Friday, December 18, 2009

Scientists Dreaming of a "Green" Christmas

Copenhagen Climate Council condemns Claus for contributing to climate change

Dec 18, 6:34 AM (CT)

COPENHAGEN (BP) – In a convention mired with controversy and warring interests, members of the Copenhagen Climate Council pulled a surprise move on their last day—one certain to shock holiday celebrators. By near unanimous vote, representatives from all over the world released a public recrimination of a well-known international figure.

“There is unquestionable consensus on two points. First, that the threat of anthropogenic global warming is real,” said Council Chairman Hans Gruber. “And, second, that we must do something about the danger looming to sweep across the world within a week. I am speaking, of course, about Santa Claus.”

It turns out that Santa Claus is spreading more than just Christmas cheer during his famed annual ride around the world. And the Copenhagen Climate Council brought the jolly old elf to task for falling under their environmentally-naughty list.

“In one night,” Gruber said, “Santa Claus will belch over two million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere—that’s more than the emissions of the entire European Union in over six months! What’s worse, he releases much of it directly into the stratosphere, where the effect on climate change is exponentially greater.”

In order to curb Father Christmas’s greenhouse gas emissions, the Climate Council voted on a list of 57 restrictions to provide for Claus’s holiday operation, which they entitled the “Green Christmas List.” The list detailed many ways that Santa Claus might reduce his emissions levels, including:
  • Starting an environmental division in the Workshop, creating at least 48 “green jobs”
  • Lowering his flight altitude to a maximum of 45,000 feet
  • Reducing his team to four miniature reindeer rather than eight
  • Prohibiting the incandescence of Rudolph’s nose
  • Ceasing and desisting with the distribution of coal
  • Issuing only one toy per household for load reduction of the sleigh
  • Buying carbon offsets from countries who do not observe Christmas
  • Availing himself of the New Year’s specials at Jenny Craig to lower the load of the sleigh next year
Thunderous applause greeted each item as the list was read, and the members of the convention victoriously announced the restrictions to the crowds who had been waiting anxiously (and sometimes violently) for signs of real reform as they stood in the freezing cold outside the summit. The protestors cheered the declaration of a “Green Christmas.”

Chinese diplomat Gu Rin-Chu provided significant support for the list and announced that China would lead the nations in per capita non-participation in Santa Claus’s toxic industry, encouraging other nations to follow their lead.

Meanwhile, the Workshop immediately held a press conference at the North Pole, where Santa’s press elf announced that Santa Claus intended to make his frosty trip in the same manner that he had done for centuries. He also released an official statement that characterized the Green Christmas List as unreasonable and “out of line with the spirit of the season.”

“Rudolph’s nose is critical to the operation of the sleigh, as any child can tell you,” the statement reads. “And flying at less than 45,000 feet puts the craft in danger of collision with commercial flights. Furthermore, good little boys and girls deserve a bounty on Christmas morn, and those who have been naughty shall receive the consequences of their actions.”

But Santa’s annual trip has consequences of its own, say scientists who publish in peer-reviewed journals. Greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, have been rapidly warming the planet in the last three decades. As a result, the polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate. 2007 saw the lowest level of Arctic sea ice on record. If this trend continues, not only do polar bears stand to lose their habitat, but Santa’s Workshop itself may be threatened.

The world leaders at Copenhagen, who are seeking to stop the catastrophe of climate change, view Santa’s disregard for his own carbon excesses to be deplorably typical of climate-change deniers. Ebenezer Picsou, a well-known banker and French delegate to the climate summit, who presented a lecture earlier during the weak entitled “Being Cold is Better than Being Coaled,” considers Santa’s refusal to reform to be reprehensible.

“This is a crisis that directly affects him, yet he remains obstinate to reform,” Picsou said. “How can he deny the effects of climate change? He need only look out a Workshop window and see the results of his behavior. If I could, I would give him a piece of my mind. As the French say, ‘bah homme bague.’ ”

Climate change poses a real threat to Santa’s Workshop. Melting ice is the worst crisis to face the North Pole since the USS Skate accidentally surfaced directly below Santa’s workshop in August of 1958. Fortunately, at that time, the behind-the-scenes actions of Admiral Hyman Rickover saved Christmas for an unaware public. But now we cannot look to the Father of the Nuclear Navy to save Father Christmas from himself.

Renowned scientist and member of the United Nation’s Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Herr Burgermeister Meisterburger, criticized Saint Nicholas’s entire operation, calling it “unnecessary and excessive.”

Meisterburger has pushed for legislation to block any toy distribution by non-environmentally-conscious distribution networks like Santa Claus’s. During the vote, he took to floor and made the following comment: “Those who wish to use toys should buy them from local artisans to reduce carbon emissions from Santa’s sleigh ride. But really this assembly should move to outlaw toys in general; would you rather give your son or daughter a toy, but then let them grow up into a world polluted by the carbon emissions from the manufacturing and delivery of that toy, or let them grow up to inherit a green earth frolicking with polar bears?”

The IPCC has also issued several warnings on the harmful effects to the climate caused by the burning of coal as fuel. Therefore, it came as no surprise when those at the summit criticized Santa for the distribution of coal to those whom he has singlehandedly judged to have been naughty throughout the year.

“These supposedly ‘naughty’ children are often from disadvantaged households who do not possess the green technology for clean-coal use,” Meisterburger said.

The Copenhagen Climate Council did include a list of eco-friendly suggestions for naughty children’s stockings to replace the traditional coal, which included other potentially useless items such as stock in windmill farms, thermal underwear, and condoms to fight population growth.

However, Santa Claus was not left entirely out in the cold. A few attendees of the climate conference came to old St. Nick’s defense, even going so far as to point at the Copenhagen Council themselves as part of the problem.

