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How to answer Drunk Uncle Kevin's Climate Crisis reckons
Let’s say you’re clasping your drink at a wedding, or a 40th, or a King’s Birthday Weekend family reunion and Drunk Uncle Kevin has just got going.
He’s in an expansive frame of mind because we’re finally rid of that silly girl. But he wants to ask an honest question about so called climate change, no listen, listen, there might be something in it but come on, what the hell difference can a little country like ours make? What’s the bloody point, no seriously now don’t roll your eyes, what’s the point until India and China start pulling their weight?
One option is to clasp your glass a little harder, sink the bloody thing and pour another and several after that. You would not believe how many times that used to get me through an evening. But what if you don’t use liquor as your escape hatch? Please step this way to the role playing room. I have lines to suggest.
First question to put to Uncle Kevin:
Do you know off the top of your head how many New Zealanders served in the Second World War?
The answer, which he may or may not have, is:
Around 140,000 including soldiers, sailors, airmen, and nurses. About 10% of the population.
And what was the total number of Soviet and American forces?
The answer which he may or may not have, is 34 million Soviets and 16 million Americans.
So do you reckon it made a difference, our 140,000?
And if he says Not really, you might say, well what are we doing at ANZAC day, just saying what a waste of time?
And if he looks at you and says,
What’s your point smartarse my old man was in the war you know,
tell him this:
My point is that every soldier made a difference. Just like every soldier mattered in the war, every country's actions matter when it comes to climate change. New Zealand may be a small country, but we can still make a difference by doing our part. And if every country does their part, we can make a big impact.
And if he doesn’t get up and say I’m going to the bloody toilet, he may now say:
That may well be, but this isn’t a war, and besides I was listening to Leighton Smith the other day and he had actual numbers and you would not believe the emissions those Chinese and Indians are putting up.
And so now you say to him:
Care to take a bet, Kev?
And then you say:
Which country do you reckon has the highest emissions per person? New Zealand, India or China?
And if he says China or India, tell him:
New Zealand. Most of the developed countries have higher emissions per head. And what’s more, we’ve been emitting for a lot longer. We have more work to do per head than they do. And btw India and China are in fact taking action on climate change, they’ve made significant commitments to reduce their emissions.
You might also say that’ll be twenty bucks thanks, but that’s up to you.
With luck, this might bring it to an end. But never underestimate the battery power of a drunk uncle. So if he still wants to keep going, say: What kind of person do you respect in a crisis? Someone who sits and wails or someone who gets on with it?
You might then ask: If they were here today and saw the size of the problem what do you reckon Sir Ed, or Sir Peter Blake would do?
He may now say:
You can throw all the names and numbers around you like all I know is you greenies don’t understand how much this will hurt the economy
This would be your cue to say:
For one thing, the hurt is already coming if we do nothing. And for another, many of the solutions to climate change are also good for the economy. For example, investing in renewable energy can create jobs, reduce energy costs, and spur innovation. Are you against job creation, Uncle Kevin?
This ought to bring it to an end. But if it doesn’t they must surely be serving the lasagne by now.
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