My Aunt Gertrude from Australia switched off the radio and said, “Well that’s a load of old nonsense, cobber; if ever I heard some!”
I bit into my toast with ginger marmalade and asked, semi-expecting her unusual take on another world problem, “What’s that Auntie?”
“Those fellas on the radio,” she said, “they were talking about global warming. The planet is getting warmer, they said, and it will melt the polar ice cap and we’ll all drown as the sea level rises!”
“Oh …” I exclaimed “better start taking swimming lesson then!”
“If the polar cap melts,” she asked, “will it be the North Pole or the South one?”
“I dunno. Both I suppose.” I replied putting down my cup of coffee.
“Well, I’ll go back to Adelaide and I’ll be all right then!” she said nonchalantly.
I must admit I never thought I’d be grateful for global warming and ice caps melting if it meant her going back to Australia. But, after a moment’s pause I asked her to explain.
“Well cobber,” she said, “if the North polar cap melts then all the water will flood you lot in Europe and the North and I’ll be in Australia safe and sound!”
I nodded and said nothing.
“And if the South Pole melts, the water will not rise up the globe towards Australia will it? It will drip down into space just like when you get your head out of the water tub. The water drips down not rise up!”
I’ll admit to having learnt something new about the whole issue of the environment and changing weather patterns. Before I could say anything Aunt Gertrude continued.
“Besides …” she said, “assuming that this global warming thing is actually man-made, and not just a freak of nature … a bit like you … then we should do something about it, cobber!”
I ignored the badly-veiled insult, and asked her what we should do.
“We should stop lighting candles for a start,” she declared, “candles create a lot of heat for no reason. Can you imagine how many candles are lit in the world at any one time? Candles in romantic settings in restaurants, at the dinner table at home, in the bath … struth … what is the purpose of candles in a bath tub? Candles in churches ... candles on birthday cakes ... wherever you turn people are lighting candles. Now that’s a lot of unnecessary heat I tell you!”
This was proving to be quite a scientific lesson from my Aunt. Who would have thought that the world’s problems could be down to one simple solution? I ventured an opinion and suggested we stop using barbecues too.
“Watch it cobber!” she retorted back, “when we Australians have barbies it is for a purpose; and that is to enjoy the great outdoors with a nice bit of steak and a can of amber nectar. Not a triangular cucumber sandwich and a cup of tea like you do.”
I waved a mental white flag and retreated. You can never win an argument with Aunt Gertrude.
“And another thing,” she declared triumphantly, “it mentioned on the radio that another reason for global warming is cows breaking wind. Apparently they break a lot of wind and this upsets the ozone layer or something like that; and it heats up the planet.”
“Unlike the kangaroo” she continued, “the kangaroo cannot actually pass wind. Its guts do not have the necessary bacteria to create the gassy emissions which make up a fart! So you cannot blame us Australians for global warming.”
I bit my lip and poured myself another cup of coffee.
“So scientists should establish how to treat cows so that they behave just like kangaroos” explained Auntie Gertrude with authority, “and they can start by experimenting on you!” she smiled as she left the room.