d like to see the skyscraper being retrofitted for rooftop solar with a massive crane four blocks up near his hotel—there is a killer view from his room.
Ready to order third round, the banker and the lawyer set their empty cocktail glasses on the bar and look around for their friend; it’s the engineer’s turn to buy. They turn to catch a glimpse of the engineer as he slips out the door while discussing the complexities of climate change and sea level rise with a pretty young woman by his side who turns and smiles back at them.
About the Author:
Amanda is a homesteading tech nerd working from her rural home as a freelance writer, graphic designer, and educational program coordinator.