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Hodgson’s Billion-Dollar Kyoto Punchline

Hodgson’s Billion-Dollar Kyoto Punchline

By Lyndon Hood

I’m given to understand that all the jokes about marsh gas, Parliament and global warming were used up last century. Certainly, experts have suggested that the rate at which we are discovering new Kyoto-related comedy had been exceeded by the rate at which we used this humour as long ago as the 1990s.

One day there may be no global warming jokes left for us to make.

We must also recognise the cultural pollution caused by the unrestricted use of unrefined jokes such as the whole “fart tax” thing.

It is true that current conditions have encouraged the exploration of hitherto untapped veins of environmental comedy. In response to the Government’s massive misprojection of our Kyoto obligations – quite funny in itself – what do the famously fart-tax maddened farmers do? Drive their gas-guzzling tractors back to Wellington to complain about apple exports and land access.

Certainly amusing enough to be going on with.

And then there is the denial of global warming by prominent politicians. While up until quite recently such behaviour was barely amusing at all, now, when members of the opposition stand up and deny that global warming is real, or perhaps deny that it is caused by human activity, it verges on hilarious.

But should that kind of thing be encouraged?

We will, one suspects, keep using Kyoto jokes until the creation of new ones becomes so laboured that they (the jokes) will be robbed of any market value – so the question becomes whether we should use them quickly or slowly.

The answer depends crucially on the ecosystem’s capacity to absorb new global-warming humour.

And now New Zealand is joining much of the world in a bold plan to control the global warming joke output of the entire world. We feel the short-term cost of this particularly hard, since we now discover we must forswear almost a billion jokes, which we had expected to be credited with for cutting back on quips about generating renewable power with hot air from Parliament.

This, despite America’s having elected their biggest global warming joke into office for a second term.

When US environmental ridiculuousness continues uncontrolled, should we even bother with the small difference a nation like ours can make?

I believe we should seize on this as our only chance to save ourselves from a rising sea of repetitious, uninformed scoffing and increasingly unpredictable cycles of torrential downpours of banal jokes about the weather followed by comedy droughts.

Our elderly people may suffer at the increasing price of having their hearts warmed with cheap gags, but at least this expense will reflect the moral cost of their production and distribution.

As part of the developed world we, have access to many tools for recycling gags. Post-modern self-reflexive irony alone can extend the life of one joke almost indefinitely, with the expenditure of almost no energy. The West should be ashamed at its low uptake of these techniques and should urgently do everything it can to pass on these skills to developing nations. Particularly those low-lying island states who as of now are unable to find global warming funny in any way.

Whether we do anything or not, we can look to a future where increasingly desperate joke prospectors resort to more and more toxic methods to extract Kyoto humour from less promising territory. But if we prepare now, we will be able to sustain our overall national comedy levels well into the future, and the forthcoming cultural catastrophe will be that much less.




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