“If people like these bureaucratic blockheads would clean up their own act and behave in the spirit of Christmas, Santa would not have to fill so many stockings with coal,” claims renowned psychologist Lucy van Pelt.

But coal is the least of the issues for which climate scientists criticize Santa. His is one of the most carbon-producing methods of travel in existence, resulting in over two million tons of emissions in just one night.

Professor Hinkle, a researcher at the University of Maryland’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, is an expert on magical entities and their relationship to global warming.

Rangifer tarandus aeronautica-drawn sleigh is one of the most inefficient and environmentally deleterious means of magical transport,” Hinkle said. “Those little streaks of sparks through the air may look pretty for the title screen of your holiday special, but in reality they are cadabra cascades from the burning abra. Not only does the process emit forty times the CO2 levels of an SUV, but the reindeer themselves are known to emit their own gases into the atmosphere.”

Granville Sawyer, recently appointed by United States President Barack Obama to the White House Environmental Task Force, is a longtime civil servant who has been monitoring Santa Claus’s personal carbon emissions since 1947. The numbers are staggering, he says.

“No other individual comes close to this foul man’s blatant assault on the climate. If you count those spewing from that inhumane elf sweatshop, his carbon emissions lead the world. As far as I know, the only reason he goes about belting ‘ho ho ho’ is simply to exhale as much CO2 as possible during his joy ride across the globe,” said Sawyer.

Sawyer weaves the image of an elf full of spite rather than cookies and milk. He says that Santa purposefully avoids any mitigation of his operation’s damage to the environment, pointing to the rejection of the Mistletoe for Trees offer as proof. Prominent businessman and owner of the carbon-trading company Mistletoe for Trees, Inc., Henry F. Potter, has personally offered to sell carbon offsets at an incredible five-to-one discount to Santa, but his offer goes ignored by the Workshop.

Why would Santa be angry with people trying to save the planet from climate change? Sawyer points to the Kyoto Convention, where measures were adopted to reduce the use of chimneys in modern houses, thus making things more difficult for the toysack-bearing globetrotter.

“There’s a significant uptick in his emissions following the adoption of that measure,” Sawyer remarks. “I think that says something about his attitude.”

Frank Cross, an American businessman also in attendance at Copenhagen, observes that Santa is hurting himself more than anyone. Global warming threatens to eliminate white Christmases from the globe and create turbulent air patterns during Claus’s Christmas eve journey. Cross joined with the rest of the summit in criticizing Santa’s behavior, but he also encouraged the people of the world to effect change on their own.

“We can’t wait for this old-fashioned elf to catch up with the times,” he said. “We must seize our own destiny and move away from the culture that has caused this crisis. We must not celebrate Christmas.”

Many children in the United States and Europe are doing just that, and urging Santa to leave them alone this year. Provided ahead of time with Copenhagen’s Green Christmas List, teachers across the world guided their students in writing letters to Santa this year that begged him to comply with the restrictions. The children asked Santa to please help save their future from climate change, and included hand-drawn pictures of dead polar bears and the Workshop sinking into a melted North Pole.

Climate change skeptics on the radio and in the blogosphere criticized these school activities as brainwashing. Despite the worldwide consensus on the matter, as well as the data provided by NORAD every December 24 and the full acceptance by the U.S. Postal Service, many of these skeptics continue to deny the existence of Santa Claus.

But not all of them go that far. Standing on the sidewalk outside the summit and wearing an “I was an AGW Skeptic before it was cool” T-shirt, author and commentator Jakeb S. Lladrey remained skeptical on climate change but did not deny the existence of Santa Claus.

“Oh, I don’t think he’s causing the earth to get hotter, but I definitely believe in Santa,” said Lladrey. “In fact, I think this year some researchers at East Anglia will be finding reindeer droppings in their stockings.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Letter to Santa

I didn't have much time, so it's still rather rough, but here's my entry for the Letters to Santa Friday Challenge.

Kris Kringle, CEO
Santa’s Workshop, LLC
North Pole, HOH OHO

Dear Santa,

In this recessionary year, I ask of you nothing more for Christmas than a job interview. (I am not so presumptuous, if you know what I mean, to yet ask for the job itself; I know times are lean.)

But, if you please, place it not at some corporation (or government bureau ruining the nation) with benefits, health plan, and steep 401k. No, I’d like the duty of washing your sleigh—or cleaning out the reindeer stalls, or workshop floor mopping, dusting toys or lugging your knapsack so whopping, ‘cause I don’t mind starting at the bottom, you see: It’s the Christmas spirit that’s important to me.

But if you are open to making my dreams come true, above and beyond an entry-level interview, I must confess that I’d like to do more than sweeping by working production, PR, or record-keeping.

The latter would definitely fit like a glove, given my resume and sorts of work I love. With my gift for story, sense of justice, and Christmas vision, I would surely excel in your “Naughty or Nice” Division.

In the non-profit sector I have worked in organizing and maintaining information on persons comprising our database. I am meticulous by nature, also demure, so non-elf status should not deter you from my hire. In fact, no greater rector for the truth and quality of my character exists than the Division itself, where o’er a quarter of a century I have spent within the noble order of “Nice.” When it comes to references, surely that will suffice.

Thank you, dear Santa, and a suggestion, if I may: Let’s meet on the Eve, since you’ll be by, anyway. But if your schedule disallows, I wish you a Christmas merry; and I’ll make an appointment with your elf secretary.


Jakeb S. Lladrey

P.S. My dear Santa, an unusual friend of mine wants a toy outside my realm, but not outside thine. So if I have not asked too much already, then I’ to ask you to give Mr. Vogel a sleigh ride.