The Quiet Government Men
‘You have a choice, Taylor. Become one of our quiet government men, or remain accused of murder.’
London. Westminster. 21st Century.
The Environment Minister’s personal private secretary leafed through the report before him. He muttered to his assistant,
‘I wonder what his lordship will think of this?’
‘Not invented here, would be my guess. Do you need me? I’ve got a mile high in-tray.’
‘No, you go. I’ll break it to him.’
The Minister breezed in, his charisma on a high setting. The PPS imagined dust and loose papers settling behind him. He suppressed a groan.
‘Three minutes, PPS, that’s your lot. I’m nearly late. What do you have for me?’
’It’s an environmental proposal document, Minister. Melting ice caps; weather upsets; the effects of sea level rises on the lowlands... titled –
When the Storms come: Never mind what if, what do we do when? by this man, Cartwright, he is highly thought of, an expert. The P.M. is keen. The Press are running Sunday glossies on it. You may be called on to comment sooner rather than later...’
‘Bah! More green nonsense! Go on, what are these devilish clever plans for the new drowned world? Polar bear hotels? Gardening grants for rainforests in suburbia?’
‘They say we can grow algae in bio tubes, sir. The algae will flourish in the new tropical climate. The climate they predict will descend on what remains of Europe. Algae can make food, ethanol for fuel, and building materials apparently. They say it will seize excess CO2 back from the atmosphere...’
‘How big are these bio tubes? Where will they go if the sea, as they predict, reclaims the land?’
‘They will float on the new inland sea... big enough for an average person to stand up inside, it says here...’
‘I have to hand it to them; they have fabulous imaginations. What else is on the menu?’
’Well, there’s the bamboo for building, thicker than your wrist, grows up to a metre a fortnight. Nettles for clothing...’
‘Bamboo? Nettles? Are we going back to the Stone Age?’
’Their introduction says both the Kaiser in 1914 and Napoleon in 1805 clothed their armies in nettle cloth. We can eat; we can build with these and other plants; medicine, tea, antiseptics, the list goes on. Do you believe in higher entities, Gods, pre planning, fore-ordained things, Minister?’
‘That’s my business but why do you ask?’
‘They say one could be swayed with these two plants. It’s almost as if they were a gift, a plentiful resource we ignore.’
‘Hmmm – I’m meeting the Environment Committee this morning, better get weaving. Hah! Weaving! What’s the bottom line? Get your assistant to write me up a précis – bullet points and so on, you know. Don’t email it, the place is still leaking like a sieve. I’ll read it tonight. Right! I’m off.’
No papers floated down but the image persisted. The PPS subconsciously held the file down firmly on the table until he’d gone. Peace. He sat alone, fingered a document that could change the world. He spoke softly to himself.
‘The Stone Age. That’s the bottom line; no alternative if we don’t adopt these ideas...and we won’t. Should I whittle myself a club this weekend?’
He went into his assistant’s office.
‘Wendy, see if you can get hold of this Cartwright character for me. Under your hat for now, yes?’