Column: Hydrogen Man12 December 2009 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar
‘The true cause is not the increasing production of CO2, but the growth of the world’s population,’ I replied to the ‘Hydrogen Man’ as he asked my opinion about the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen when I met him in the street.
I looked at the street packed with people busy with doing their shopping and whispered: ‘The human race is a plague.’
I regularly bump into the Hydrogen Man. This time he also said: ‘It’s such a shame that I can no longer read your column in the paper.’ He was referring to the local daily. Luckily I was able to inform the Hydrogen Man that he can now find my column on this website.
Moreover, it is now in worldwide circulation as the column is also translated into English.
Hydrogen Man is not his real name of course, he is called Dick, but I’ve named him the Hydrogen Man because he sees hydrogen as the cure for all evils. In principle I and the Hydrogen Man are in agreement about overpopulation.
However, the Hydrogen Man is also an optimist and dreams of a better world in which all cars are powered by hydrogen.
But let us go back to our initial discussion about overpopulation. This week one of the TV documentaries paid attention to a photogenic Chinese family.
The mistress of the house was extremely happy, so she told us. ‘Ten years ago I wouldn’t have been able to imagine being the proud owner of a fridge and a television, but now,’ she said excitedly, ‘we are even saving to buy our first car.’
The chance that in the near future most of the cars produced in China will run on hydrogen is extremely small.
The fact that she lived in the smog produced by the nearby coal-fired power station didn’t seem to bother this Chinese lady one single bit. Despite your best efforts you just can’t avoid the thought entering your head that, yes it is true that the Chinese People’s Republic has produced quite a few unwelcome things, but was the One-child Policy really such a bad idea?
Although, if it had its merits, it also had a rather disturbing consequence in that male births far outstrip female births. I don’t think the policy makers had this aim in mind.
The world population has grown from 6 billion people in 1999 to 6.8 billion now in 2009. There are only about 9 countries that contribute to this growth and one of them is China. If this trend continues then in 40 years time there will be 9 billion of us clinging to this globe.
Our reaction: let us put together a conference on Climate Change. That is very dark humour; it is like saying: ‘Have you noticed things are heating up lately, have you any idea why?’
I consider myself a blessing for the human race. I don’t have children. On the other hand I do consider my novels to be my children and they have destroyed a few trees, but that’s all.
Anyway, I live in a flat of minute Chinese dimensions and I do not drive a car. I also very rarely travel by plane although I must say this is more because of the Draconian security regulations at airports rather than out of consideration for the environment.
For example, a stern voice instructs you to remove your shoes. That’s so embarrassing. The only thing I can hope for is that no one faints upon smelling my sweaty feet, because you never know, this may lead to a call for another climate summit, and you don’t want that to happen.
My weak point is supporting recycling and separating the different types of refuse. Every time I drop a bottle in the glass recycling bin I can’t help thinking: they’ll have to check it again anyway because you cannot rely on people to remove bottle tops etc.
Well, they can in some cases: take my elderly mother (85), she always cleans bottles before throwing them away, ‘Otherwise the council has to clean them.’
Do I really believe that they don’t find plastic among greens and potato skins from time to time? Have we never put an empty battery, by accident of course, in a big black bin?
Actually, someone told me the other day that often the contents of different recycling bins are thrown onto one big pile to be burned or to be added to another landfill precisely because of the concerns I have just mentioned.
It is hard to believe that using the odd energy-saving bulb, filling the correct recycling bin and the placement of several windmills up and down the country is enough to accommodate another three billion people.
I think it is about time to send the Hydrogen Man to China; otherwise it seems that making sure less children are born is the solution after all.
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